Wadi Rum in Jordan - March 2012
Wadi Rum (Arabic: وادي رم) also known as The Valley of the Moon (Arabic: وادي القمر) is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in south Jordan at 60 km (37 mi) to the east of Aqaba. It is the largest wadi in Jordan. The name Rum most likely comes from an Aramaic root meaning 'high' or 'elevated'. To reflect its proper Arabic pronunciation, archaeologists transcribe it as Wadi Ramm. The highest elevation in Wadi Rum is Mount Um Dami at more than 1,800 m (5,900 ft) above sea level.
Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabateans–leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. As of 2007, several Bedouin tribes inhabit Rum and the surrounding area.
In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who based his operations here during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18. In the 1980s one of the rock formations in Wadi Rum was named "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in memory of Lawrence's book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the 'Seven Pillars' referred to in the book actually have no connection with Rum.
The area centred on Wadi Rum (the main valley) is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, working with climbers and trekkers, have made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. The area around Disi to the NE, home to the Zuweida Bedouin and erroneously also thought to be part of Wadi Rum by visitors, caters more for Jordanian visitors from Amman, with campsites regularly used by party-goers.
Khaz'ali Canyon in Wadi Rum is the site of petroglyphs etched into the cave walls depicting humans and antelopes dating back to the Thamudic times.
The area is now also one of Jordan's important tourist destinations, and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists, particularly trekkers and climbers, but also for camel and horse safari or simply day-trippers from Aqaba or Petra. In contrast, there are almost no local or Arab tourists though nearby Disi (not actually part of Rum) attracts young people from Amman at weekends. Popular activities in the desert environment include camping under the stars, riding Arab horses, hiking and rock-climbing amongst the massive rock formations.
Jabal Rum (1,734 metres (5,689 ft) above sea level) is the second highest peak in Jordan and the highest peak in the central Rum, covered with snow and rising directly above Rum valley opposite Jebel um Ishrin, which is possibly one metre lower. The highest peak in Jordan is south of Rum close to the Saudi border. Named Jebel um Adaami it is 1,840 m (6,040 ft) high and was first located by Difallah Ateeg, a Zalabia Bedouin from Rum. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Red Sea and the Saudi border from the top. It is now a very popular trek from Rum village.
The influx of tourists to this once isolated area has substantially increased the financial fortunes of the Bedouin people, and it is not uncommon to see locals using mobile phones and driving expensive four-wheel drive vehicles; many also have wi-fi and computers to run their adventure tourism businesses.
The village of Wadi Rum consists of several hundred Bedouin inhabitants with their goat-hair tents and concrete houses and also their four wheel vehicles, one school for boys and one for girls, a few shops, and the headquarters of the Desert Patrol.
The area has been used as a background setting in a number of films:
•Lawrence of Arabia - David Lean filmed much of this 1962 film on location in Wadi Rum.
•Red Planet - Wadi Rum was used as the surface of Mars in this 2000 film.
•Passion in the Desert - The area was also used for scenes in this 1998 film.
•The Face - BBC Film, Rock climbing in Rum
•Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Represented as being in Egypt
•The Frankincense Trail - scenes from train, and aerial filming too