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Beaches, Ruins, Resorts

The Politics of Tourism in the Arab World

2008
Author:

Waleed Hazbun

Beaches, Ruins, Resorts

How Arab states use tourism for their own ends

Despite being viewed as a dangerous region to visit, leisure travel across the Middle East has thrived. Waleed Hazbun investigates this industry to show how tourism is shaping the economic and political development of the region in dramatic ways.

Hazbun tells the surprising story of how the draw of glittering beaches, luxury hotels, and sightseeing at ancient ruins impacts the Arab world—promoting both globalization and authoritarianism.

There is no other book like Beaches, Ruins, Resorts. Waleed Hazbun, quietly and without fanfare, offers a wholly unique perspective on the political economy of the Middle East through his focus on tourism. Elegant and compelling, this is the book I would tell anyone to pack on their next trip to the region.

Robert Vitalis, author of America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier

Despite being viewed as a dangerous region to visit, leisure travel across the Middle East has thrived even in the post–9/11 era. In Beaches, Ruins, Resorts, Waleed Hazbun investigates this overlooked industry to show how tourism is shaping the economic development and international relations of the region in dramatic ways.

Following Europeans seeking Mediterranean beaches, Israelis crossing into Jordan as leisure tourists, and visitors discovering Dubai, Hazbun offers an original perspective on the Middle East and North Africa and challenges common portrayals of Arab nations as disconnected from the rest of the world. Rather, Hazbun reveals how government elites are using tourism to take part in globalization while, at the same time, crafting it to serve state interests. Paradoxically, the expansion of travel in the region has allowed states to encourage integration into the global economy while simultaneously expanding control over their society. Beaches, Ruins, Resorts also explores tourism’s broader beneficial effects on the region, such as aiding the peace process between Israel and Jordan, fostering Tunisia’s economic connection with Europe, and transforming Arab cities into hubs of international travel.

Hazbun tells the new and surprising story of how the draw of glittering beaches, luxury hotels and resorts, and sightseeing at ancient ruins impacts the Arab world—promoting both economic globalization and political authoritarianism. In doing so, Beaches, Ruins, Resorts provides a much-needed guide for those interested in the changing nature of this fraught region and its place in the world.

Beaches, Ruins, Resorts

Waleed Hazbun is assistant professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.

Beaches, Ruins, Resorts

There is no other book like Beaches, Ruins, Resorts. Waleed Hazbun, quietly and without fanfare, offers a wholly unique perspective on the political economy of the Middle East through his focus on tourism. Elegant and compelling, this is the book I would tell anyone to pack on their next trip to the region.

Robert Vitalis, author of America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier

Hazbun’s work is very well-researched and well-crafted. Indeed, the book makes an overdue addition to several contemporary debates on Middle Eastern political economy, delivering what it promises and engaging the reader in the process.

The Middle East Journal

An eye-opening book. Hazbun’s writing is articulate and detailed, but still accessible for non-specialists.

Multicultural Review

Beaches, Ruins, Resorts is a carefully researched, insightful, and persuasively argued text. . . . Moreover, it is an important contribution to the discourses on globalization and should encourage scholars from a range of disciplines to re-think the ways in which globalization manifests itself.

Claire Panetta, Anthropology Review Database

Through his thorough research and analysis, Hazbun shows that tourism development is deeply embedded in the political economy of Arab states. . . . Waleed Hazbun has initiated a scholarly focus that will lead to a more nuanced and rounded understanding of the region’s socioeconomic and political condition and the impact of neoliberalism.

Arab Studies Journal

Beaches, Ruins, Resorts

UMP blog: How widespread protests in Tunisia and Egypt could lead to a rapid transformation of geopolitics in the Middle East.

1/31/2011
Watching Al Jazeera English in the living room of my Beirut apartment on the evening of January 14th, 2011, I was mesmerized by the thrilling pace of change in Tunisia. Since December I had been aware of ongoing protests, but as I followed minute-by-minute the unfolding of events in cinematic fashion, on a parallel track in my mind I was remembering the words of my friend and former colleague Bill Connolly. The last chapter of his book Neuropolitics: Thinking, Culture, Speed (Minnesota 2002) offers a corrective of Paul Virilio, who argues that speed short-circuits democratic deliberations and diminishes our capacity to think with concepts in relation to images. Connolly argues: “Virilio remains transfixed by a model of politics insufficiently attuned to the positive role of speed in transtate democracy and cross-state cosmopolitanism.”
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UMP blog: The future of Dubai?

12/10/2009
As some reviewers have noted, Beaches, Ruins, Resorts did not attempt to foreshadow the current economic crisis. What it does provide is a framework for understanding the underlying political economy of Dubai. In short, I argue that the ‘Dubai model’ and the emirate’s external image are based on continually re-inventing itself and its urban form, refracting global trends in architecture, real estate, leisure, and capitalist development. The island projects, which literally remodeled the shape of the emirate, exemplify this process.
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