Empirical analysis of the cross-cultural information searching and travel behavior of business travelers: A case study of MICE travelers to Qatar in the Middle East

Very few tourism geographers have investigated the way meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) travelers search for information and their travel behavior based on cultural background and country of origin. In addition, little attention has been paid to examining the factors that affect MICE travelers’ decisions to visit a certain destination. To address this knowledge gap, this paper aims to examine the impact of cultural factors on the information acquisition and travel behaviors of MICE tourists. It also examines the factors that affect travelers’ decisions to visit a certain destination in cross- cultural settings. The primary data, related to the impact of cultural aspects of MICE travelers on their information searching and travel behaviors, were collected through a self administered survey. The survey tool was composed of key elements the country of normal residence, behaviors in information searching, the arrangement of the present trip, travel behaviors, significant effects on tourists’ choices and satisfaction, and the socio-demographic characteristics of MICE travelers. The sample population was composed of Chinese-, Arabic-, and English-speaking MICE travelers at one of the top Middle Eastern MICE tourism destinations, Doha, Qatar. The relevant data were collected from MICE travelers at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, which is considered the main MICE sector setting in Doha. To test the proposed hypotheses, which concern categorical variables, a series of chi-square tests for independence or relatedness were conducted. These tests are appropriate for analyzing the relationship between two categorical variables. The study revealed notable differences between the three respondent groups. This paper proposes that destinations marketers should develop targeted marketing strategies based on the information and travel behavior of each cultural group. Particular marketing implications for Doha are discussed.

Ammar Abulibdeh , Esmat Zaidan
Department of International Affairs, College of Arts and Science, Qatar University, Doha, P.O.Box: 2713, Qatar
Department of Geography and Urban Planning, United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Community Identity and Economy in Qatar prior to the Oil Industry, Based on Archaeological Evidence: An Interdisciplinary Research Study

Since the middle of the 20th century, many archaeological excavations have been conducted within Qatar. They revealed remains of historical towns and villages that are primary sources for understanding and reconstructing Qatar history, communal identity, and economy prior to the advent of the oil industry. In addition, the results of the lab analysis of unearthed organic and inorganic archaeological remains determine the sources of the uncovered material culture, not only that which originated from the Gulf’s neighboring territories but also that which came from far regions stretching from Holland in the west to China and India in the east. This paper highlights the result of an ongoing interdisciplinary research study endeavoring to discuss the multifaceted challenges that formed the social and communal identity and economy (including trade) of the past generation in Qatar before the emergence of the oil era, particularly during the period from the 18th to the early 20th century, based primarily on archaeological records of a series of excavated sites dated and based on historical, archaeological, petrological, and mineralogical interdisciplinary studies in which the author participated.

Mohammedmoin Sadeq
History and Archaeology, Department of Humanities,
College of Arts and Sciences,
Qatar University, P.O. Box 2713, Doha Qatar

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Usage of Child Car Safety Seat in Qatar: Behaviors, Knowledge, and Attitudes

Road safety is a significant public health issue in the State of Qatar resulting in a huge humanitarian suffering for individuals, families, society and the government. Arab Gulf countries have a higher road accident fatality rate, highest is in Qatar, compared to North America and European countries. Qatar residents are five times more likely to die in vehicle accidents than from a stroke, representing the highest ratio in the world. The number of vehicle accidents has outpaced the country’s population growth over the past 18 years. Average of 65 percent of deaths in Qatar, are among children aged 14 and younger are caused by road accidents. Fifty-four percent of all deaths among children under the age of four in Qatar is caused by traffic accidents. Such death rate in the country is three times higher than the global average among children. Qatar National Vision 2030 aims at reducing road accidents and improve safety through a holistic strategy of raised awareness, better safety measures and firmer laws that achieve several fundamental and crucial objectives. Improved protection of children and young people who are significantly overrepresented in fatality statistics has been identified as a basic objective for the country’s national vision. The use of seatbelts and child restraints while travelling in a vehicle has been identified by the Qatari National Road Safety Strategy 2013-2022 as one of the primary ways of reducing death and injury. The national strategy will introduce high priority legislation on seatbelts in the rear of vehicles and the use of child restraints as a main action for seatbelt use.

Deaths due to car accidents can be considerably reduced by utilizing Baby/child seats and booster seats, for babies, toddlers and older children. The use of safety seats, that are specifically designed to guard babies or children in the occurrence of a crash, can decrease the risk of death among infants by 71 percent and among toddlers by 54 percent. Furthermore, the use of car safety seats can also decrease the threat of injury by 59 percent for children between the ages of four to seven. As with education around seat belt usage in Qatar, education campaigns on car safety seat usage must use a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach in order for them to be successful. In other words, current Qatar parental behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes about car safety seats should be studied as a basis for development of appropriate educational interventions related to their usage, rather than government or other interventions that have not been grounded in research that has been conducted on the residential population.

In order to design effective and comprehensive awareness and educational campaigns targeting parents and future parents in Qatar, it is necessary to understand current parental behaviors, knowledge and attitudes around car safety seat use or non-use. With a clear understanding of behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes it will be possible to develop educational interventions that will have the greatest potential to impact behaviors. In this study, the usage of car seats within the residence of Qatar with children currently under the age of 12 is evaluated in order to develop insight into this safety-related behavior that effects vulnerable road users (young children). The main objective of the study is to provide a comprehensive understanding of road safety culture and norms related to car seat usage by Qatari residents, a research topic that has not formerly been considered in the State of Qatar, in order to inform effective and comprehensive interventions to embolden car seat use, both legislative and educational. To achieve the study objective, a survey instrument was designed and utilized. The survey included a set of questions related to demographics (nationality, age, age of children, education level, etc.), a set of questions to assess parents’ car safety behaviors, a set of questions to assess parental knowledge of child passenger safety, and a set of questions to assess attitudes regarding the use of child safety seats. Since both Nationals and expats living in the country drive on the roads and the Qatar government is concerned with the safety of all children living in Qatar, a broad sample of Doha demographic was covered. The data was collected from a variety of parents living in Doha, such as Qatari nationals, Arab expats, European and North American expats, Asian expats, and others living in the country.

The study revealed low utilization rates of child safety seats amongst Qatari citizens, Asian and Arab expats. For those reported the usage of child safety seats, the percentage decreases with each additional child, and as the age of the child increases. It was found that despite parents acknowledging their substantial benefits for in-vehicle child protection, the mainstream behavior is to not use a child safety seat. The societal norm was also not to use safety seats. Furthermore, several behaviors were found to be associated with the use of safety seats as the use of seat belt by parents. This may indicate that the creation of mandatory car seat usage legislation in Qatar would not necessarily translate to compliance, as current seat belt law is disregarded. Another research recommendation is that immediate intervention research take place as it is vital to increase children safety seat usage in Qatar. An understanding of what would oblige more parents to use safety car seats is crucial.

Esmat A. Zaidan
Department of International Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences,
Qatar University, Doha, Qatar.

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Resident Attitudes Towards Tourists and Tourism Growth: A Case Study From the Middle East, Dubai in United Arab Emirates

The rapid development of tourism worldwide is giving rise to many anxieties about the actual as well as potentially negative consequences of tourism on host societies. However, despite such concerns, much of the academic research on tourism remains grounded in economic analysis with far less attention being paid to assessing the socio-cultural impacts of tourism, whether real or perceived.
The neglect in this regard is particularly acute when it comes to research on the rapidly expanding tourism industry in the United Arab Emirates. This paper addresses this research gap by way of examining resident perceptions of tourism in the City of Dubai. In particular, this study, which was based on responses gathered from over 400 Emirati citizens, explores local attitudes to further tourism growth as well as resident perceptions of the cultural, economic, and behavioural similarities and differences of tourists and themselves. The general findings are then situated within a conceptual framework (Irridex model) designed to show the varying levels of tolerance of a host population to changes in tourist numbers.

Esmat Zaidan , Ph.D,, Jason F. Kovacs , Ph.D.

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Societal implications of UAE tourism development

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) was dependent upon oil for its wealth as recently as the 1990s; this has changed since a tourism focus was taken by the government (DTCM, 2013). The country has since become an international tourism destination (Sharpley, 2008). The success of tourism in the U.A.E is now recognized as paramount to the sustainability of the country (Bageen, 2007; Sharpley, 2008). The pace of changes in domestic economic patterns brought about through tourism has been accompanied by issues known to plague tourism. This includes sociocultural impacts, which have been consistently evidenced as a potential negative effect of tourism (Erisman, 1983; Nunez, 1963; Turner & Ash, 1975). Limited research has investigated the U.A.E’s tourism impacts despite rapid modernization (Bagaeen, 2007; Balakrishnan, 2008; Govers & Go, 2009; Henderson, 2006a, 2006b; Sharpley, 2008). Some studies have hypothesized that sociocultural impacts of tourism have been significant in the U.A.E though. These studies have primarily focused on a loss of heritage and sociocultural factors (Stephenson, 2014; Stephenson & Ali-Knight, 2010; Stephenson, Russell, & Edgar, 2010; Zaidan, 2016). Furthermore, a westernization of social and cultural elements stemming from rapid tourism growth may be impacting the U.A.E (Stephenson, 2014; Zaidan, 2016). An amalgamation of Western schooling, Middle Eastern cultural heritage, and a diverse blend of Indian, European, African, and new world cultures and religions have resulted in the creation of a distinctive social structure in the U.A.E (Heard-Bey, 2005; Zaidan, 2015, p. 16). This distinct sociocultural fusion may be impacting U.A.E tourism development and the authenticity of century-long held sociocultural beliefs and factors (Stephenson & Ali-Knight, 2010; Stephenson, 2014; Zaidan, 2016). There is also a noticeable generational gap regarding sociocultural factors. This gap contributes to exacerbation of issues related to religion, culture, age, and ethnicity. These issues manifest in differences over the choice of dressing, working hours, holidays, traditions, media, economy, and tourism, among other things (Zaidan, 2016). This study seeks to better understand the potential impacts of tourism growth and development on the U.A.E’s sociocultural factors via an exploratory qualitative approach that includes semi-structured interviews (N = 424) and a content analysis.

                  Esmat Zaidan , Justin Taillon and Seeun Lee

Department of International Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar;  Department of
Hospitality & Tourism Management, Highline Community College, Des Moines, WA, USA; c Department of Recreation,
Park, & Tourism Sciences, Texas A and M University, College Station, TX, USA

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