Travel in southern Iraq

Travel in southern Iraq

Géraldine Chatelard, a friend from Jordan, sent me a write-up of her recent visit to southern Iraq. She has kindly allowed me to reproduce parts of it here, with her own photos. Names have been removed or altered and I have skipped over some parts that could identify people who might not wish to be identified. Géraldine…

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Journey to the mountain

Journey to the mountain

Even now, weeks later, I’m not sure why I cried. The tears were flowing before I reached the summit: I remember looking up into the blurry blue. I also remember, further back down the trail, when the old, familiar voices started to sing to me about weakness and tiredness and failure – but even then…

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BBC Wild Arabia

BBC Wild Arabia

After the epic that was David Attenborough’s Africa series, which ran on BBC TV in the UK recently, their next big nature extravaganza is Wild Arabia – due later this month on BBC2 in the UK (episode 1 airs 9pm on 22nd Feb, I believe). The three-part series was filmed over almost two years in…

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A Wadi Runs Through It

A Wadi Runs Through It

Late in 2010, a US magazine editor gave me a tip about an environmental scheme in the Saudi capital Riyadh that was up for a major international prize, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. They were keen for me to do a story. The scheme – which has transformed Riyadh’s main Wadi Hanifah watercourse from…

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Gospel truth

Gospel truth

Here’s a story of David and Goliath. In 2007 and 2008, US outdoor adventure specialist David Landis and Israeli tourism entrepreneur Maoz Inon developed the Jesus Trail, a 65km walking route linking Nazareth – the town where Jesus grew up – to sites of pilgrimage around the Sea of Galilee. David and Maoz, with David’s…

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Green green grass

Green green grass

Pioneering guidebook writers Di Taylor and Tony Howard have done it again. After their amazing work over almost thirty years in the Wadi Rum deserts of southern Jordan, and their expertise trailfinding long-distance paths in Palestine – and Tony’s record-breaking conquest of the Troll Wall, Europe’s tallest rock face, back in ’65 – plus countless more achievements…

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Small country, big mistake?

Small country, big mistake?

Eco mayhem. A while ago we had Tanzania proposing to build a major highway straight through the Serengeti. That idea was quashed. Then we had Egypt proposing to build a hotel in a pristine wilderness. That might still happen. Now, up steps Jordan – a poor country with few natural resources and a faltering economy. 85%…

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Wadi Rum gains World Heritage status

Wadi Rum gains World Heritage status

On 25 June, UNESCO announced that Wadi Rum, a protected area of desert in southern Jordan, had been added to the list of World Heritage Sites for both its natural drama and cultural significance. For Rum background, click here, here, here and here. Few outsiders know Wadi Rum as well as British climbers Tony Howard and Di Taylor. Since their first visit 27…

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No longer deserted

No longer deserted

Jordan doesn’t often get into Wallpaper, the leading international magazine on fashion and design. But this is an eye-opener, revealed in the last couple of days – a scheme for super-luxurious, environmentally sound lodges in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert, designed by US architect Chad Oppenheim [profile] [website] for completion in 2014. Reading Wallpaper’s brief article,…

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Walking the line

Walking the line

Catching up after six busy weeks – and I just wanted to write a short post, to follow up my previous posts on walking in Jordan and Turkey, to talk about the Jesus Trail, a linked series of walks through northern Israel. The walk has been developed by Anna Dintaman and David Landis – lovely…

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Red Dead

Red Dead

Ferociously busy at the moment, ahead of a trip next week – I’ve got several stories I want to blog about, but only time now to post this BBC news report from Jordan by Natalia Antelava about the plans to build a Red-Dead Canal, linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, and thus (a) providing…

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Oryx tale soup

Oryx tale soup

Yesterday, twenty Arabian oryx – a kind of white antelope, native to the Middle East – were released into the wild at Wadi Rum in Jordan, as the latest step in efforts to reintroduce the animal to the wild after its near-extinction in the 1970s. A bit of background: oryx once roamed widely from Egypt…

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Tourism 2.0

It’s the perfect venue for a revelation – St Ethelburga’s, a 15th-century church in the City of London which was partly destroyed by an IRA truck bomb in 1993 and which has now been rebuilt to serve as a centre for reconciliation and peace. I was there yesterday for a meeting about raising the profile…

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Walking the walk

It’s been a few days since I had a chance to blog – not least because I’m now away updating my Rough Guide to Switzerland (writing this on the TGV from Zurich to Basel). I’ve had it in mind to put down something about this BBC story profiling a group calling themselves the Jerusalem Peacemakers…

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