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Munif Alshammari

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Prof. Lisa O'Malley and Dr. Maria Lichrou
Working Title of Thesis: 
Motivations for Religious Tourism and Souvenirs role in the Saudi Arabian Context

Religious tourism is one of the oldest types of tourism (Rinschede 1992). The religious tourism existed for centuries and can be dated back to Roman, Greek, and Egyptian civilizations (Jackowski and Smith 1992). However, it is the least explored tourist activity in contemporary tourism and the most understudied research area in tourism research (Vukonić 1998). Due to the economic impact of religious tourism, in the recent years governments have shown interest in this industry.
The key researchers had shown empirical evidence on motivation such as spirituality, belief, experience, social healing, pilgrimage site and the role of souvenirs on Muslim consumers (Nolan & Nolan 1992; Cohen 1992; Henderson 2011; Swanson & Timothy 2012; Moufahim 2013; Sibley & Bulbulia 2013; Raj 2015).
Saudi Arabia is considered one of the mostly visited countries by religious tourists globally. For example, more than one million Muslim tourists travel annually to Makkah in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj religious pilgrimage. Muslims are obligated to make a trip to Makkah at least once in a lifetime if they can afford it. Apart from the obligatory Hajj, the Umrah also contributes significantly to religious tourism and involves visits to holy cities in Saudi Arabia (Chen and Tsai 2007). The visits to the holy cities are not restricted to particular dates and Muslims are at liberty to participate in Umrah as many times as they wish.
The aim of this study is to examine the common religious tourist motivations in the context of Saudi Arabia and to review the relationship between Hajj/Umrah souvenirs and social healing and how these souvenirs can have impact on Muslim consumer behaviour during the Hajj/Umrah in the Holy Sites in Saudi Arabia.
The purpose of this study is to examine the motivations for religious tourism in Saudi Arabia which is one of the commonly visited parts in the world. Moreover, it will examine the importance of religious tourism for millions of people that perform repetitive religious tourism in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the researcher will review differences between religious and normal tourism, in order to understand religious tourism motivations including spirituality, beliefs, pilgrims, sites and experiences in the context of Saudi Arabia. In addition, review the relationship between Hajj/Umrah souvenirs and social healing and how these souvenirs can have impact on Muslim consumer behaviou during the Hajj / Umrah.
The research methodology will be qualitative and the researcher will use structured interviews with randomly selected tourists who visit holy places in Makkah and Al-Madinah cities. The interview schedules will be used as tools for collecting data. The interview questions will be prepared in English and will be translated into Arabic to suit the participants.
Finally, it is expected that the results from this study will show the main motivations for religious tourism in Saudi Arabia, and explore if there is positive relationship between religious tourism souvenirs and social healing, it is also expected that souvenirs has effect on Muslim consumers behaviour trend during the Hajj/Umrah.

Spirituality, beliefs, experiences, Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage site, souvenirs, social healing & Muslim consumer
Details of any scholarships/funding received: 
I have full scholarships from Saudi Arabia
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