Towards understanding the experiences
and meaning of empowerment for
Muslim women in tourism
By Lubna Al Mazroei
PhD student
Why tourism entrepreneurship?
Research on tourism entrepreneurship
Research on women in tourism entrepreneurship
Tourism entrepreneurship and women empowerment
Issues surrounding women empowerment through
tourism entrepreneurship
Women empowerment in tourism
The status of Muslim women
Embeddeness theory
Study aim and objectives
Research site: Oman
Female tourism entrepreneurs in Oman
Field work
Expected outcomes
Why Tourism Entrepreneurship?
• Difference between tourism entrepreneur and general
1. Create touristic enterprises
2. Provide mostly intangible offerings
3. Have a higher service content
4. Face with higher impact of seasonality
5. Face with immobility challenge
6. Face with operations restrictions in the market
(Koh and Hatten, 2002)
Research on tourism
• Adequate body of literature on tourism entrepreneurship.
• For example, government support for tourism SMEs
(Wanhill, 2000), destination competitiveness (Jones and
Haven-tang, 2005), sustainable tourism (Lordkipanidze,
Brezet and Backman, 2005), etc.
• Limited research on tourism entrepreneurship (Thomas,
2004; Ateljevic and Li, 2009; Shaw and Williams, 2010;
Thomas, Shaw and Page, 2011).
Research on women in tourism
• Limited research on women in tourism entrepreneurship
(Peeters and Ateljevic, 2009).
• Scant research on female tourism entrepreneurs in
Arab/Muslim societies (Tucker, 2007; Alonso-Almedia,
Tourism Entrepreneurship and
women empowerment
• Few studies identified the potential role of tourism
entrepreneurship to empower women (Swain, 1993;
Wilkinson and Pratiwi, 1995; Gentry, 2007).
• Tourism a potential source for achieving gender equality
and women’s empowerment (UNWTO, 2011).
• Question on whether or not tourism is indeed opening
doors for women (Manwa, 2008).
• Critical analysis of tourism entrepreneurship
opportunities for women and its potential to empower
Issues surrounding women
empowerment through tourism
• Large emphasis on the economic benefits of tourism
entrepreneurship (Bras and Dahles, 1998; Kwaramba, et
al, 2012).
• Tourism entrepreneurship opportunities linked to
stereotypical women’s work (Harris, Mcintosh and Lewis,
2007; Garcia-Ramon, Canoves and Valdovinos, 1995;
Manwa, 2008).
• Implications of social change (Van der Cammen, 1997;
Tucker, 2007).
Women empowerment in tourism
• Lack of women empowerment definitions in tourism.
• Only one available empowerment measurement
framework in the tourism discipline
(Scheyvens, 1999, 2000, 2002).
The status of Muslim women
• Ongoing debate on Islam influence on the status of
Muslim women (Mernissi, 1985; Moghadam, 2003; Alvi,
• Blame on patriarchal structure and misinterpretations of
Islam in Muslim societies (Abdalla, 1996; Nazir, 2005;
Omair, 2008; Al Maaitah, Al Maaitah, Olaimat and
Gharaeibeh, 2013).
Embeddedness theory
• “The roles of entrepreneurs within society and its formal
institutions” (Roomi and Harrison, 2008, p. 228).
• Embedded environment can:
– increase or limit individual ambitions to pursue their
entrepreneurship activities (Baughn, Chua and
Neupert, 2006; Welter, 2011).
– Have a major influence on women’s empowerment
(Cornwall and Anyiduho, 2011).
• Embeddedness theory used in tourism entrepreneurship
studies (Bosworth and Farrell, 2011; Saxena and Ilbery,
Study aim
To explore the nature and experiences of Muslim women
involved in tourism entrepreneurship with particular regards
to empowerment.
Study objectives
• To present a lived experience of Muslim women’s involvement
in tourism entrepreneurship.
• To explore the manifestation and meaning of empowerment for
Muslim women in tourism entrepreneurship.
• To understand the benefits of tourism entrepreneurship for
Muslim women.
• To understand the challenges and barriers that Muslim women
may encounter due to cultural, gender or religious constraints.
• To consider the extent to which Muslim women can be
empowered through tourism entrepreneurship through various
dimensions of empowerment.
Research site: Oman
• Unique socio-economic, political and cultural
arrangements in Oman.
• Evidence of barriers and challenges encountered by
female entrepreneurs in general in Oman (McElwee and
Al-Riyami, 2003; Dechant and Al Lamky, 2005; Al-Sadi,
Belwal and Al-Badi, 2013).
• No research conducted on assessing tourism
entrepreneurship opportunities for women in Oman.
• Tourism entrepreneurship is a fairly new activity in
Female tourism entrepreneurs in
• Collective entrepreneurs:
– Sidab women sewing group
– Zaree women
• Solo entrepreneurs
– Handicrafts and souvenirs
– Accommodation
– Tours
– Restaurants
Field work (1)
• Methods for collective entrepreneurs:
– Participant observation (Riley and Love, 2000; Ribeiro
and Foemmel, 2012)
“A method in which an observer takes part in the daily
activities, rituals, interactions, and events of the people
being studied as one of the means of learning the
explicit and tacit aspects of their culture” (DeWalt and
DeWalt, 2011, p.1).
– Informal interviews (Jennings, 2005)
Field work (2)
– Photographs
– Field notes (Emerson, Fretz and Shaw, 2011)
• Methods for solo entrepreneurs:
– Semi structured interviews (Finn, Elliott-White and
Walton, 2000; Jennings, 2005).
Expected outcomes
• A conceptual framework on the nature and
experiences of Muslim women in tourism
• Potential to develop a tourism entrepreneurship
initiative for women in Oman.
• Broader implications on gender equality and
women empowerment in tourism.
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Thank you
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Telephone: +44 0 7503492797
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Towards Understanding the Experiences and Expectations of Omani