Jordan, a blockbuster location for Hollywood - GulfToday

Jordan, a blockbuster location for Hollywood


A carved face of T.E. Lawrence and the inscription in Arabic, 'Lawrence of Arabia 1917' is seen on a stone in Jordan.

The lunar landscape of Jordan's Wadi Rum valley gets a starring role this week when the next and final episode of the Star Wars saga opens to global audiences.

The spectacular desert, with its shimmering red sands, majestic dunes and stunning rock formations was also where Peter O'Toole was filmed riding his horse in the 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia".

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From Matt Damon in "The Martian" to Will Smith in Disney's "Aladdin", Jordanian authorities have worked to ensure the country's diverse landscape features in some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters.

"When you travel to locations everything changes inside of you," Smith told a news conference earlier this year in Jordan's capital Amman.

Tourists walk in front of the Khazneh (Treasury) in Jordan
's ancient city of Petra.

"When we landed in Jordan all of a sudden you begin to embody the feelings of the characters like when we were in Wadi Rum... it was absolutely spectacular."

Petra and the holy grail

But filmmakers also come to Jordan to shoot because they are attracted to the diverse and rich landscape they find in the desert kingdom, according to Bakri.

Over the years dozens of foreign and Arab movies have been filmed in the country, including Hollywood classics such as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

Steven Spielberg's 1989 movie starring Harrison Ford brought to the big screen the magic of the rose-red archaeological city of Petra, famed for its ornate temples cut into rock.

A scene from the southern Jordanian desert of Wadi Rum.

The stunning and well-preserved sandstone facade of Petra's Al-Khazneh (Treasury), which some say dates back to the first century BC, featured as the entrance to a temple housing the Holy Grail.

Parts of Disney's Aladdin remake was filmed in Wadi Rum -- "the natural choice" for us, director Guy Ritchie told reporters in Amman in May.

Naomi Scott, who played Jasmine opposite Smith, said: "it is beautiful."

"Like Will said it makes perfect sense... when you are in an environment like this" it helps enforce the character the actor is trying to portray.

Co-actor Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin in the fantasy-romance movie, also praised the wonders of Wadi Rum.

"There is such a peace out there in the desert. There is nothing like it," he told the same news conference.

Jordan's geographic diversity and facilities has been always attracting Hollywood filmmakers.

Mars in Jordan

Wadi Rum served as the backdrop for director David Lean's award-winning "Lawrence of Arabia" which critics have described as perhaps the best, or second best, film ever made.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" was also filmed in the breathtaking desert, which is often known as the Valley of the Moon, before the location was again chosen for the saga's latest and final episode, "The Rise of Skywalker".

Munir Nassar, managing director of Zaman Project Management, a production services company in Jordan, said it took five months to prepare for the filming of the last Star Wars instalment.

"When the actors came (to Jordan), filming was completed in 12 days and then they left," Nassar, an ex-tourism minister, said.

His company was also involved in the filming of four other movies in Jordan, including "Mission to Mars", providing everything from meals to hotel bookings and transport

Agence France-Presse

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