Thursday, 27 August 2015

How did the Dead Sea get its name?

At the age of 10 I learnt an important fact in my geography lesson: The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. When I consulted a  map I realized it was not a sea at all but a lake! Also, slightly worrying to me was that it was called  'dead'. Thus, as a 10 year old, I failed to understand why this place was called the Dead Sea. Now, at the age of 20 I would finally obtain an answer to these complex questions because...... lo and behold(!): I was going to visit the Dead Sea! I was almost jumping with excitement in the bus and after we reached I could not wait to get changed and run to the sea.

The Dead Sea did not disappoint.

Ginger, Sophie and me in the Dead Sea

The experience in the sea was marvelous. I felt the water push me upwards, the salt make my skin slippery and the heat on my hair.

As we slowly moved from the sea to the pool I noticed that we were surrounded by other tourists. This was a change for us, since, till this point we had seen very few other tourists. I noticed that most of the tourists appeared to be from the Middle-East. Most women were wearing full body covering swim suits, however, I noticed that some teenage girls were also wearing bikinis like us. This made me think of the demonstration effect. According to Williams (1) the demonstration effect is dependent on the existence of visible differences between the visitors and hosts and this theory suggests that the changes in the host's attitudes, values or behavior patterns may be brought through a process of imitation based upon local contact with, or observation of, the tourist. It is believed that the local people imitate the actions and materialistic possessions of the tourists.
As I sat beside the pool  I reflected that the demonstration effect might have caused the girls to wear bikinis , as they might have picked it up from other western tourists. Such an adoption of clothing could be an example of the demonstration effect.  Negative effects of the demonstration effect  might include a rift between the youngsters and the elderly, and a clash of social/religious values.

Moment of observation and reflection 

No evidence of a rift was visible however and everyone, including us seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their moments with friends/family. We left the place with rosy cheeks and large smiles. Most importantly for me however was that I had finally obtained an answer to my question: The Dead Sea is extremely hypersaline, killing all aquatic organisms within it, hence called 'dead '. As for the term 'sea': simply because it is huge!


(1) Williams, S. Tourism Geography A new Synthesis. 2009.