Wadi Rum Film Shooting Locations Attract Tourists, Create Jobs for Residents

by Haneen Nofal
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Wadi Rum in Hollywood

 AMMAN — At the age of 12, Jacir Eid received an opportunity to take up a role in the Jordanian movie “Theeb”. At the time, he did not have any clue how this movie would later shape the course of his future.

 Eid was among the casting members of the acclaimed movie “Theeb”, which was nominated for an Oscar. The young Wadi Rum resident did not have much experience in acting at the time but was simply “enjoying” this experience.

 Five years later, Eid decided to continue on the path of cinema, thanks to the experience he had acquired and the fact that the number of movies being shot in Jordan is on the rise, especially in Wadi Rum.

 “I had the opportunity to continue studies in film production and I wanted to take advantage of it. Also, the fact that many movies are produced in Jordan, and particularly in Wadi Rum, is opening up new opportunities,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone on Saturday.

 In the recent years, Jordan has been a location hub for filmmakers, who seem to like its geographical diversity and security. This has contributed to creating a number of jobs in Jordan and affected tourism positively, according to tourist guides, residents and cinema industry workers interviewed by The Jordan Times.

Job opportunities

 The film industry’s contribution to the economy of the Kingdom over the last 10 years is estimated at JD238 million and has also created 95,000 direct and indirect jobs in different sectors, according to a previous interview with a Royal Film Commission (RFC) official.

 “Star Wars: Episode IX” was one of the recent Hollywood blockbuster movies that was shot in Jordan’s Wadi Rum.

 Hussein Suweilheen, a resident in Wadi Rum and a former actor in “Theeb, said: “I worked with the crew of ‘Star Wars’ for some months as an assistant to the location manager and it was a good experience,” he told The Jordan Times.

 He noted that the RFC has been implementing a number of courses to equip the area’s residents with cinema skills to prepare them to join the crews of guest films in the making.

 Eid Mousa, who gives guided tours for filmmakers and works in the tourism field in Wadi Rum, said Jordanians can find jobs as security, make-up artists and actors, in addition to logistics.

 Abdul Aziz Suweilheen, who also had the opportunity to work with the “Star Wars” crew, described working in the cinema industry as more “profitable” compared with tourism.

 “If you want to take advantage of tourism in the area, you need to initiate your own business, and if you cannot speak English you cannot work in tourism here. In the cinema industry, meanwhile, everyone can get a job,” he added. He called for designating some areas as camps-free to enable filmmakers to shoot there.

Tourism benefits

 Locations used in the film production locally became one of the main sought-after locations to visit among tourists, according to tour guides.

 Ahmad Hussein, who has been a tour guide since 2010, said many tourists feel happy when they visit locations they see in movies.

 Marcus Sillober, a German tourist, recalled that he was curious to visit Jordan after a friend of him told him about the country’s attractions.

 He noted that he would not choose a country because of a site that was shown in a movie, but if he decided to visit a specific country and knew that a location in that country was used in to make a movie, he would be interested.

 Mohammad Salameh, another tour guide, said film shooting sites have been added to the tour map.

 Source: www.jordantimes.com