Challenges for Promotion of Heritage Tourism: Case Study of the UAE

Challenges for Promotion of Heritage Tourism: Case Study of the UAE

Joanna Seraphim, Farooq Haq
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6283-2.ch002
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This chapter appreciates the growing significance of heritage tourism, even in a place well-known as a fun-based modern destination. This study is based on an exploratory research which used qualitative research to study issues related to the promotion of heritage tourism in the United Arab Emirates. The purpose of this chapter was to identify challenges faced by the public and private tourism organizers for heritage tourism in the country. This original research employed the Delphi techniques and interviewed renowned heritage and cultural experts. Critical realism ontology was applied to analyze the qualitative data where themes emerged as the key challenges. Five themes emerged from the research that could be replicated to study heritage tourism challenges in other countries. A subsequent study to identify and assess solutions and strategies for these challenges is the suggested future study for this chapter.
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Since the 1960s, the United Arab Emirates economy has been mostly based on the oil and gas industry. Starting from the mid-1980s, the country decided to diversify their economy, because the oil reserves are limited, and the oil prices are unstable (Morakabati, 2013). When they started to develop their tourism strategy, the country preferred to promote the UAE as a beach, a resort and a shopping destination, rather than to valorize its heritage (Steiner, 2010; Melotti, 2014). In parallel, their heritage buildings and neighborhood have been undergoing destructions for years. As the country became richer, it decided to get rid of buildings that looked old and decrepit in order to have a modern and sophisticated look. Progressively, through media and conferences, and visits from foreign dignitaries, authorities realized that the heritage of the place had to be preserved. Heritage buildings and quarters were renovated, and heritage tourism began to grow (Boussaa, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Conservation of Heritage Sites: Conserving, restoring, maintaining, and rejuvenating heritage sites for social and economic benefits and for the benefit of future generation.

Cultural Heritage Tourism: Culture heritage tourism where people travel to experience authentic activities, stories of the people living centuries ago, past, artefacts, food, clothing, and music.

Heritage Tourism: Heritage tourism is a practice where people visit heritage sites within a country or travel abroad to historical places of significance to see centuries old past heritage and experience traditional heritage monuments, gardens, and places as recognized by UNESCO, archaeological societies, and other places of historical, cultural, and natural significance.

Souq: The Arabic word for market. The traditional markets in the UAE are referred as Souq, including on the official signs.

Promotion of Heritage Sites: Marketing and promoting heritage sites which include cultural, historical, military, dark-heritage, industrial, mining, spiritual of ancient, medieval Mughal, and colonial period for education, research, and tourism purposes.

Heritage Village: A place where a traditional village is built, and the traditional lifestyles are exhibited. Craftsmen demonstrate how they do their handicraft. The visit ends with a visit to the souvenir shop.

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