Tourism in Wadi Rum, Jordan: Bedouin Cultural Commercialization and Economic Agency



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This project focused on examining the extent of cultural adaptations made by the traditionally nomadic pastoral Bedouins of Wadi Rum to facilitate and encourage the growing tourism sector in Jordan. The development of a commercial tourism industry in Wadi Rum has prompted a wide range of observable cultural changes, such as the shift from sole reliance on portable goat-hair tents for shelter to the construction of sprawling resort complexes in the desert. Understanding these cultural changes and their future implications is crucial to determining the sustainability of commercial tourism in the region. This project consisted of a widespread literature review covering socio-political critique, onsite fieldwork and interviews, ethnographic records of the Wadi Rum Bedouin, and scientific assessments of the environmental status of the Wadi Rum region over time. This project found that commercial tourism, in conjunction with economic, political, and environmental factors, has resulted in the alteration of Bedouin culture and society in Wadi Rum to accommodate tourism. Large-scale commercial tourism is unsustainable in the long term for both the Bedouins' culture and their native environment. Ecotourism must be further explored as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly form of tourism that can still allow economic autonomy for groups such as the Bedouins.



Anthropology, World cultures and literatures