GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Places of People Flows: Learning from Dubai
Paper Proposal Text :
The revolution of communication, information and transportation technologies has contributed to what David Harvey refers to as time-space compression. He means by that the acceleration of the experience of time and the shrinkage of the significance of distance. This has triggered unprecedented flows of people, capital and information across the globe. It is estimated that that in 2010, nearly 940 million international tourist arrivals were recorded around the world generating nearly $900 billion dollars of tourism revenues. Dubai, more than any other city in the region, benefited from the new global order and its flows of people, capital, and information. In less than 15 years, the city was transformed to become one of the major tourism hubs in the Middle East. Dubai managed to attract nearly 10 million tourists in 2010 compared to 2.8 million in 2000. This number is expected to reach 15 million in 2015.
In this paper I argue that Dubai has achieved this quest by constructing a series of what I call “places of people flows.” I mean by places of people flows, projects that have the capacity of triggering people flows to the city. I categorize these places into: 1) Places of attraction and fascination. 2) Places that facilitate people movement to and from the city. 3) Places that host agglomerations of people flows in the local context.
In this study I analyze the role of places of people flows in in transforming Dubai from a peripheral city to one of the most appealing tourism destination in the Middle East. I focus on the process of development of these places to emphasize their impact on the tourism industry in the city. The role of projects such as Burj Al Arab, The Palm Islands, Dubai International Airport, and Atlantis the Palm Hotel are discussed in this study.
The urban transformation experience of Dubai presents an interesting model of dealing with globalization and benefiting from its flows of people, capital, and transformation. Although that city don’t have neither a rich urban heritage nor natural attractions compared to Cairo or Damascus for example, it managed to construct a spectacular urban structure that captured part of global tourism to its local context.