TOURISM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

MINI-CONFERENCE ON CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS IN
MIDDLE EASTERN HERITAGE AND TOURISM

Friday, April 26, 2013, 5pm - 7pm
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley



Program


Politics and Competition in the Markets of the Old City of Jerusalem

Miriam ARANOFF, MCP Candidate, City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley



This paper explores the challenges faced by merchants in the markets of the Old City of Jerusalem. On one level, they face internal struggles related to the structure of the bazaar. Because of extreme competition in the tourist market, merchants are cannibalizing each other. On another level, there is a political overlay that adds to the vicissitudes and difficulties of the market. Through qualitative interviews with merchants and planners, this research examines the extent of these two challenges and the relationship between them.

Tourism Evolution in Oman

Anna AL RUHELLI, PhD Student, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley


In recent years, tourism has played a strong role in the Omani economic sector. Tourism in Oman has grown considerably and is expected to be one of the largest industries in the nation within a few years. Oman is characterized by an environment that is diverse for the Middle East, and cultural tourism in particular is the main attraction for most tourists in Oman. Tourism sector has great potential for growth and for making an effective contribution to economic diversification, since our country possesses such splendid tourist assets. Since Oman is next to Dubai, Oman is under heavy pressure to develop tourism projects that compete for uniqueness. For this reason, I am concerned about potential damage to Oman’s coastal environment resulting from indiscriminate development.

The purpose of this study is to examine potential tourist attractions and to suggest sustainable planning strategies for coastal tourism development along the Omani beaches, which is the main focus area these days. To establish these strategies, it is important to study sustainable tourist resorts throughout the world to make use of some of their strategies and tactics. This study describes a literature review of the evolution of tourism in Oman.

 

Sustainable Tourism Development Along the Egyptian Red Sea Coast: Still Possible?

Amir GOHAR, PhD Student, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley



The Red Sea is a unique resource that is not yet being utilized to its full potential. Since 1980s till today mass tourism has destroyed large areas of the northern coast of the Red Sea, where the city of Hurghada is an example of such environmental deterioration. Innovative initiatives have taken place in order to protect the remaining parts of the red sea (From Marsa Alam city to South) including several guidelines by the Red Sea Sustainable Tourism Initiative (RSSTI) in 2000-2004 that focused on developing ecotourism and coastal planning for the region, followed by another pilot programme Livelihood and Income From Environment (LIFE) in 2005-2008  which supported implementing pilot projects in national parks to demonstrate the appropriate processes. Since 2008 to date there have been several initiatives to introduce sustainable practices (i.e. Solid Waste Management, Mooring Buoys and other practices) lead by local NGOs such as HEPCA.

Despite all these attempts, the development pattern did not change much and the knowledge gained remains within a limited number of people; the main obstacles are: (i) An intuitional problem where the responsible authorities (both tourism and environment ministries) do not coordinate especially with such complexity of stakeholders, (ii) Practitioners are more inclined to utilize the Nile Valley architecture as the local and appropriate one for the Red Sea, and (iii) The lack of the understanding of the Red Sea system (i.e. drainage, soil, marine life,…and habitat) resulted to several inappropriate land subdivisions and allocating development in vulnerable areas.

The solutions for such complex problems can be summarized as follow:
(i) Elevate the planning above the ministry level, where planning is not limited to one ministry (housing, tourism, and environment) that has a very specific mandate and will encourage mono-type of development, but rather an over arching exercise that is a product of a proposed higher level committee on the prime-minister level.
(ii) Improve education (mainly architecture and planning) to incorporate appropriate planning tools and building technologies and not limit this arena to the Nile Valley architecture. Learning from the local tribes knowledge about best site selections criteria and building styles. Seeking guidance from relevant experiences in the region rather than copying western countries.
(iii) Need for suitable land use maps that can guide development in the region without harmful impacts on the environment and which is implementable within the local market dynamics
.

 

Battlefield Pilgrimage in Iran: The Resurrection of Shi'Ite Memories

Shahrzad Shirvani, MS Student, Architecture, UC Berkeley


Battlefields, war fronts, mine fields, military graves, memorials and many other leftovers associated with warfare are attractive sites of memory to be used for the development of battlefield tourism. In September 22, 1980, a war started between Iran and Iraq, with the invasion of Ba’thi Iraqis. The Ba’thist Army occupied over 14,000 sq.km of Iran in a few weeks. This horrible event happened two years after the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 when Iran did not have an organized army for defense. During the time, the revival of Shi’ite memories of Karbala provided Iranian soldiers from among popular forces. Once again, since the time of revolution, the notion of martyrdom became the center of attention among people.

After the war, the Islamic Republic started using the concept of martyrdom to intensify the Shi’ite culture and recreate national identity. Hence, the culture of martyrdom (Farhang-e Shahādat) became the tool for the state to reunify the new generation of youth with the ideologies of the Islamic Republic. Battlefield pilgrimage was one strategy to achieve this goal. The battlefields of Iran-Iraq war became sacred places of commemoration to vitalize the culture of martyrdom, intertwined with a reinvented national identity. 

Rahian-e Noor Caravans, defined as the travelers toward light, were formed by the state to transfer the passengers to selected landscapes of memory. This paper explores how martyrdom, national identity and personal experiences get intertwined for political reasons by looking at the new wave of battlefield tourism in Iran. It also discusses how this particular form of pilgrimage, managed by the state, can relate the new generation of youth with the memories of war and martyrdom by reinterpreting the Shi’ite memories.




Speakers

Anna AL RUHELLI is from Oman; she is a PhD student in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley. She is always interested to learn about Oman uniqueness. Currently, she is interested in research on tourism evolution in Oman and its environmental impact on the Omani costal area.

Miriam ARANOFF is a Master of City Planning candidate at UC Berkeley. Her interests revolve around the intersection of participatory planning and cultural resource management. She received her BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2007 and since then has had a variety of experiences which include interning for the New York Landmarks Conservancy, living in Egypt as a Fulbright student, and training as a mediator at the New York Peace Institute.

Amir GOHAR
is a doctoral student in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U C Berkeley. He has been a tourism and land use planner and sustainable development expert with fourteen years of experience working with municipal governments, international organizations, and private sector firms on site planning, ecotourism strategies, master planning and landscape planning. He has worked extensively in areas adjacent to national parks and coastal areas that are designated as ecotourism destinations with focus on preservation of natural and cultural resources and he has also worked in upgrading urban areas that rely on tourism as a vehicle to the revitalization of their livelihoods.

Shahrzad SHIRVANI is a Master of Science student in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research compares commemorative practices of war in Iran and Iraq since the Gulf War (1980-1988). It explores the architectural embodiment of the concept of victory in both countries, emphasizing their collective memories. She has a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor in Architectural Engineering from Islamic Azad University (Tehran Central Branch).

 


Participants

Frederick C. HUXLEY is a semi-retired anthropologist (MPhil, PhD Yale) who has taught at 3 universities, studied public opinion and media habits in the Mideast, and managed projects for socio-economic development in Tunisia and Egypt. Currently he consults on one or two projects a year, and his anthropology-of-tourism interests focus on working with local populations for mutual benefit. An early illustration was “Development in Hammam Sousse, Tunisia” in M. Salem-Murdock and M. Horowitz (eds.), Anthropology and Development in North Africa and the Middle East (Westview, 1990).

Smadar LAVIE is a scholar-in-residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group, U.C. Berkeley, specializing in the anthropology of Egypt, Israel, and Palestine, with emphasis on issues of race, gender, and religion. She is the author of The Poetics of Military Occupation, co-editor of two other books, and winner of the 2009 Gloria Anzaldua Prize. She has often consulted for and appeared in Israeli prime time printed and electronic media on issues of gender equity and justice.


This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, The Graduate Assembly, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities.

 
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