The Nature of Relationship
Tourism has become a major income generator in many countries. Over the last couple of years, Dubai has become a major destination center that attracts millions of visitors every year. The major attractions in the Arabian country include the large shopping malls, cozy five-star hotels, and other modern as well as ancient physical attractions. Tourism has become the major source of government revenue after the oil reserves in the country have shrunk. However, the rapid expansion of the tourism sector in the country has brought environmental repercussions in the country. With an influx of people visiting Dubai, the natural ecosystem has also continued to suffer. It is, however, important to note that the country has transformed from being a barren desert area to an internationally recognized tourist hub (Ryan and Stewart, 2009, p.288). Tourism in the region has been alleviated by the increased building of luxury malls and hotels. The latter means that there is continuous construction of hotels due to tourism which has negative impacts on the environment.
Tourism in Dubai has also seen an increase in the use of energy which is required for the maintenance of the facilities. As a result of increased oil use as the primary source of energy, Dubai has witnessed increased air pollution. Despite this negative relationship between tourism and the environment in Dubai, the industry has also brought positive impacts such as increased neatness along the shorelines and in the city. With the number of tourists visiting the country for luxury reasons, it is imperative for the authorities to ensure that neatness is observed in every aspect. Besides, with Dubai being acknowledged as one of the best travel destinations in the world, it would be detrimental for it to fail in upholding environmental awareness. Therefore, tourism in Dubai can be said to have both negative and positive implications.
Impacts of Tourism in Dubai
Due to the massive influx of tourists who visit Dubai, the country has had both beneficial and disadvantageous impacts. These results are witnessed in the environmental, socio-cultural, and economic aspects. In the environmental phase, the country continues to suffer from raw sewage and salinity problems (Alderman, 2010, p. B1). Also, the state requires a considerable amount of energy to support their tourist facilities. Power in Dubai is necessary for running vehicles, air conditioning, and many other homes and commercial uses (Mehta, Sain, and Jawale, 2014, p.531). As a result, there has been over-exploitation of the current oil reserves that are depleting at an alarming rate. It has been estimated that the remaining may only serve for another one or two decades. For this reason, the country has swerved into the use of nuclear energy. This action has brought environmental risks of relying on such a technology which may be fatal in case of accidents occur. Another environmental challenge brought by increased tourism is the constraint for fresh water. Dubai relies on purification of seawater to provide clean water to the population. However, with the high tourist influx, these efforts have been subdued, and clean water is not availed to everyone. Besides, the excessive constructions of hotels and fancy houses have affected the natural reserves such as bird sanctuaries and coral reefs. Also, there is increased pollution and erosion of the coastlines (Kumar, 2012, 16)
In the economic frontier, Dubai boasts of having among the world's most prestigious shopping malls and hotels in the world. The Burj Al Arab, for example, is the only 7-star hotel in the world which attracts millions of tourists to visit Dubai. The amount of boarding fee charged in such hotels is overly higher as compared to other hotels in other regions (Sharpley, 2008, p.15). With such charges, the country ends up earning a significant amount of foreign revenue from the tourism industry. The revenue collected is then re-invested in the building of more classy hotels and shopping malls that continue to lure only the elite. Other negative repercussions affect Dubai's tourism. For example, the high costs of hotels in Dubai drive away middle-income tourists. As a result, the country faces the challenge of a declining tourist population. These middle-class visitors opt for other cheaper destinations such as Lebanon and Qatar (Kumar, 2012, p.16). These destinations are also investing in hotels and cultural fascinations. They have found ways to differentiate from Dubai and attract more tourists (Haryopratmoet al., 2011, p.28). Also, the constant decline of the pound and euro against the USD puts the country's tourism under constraint since the Dubai dirham is contrasted against the U.S dollar.
Tourism has also brought sociocultural impacts in Dubai. Tourism has accelerated the rate of globalization in the world. The liberalization of trading service and air transport in the UAE has boosted globalization (Mustafa, 2010, p.38). The residents of Dubai, who are mostly expatriates, have undergone tremendous changes over the last few years as a result of the expansive tourism industry. For example, the Dubai airport is a busy location that operates 24 hours every day. The residents were not used to such activities, and noise pollution from the site has continued to affect those residing within the airport’s proximity (Odeh, 2010, p.345). Also, tourism has brought clashes between the Islamic culture, which is prevalent in the Arabian region, and western culture from the visitors (Odeh, 2010, p.346). Western culture has different perceptions from those of the Islamic culture. For instance, the Islamic culture does not allow women to go topless even at the beach, an issue that has been very controversial in Dubai. However, tourists from the Western world have continued to alter such views which are seen as a way of jeopardizing the prevailing culture. If the culture of the west continues being adopted by the locals, they may end up eroding their cultural beliefs.
Management of the Impacts
Despite being faced with numerous environmental challenges, Dubai has taken several measures to address the prevailing situation. First, the government, along with other independent organizations have taken the initiative of creating environment awareness initiatives designed to address the rising cases of degradation (Aspinall, 2001, p.278). Due to the increased erosion of the ocean chores, Dubai has taken the initiative of building man mad islands in the seas by using sand from the deserts. These islands are occupied by a large population of persons. Also, mangrove planting along the shores has increased to help curb sand erosion along the shores which has been caused primarily by the large numbers of tourists (Van Lavieren, 2011, p.49). On the other hand, the government has taken the initiative of increasing the purification of seawater and transports it using trucks to the people.
The two international airports in Dubai have been a cause of the increased noise and air pollution. The airports have become one of the fastest growing in the world due to increased tourism in the country. The airports have developed means of curbing the current pollution situations. The plans include waste management, air quality, emissions, environmental auditing, and noise control, among others (Dubai Airports, 2009, p.7). The government has also strived to ensure that there are peace and stability in the country which has continued to attract more tourists into the country despite the nuclear energy plans that have been viewed as a cause of terror in the region. As a means of fighting the stiff competition from other Arabian countries, Dubai has become a major cruise hub which has been inspired by the Singapore model (Handerson, 2006, p.92). The tourism authorities have taken the initiative of convincing leading cruise industries to anchor at their shores instead of the already crowded Mediterranean and Caribbean shorelines. The authorities have made it easy to acquire a visa for persons on cruise hence making Dubai the prime destination (Handerson, 2006, p.92). Besides, the costs of hotels and retail prices have been significantly dropped to ensure that even the middle class in the society can enjoy the luxuries. On the other hand, assimilation of the Western culture continues to be controlled such that the prevailing Islamic culture is not eroded. Emphasis has been laid on ensuring that the youths in Dubai are enlightened on what to acquire from the foreigners and what not to assimilate from them. Through all these approaches, the impacts of tourism in Dubai have been addressed.
Several other approaches may be undertaken to ensure that Dubai addresses all the impacts brought by tourism. For instance, Dubai may opt to shift from the intents of using nuclear energy and adopt solar power. The country is arid, and the conditions are suitable for harvesting large amounts of solar power that can be used in hotels and other tourist attractions in the country (Islam et al., 2009, p.511). The use of solar energy may aid in prolonging the predicted period before the depletion of oil reserves. Also, the nation may wish to diversify into other attractions other than luxury malls and hotels. Other countries have also adopted these investments which have negatively impacted the tourism industry in Dubai. There are other options such as building beautiful bird sanctuaries and parks as supplements to the reliance on hotels. Hall and Lew (2009, p.234) have emphasized the need for a country to diversify its attractions. Concerning the increased pollution, the government may apply measures such as enforcing the use of an alternate source of energy at the hotels. It is vital to address the pollution in Dubai to promote healthy living among the indigenous as well as the tourists. The drainage system in some areas is poor which causes sewage to run in open trenches in the city (Pacione, 2005, p.263). The government should hire contractors who ensure that such problems are taken care of as they arise.
Alderman, L., 2010. Dubai faces environmental problems after growth. The New York Times, 28, p.B1.
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