Collaborative Planning for the Environmental Sustainability of the Hajj

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Abonomi, Abdullah (2022) Collaborative Planning for the Environmental Sustainability of the Hajj. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Every year, millions of Muslim worshippers visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, which is the fifth and last pillar of Islam. Mecca generally hosts more than 2,300,000 people from approximately 183 different countries and cultures every year. Tourism, especially a religious tourist attraction such as the Hajj, is expected to boost the economy and create new jobs for Saudi youth in the services sector. Despite the many benefits of pilgrimage, the Hajj itself has adverse environmental impacts. The activities of Hajj generate considerable solid and liquid waste, use large quantities of scarce freshwater and produce high levels of greenhouse gases. The government of Saudi Arabia has established many strategies and policies, such as a the ‘prepared meal project’, to reduce the impacts of the Hajj activities on environmental sustainability. However, these environmental strategies have not achieved their goals. For example, several hospitality agencies refused to collaborate on the prepared meal project for pilgrims established by the government to reduce waste. The wider literature demonstrates that the success of sustainability plans and projects in the tourism context requires collaboration between stakeholders from all sectors. This collaboration does not occur in the Hajj. The overarching aim of this research is to investigate how the environmental sustainability of the Hajj can be improved. The particular focus, however, is on how stakeholder collaboration in planning can be improved to achieve sustainability goals. This study applies Gray’s (1989) collaborative planning model to investigate the nature of the collaboration process between Hajj stakeholders and identify the drivers that will support collaboration. This model establishes a three-phase planning process necessary to successfully achieve stakeholder collaboration and the strategic goals. To achieve the aim, this research employed a qualitative methodology to investigate the nature of collaboration between Hajj stakeholders and the drivers that induce their collaboration while planning for environmental sustainability of the Hajj. Both primary data and secondary data were used. A qualitative approach was adopted and specific methods used included unstructured and semi-structured interviews. Interviewees were selected to be representatives of public and private sector stakeholders, and interviews were conducted in a face-to-face setting at a time and location convenient to them. The qualitative analysis program ATLAS was used to analyse the data and define the themes. Research findings identified many barriers to collaboration between Hajj stakeholders at each stage of Gray’s (1989) collaboration model. Centralised governance, poor leadership and a lack of adequate resources in the planning process created obstacles to the achievement of environmental sustainability in the destination. The results show that the level of collaboration between stakeholders in the Hajj is fragile and requires significant improvement. Thus, from an analysis of findings, ways to improve the collaborative network between Hajj stakeholders when planning for protecting the environmental sustainability of the destination are explored. This study contributes to theory by applying Gray’s (1989) model to a new and unique context, thereby revealing barriers and drivers to effective planning and the implementation of environmental policy and strategy. The study reveals opportunities for improvement and future research. The practical contribution of the study is that it can inform policymakers of the importance of changing their traditional approach in the planning process, especially because the government of Saudi Arabia has made a commitment to environmental sustainability, as detailed in the national document Vision 2030. In addition, the results may guide Hajj stakeholders from all sectors to understand the barriers and drivers that affect the development of collaboration. Thus, they may review and re-establish their collaborative network for the Hajj planning process.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3508 Tourism
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4199 Other environmental sciences
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4407 Policy and administration
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords Hajj, Saudi Arabia, environmental sustainability, policy, tourism, sustainable tourism, environmental impact
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