The springs of Wadi Rum have long been an important stopping point for the nomadic Bedouin with their herds, and the area recognised as part of their tribal lands. In recent decades, the natural beauty of Wadi Rum has attracted increasing numbers of tourists, with the Bedouin developing a lucrative business in jeep tours of the desert. Unfortunately, tyre tracks and litter now scar many popular areas.

Recently, realising the economic potential of Wadi Rum tourism, and without consultation, the government expropriated the land and declared it a protected area. World Bank loans are being used to develop the tourist infrastructure, and zoning and planning controls introduced. Not unnaturally, the Bedouin see this as an assault on their rights, freedoms and livelihoods.

It is argued that the Bedouin fail to appreciate the impact that motor vehicles are having, lack effective self-regulation, and don’t understand the area’s wider importance. Is this just global business masquerading as conservation? Or does the State have a valid claim to the land, given Jordan’s shortage of natural resources?

The film explores these different perspectives, with interviews from a large number of individuals, and sequences illustrating the changing nature of ‘traditional’ Bedouin life.

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Language: English & Arabic, with English subtitles
Running time: 25 minutes. Year of production: 2002
Producer: Nick Turvey (Website)
Camera: Garrard Martin
Produced in association with the Refugee Studies Centre, of University of Oxford

Rum Business box cover art Image from the film Image from the film Image from the film