This collection concentrates on the development of great Arab cities during the period of the Ottoman Empire, thus covering those three centuries before the time when modernization encroached. It explores the problems of space and the social and economic realities within these provincial centres. Four of the articles examine general issues concerning all towns in the Ottoman period, while the others deal with specific cities in the Maghrib and Mashriq - Algiers, Constantine, Cairo and Aleppo. The first group of articles reflects on and develops a critique of traditional oriental theories concerning the "Muslim" city. Four articles then consider cities of the Machriq (Aleppo) and of the Magrib (Algiers and Constantine). The third part of the book combines nine articles deveoted to Cairo, the largest city of the empire and the focus of varying historical research. The articles look at the cities' roots as a "traditional" town and it's probable size and population in Mamluk times. The works discuss the evolution of the richer residential areas and the problem of historical sources under Ottoman rule. The French occupation of the city is also looked at, and the arrival of Muhammed 'Ali in 1805. The final two works relate to the structure of Cairo's urban society. In a political system dominated by janissaries, the exploitation/protection of the urban population is a key characteristic trait. The imporatnce of architectural activity is examined, where evidence of the combination of influences from the Empire's capital with existing strong national traditions is clearly identifiable. This architectural trend is examined in detail with the evolution of the city. The final article concerns one particular topic within the general subject of Egyptian architecture - that of collective housing for tenants in a large building, known as a "rab'", looking at it in both the architectural concept and design, which is entirely original within the Arab world, and also in terms of it's role in the accomadation of average Cairene citizens, to whom it offered the possiblity of living right within the central zone of the city.