People have lived in Rum for thousands of years, struggling to survive in its harsh environment. They have been hunters, pastoralists, farmers and traders, as Rum is close to national borders. Even the famous Nabateans once occupied Rum, leaving behind several structures, including a temple.
Local people gained notoriety more recently when they joined the Arab revolt forces under the leadership of king Faisal and fought along with Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt (1917/18) to fight the occupying Turkish and German armies. Lawrence himself makes many references to Wadi Rum in his book ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’, a title apparently inspired by one of Rum’s imposing mountains. The exploits of Lawrence have become part of local folklore, and some popular tourist sites are named after him, although whether he used these exact sites is open to debate.
Recognizing the unique natural and cultural history of Wadi Rum and the vital importance of tourism to the local economy, the government of Jordan declared Wadi Rum a protected area in 1998. With support from the World Bank they commissioned the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, a national NGO, to prepare a conservation plan and build a team of local people to manage the area. This team is now under the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and is pioneering ways to restore and safeguard Rum’s sensitive desert habitats from ever-increasing human pressure.
Wadi Rum is a protected area covering 720 square kilometers of dramatic desert wilderness in the south of Jordan. Huge mountains of sandstone and granite emerge, sheer-sided, from wide sandy valleys to reach heights of 1700 meters and more. Narrow canyons and fissures cut deep into the mountains and many conceal ancient rock drawings etched by the peoples of the desert over millennia. Bedouin tribes still live among the mountains of Rum and their large goat-hair tents are a special feature of the landscape.
There are many ways to enjoy the attractions of Rum, including jeep, camel and hiking tours and you can stay overnight in a Bedouin tent and gaze at the amazing panoply of stars. To safeguard its unique desert landscape, Wadi Rum was declared a protected area in1998 and an intensive conservation program is now underway.
We need the help of all visitors to make our efforts to protect Wadi Rum successful Wadi Rum is a very beautiful and special place but it faces some challenging environmental problems. The growing pressure from visitors, and especially from off-road vehicles, is damaging the fragile desert ecology. There is also a problem of littering and the loss of wildlife through illegal hunting.
A major conservation program is underway to tackle these problems, including zoning schemes, organized vehicle routes, better tourist information and the creation of a team of conservation rangers to patrol the area. At the same time we need the help of all visitors to make our efforts to protect Wadi Rum successful. If you are planning to visit this unique protected area, please follow the rules and regulations and do all you can to respect the site and its people.