The social impacts concerning the tourism development of Dubai as a global capital industry are quite prominent though have yet to be significantly researched on a formal level of academic enquiry.
However, Dr. Marcus Stephenson, Associate Professor of Tourism Management at Middlesex University Dubai, and Jane Ali-Knight, a Tourism and Event Management Lecturer, have been researching in this field of enquiry for some time. More recently, they presented some of their work at the conference, ‘Traditions and Transformations: Tourism, Heritage and Cultural Change in the Middle East and North Africa Region’, which took place in Amman, Jordan.
This research examines the phenomenon and philosophy that is ‘Dubai Tourism’, highlighting the growth and development of tourism as well as Dubai’s reaction and adaptation to the current economic situation. Importantly, this study tracks ways in which Dubai can seeks out new markets such as the budget travel sector.
Dr. Stephenson and Ms. Ali-Knight state:
‘Budget hotels were not traditionally high priority though now are seemingly earmarked as having significant potential, especially in light of the global economic changes. The potentiality of budget hotels may be seen by the industry as crucial given the financial need to both accommodate and sustain the rapid development of tourist serving infrastructure, such as retail outlets, hotels, amusement parks, and event and entertainment venues.’
However, they emphasise the importance of perhaps maintaining both markets, ‘exclusive tourists’ and ‘mass tourists’, especially through special emphasis on product differentiation and brand variation.
The urbanisation and aestheticisation of space, ‘greening of the desert’ to accommodate tourists, and the importance of cultural resources, museums and local heritage representations, are all issues that are fully discussed in the study. The work also touches on UAEs Emiratisation policy and ways in which the tourism and hospitality industries can produce fruitful forms of employment for UAE nationals. This aspect of the study illustrates that more nationals working in the industry could help to further encourage more cultural representations to be apparent to tourists, who would then really start to comprehensively understand the local culture and way of life. Therefore, ‘hospitality’ could be portrayed as deeply cultural and regional.
According to Dr. Stephenson, ‘Tourism research at Middlesex University Dubai successfully complements the tourism education profile and degree programmes at the University, where we seek to positively inform our tourism management students about contemporary issues and localised contexts in the tourism industry, especially through dealing with a range of personal insights and information based on ongoing research applications.’