Wadi Rum also known as The Valley of the Moon is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan 60 km (37 mi) to the east of Aqaba; it is the largest wadi in Jordan. The name Rum most likely comes from an Aramaic root meaning 'high' or 'elevated'. To reflect its proper Arabic pronunciation, archaeologists transcribe it as Wadi Ramm.
Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, working with climbers and trekkers, have made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. The area is now one of Jordan's important tourist destinations, and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists, particularly trekkers and climbers, but also for camel and horse safari or simply day-trippers from Aqaba or Petra. Popular activities in the desert environment include camping under the stars, riding Arab horses, hiking and rock-climbing among the massive rock formations. ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) and Jeeps are also available and new camps have opened that offer adequate accommodation for tourists.
Dima and Lama Hattab coordinate an annual marathon in the region called Jabal Ishrin.
The Bedouin have climbed in the Sandstone mountains of Wadi Rum for many generations. Many of their 'Bedouin Roads' have been rediscovered and documented by modern climbers. Several are included in the climbing guidebook by Tony Howard, and online by Liên and Gilles Rappeneau.
In 1949 Sheikh Hamdan took surveyors to the summit of Jabal Ram. The first recorded European ascent of Jabal Ram took place in November 1952, by Charmian Longstaff and Sylvia Branford, guided by Sheik Hamdan. The first recorded rock climbs started in 1984, with the first of many visits by English climbers Howard, Baker, Taylor and Shaw. This group repeated many of the Bedouin routes, accompanied by locals and independently, including, in 1984, Hammad's Route on Jebel Rum, and, in 1985, Sheikh Kraim’s Hunter’s Slabs and Rijm Assaf on Jebel Rum. Many new routes were climbed in the 1980s, by this team, French guide Wilfried Colonna, by the Swiss Remy brothers, and by Haupolter and Precht. The first dedicated climbing guide book, Treks and Climb in Wadi Rum, by Tony Howard, was first published in 1987. Some of the many Bedouin routes have been documented online by Lien and Gilles Rappeneau. A new routes book for climbers is held at the Wadi Rum Guest House.
The route Guerre Sainte was climbed in 2000 by Batoux, Petit and friends. This was the first route in Wadi Rum to be entirely equipped using bolt protection. The route, on the East Face of Jebel Nassarani North, is 450 m (1,480 ft) long, and graded F7b or F7aA0.
The area has been used as a background setting in a number of films:
- Lawrence of Arabia - David Lean filmed much of this 1962 film on location in Wadi Rum.
- Red Planet - Wadi Rum was used as the surface of Mars in this 2000 film.
- Passion in the Desert - The area was also used for scenes in this 1998 film.
- The Face - BBC Film, Rock climbing in Rum
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Represented as being in Egypt
- The Frankincense Trail - scenes from train, and aerial filming too
- Prometheus - Scenes for the Alien Planet