Albeit many governments have switched their focus from industrialisation and export-led development to the evasive quest of the knowledge-based economy, special economic zones as a development tool are still a growing phenomenon. As the range of different types of zones is diversifying, Tim Rottleb and Jana Schulze interrogate a relatively new type of zone that agglomerates foreign higher education institutions: transnational education zones. They conceptualise these zones as a distinct form of exceptional space produced by aspirations for a knowledge-based economy. Transnational education zones provide financial benefits and legal exemptions to state territory for international higher education investors who operate offshore campuses.
By conducting a situated empirical analysis of transnational education zones’ logics and mechanisms in Dubai and Qatar, the authors show how these zones function as sites of circulation and containment that allow governments to harness globally circulating people and institutions for building a knowledge-based economy, while aiming to contain their social and political impact locally.
Rottleb T and Kleibert JM (2022) Circulation and containment in the knowledge-based economy: transnational education zones in Dubai and Qatar. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space (online first): 1-19.