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Thursday, March 11, 2010

World Travels: Jordan, an Oasis of Peace and Beauty

From the cloak of Wadi Rum serenity to the nutrient-rich mud from the Dead Sea, Jordan delivers to the heart and soul.

Why do we travel? Most of us have everything we need within a few miles of home: a place to sleep, our jobs, luxuries of life and entertainment and more. So what is it? For the majority of pleasure travelers it’s simple: the eternal unveiling of the mysteries of a dissimilar land, the search for the perfect view and clearest waters, and yearning to connect with something new and old.

Jordan’s history and places have been hinted about in popular culture. From Indiana Jones’s wild horseback ride through Petra, to Cleopatra’s thirst for the finest beauty products from the Dead Sea, to Peter O’Toole leading the Arabs through Wadi Rum, we have been teased with the beauty and mystery of a land typically known as a kind neighbor to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

"Even without the buildings carved into the side of the mountains, the vast rock formations and canyon walls are worthy of “breathtaking” status. Centuries of earthquakes and neglect have left much of Petra’s history covered in sand and silt, which makes the mystery that much more alluring."

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has no oil and is officially a water poor nation. But it has one incredibly valuable resource in the troubled Middle East—peace. It is not an easy item to export, but people flock there when they need it, making use of a plethora of five-star resorts and hotels until it is safe to go home. Iraqi business people who can no longer function in their own war-torn country are immigrating to Jordan in droves. They have created a massive building boom. Palatial homes and modern apartment blocks are springing up everywhere.

When I traveled there this past spring, I was struck by the misconceptions the West has of the Middle East. Americans, especially, tend to think of it as a menacing place, but nothing is further from the truth, considering that Jordan enjoys a crime rate well below that of Sweden. As soon as I said I was American, I was greeted with big smiles. People were not only friendly, but well-informed about our country and its current events, and they were eager to meet Americans.

For my complete take on Heshimite Kingdom of Jordan and the beauty of it all, here's the ALO magazine URL: