WIT Press

The Wicked Problem Of Tourism: Economic Benefits Versus Socio-cultural Impacts


Free (open access)





Page Range

345 - 358




2980 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


M. Odeh


This paper is based on a research conducted regarding the local perceptions of tourism in Dubai. The purpose of the study was to investigate this issue, since it has been the subject of very little research. Dubai's status as a global tourism destination is raising concerns among the locals about the impacts of tourism on their culture. To verify these concerns, this study designed a questionnaire that was administered to Emaratis. Overall, respondents confirmed most concerns that tourism affects local culture negatively, but some areas were viewed positively by the respondents. Hence, the research showed that Emaratis have mixed feelings towards tourism: they understand its economic benefits but have feelings of resentment for its affect on their national culture and social identity. Keywords: socio-cultural impacts, tourism impacts, UAE, Dubai, Middle East. 1 Introduction Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world; it is promoted as a means of development and economic growth and governments worldwide are endorsing tourism development plans and spending billions in the process. The UAE is one of those countries, with Dubai as the forerunner closely followed by Abu Dhabi. Dubai occupies a land area of 3,885 km2, is the second largest emirate with a population of 1.422 million of which 1.073 million are male [1]. The primary tourist attractions are beaches, nightlife, shopping and luxury accommodations, with other upcoming attractions such as the US$9.5 billion Dubailand project [2]. In 2007, Dubai had 5.42 million visitors [3] contributing to 22.6% of the economy [4]. Of primary interest in this study is the myriad of views that tourism scholars across the board have shared on the impacts of western-dominated tourism on


socio-cultural impacts, tourism impacts, UAE, Dubai, Middle East