Bahrain’s Tourism Development: What constitutes success?

Samer Bagaeen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


In offering reflections on key themes driving and affecting tourism development in Bahrain within the context of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, this chapter takes a broader view beyond tourism looking additionally at the urban, economic and social dimensions surrounding efforts to promote a particular kind of tourism (see also Bagaeen, 2007: 184 and Govers, 2012: 52). What is also important in this discussion is what Harvey (2008: 30) calls “astonishing if not criminally absurd mega-urbanization projects in places such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, mopping up the surplus arising from oil wealth in the most conspicuous, socially unjust and environmentally wasteful ways possible”. The chapter acknowledges that Bahrain is a tourism pioneer in the Arab World being one of only three countries to have received a noteworthy amount of international visitors as early as 1990. That said, for Bahrain, like others in the region, the tourism industry is still in its infancy. The chapter also recognises the importance of the underlying power relations across the GCC, some clearly manifested in the Arab Spring, and their impact on tourism. The rational for taking this multi-pronged approach is supported by Stephenson and Ali-Knight (2010: 279) who suggest that the social implications of rapid economic development through tourism have not yet been “significantly deconstructed through a detailed formal level of enquiry”. Although the chapter does not undertake a ‘detailed formal level of enquiry’, it is hoped that the information contained within will go some way to enabling further future research. In making a contribution to the subject, the chapter builds on what Jafari and Scott (2014: 13) have called a “relatively untapped theoretical field”. This is where this chapter makes a contribution - by providing an overview of the ‘social’, ‘urban’ and ‘economic’ dimensions of tourism. It asks, for example, whether tourism-led regeneration and development provoke extreme reactions from the local population when religious sensitivities are ignored? The chapter also discusses how the tourism and retail sectors in Bahrain owe much to Bahrain’s close ties with Saudi Arabia. Concluding comments consider facets of tourism related to the soft power of international sporting events, megaprojects, branding bandwagons and an emerging rail revolution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Tourism and the Gulf Cooperation Council States: Developments, Challenges and Opportunities
EditorsMarcus Stephenson, Ala al-Hamarneh
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)9781138023277
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2017

Publication series

NameContemporary Geographies of Leisure, Tourism and Mobility


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