Western female tourists in Islamic destinations

Authors: Osman, H. and Brown, L.

Conference: ATLAS

Dates: 7-9 September 2016


In recent years, much attention has been given to the study of female travel. A body of literature has been dedicated to the understanding of the notion of female tourists and what it entails. In Islamic destinations, and particularly in the Middle East, Western female tourists are challenged by having to negotiate their way through patriarchal cultures whose local norms are so different from their own. This paper adopts a qualitative approach in order to investigate Western female tourists’ experiences in Egypt, as an Islamic destination in the Middle East, paying special attention to the different ways in which gender affects their experiences in such a context. The paper also identifies and discusses the coping strategies adopted by the participants to deflect or minimise the male sexualised gaze that they encountered while travelling in Egypt. It also sheds light on the measures taken towards keeping themselves safe during their trips. The key findings from this paper suggest that the experiences of Western female tourists in Egypt were greatly shaped and often reluctantly altered by unwanted male attention and sexual harassment. In many cases, women felt the need to conform to local female norms of behaviour and socially accepted gender roles in order to enjoy their holiday.

Source: Manual