GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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From Oil to Tourism
Paper Proposal Text :
From Oil to Tourism
An Overview of Economic Diversification in the GCC
Dr. Heba Aziz, Dr. Edith Szivas & Lubna Al Mazroei

The tourism economy is one of the largest economic sectors in the World; it ranks fourth in terms of global export after fuels, chemicals and automotive products. The tourism sector accounts for 30 per cent of the World’s exports in commercial services and 6 per cent of total exports (UNWTO, 2010). From the 1950s, tourism is generally seen as a ‘smokeless industry’ and with considerable development potential.
The Corporation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a union of the Arab states in the Arabian Peninsula. Current GCC membership includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In recent years, and in response to the recognition of finite oil resources, GCC countries have embarked on the diversification of their economies to include tourism as an economic sector that promises long-term economic benefits such as foreign exchange revenue, investment, private sector development and, crucially, employment creation. The GCC countries represent the ‘new’ tourism destinations within the Middle East region, developing and promoting new tourism products such as meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) tourism, cruse tourism, medical and wellness tourism, sports and adventure tourism and eco-tourism.
The majority of the tourism infrastructure in the GCC is large scale iconic projects like the Jumeirah properties, the Palm, Downtown Dubai – many of them mixed use projects. Qatar coined itself as the MICE/events destination, expecting mega growth in preparation for the FIFA 2022. Abu Dhabi has positioned itself as the capital of culture in the GCC, its flagship project Saadiat Island, an Integrated Tourism Complex offering a unique collection of world class museums. There are also a number of unique projects based on nature. Oman is another destination unique with its natural and cultural heritage is now expecting the completion of major ITCs within 2012 Jebal Sefa in the greater Muscat area, Salalah Beach and an eco-resort in the Souda Island.
This paper will examine the role and potential of tourism sector development in the GCC countries in the context of their drive for economic diversification and employment generation. The paper will analyse the tourism indicators in the GCC countries commenting on whether tourism is the development path that will realise, economic diversification, employment opportunities given the political & socio-cultural reality of the GCC countries. It will also discuss what could the economic unity currently existing in the GCC offer to realise the development plans objectives. Keywords: Tourism, oil, GCC, economic diversification