This blog post uses the results of two graduation research projects about eco-tourism as a tool for economic development in Dibba. The projects were done by many young men from that region:
Abdullah Obaid Al Shehyari, Ahmed Mohammed Al Hafeeti, Mohammed Rashid Al Shehhi, Majed Ali Al Duhohri, Yousef Rashid Al Shehhi, Ali Salem Al-Zeyyodi, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Yammahi, Abdullah Ahmed Al-Saridi, Obaied Rashed Al-Saridi and Jumm’a Betti Al – Ka’bi.
The research project began as a collaborative brainstorming effort. Through many iterations between the team and myself as the supervising professor, the teams came up with the following research problem statement:
The local economy in Dibba is underdeveloped and this causes young people to leave the region for Abu Dhabi and Dubai (Farghali, 2012). One of the possible solutions would be the development of the new industries small and medium firms and human capital development of the local population. These issues could be addressed through the support and development of a locally run eco-tourism industry.
• How can ecotourism contribute to the economy of Dibba?
• What could be done to train/ prepare the local population to actively participation in the development and the promotion of our culture and the industry?
• What could be done for Ecotourism development in the Dibba region through economic and cultural tourism?
The groups then divided the work into two separate categories, tangible and intangible heritage (yes, there is a theme in what “projects” I encourage my students to do!)
A lot of this blogpost is almost directly from their report. They know I am doing this and have agreed that I can use the photos as well. If you would like to learn more about their research, please contact me.
The first step was to understand as much as possible about the concept of Eco-tourism. The students liked the concept, the more they found out about it. Here is a short exert from the report:
“There are several characteristics or principles that describe Ecotourism. These principles started by minimizing the negative impacts that can damage or destroy a destination. In addition, the goal of companies is to educate the traveler on the importance of conservation and emphasise the importance of responsible business that works with local authorities and people to meet the local needs and ensure conservation. Moreover, the concept stresses the need for planning and sustainable growth of the tourism industry and seeks to ensure that tourism development does not exceed the social and environmental capacity and maximize economic benefits to local communities and increase the percentage of revenues by concentrating on the use of locally-owned facilities and services (Wood, 2002).
Therefore, the idea of Ecotourism helps save the environment besides developing economic activities. Furthermore, it creates understanding of cultural and natural history of the area and improve the welfare of local people. In addition, the use of heritage/green buildings and the development of ecotourism guidelines for local people and potential expat entrepreneurial partners and visitors would help to implement the idea of Ecotourism in the area.”
They go on to write that any development would need to be done through consulting the various stakeholders such as the tourism authorities of Fujairah, Sharjah and the UAE, the municipality of Dibba, the hotel operators, current tourism operators and local people. They suggest guidelines to ensure sustainability – in particular cultural and environmental, and they would love to see more people come for the heritage and cultural attractions not just the (marvelous) beach.
They researched and wrote about several areas that could be interesting to develop. The local honey industry (which I have written about), heritage dancing and singing (which I also have written about in this blog), food, fishing and pearling, the local date and fruit farms, and the traditional handicrafts of women (and men in the past who worked on basket and net making).
|In the mountains of Dibba|
|Dibba beach: I obviously took this photo considering its awesome quality!|
They wrote of the importance of Al Bidiya Mosque, which is now under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (I reviewed Marco Sosa’s photographic essay on the mosque in December). They also did research on Wam – an abandoned village that very few tourists know about or visit.
|Front cover for Marco's book|
From their extensive interviews, primary and secondary research they came up with a very well thought out SWOT analysis.
· An attractive place for tourists especially in special occasions
· Suitable place for many tourism activities
Of course the next step would be to take the results of this project and see if we (meaning the students of course, I love saying we, knowing they have to do all the hard work!) could develop a project this semester to start on the development of eco-tourism guidelines. We will see!
Bravo gentlemen. You worked very well together on a report that is interesting, timely and provides a good starting point for further research.