Sassen argues that Miami's mix of cultures and socioeconomic groups has created a diversity and complexity that gives the city a global feel and global competitiveness in both business and quality of life. Other cities could learn from its example, according to Sassen.
"FP: So what's the future Miami of Africa?
SS: You have probably two cities that people could think of as complex places in sub-Saharan Africa. One is Nairobi, Kenya, where some of the architecture still reflects British colonial history. The other one is Johannesburg, South Africa. In recent years, I would say Jo'burg is more dynamic, but Nairobi has lost ground.
FP: And the Miamis of Asia?
SS: In China, there are fast-growing cities like Shenzhen, which is also a port and a place where things come together. But Chinese cities are too controlled to be equivalent to Miami.
Two similar cases might be Singapore and Dubai. Both have constructed themselves arduously, with a lot of resources and government-driven projects, mind you. The market alone could not have done it in either Singapore or Dubai. In a sense, the whole city is a government-driven project -- they have constructed themselves as global cities, and very significant ones."