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I am studying cultural tourism in the Middle East because I want to understand the various perspectives of the eastern tourist in order to help my readers learn the right concepts of the Middle East culture. According to the Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, tourists visiting UAE for cultural reasons are crucial for the UAE economy because the spending by such cultural tourists is more when compared to other tourists’ spots like beaches etc. It is believed that cultural tourists are key contributors to the economic development of UAE. Cultural tourism is not a new concept or idea with respect to Middle East. For instance, Belly-dancing was an entertainment that was invented in Egypt during the late-nineteenth century with a prime motive of spreading tourism. Similarly, in Morocco, appeal for cultural tourism grew under the rule of King Mohammed VI who proposed and endeavored to boost the tourism industry at an annual rate of 15%, and also to attract approximately 10 million tourists into the country by the year 2010. This focus on cultural tourism is actually part of a broader strategy to renovate and boost the economy that was struck badly by droughts, natural calamities, as well as increased unemployment.
The first article that has been chosen was the one that speaks about how the Omani government is promoting cultural tourism. Ministry of Tourism is hardly promoting Oman’s cultural heritage and the rich history of the nation. Tourism creates a great platform for direct communication between people belonging to various cultural backgrounds, and this opportunity window, in the case of nations like Oman and UAE, helps eradicate the opinionated and biased perceptions borne by people Arab and the Islamic nations. Tourism also strengthens the sense of pride in the local citizens about their history and also cultural heritage. It is a highly effective way for gaining global peace and also a means to diminish prejudice and extremism, thus encouraging deference for cultural diversity.
In terms of culture, the willingness of tourists to invest in the acquisition of customary and handmade goods, the opportunity window offered by the tourism sector to rejuvenate traditional professions is simply amazing and vast. Tourists also show increased interest in activities like the local folk dances, the local arts as well as the heritage, the cultural identity, the historical remnants and monuments in the places that they visit. This provides economic value to the historical monuments, palaces and also the various archaeological sites, and transmutes them from being a burden into value-based entities, and, eventually inspires the local governments to safeguard them.
Oman also participates in global, regional as well as local exhibitions with an objective of promoting the Omani tourism products, while also disseminating information about the most significant and important tourist locations within Oman that are worth visiting by the tourists. The Omani government is proposing to draft extensive policies for the development of the tourism industry in Oman with clear-cut goals, implementation timelines for different projects, assessment of the capabilities, examination of the demand and future outlooks in global tourism, observing the contemporary trends in the tourism sector, profiting from sophisticated technology and using the latest promotion techniques to promote and market Sultanate of Oman as a favorite tourist target in the vicinity, provincially and also globally.
The second article is about tourism promotion in Dubai. One of the most prominent places in the entire Middle East that is popularly known as the Jewel of Middle East is Dubai. Dubai is possibly one of the best known cases of a city brand that has gained the current reputation for itself in an extremely short span of time while riding on the influences of globalization. This has eventually caused a schizophrenic portrayal of the city among the international audience uniting the Middle-Eastern typecasts with descriptions of a contemporary, rich, and stylish metropolis.
Yet, while the appearance of the contemporary Dubai has been tested by the recent global financial catastrophe, looks like competition in the Middle East has made its advent. In this particular article, the author explores the competitive brand position of Dubai, in comparison to other Middle East cities like Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain. Research reveals that Dubai has fascinated and continues to attract maximum attention in the conventional media and also the social media. This buzz is largely positive with the exemption of the massive amount of hustle-bustle around the debt crisis announcement of Dubai towards the end of the year 2009. Irrespective of this, the competition that was prevalent was successful in attracting massive amounts of positive attention for shorter time spans, which rarely overshadowed Dubai in the recent years.
Many websites that market the city as a favorite tourist destination indicated large contradictions in the way that various kinds of actors portray the image of Dubai. Thus, the portrayed image offers a mystifying brand positioning, while aspects related to stakeholder collaboration and cooperation are still remain unaddressed. While government players promote Dubai’s cultural heritage and the Arab origins, private players predominantly highlight the modernity and the contemporary amenities that that city offers.
Dubai’s emphasis on crafting a brand image of extravagance, reputation and modernism might have ricocheted with the financial crisis. In relation to the fact that, through its constant simplistic communication in the past, the modern image of Dubai encompasses two fundamental elements – a typecast image of a Middle East city and one of a multiethnic contemporary international hub – Dubai has been at risk.
The third article is one that discusses how artisans from Egypt are striving hard to reconcile and safeguard the precious monuments in Egypt and promote cultural tourism. Yet another Middle East location that is increasingly focusing on tourism development is Egypt. All over the world, invaluable monuments and relics are collapsing due to increased exposure to the constantly growing pollution and multitudes of visitors combined with the passage of time. The inevitable loss of cultural heritage is a growing concern for many people these days, and is all the more distressing for decision-makers in locations like Egypt, a city which heavily relies on the income generated through cultural tourism for its sustenance.
‘ Digital Artisans’ is a new concept of means that is being followed to reconcile the collapsing cultural treasures and make them available to the public or the tourists. Factum Arte, a atelier hailing from Madrid is at the front position of this new method that unites science and art. Its urbane and classy replica of Tutankhamen’s burial chamber, mounted underground in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings very recently, and thus pushes Egypt at the heart of a radical shift in conserving its heritage and legacy. With just a little more collaboration and assistance from the local government, Egypt could soon own one of the most sophisticated workshops for preserving its cultural heritage.
Tourism is a powerful tool that can help in economic development. Tourism helps in the creation of employment, offers new and massive business opportunities and reinforces local economies. When cultural heritage tourism is promoted and developed in an appropriate manner, it also helps to safeguard the national treasures of culture and nature, while also improving the quality of life for the locals and also the tourists alike.
Relating tourism with heritage and culture can offer a plethora of benefits to the local communities rather than the benefits reaped from the promotion of these two independently. This is the fundamental notion behind the increasing popularity for cultural tourism.
Golia, M. (2014). The Science of Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage. Middle East Institute.
Govers, R. (2012). Brand Dubai and its competitors in the Middle East: An image and reputation analysis. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. 8, 48-57.
Shehadeh, D. H. (2012, March 03). Connecting cultures through tourism in Oman. Retrieved from Middle East Online: http://www. middle-east-online. com/english/? id= 51176