The Walled-Off Hotel Controversy

How Banksy Universalizes the Palestinian Struggle

by Jamil Khader | published March 22, 2017

The British street artist known as Banksy is no stranger to controversy. His public art about capitalism, misogyny and racism always produces conversation. His newest installation in occupied Bethlehem, the Walled Off Hotel, is generating significant public debate about Palestine-Israel. According to different media reports, Banksy aims to focus attention on Israel’s apartheid wall and, in the process, help inject some much needed resources into the besieged local Palestinian economy.

Stay Off the Street

by Jillian Schwedler | published May 21, 2014 - 8:31am

In a recent Slate article, Anne Applebaum makes the case that Egypt’s presumptive president-to-be ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi should look to India, Brazil or South Africa, rather than the United States or other industrialized states, for examples of how to “do” democracy. She rightly notes that Sisi’s argument that Egypt isn’t ready for democracy is an old standby for authoritarian regimes.

An All-Consuming Occupation

by Rebecca L. Stein | published June 26, 2012

On June 6, 2012, the Jerusalem Development Authority launched its fourth annual Jerusalem Festival of Light in the Old City. The previous year’s show had been a resounding success, according to sponsors quoted in the Jerusalem Post, with over 250,000 visitors enjoying “art installations bursting with light and 3-D movies splayed across the city’s ancient walls and buildings.” In 2011, the Muslim Quarter of the Old City was included within the festival’s purview for the first time, with Damascus Gate retooled as the backdrop for a massive video projection.


by Garay Menicucci
published in MER192

Nouri Bouzid, Bezness (1992).

What happens when a poor Arab country with a high birth rate, an enormous youth population and endemic unemployment bases a significant part of its development strategy on attracting European tourism? In Nouri Bouzid’s film, Bezness, the Tunisian coastal town of Sousse is the site for just such an experiment, with disastrous consequences for the local population.

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Sex Tourism in Cairo

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER196

She doesn’t look like a classic madam. About 50 years old, Hagga lives in a simple flat in the chic Cairene quarter of Muhandisin. Her black abaya (cape and headscarf) evince a more traditional outlook. Even her language is full of religious references. “Tomorrow you can have two girls, God willing. For the furnished flat you have to pay extra. May God make it easy for us.”

Summer is the peak season for the business of furnished fiats, complete with a “housemaid” who can come at any time of the day or night and in any shape, color or size. That is when the khaligiyyin -- the Gulf Arabs -- invade the city looking for cool air and a hot time.

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Strategic Myths: Petra's B'doul

by Anna Ohannessian-Charpin
published in MER196

Until 1985, the small B’doul tribe resided among the historic ruins of Petra. They made most of their income from tourism, serving as guides, renting out their caves, and selling food and beverages. They also sold archaeological objects found among the ruins, mostly the shards of pots.

In 1985 the Jordanian government moved them to a new village. This relocation was a consequence of two ongoing projects: one to sedentarize the Bedouin, the other to give Petra the status of a national park and thus improve tourism. The actual move was 20 years in the making.

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Designer Heritage

Israeli National Parks and the Politics of Historical Representation

by Joel Bauman
published in MER196

Is Israel experiencing an identity crisis? Some such symptoms are evident in a confusion over the territorial, historical and cultural boundaries of contemporary Israeli society. The tourism industry, with its consumer demands and political agendas, is exacerbating this crisis.

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Itineraries of Peace

Remapping Israeli and Palestinian Tourism

by Rebecca L. Stein
published in MER196

In Near East Travel’s East Jerusalem office, a satellite photograph of the Middle East is framed under glass, inscribed with the names of countries and major cities. National borders are unmarked. The Holy Land -- so the map is labeled -- appears as a single, seamless territory.

A full-page advertisement for Galilee Tours, an Israeli company, features a mock road sign in green and white. A single arrow, diverging from a central vector with Tel Aviv at its base, points the way to Jerusalem, Amman and Petra, another to Tiberias and Damascus.

Boom Box in Ouarzazate

The Search for the Similarly Strange

by Susan Ossman
published in MER196

In 1987, during one of my first visits to Morocco, I attended a series of rock concerts in Marrakesh with a group of friends who had been invited to the event to represent their youth group. The organizers of the concerts, the local Grand Atlas association, invited us to tour the medina. During one such walk, one of the Marrakeshis talked about how delicious steamed sheep’s head would be for lunch. In spite of the torrid July heat, most of our group agreed that a casual lunch in a small restaurant was a fine idea.

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Worlds Apart

An Egyptian Village and the International Tourism Industry

by Timothy Mitchell
published in MER196

Ayman wanted a job in tourism. But he did badly on his high-school language exams and spent two years at a school in Luxor, across the river from his village, struggling to master enough rudimentary English and German to get into the hotel school at Qina. His most vivid memory from his two years in Qina was the night when he and the other front-desk trainees played the role of guests in a restaurant for the final exam of the student waiters and cooks.