Image, Imagination, and Place: The Political Economy of Tourism in Saudi Arabia

  • Gwenn Okruhlik


Sandwiched in the travel brochure between advertisements for trips to the Himalayan Kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan, a Kenyan Christmas Family Safari, and a Summer in Tuscany, the alluring teaser reads: Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to welcome select groups of travelers to the Kingdom affords a thrilling opportunity to those seeking a truly unique travel adventure. In an age of eco-tourism, adventure travel, and culturally sensitive travel, Saudi Arabia is truly one of the last frontiers in international tourism. As a latecomer, Saudi Arabia offers an especially interesting vantage point from which to observe how politics and tourism intersect. The consumption of tourist services (including the choice of sites) cannot be extracted from the social and political relations in which they are embedded.1


Saudi Arabia World Trade Organization National Identity International Tourism Foreign Tourist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J. Urry, “The ‘Consumption’ of Tourism,” Sociology 24: 1, 1990, pp. 23–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stuart Hall, “Introduction: Who Needs Identity?” in S. Hall and P. DuGay (eds.) Questions of Cultural Identity, California: Sage, 1996.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For discussion of identity and tourism, see Simone Abram, Jaqueline Waldren, and Donald McCleod, Tourists and Tourism: Identifying with People and Places, Oxford: Berg, 1997.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Colin Michael Hall, Tourism and Politics: Policy, Power and Place, Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 1994, p. 194.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Susan Ossman, “Boom Box in Ouarzazate: The Search for the Similarly Strange,” Middle East Report 25:5, September-October 1995, pp. 12–14.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Susan Slyomovics, “Tourist Containment,” Middle East Report 25:5, September-October 1995, p. 6.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Eileen Alt Powell, “Saudi Tourism: Conservative kingdom is finally opening its door to foreign visitors,” Associated Press, Abha, in the Northwest Arkansas Times, 16 May 1999.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Tim Mitchell, “Worlds Apart:An Egyptian Village and the International Tourism Industry,” Middle East Report 25:5, September-October 1995, pp. 8–11.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    Abdullah al Shihri, “Saudis Establish Tourism Body,” Associated Press, Riyadh, 17 April 2000. Such figures suggest that Saudi Arabia is not simply a receptor destination, as is the case for much of the developing world; rather, Saudi Arabians themselves are active travelers elsewhere.Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    Philip L. Pearce, The Social Psychology of Tourist Behavior, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1982, p. 137.Google Scholar
  11. 26.
    Ghana Gurung, David Simmons, and Patrick Devlin, “The Evolving Role of Tourist Guides: The Nepali Experience,” in Thomas Hinch and Richard Butler (eds.), Tourism and Indigenous Peoples, London: International Thomson Business Press, 1996, pp. 107–28.Google Scholar
  12. 27.
    The phrase was coined by John Urry, The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies, London: Sage, 1990.Google Scholar
  13. 29.
    Dean MacCannell, The Tourist:A New Theory of the Leisure Class, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999, p. 203.Google Scholar
  14. 30.
    Madawi Al Rasheed, “Political Legitimacy and the Production of History: The Case of Saudi Arabia,” in L. Martin (ed.), New Frontiers in Middle East Security, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999, pp. 25–46.Google Scholar
  15. 31.
    As well as a 12-volume Arabic-language Encyclopedia of Folklore of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was published in 1999.Google Scholar
  16. See Judith Miller, “Encyclopedia Raises Veil on Ancient Saudi Culture,” New York Times, 20 June 2000.Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    Ted Conover and Brown W. Cannon III, “Shifting Sands,” Travel & Leisure, March 2000, p. 228.Google Scholar
  18. 36.
    Khalid al Maeena, “Clicking Off the Curbs of Out-dated Practices,” Gulf News, 24 May 2000.Google Scholar
  19. 38.
    Gwenn Okruhlik, “Bringing the Peninsula in from the Periphery: From Imagined Scholarship to Gendered Discourse,” Middle East Report 27:3, July-September 1997, pp. 36–37.Google Scholar
  20. 39.
    Jack Schnedler, “Saudi Arabia: Our Strange Bedfellow,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 16 April 2000, Section J, pp. 1, 8.Google Scholar
  21. 41.
    Carla Power, “Touring Muslim Style,” Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Joseph A. Kechichian 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwenn Okruhlik

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations