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Rethinking Visitors Studies for the United Arab Emirates: Sharjah Museums as Case Study

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posted on 11.04.2016, 11:25 by Mona Rashid Saeed Ali Bin Hussain Al Ali
The purpose of this thesis is to understand the reasons why some people visit museums and why others do not in the Emirate of Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. There are no pieces of visitor or audience research in the United Arab Emirates, therefore this research will examine Western theories on visitor studies and whether they can be applied in Sharjah or not. This study explores the psychological and external factors that influence a person’s decision whether or not to visit a museum. The methodology which was used to collect data was qualitative and the researcher used case studies and semi-structured interviews. In total, 55 interviews were conducted with UAE nationals and residents in three museums and three different coffee shops around Sharjah. These interviews investigated how people determine their leisure activities and whether museums are an option for that activity. The research focused on museum visitors and their motivations to visit a museum. Moreover, it identified the barriers to visiting a museum. The main outcomes of this study suggest that there are internal factors that influence a person’s decision to visit a museum, and these include learning, socializing and identity related reasons. There are also external factors, which are outside forces that lead people to visit a museum, such as a university assignment, weather, the location of the museum and its architecture. Moreover, barriers were identified for people who do not visit museums, which are personal, cultural, institutional, environmental and structural. These outcomes and barriers arose from the analysis of the interviews and finding general common themes which emerged throughout them. Understanding the factors that attract visitors to come to museums, and the barriers that hinder their visits, helps museologists and museum makers to understand their perception of Sharjah Museums. This will encourage the Museums to enhance their services and what they provide to the public. Moreover, it will encourage repeat visitations and create new audiences.



Watson, Sheila; Gibson, Lisanne

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School of Museum Studies

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University of Leicester

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