Rabee Zureikat

Ashoka Fellow
Jordan
Fellow Since 2009

Citation

This profile was prepared when Rabee Zureikat was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Rabee’s exchange tourism generates funds which are invested in the development of marginalized rural areas. In exchange tourism, urban dwellers visit rural areas to get acquainted with their culture and traditions, and the tourism revenue is channeled towards the economic development of the local community. Thus exchange tourism creates a niche for marginalized rural communities in national economies and helps lift them out of poverty without relying on unsustainable financial aid.

Exchange tourism also bridges the divide between marginalized rural communities and the rich but insulated urban population. The frequent trips are an opportunity for each party to know the “other” and get firsthand impressions of the other community without the taint of stereotypes; the two groups engage in an equal relationship, and friendships are formed. Rabee’s idea is spreading within each community, and he is creating a cadre of changemakers who are expanding the reach of his program and deepening its impact by promoting interaction between the urban and rural populations.

Moreover, the two-way equal exchange of exchange tourism allows rural communities to develop pride in their culture, to preserve their unique identity and traditions from extinction, and to help urban communities learn about their cultural heritage. Not only do the local people get to teach other about their culture and thus ensure its survival, but they are also able to help the visitors from the city connect with their roots.

Rabee has created a simple, solid, and easily replicable model. In exchange tourism, the tourism revenue generated is invested in the local community according to its needs and preferences. The model also relies on awakening local changemakers using social marketing tools and offering hip and cool activities to attract youth from the city to the rural areas. Exchange tourism also utilizes the assets of the rural communities and gives them a sense of pride in their culture as it is appreciated by the visitors. Rabee’s model of exchange tourism will be franchised in other countries in the Arab world under the name of Zikra, his citizen organization (CO).
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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