The tourism industry as an alternative for the GCC oil-based rentier economies

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During the past four decades, the tourism industry has emerged as one of the leading industries worldwide. This article examines its development in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The article looks at, first, the main factors that led the GCC rulers to select tourism as a major catalyst for enhancing economic development and diversification. Further, it examines the GCC comparative advantages in the global tourism arena and then analyses Dubai's tourism development as an example of both the potential as well as the costs of having a well-established tourism industry in the Arabian Gulf region. Finally, it considers the major barriers to further GCC tourism development. The main conclusion of the article is that, although tourism development may provide a viable economic solution to some of the major socio-economic problems currently facing the GCC oil rental countries, one should not disregard the fundamental barriers and risks to further GCC tourism development, first and foremost in the area of increasing dependence on foreign labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-360
Number of pages28
JournalTourism Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Arabian Gulf tourism
  • Dubai
  • Economic growth
  • GCC countries
  • Oil
  • Rentier economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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