Wadi Rum: Prince Faisal's Stronghold

Jordan: Lawrence of ArabiaWadi Rum: Prince Faisal's Stronghold

Location

30 million years in the making, the World Heritage Site of Wadi Rum is one of those landscapes you immediately fall in love with. It is a place of natural grandeur and its human history dates back to the Stone Age. Yet it wasn't until 1962 that the wadi became world-famous. Its starring role in David Lean's cult film Lawrence of Arabia showcased the beauty of this barren land to audiences around the globe and created a pilgrimage site for fans.

Originally, the entire movie was supposed to have been shot in Jordan. King Hussein's government was extremely supportive of filming, providing location scouting, transportation and extras. However as costs spiralled out of control and illness struck down a number of the cast and crew, the production was later moved to Spain and Morocco. Nevertheless, the first half of the movie was mostly shot in Wadi Rum.

If you plan to find some of the locations, it is highly advisable to hire a local guide. The Beduins know the area like the back of their hands and also have the right vehicles to negotiate the desert sands.

A four-wheel drive is the way to travel in Wadi Rum. Stefan scouted Lawrence of Arabia locations in July 2017 with Sharif Majali from the Royal Film Commission of Jordan.

A four-wheel drive is the way to travel in Wadi Rum. Stefan scouted Lawrence of Arabia locations in July 2017 with Sharif Majali from the Royal Film Commission of Jordan.

 

Key Scenes

The film locations are scattered throughout the Wadi Rum area and are hard to find without local guidance. The most identifiable location is probably the mushroom rock which can be seen in the scene when Lawrence and fifty of Prince Faisal's tribesmen make their way towards Aquaba in order to launch a surprise attack on the city.

The mushroom rock at Jabal Abu Rashrash.

The mushroom rock at Jabal Abu Rashrash.

Turn around 180 degrees and you are presented with an equally iconic rock feature.

The teenage orphans Daud and Farraj secretly follow Lawrence and his men.

The teenage orphans Daud and Farraj secretly follow Lawrence and his men.

The location of the following film still is a few kilometres further North-East.

The Turkish Forces launch an air strike on Prince Faisal's camp, just as Lawrence arrives.

The Turkish Forces launch an air strike on Prince Faisal's camp, just as Lawrence arrives.

The camera pans around and we see the camp stretching out in front of us.

With no notable air defenses, the Bedouins are an easy target for the two fighter planes that wreak havoc before having to refuel.

With no notable air defenses, the Bedouins are an easy target for the two fighter planes that wreak havoc before having to refuel.

 

 

Videos

All other important scenes filmed in Jordan are close to the Saudi Arabian border in the very south of the country:

- the very first shots of the desert with Lawrence and his Bedouin on route to Prince Faisal's camp (see trailer, minute 0:11 to minute 0:14)

- Lawrence's confrontation with Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) at his well (see trailer, minute 0:15 to minute 0:43)

- his encounter with Auda abu Tayi, the leader of the powerful local Howeitat tribe, who Lawrence manages to convince to join him on his attack on Aquaba (see trailer, minute 2:29 to minute 2:33 and 3:12 to 3:37)

Map

It is important to note that the two locations illustrated under "Key Scenes" lie just outside the actual Wadi Rum National Park, on the northern side of the main road. However, this area is still considered part of the wider Wadi Rum region.

The viewpoint for the mushroom rock is at N29° 42' 33" E35° 27' 11" or 29.709167 / 35.453056.

The viewpoint for Prince Faisal's Camp is at N29° 42' 50" E35° 25' 20" or 29.713889 / 35.422222.

Tips

Most visitors to Wadi Rum tend to stay in traditional Bedouin camps. An alternative is Camp Bait Ali, located on the northern side of the National Park area. It has all the modern amenities yet it still has a camp-like feel to it. Stefan stayed here during his location scouting trip with the Royal Film Commission of Jordan in 2017. You can choose between a comfortable tent or a range of different chalets all of which are air-conditioned.

One of the medium chalet bedrooms.

One of the medium chalet bedrooms.

 

 

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