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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges facing tourism development in Kuwait due to the particularly unique political-economic system of ‘popular’ rentierism. Kuwait’s tourism industry is relatively underdeveloped in comparison to other GCC countries and has not received much attention in the academic tourism literature. While insights of from this study will be useful for understanding the role of tourism in the rentier economies, this paper will also help to further theorize tourism within the field of political science and international political economy. This study provides both a macro-level analysis of the political economic obstacles to tourism development in Kuwait and the more micro-level challenges that have resulted, particularly in relation to mega-development projects, such as the $3.3 billion dollar Failaka Island development.

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Popular Rentierism and Tourism Development in Kuwait

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges facing tourism development in Kuwait due to the particularly unique political-economic system of ‘popular’ rentierism. Kuwait’s tourism industry is relatively underdeveloped in comparison to other GCC countries and has not received much attention in the academic tourism literature. While insights of from this study will be useful for understanding the role of tourism in the rentier economies, this paper will also help to further theorize tourism within the field of political science and international political economy. This study provides both a macro-level analysis of the political economic obstacles to tourism development in Kuwait and the more micro-level challenges that have resulted, particularly in relation to mega-development projects, such as the $3.3 billion dollar Failaka Island development.