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 impact 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.