A Desert of Unmatched Splendor
Color-shifting landforms, giant sandstone mountains, towering plateaus, steep canyons, mushroom rocks and perpetually moving sand dunes are just some of the elements of Wadi Rum’s splendor.
Wadi Rum offers you a whole range of desert experiences. Get a taste of desert life; stare at a dazzling panoply of stars in the desert night; ride a camel through cool, narrow canyons; climb mountains; sand surf on golden dunes; or simply marvel at the stunning landscape before you.
Wadi Rum History
Geologists think that this Wadi (the Arabic word for "valley") resulted from a great crack in the surface of the earth caused by an enormous upheaval, which shattered mammoth pieces of granite, and sandstone ridges from the mountains of the Afro-Arabian shield. Some of the ridges are a 1000 feet high and topped with domes worn smooth by the desert winds.
Everywhere, in this timeless and empty place, are indications of man's presence since the earliest known times. Archaeologists are certain that the Wadi Rum area was inhabited in the Prehistoric periods, mainly the Neolithic period between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, and was known as Wadi Iram. Fresh water springs made Rum a meeting center for caravans heading towards Syria and Palestine from Arabia.
Neolithic flints, Iron Age pottery and Minaean graffiti indicate settlement of the area prior to the Nabataeans. Before Islam, it served as the gathering place for the tribes of Ad, Thamud, Lihyan and Main. The Nabataeans, however, surpassed those early tribes in trade activities and monumental achievements.
Recent excavations in the south have uncovered a Caleolithic settlement dating from 4500 BC. On a hill, at the foot of Jabal Rum, lies the Allat temple originally built by the Ad tribe and remodeled by the Nabataeans in the 1st century BC.
A small village to the northwest of the temple was founded by the Nabataeans including a bath complex. Thamudic inscriptions, at the foot of the cliffs on both sides of the main Wadi, can be found in ancient stone constructions. These inscriptions on the temple confirm the pre-Islamic involvement of the Arabian tribes in the construction of the sanctuary. The temple was taken over by Thamudic tribes and Thamudic graffiti covers earlier Nabataean inscriptions, walls and columns.
Approximately 8.5 kms east of Wadi Rum, at Disi, an Italian excavation uncovered an early Nabataean site, which was occupied before the Nabataeans moved to the rose-red city of Petra. Throughout the valley, are scattered slabs of rocks with inscriptions in early Thamudic writing, recording the names of travelers who passed through centuries ago.
Wadi Rum was the headquarters of Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein and T.E. Lawrence during World War I, to fight for the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence became a legendary figure for his key role in the fight for the Arab cause. He made his home in this magical area. Ain Asshallaleh, also known as Lawrence's Spring is just a short walk up the hillside from the Nabataean temple. The mountain aptly known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, was named by T.E. Lawrence, and was the inspiration for the title of his book of the same name.
Wadi Rum Culture
The desert tribes, Huweitat and Mzanah, inhabiting Wadi Rum maintain the warm hospitality which characterizes genuine Arab culture. It would be difficult to resist their friendly invitation to share mint tea or cardamom-flavored coffee in their black tents. Enjoy the hospitality whilst sitting by the fire under a starry desert sky - an unforgettable experience.
Before reaching Wadi Rum, visitors will encounter the fort of the Wadi Rum Desert Patrol. The patrolmen are friendly, hospitable and will answer questions willingly over a cup of coffee.
Perfect ambassadors for their country, the men of the famous Desert Patrol wear perhaps the most beautiful uniforms in the Middle East: a long khaki dish-dash held by a bright red bandoleer, a holster with a dagger around the waist, and rifle slung over the back. The headdress is the traditional red-and-white checkered Kouffieh worn by the Bedouins of Jordan, but wrapped under the chin. The Desert Patrol operates out of an old beau guest-style police fort built in the 1930s.