Establishing a cultural quarter in Abu Dhabi, UAE

  • Hamed Al Hamad

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The main argument driving the thesis; namely the fact that the literature is treating cultural quarter development as mainly originating from the supply side with limited attention to the demand side (e.g., consumers’/visitors’ preferences and tastes for prospective developments in the cultural scene). Thus, the analysis argues that more attention should be placed upon cultural quarter establishment, as opposed to cultural quarter production. For this purpose, the thesis engages into a quest to reveal individual preferences for future policy initiatives in the area.

    The thesis considers the case study, namely the proposed cultural quarter development in Saadiyat Island, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). It provides a background on Abu Dhabi, the reason for focusing on cultural tourism, the Saadiyat island development and the planned activities and cultural infrastructure to appear on the island. The thesis also considers the rationale behind the project (i.e., diversification of the Emirate’s economy) as well as the potential criticism that may arise (has risen as a result of this policy initiative) in the literature. The main argument in favour of this policy initiative is the diversification of the mono-culture nature of the domestic economy, whereas the main argument against such an initiative is that it will appear as an ‘elitist’ development not catering for native culture and tradition, thus failing to relate to native customs and cultural heritage. We argue that this issue will also have negative repercussions for the sustainability of the cultural quarter if not addressed properly from policy makers.

    The first part of the discussion in Chapter 4 is devoted to the survey method, the selection of the product attributes to be used in the choice experiment and the rationale behind them. In other words, we try to provide some sort of justification for the component parts of the methodology, namely stated preferences discrete choice model . This is a standard procedure that has been followed in the literature over other similar applications of the methodology in relevant settings. The analysis in this first part of the discussion also makes an effort to justify the self-completion mode that was chosen for the survey instrument, over other common practice questionnaire filling techniques.

    Chapter 5 deals with the specific research methodology; namely stated preferences discrete choice modeling (SPDCM). In particular, this section of the discussion considers the various economic valuation techniques and contrasts SPDCM with contingent valuation methodology (CVM). Then, the analysis considers the economic and the econometric underpinnings of the SPDCM methodology (RUM, LCA and decision making theories) and concludes with the theoretical analysis of the welfare effects derived from the SPDCM approach.

    The descriptive analysis part of the thesis is split into two parts. The first part of the analysis considers: frequencies of the sample population and further segments the sample population into groups (cross – tabulations). Further we combine respondents’ attributes and characteristics (revealed preference data), with their preferences for the various attributes and their levels/configurations used in the choice experiment (stated preference data). In this way, the thesis tries to combine the various sources of data (revealed – stated) in order to explain individual preferences and potential variation among the sample population.

    The section empirical econometric results derived from the SPDCM experiment are presented. In particular, the analysis is split into three major sub-sections . In the first sub-section, the analysis considers the empirical results derived from the homogenous preference multinomial logit analysis (MNL). The empirical results are summarized through 3 main tables (beta coefficients, marginal effects, and marginal willingness to pay (MWTP) estimates.

    Sub – section 2 of the analysis considers the heterogeneous preference multinomial logit model or mixed logit (MMNL) model. According to the discussion in previous sections of the discussion, the MMNL specification is the most flexible preference specification and offers more credibility and depth in the discussion. This sub – section considers practical issues revolving around the MMNL model (such as the number of random draws and the selection of the random parameters). Finally, sub section 3 deals with the empirical results derived from the MMNL specification. This section also summarises the empirical results of the MMNL where random parameters are allowed to be correlated. This is an issue that has rather strangely not been frequently considered in the relevant literature, but offers useful insight to policy makers and practitioners alike.

    The discussion of the empirical results concludes with a section on cultural entrepreneurship. This chapter, although seemingly unrelated to the normal flow of the discussion so far can be treated as an one – off attempt to address the criticism relating to the issue of cultural quarter sustainability. In particular, the thesis of this chapter is that without properly cultivating native cultural entrepreneurship, efforts towards the establishment of a cultural quarter would be short lived. Thus, this particular section of the analysis deals with factors that could positively affect native cultural entrepreneurship.

    This chapter carries out a multivariate analysis on the effect of culture and cultural resources on tourists’ decision to visit the Abu Dhabi Emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This multivariate approach is a natural extension of the bivariate descriptive analysis usually undertaken in the literature (Zaidi 2001). The objective of the thesis is to capture the effect of a number of individual variables (such as age, gender and place of residence) as well as tourism phenomena (repeat visit, time of visit) on the importance tourists in Abu Dhabi place on culture and cultural resources. In the process of the thesis, we will also identify the phenomena and variables that affect the positive and negative views regarding native cultural entrepreneurship. Using the binomial and multinomial probability models, we measure how changes in age, income levels, length of stay and other variables trigger changes in cultural appreciation among visitors in Abu Dhabi.

    The last chapter summarises and interprets the results derived from the descriptive and the econometric results section of the thesis. This chapter in essence is working in parallel to the information provided in other sections of the thesis and aims to bring together all the policy related issues and recommendations mentioned during the thesis. Overall, the purpose of this chapter is to collate all these policy suggestions and recommendations into a chapter that would provide meaningful directions of managers, practitioners and policy decision makers. The focus of this chapter is on heterogeneity and how we capture preference differentiation among respondents. For that purpose, the policy recommendations chapter is structured as follows. We first concentrate on the empirical results derived from the descriptive analysis of the sample and then move on to the empirical results derived from the econometric analysis.

    Date of Award2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorShabbar Jaffry (Supervisor) & Alexandros Apostolakis (Supervisor)

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