Tourism in the Middle East - Continuity, Change and Transformation

The Middle East contains well-established destinations (e.g. Egypt , the Holy Land), those that have emerged onto the world scene in the last decade or so (e.g. Dubai, Oman ) and at least one country, Saudi Arabia , that is still to embrace international leisure tourism to any meaningful level. This collection of papers edited by Rami Farouk Daher of the American University of Beruit and Sheffield Hallam University provides a valuable insight into many of the issues faced in developing and managing tourism destinations by assessing the state of the sector in the Middle East. Daher's own contribution entitled , 'Reconceptualising Tourism in the Middle East' offers a useful assessment of the external and internal factors driving tourism development in the region including the role of local communities and entrepreneurs in developing niche tourism operations, the impacts of 9/11 on patterns of demand and the drive by some of the Gulf States to diversify their economy. A counterpoint to this paper is the contribution by Al Mahadin and Burns on the portrayal of the Arab world in advertising, which provides a useful assessment of the way in which the tourist gaze is influenced by forces that are often quite separate from those that are trying to develop the product on the ground. Orbasli's chapter on the challenges of managing tourism and conservation in Islamic neighbourhoods contains much that is of relevance to other historic urban destinations whilst Peter Burns' review of the recent tourism planning process in Saudi Arabia provides an insight into some of the fundamental challenges facing any new destination that is seeking to establish a strategy for tourism development that respects the hosts society's own aspirations and cultural constraints.