"We Have to Survive": An Ethnographic Field Study Of Tourism And The Bedouins In Wadi Rum, Jordan



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This study examines the existing tourism industry in Wadi Rum, Jordan, through a critical lens as informed by the critiques and voiced needs of the indigenous Zalabia and Zawaideh Bedouin. The major components of this project consist of an examination of cultural shifts undergone by the Bedouin in response to commercial tourism in Wadi Rum, an analysis of environmental degradation related to tourism in Wadi Rum and the way it affects the traditional Bedouin lifestyle, the oppression of Bedouin voices and lack of positive regulation by the local governing body, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority. Project material was largely gathered through in-depth interviews with members of both Bedouin tribes over a series of several weekends. Interviews were conducted with camp owners, operators, guides, traditional shepherds, and government employees, with the intention of uplifting Bedouin critique of tourism development in Wadi Rum and suggestions for environmentally and culturally friendly tourism methods. Through these interviews, the study found that there exists a system of consistently supported suggestions for counteracting overdevelopment in Wadi Rum, as well as a burgeoning awareness of the need for sustainable Bedouin-owned and operated 'traditional' Bedouin tourism. The aim of this study is to promote awareness, support, and implementation of Bedouin-sourced modes of ecotourism in Wadi Rum.



Anthropology, Ethnography, Ethnology, Bedouin, Bedouins, Jordan, Nomadic, Nomads, Pastoral, Wadi Rum, Levant, Middle East, Tourism, Ecotourism, Environmentally Friendly, Indigenous, Autochthonous, World Cultures, Literatures, Middle Eastern Studies