• Assistant Professor, History
  • Director, Middle East Center, Middle East Studies Program

Research Keywords

  • Ottoman Empire
  • Middle Eastern History
  • Indian Ocean
  • History of Islam
  • Environmental History
  • Arabian Peninsula


  • “Copying California: The Water Prince and the Cold War Roots of Saudi Mega Projects,” Middle East Studies Association, Montreal, 3 November 2023. Conference Paper, Presented, 11/03/2023.
  • “From Empires of Coal and Steam to the Petro-States and Saltwater Kingdoms: The Indian Ocean Roots of Fossil-Fueled Water in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf, 1850-210,” Indian Ocean in the Age of Empire lecture series, hosted by the Global History of Capitalism Project at the Oxford Global History Centre, University of Oxford, 30 October 2023. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 10/30/2023.
  • “The Petro-State and the Saltwater Kingdom: Desalination, Extraction, and Climate Risk in Anthropocene Arabia,” American Society for Environmental History, Denver, 4 April 2024. Conference Paper, Accepted, 10/22/2023.
  • “Awwal Bait: A Journey Home,” A Public Conversation with Sumayya Vally, Artistic Director and Co-Curator of the Islamic Arts Biennale, Islamic Arts Biennale, Western Hajj Terminal, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 17 March 2023. Other, Presented, 03/17/2023.
  • “The Global Crisis of Cholera and the Traumatic Birth of Modern Hajj Infrastructures,” part of a roundtable conversation with Hussam Dakkak and Sumayya Vally, “Accommodations: A Touring Exhibition from the Saudi Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition (La Biennale di Venezia),” hosted in conjunction with the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Diriyah Islamic Arts Biennale, January-April 2023, Hayy Jameel Art Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 17-18 March 2023. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/25/2023.
  • “Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj,” Paul A. and Marie Castelfranco Lecture, Department of Religious Studies, University of California-Davis, 23 February 2023. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/23/2023.
  • Chair, “Climate, Water, and Ecology,” Middle East Studies Association, Denver, 4 December 2022. Other, Presented, 12/04/2022.
  • “From Steamship Empire to Saltwater Kingdoms: The Indian Ocean Routes of Fossil-Fueled Water in the Arabian Peninsula, 1800-2100,” Adaptation and Resilience to Climatic and Environmental Changes in the Indian Ocean World, Past to Present, Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, 25 May 2022. Conference Paper, Presented, 05/25/2022.
  • “Liquid Histories of Climate Risk and Adaptation in Anthropocene Arabia, Appraising Risk Summer School Workshop, Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, 24 May 2022. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/24/2022.
  • Book Talk, "Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj," UMASS Lowell, 28 April 2022. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/28/2022.
  • “Moving Beyond Bedouins and Broken Pipes: Writing the Water Infrastructures of Anthropocene Arabia,” Eurasian Empires Workshop, Stanford Humanities Center, Stanford University, 18 April 2022. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/18/2022.
  • “When the ‘Water Prince’ Brought an Iceberg to Iowa: Muhammad bin Faisal Al Saud’s Frozen Fantasies of Antarctic Arabia,” American Society for Environmental History, Eugene, Oregon, 24 March 2022. Conference Paper, Presented, 03/24/2022.
  • “The Well and the Water Machine: Liquid Histories of the Arabian Peninsula from Cholera to Climate Change,” Department of History, University of Utah, 21 January 2022. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 01/21/2022.
  • “Infrastructure and Water in the Arabian Peninsula: Rethinking Histories of Desalination, Energy, and Petro-State Development in the Shadow of Climate Change,” American Historical Association, New Orleans, 7 January 2022. Conference Paper, Presented, 01/07/2022.


  • Arabic, functional.
  • Ottoman Turkish (1500-1928), functional.
  • Persian, basic.
  • Turkish, functional.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Bahrain
  • India
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen


  • Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj, Columbia University Press, 2020. Published, 10/06/2020.
  • İmparatorluk Mekke’si: Osmanlı Hicaz’ı ve Hint Okyanusunda Hac. Turkish translation of Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj by Yunus Babacan. Istanbul: Telemak Kitap, 2023. 464 pages. Available in paperback. Published, 01/31/2023.
  • إدارة الحج إلى مكة: موضوع تجاذب بين السلطنة العثمانية والاستعمار الأوروبي. Arabic translation of Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj by Rabi‘ Hindi. Beirut: Arab Scientific Publishers, 2022. 470 pages. Available in paperback and e-book formats. Published, 02/21/2022.
  • Lâle Can, Michael Christopher Low, Kent F. Schull, and Robert Zens, eds., The Subjects of Ottoman International Law, Indiana University Press, 2020. Published, 10/13/2020.
  • “Deadly Journeys: Public Health and Mobility Regulation in the Age of Steam,” in Qaisra Khan with Nahla Nassar, eds., Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage: Essays in Honour of Nasser David Khalili (London: Gingko Library, forthcoming December 2023). Published, 03/01/2024.
  • “A Pilgrimage to the Fragile Future,” in “Parallel Pilgrimage: Reflections on the Space/Time of Shrines, with Bruce Grant, A. Azfar Moin, Catherine Wanner, Wei-ping Lin, Ismail Fajrie Alatas, and Michael Christopher Low,” In Dialogue, Roundtable hosted by Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2 August 2022. Published, 08/02/2022.
  • Saltwater Kingdoms: Fossil-Fueled Water and Climate Change in Arabia, under contract to University of California Press, 2 January 2024. The final manuscript is due to the press no later than 31 December 2025. Accepted, 01/02/2024.
  • “Desert Dreams of Drinking the Sea, Consumed by the Cold War: Transnational Flows of Energy and Desalination from the Pacific to the Persian Gulf,” Environment and History 26, no. 2 (2020): 145-174. Published, 05/01/2020.
  • Review of Alan Mikhail, Under Osman's Tree: The Ottoman Empire, Egypt & Environmental History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), Environmental History 23, no. 3 (2018): 641-643. Published, 07/01/2018.
  • “Hajj in a time of Cholera: Remembering India’s colonial past and Yemen’s tragic present,” World Is One News (New Delhi, India-based cable television and digital news group, a subsidiary of Essel Group/Zee Media conglomerate), 4 September 2017. Published, 09/04/2017.
  • Review of John Slight, The British Empire and the Hajj, 1865-1956 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015), Journal of British Studies 56, no. 2 (2017): 445-446. Published, 03/31/2017.
  • “The Infidel Piloting the True Believer: Thomas Cook and the Business of the Colonial Hajj,” in Umar Ryad, ed., The Hajj and Europe in the Age of Empires (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 47-80. Published, 01/01/2017.
  • Lâle Can and Michael Christopher Low, “The ‘Subjects’ of Ottoman International Law,” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 3, no. 2 (2016): 223-234. Published, 11/01/2016.
  • “Unfurling the Flag of Extraterritoriality: Autonomy, Foreign Muslims, and the Capitulations in the Ottoman Hijaz,” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 3, no. 2 (2016): 299-323. Published, 11/01/2016.
  • Review of Birsen Bulmuș, Plague, Quarantines and Geopolitics in the Ottoman Empire (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), Review of Middle East Studies 48, nos. 1-2 (2014): 71-73. Published, 03/09/2016.
  • Review of Patrick Cockburn, The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East (London: Verso, 2016), The Middle East Journal 71, no. 2 (2017): 329-331. Accepted, 01/01/2016.
  • “Ottoman Infrastructures of the Saudi Hydro-State: The Technopolitics of Pilgrimage and Potable Water in the Hijaz,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 57, no. 4 (October 2015): 942-974. Published, 10/05/2015.
  • Review of James Gelvin and Nile Green, Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), Arab Studies Journal 23, no. 1 (2015): 408-412. Published, 10/01/2015.
  • “The Indian Ocean and Other Middle Easts,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 34, no. 3 (2014/2015): 549-555. Published, 12/01/2014.
  • Review of Thomas Kuehn, Empire, Islam, and the Politics of Difference: Ottoman Rule in Yemen, 1849-1919 (Leiden: Brill, 2011), International Journal of Middle East Studies 46, no. 1 (2014): 196-198. Published, 02/14/2014.
  • Patrick Adamiak, Jeffery Dyer, and Michael Christopher Low, “The End of an Era: The Less Than Grand Opening of the New Ottoman Archives,” Jadaliyya, 25 April 2013. Also featured in Kamil Pasha. Published, 04/25/2013.
  • “Global Public Health and the Ghosts of Pilgrimages Past,” Jadaliyya, 22 October 2012. Published, 10/22/2012.
  • “Mecca: Pilgrimage and the Making of the Islamic World, 400-1500,” in Aran MacKinnon and Elaine MacKinnon, eds., Places of Encounter: Time, Place and Connectivity in World History, vol. 1 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012), 127-144. Published, 03/20/2012.
  • Michael Christopher Low, Contributing author in Dona J. Stewart, The Middle East Today: Political, Geographical, and Cultural Perspectives (London and New York: Routledge, 2009). My contributions to this textbook came in the form of brief articles (textboxes) scattered throughout the volume. Collectively, I am the named, sole author of 12 short articles accounting for 22 out of approximately 200 pages of text or more than 10% of the volume. Published, 12/24/2008.
  • “Empire and the Hajj: Pilgrims, Plagues, and Pan-Islam under British Surveillance, 1865-1908,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 40, no. 2 (2008): 269-290. Published, 05/01/2008.
  • Review of Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), World History Connected 5, no. 1 (2007). Published, 10/01/2007.
  • Review of Brian Fagan, Famines, Floods, and Emperors: El Niño and the Fate of Civilizations (New York: Basic Books, 1999), World History Connected 3, no. 3 (2006). Published, 07/01/2006.