Steffen Wippel:

Port and Tourism Development in Oman: Between Economic Diversification and Global Branding

In: Steffen Wippel/Katrin Bromber/Christian Steiner/Birgit Krawietz (Hrsg.), Under Construction: Logics of Urbanism of Architecture and Infrastructure in the Gulf Region,, Ashgate, Farnham/Burlington 2014, S. 101-118.


Whereas neighbouring Dubai with its highly iconic buildings and landmarks is in the focus of public and academic attention, Oman has remained more cautious for a long time in establishing new architectural and infrastructural projects. But over the last years, it, too, has reinforced its endeavour to prepare for the post-oil era and pursues the goal of economic diversification. The article will concentrate on trade and tourism that are sectors of special concern under the current development strategy and go along with new architecture and infrastructure. But while the international container hubs, free zones and "integrated tourism complexes" will be intensely linked to global and regional flows, integration into the national and local economy often remains rather weak. At the same time, big efforts are being made for international marketing and branding of these projects and – with their contribution – to make the whole country worldwide known. This aims to establish a comprehensive, yet multi-facetted – sometimes fractal and eclectic – image that fits into the requirements of an extroverted post-oil development strategy.

Therefore, besides the material role of these projects, the paper will focus mainly on aspects of global marketing and branding, which is increasingly regarded as essential under postmodern conditions. Conceptually, it is mainly based on recent approaches to place and destination branding, linking them with the postmodern thinking of authors such as Augé on the socially and geographically non-integrating worlds of "non-places", Foucault on modern heteropias, Baudrillard on virtual simulation and the creation of "hyperreal" worlds, and Soja who pointed to the need to theme and market postmodern cities. In addition, the paper draws on writings by Schmid and Steiner on urban development and tourism schemes in the Gulf region. 


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