WE’RE STAYING IN İZMIR, more or less. Our home for two months is an apartment in the district of Karşiyaka, where the inhabitants refer to themselves as “35.5” — a wink to the official İzmir postal code, 35. We regularly take the 10-minute ferry ride across the Gulf of İzmir to downtown and back; with each arrival we notice the change in atmosphere, the change in pace.
RISING OUT OF THE DESERT, framed by the world’s tallest building and another built like a giant sail over the sea, Dubai dumbfounds the first-time visitor. The eyes see a phoenix, a contemporary city of the future, while visitors tour canals in abras, traditional wooden boats. Not far away, men dressed in white attend a camel race. It seems at first like Disney’s latest and greatest project. How did this city get here, and who built it?