Think before you travel, researcher says

Muslim countries are caught between developing their tourism industries and making sure their culture is not eroded in the process, a leading researcher from The University of Queensland says.

Fear of cultural erosion is leading the governments of some to pick and choose the tourists they target in their marketing, School of Tourism senior lecturer Dr Noel Scott says.

This also reinforced the need for tourists to ensure they understood the nature of Islamic law and respected customs, Dr Scott said.

The comments follow the release of a paper Dr Scott wrote with Hassan Saad Sanad and Ayman Mounier Kassem from Minia University, Egypt.

“Tourism is a focus for change in society and I suspect tourism is a leading sector that is being used in Muslim countries to explore issues of how society should develop,” Dr Scott said.

Tourists were exposing people in Muslim countries to different values and beliefs because tourism was “a microcosm of everyday life”.

But western tourists needed to do their homework because acceptable behaviour differed from one country to the next.

“Saudi Arabia does not want western tourists to come along and offend local people. They want eco-nomic development from tourism, but they are not prepared to compromise their principles to have it.

“The more wealthy the country, the more they are able to determine what sort of tourism they want.

“Look at the different Muslim countries and you will see people developing differently.”

Dr Scott said many Muslim countries had long been popular among tourists, including Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia.

But tourists needed to respect the laws, customs and religious observances in such countries, he said.

“If you go to Egypt, for example, without a basic inclination of what you are going to see and do - and what to wear - you are more likely to have a bad experience because you might go there with the wrong attitude.

“It depends on how you approach it. It is a case of, you come to our place, you obey our laws.

“You can be very unlucky and have problems, but if you are respectful to people they will be friendly and you should be fine.

“Muslims have an obligation to respect visitors in their country or town. The tradition of Islam is that you take care of travelers.”

Dr Scott said tourists needed to understand that Muslim countries were unlikely to be suitable places to go for activities such as sunbathing in skimpy outfits.

“Why do you go on holidays? These are places you go to learn more about the country. You should wear reasonable clothing. It is probably more appropriate for the climate anyway.

“If a holiday is about freedom for young people to do whatever they want and they might wear short dresses, perhaps they should think about that before they go. There are other places you can go for that.”

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Aug 13, 2010
Ah, tolerance!

Whatever happened to it?

Aug 13, 2010
Yes, before going to a country, read up on its laws. If the laws are entirely based on a religion like in Sharia law, you might want to think twice about going there. I know I wouldn't visit a country who's laws were based off of religion. Plenty of countries with secular governments to visit.

Aug 13, 2010
well, economic globalization brings about culture globalization. no wonder why these people are worried about their views on how good is to stone women and throw acid on them or control their lifes.

pretty soon those societies will be transformed into secularized governments.

Aug 13, 2010
Well, I see it as a double edged sword. The reason they have cars, electricity, and all these other nice things is because of globalization. It's very hard to just pick and choose. You can't say that you're going to modernize, and then refuse to accept certain parts of modernization. McDonald's for good or evil, is just another facet of this modernization.

One thing I've noticed in the Muslim world lately is that they want shiny electronics and air conditioning, while at the same time refusing to change centuries old thinking.

Look, with technological change comes social change. It happened in the West and it will happen in the Middle East. There's no avoiding it. Refusing integration just makes it harder for Muslims states to modernize, because it is this resistance to social change that breeds resistance to technological change. Then you have people shooting TVs, or banning twitter. This backwards thinking only impedes technological advancement.

Aug 13, 2010
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Aug 14, 2010
Be careful.

America has laid waste to about 50 countries over the years. Afghanistan and Iraq in the past 10 years alone. Know your own history.

Israel is not all that different than the Muslim countries when it comes to religion and intolerance. They live on and in occupied stolen land and kill the original inhabitants and call it a 'country'. Interesting enough, this is the origin of America as well. I have native American friends. Few are left to show Americans the actual truth of what they have done.

So who is really crazy here, those who want the middle east in flames, or those who realize that tolerance and easing of tensions is a more real and workable scenario?

Ie, use the head, not the monkey. Attempting to change things too fast is what war is all about. War can be described as -'change wrought quickly'.

Aug 14, 2010
Good article, Everyone should at least show respect to local customs and laws. Those here making veiled comments about this should ask themselves this. When muslims from say Egypt or Iraq come over to a western country should they show some respect to your culture and laws?

Aug 14, 2010
Islamic countries behead women. They bury them up to their necks and throw rocks at them until they die. They cut the noses off of young girls. They call for the annihilation of Jews. They murder Christians and others such as Hindus. They cheer the deaths of westerners. They strap bombs to the troubled and mentally ill and send them into crowds of strangers to blow them up. They finance terrorists.

They want to develop their tourism?

Just wanted to ask but do you really think this is on topic? This article is about respecting local laws and traditions when going on holiday which is a sensable thing to do.

Or do you think tourists go to such countries to watch exacutions?

Aug 14, 2010
Read "Flight from Dhahran: The true experiences of an American businessman held hostage in Saudi Arabia"

Aug 14, 2010
I know I wouldn't visit a country who's laws were based off of religion.
...says the man from the united states. Oh, this is just too rich.

But back to the topic: Religious laws are no better or worse than secular laws for most nations. It's how those in power apply and enforce them - therein lies the rub.

Go to Dubai or Kuwait and you won't notice the restrictions (apart from, maybe, alcohol...but then again someone from the Netherlands might say the same about marijuhana-laws in the united states)

If you just want to go to the beach: find some in your own country. If there aren't any then find som e countries that specialize in catering to those kind og booze-and-snooze tourists. If you want to do something cultural then familiarize yourself with the local customs.

That's not 'think befory you travle' - that's just common sense (and common courtesy!).

Aug 14, 2010
Islamic countries behead women.
The US executes people by the hundreds (and not only on its own soil!). Dead is dead - I fail to see the difference in degree of barbarism here.

If you want to watch executions go to Texas - no need to travel to Iran.

Aug 14, 2010
Islamic countries behead women.

The US executes people by the hundreds (and not only on its own soil!). Dead is dead - I fail to see the difference in degree of barbarism here.

The terror and extreme pain of having one's head sawed off while fully awake is, I'd imagine, significantly worse than being given a drink to put you to sleep, then given a shot in the arm to finish you off while you're out. Could BOTH be barbarism? Sure. It depends on who you ask, but there are significantly different levels to barbarism.

Let's examine WHY someone would be executed. In the U.S., it's only if one intentionally takes the life of someone else. In countries where a woman or teanage girl is legally executed by the state or family, it's for things like infadelity, following the wrong religion, and even lesser acts.

Yes, dead is dead, but the reasons and the methods are quite, dramatically different.

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