The role of the tourism industry in transforming a Rentier to a long-term viable economy: The case of Bahrain

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During the past four decades, the tourism industry has emerged as one of the leading industries worldwide. In the Arab countries, however, despite its huge potential, the tourism industry is still in its infancy phase. With the exception of only a few countries, until recently most of the Arab countries almost ignored the economic potential of tourism. Since the 1990s, their traditional attitude of neglect toward the tourism industry has undergone a transformation, a fact that was not lost by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Thus, since the mid-1990s, all of the GCC countries, without exception, have been trying to promote their tourism sector, which soon became a prominent economic sector. The paper concentrates on one tourism development case - that of Bahrain - the least 'rentier'within the GCC oil-economies. The main research question addressed by this paper is to what extent Bahrain has introduced a cohesive and economically viable tourism industry that contributes to a more sustainable economy of this country. This exploratory paper examines Bahrain's motivation to promote tourism; its tourism comparative advantage; the major difficulties facing Bahrain's further tourism expansion; and the overall role of the tourism industry in the Bahraini economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-267
Number of pages31
JournalCurrent Issues in Tourism
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Bahrain
  • GCC countries
  • Oil-economies
  • Rentier economy
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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