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Technische Universität Berlin (2019)

The economic dimensions of developing islamic religious heritage sites in the arab world - an application to Egypt

Abdelwahed, Abeer

Titre : The economic dimensions of developing islamic religious heritage sites in the arab world - an application to Egypt

Die wirtschaftlichen Dimensionen der Entwicklung islamischen religiösen Erbes Stätten in der arabischen Welt - eine Fallstudie in Ägypten

Auteur : Abdelwahed, Abeer

Université de soutenance : Technische Universität Berlin

Grade : Doktor der Ingenieurwissenschaften -Dr.-Ing.- 2019

The rich and diverse Islamic religious heritage sites of the Arab world constitute a tremendous asset for economic and human development in the region. Archaeological, natural, and historic Islamic sites as well as archaeological monuments, historic objects and traditions are recognized and given the status of heritage. These Islamic sites play a significant role in building Arab-Islamic national identities and are considered to be an important economic resource.

These Islamic sites are divided into three main categories : • The three holiest sites in Islam, namely the Al-Masjid-Al-Haram (Great Mosque) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia ; the Prophet’s Mosque in Al-Madina Al-Monawara, Saudi Arabia ; and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Mosque of Jerusalem) in Palestine. • Religious sites related to art and architecture from the historical Islamic modern or medium ages. • Sites associated with Quranic stories ; the biographies of the Prophets (Abraham , Joseph, Moses, Jesus, etc.) ; the lives of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions and followers ; and Islamic battles, conquests, and other events that happened in the early period of Islam.

The first and second types are already part of tourist programs in every Arab country. Although the third type has significant religious value, it is however still neglected. No development projects are directed towards these kinds of Islamic sites and they are not included in any tourism programs because of the fact that they lack exploration, care, and attention. Thus, they are not included in current development processes of historical and heritage sites. Nevertheless, current and potential cultural Islamic religious sites of this type are considered to be a creative sector in the Arab world and promise to be a major source of economic development in the future.

The purpose of this research study is to analyze the state of Islamic religious heritage sites of this third type that prevail in the Arab World from several main perspectives. These perspectives include : (1) discussing the concept of heritage in light of current international usage—including tangible and intangible heritage—as well as studying the concept and classification of Islamic religious heritage sites in the Arab world and the main problems and obstacles they face ; (2) studying tourism as an economic dimension for developing Islamic religious heritage sites in the Arab world by presenting facts and figures about the position of tourism in Arab economies and specifically the role of religious tourism as a special segment of tourism in the Arab world ; and (3) studying the economic evaluation methods that can be applied to these sites for maximizing the economic benefit of the upgrading process in a framework that acknowledges both the monetary aspects and those intangible values that are deemed essential for the preservation of heritage resources.

Using specific case studies, the current thesis has chosen four examples in the field of developing religious heritage sites from the four largest religious groups by population—the shrine of St. Padre Pio in Italy (Christianity), the Ramayana Trail in Sri Lanka (Hindusim), Phra That Doi Suthep Temple in Thailand (Buddhism), and the tomb and shrine of Abu Ubaida ibn al-Jarrah in Jordan (Islam)—in order to identify the most important problems facing the sites, determine how the sites were developed, measure the economic returns as well as other social, urban, tourist benefits generated through the development process at each site, and, finally, determine the principles and basis of the development process that will help deduce a strategy appropriate to religious sites in the Arab world. The analyses of the four examples were compared. Indicators for the success of the development projects at the religious heritage sites were discussed, including a discussion of the reasons for the success and deficiencies of each religious tourism project. Additionally, SWOT analyses were presented in order to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each project.

Mots clés  : economic evaluation ; religious sites ; islamic religious heritage sites ; islamic tourism ; Arab countries ; wirtschaftliche Bewertung ; religiöse Stätten ; islamisches religiöses Erbe ; islamischer Tourismus ; arabische Länder


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