This chapter analyses the ways in which the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are increasingly using their Arab heritages in marketing themselves as global aviation and tourism centres. Once pearling and trading backwaters, these cities have constructed Disneyfied cityscapes which house some of the world’s most iconic and modern structures. The cityscapes symbolise both excessive consumption and grandeur, and Arab modernity in the post-9/11 world. This chapter contends that like Dubai’s nearby neighbour, Sharjah, these cities are now drawing upon their Arab cultural heritages to broaden the tourist experience for Western consumption. This is evident in the construction of museums, heritage institutions and buildings with Arabic and Islamic features, and tourism products that are packaged as authentic UAE experiences. As this chapter argues, this revival of the UAE’s Arab heritage seemingly runs counter to the city-states’ pre-existing development strategies based on modernity and consumption. However, as the chapter contends, Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s rediscovery of their Arab heritages has been both sanitised and commodified for Western tourist consumption. The tourist consumes a Disneyfied Arab tourism product, packaged as heritage, but reinvented to suit the theme park character of these cities.
|Title of host publication||Cultural Heritage Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa|
|Subtitle of host publication||Complexties, Management & Practices|
|Editors||C Michael Hall, Siamak Seyfi|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon Oxon UK|
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
|Name||Contemporary Geographies of Leisure, Tourism and Mobility|