Wadi Rum has been inscribed by UNESCO as a new World Heritage Site, receiving distinctions under the cultural and natural categories. Wadi Rum satisfied 3 specific criteria (criteria 3, 5, & 7), criterion 5 being one that requires the site to be of “superlative natural phenomena and aesthetic importance,” which Wadi Rum clearly exemplifies.
On the road to inscription, Jordan needed evidence of the site’s outstanding universal value. Former Minister of Tourism and Senator Akel Biltaji praises this accomplishment, stating “this means that Wadi Rum is important to all of humanity and this is another responsibility for Jordan to be the custodian of another World Heritage Site.”
James Irwin, one of the Apollo 15 astronauts of the fourth American lunar landing was quoted as having told HM the late King Hussein during a trip to Wadi Rum that “this is the closest thing on Earth to what I saw when I walked on the moon.” According to Senator Biltaji, “this was the origin of the name Valley of the Moon”, which Wadi Rum is known for.
Wadi Rum was first made famous in the West by the movie Lawrence of Arabia, serving as a major military point during the Great Arab Revolt of 1916, lead by sharif Huseein bin Ali – the great grandfather of HM King Abdullah II.
The incredible desert landscape extends approximately 42km from north to south, and approximately 33km from east to west. Wadi Rum is a major feature within the Hisma desert lying to the east of the Jordan Rift Valley and south of the steep escarpment of the central Jordanian plateau.
Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board, Nayef H. Al Fayez, said: “This recognition is well-deserved for such an incredible place like Wadi Rum, and Jordan will not only work on preserving the site and keeping its cultural and natural integrity intact, but we will also work on sharing its glory with the world.” Wadi Rum joins Petra, Quseir Amra, and Umm Ar-Rasas on Jordan’s list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.