Tourism as an inter-civilisational encounter


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It is mind-boggling to hear the idea from Deputy Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan about turning Langkawi into a niche holiday destination for Muslims.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing had to apologise for his deputy’s statement by claiming that he may not have clearly explained the matter.

One has to understand that the essence of any tourist destination where certain heritage sites are promoted around the world is not merely about a particular religious community or race or the glory of any civilisations. Instead, it is also an encounter among people of all cultures and the learning that comes from historical, cultural and archaeological sites.

When I made a trip to Turkey recently, I realised that even though the country had a brutal past from the actions of various empires, what was significant was that there was interaction and learning among its ancient civilisations in that region in terms of the sharing of knowledge, skills and governing systems.

The Greeks, Romans, Persians and Turks learnt from each other and produced one of the best monuments in history.

Besides that, there was a unique blend of Turkish and Arabian culture that was accommodative of all people, revealed by dance and entertainment.

The urban Turkish people wear modern attire incorporated from the West and some wear traditional Muslim attire without being seen as imposing on others.

Turkish cuisine incorporates Mediterranean, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Eastern European cuisines.

From this historical and modern perspective, tourism destinations should be seen as an opportunity to interact with other cultures and learn to contemplate the good and common.

READ MORE:  Why Langkawi must remain open to all visitors

Malaysia should portray a universal and particularistic dimension of its culture by incorporating universal multi-ethnic and religious themes that reflect its population and cuisines and its particularistic unique Malay-Islamic and other ancient Asian civilisational encounters in its tourism promotion.

Hopefully, tourism in Malaysia will project inclusivity and encounters among cultures. – Malaysiakini

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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