Shaker Al Zalabeh
My name is Shaker Al Zalabeh, I have lived my whole life in Wadi Rum, my father has 14 children and I am the oldest, through my lifetime the area transformed from a Bedouin herding community into a UNESCO listed world tourist attraction. I left school at the age of 13 and began working as a camel herder with tourists. Initially I understood no English, however through necessity, gradually learnt until I was able to communicate with tourists and explain the history and culture of the Protected Area. I began working in a desert camp run by my father and over time I managed to buy an old vehicle with a loan and began taking tours within the Protected Area. I was married in 2015 and my oldest son is Akram. In late 2017 I seized the opportunity to open Arabian Nights and now work very hard to ensure the success of the camp for the enjoyment of all guests and the prosperity of my family.
Name: Shaker Al Zalabeh
Nickname: Abu Akram
Favourite Location in the Protected Area: Al Forah
What do I do in my free time: Watch La Liga and my team Barcelona
Favourite Meal: Mansaf
Favourite Activity in Camp: Football and Volleyball
When I am away from the camp
I have a young son, who I hope that one day he is very well educated and fluently speaks English. I want to create a life for him where he has many opportunities and can travel outside of Jordan and learn many things about the world. The camp is a great oppotunity for me to provide him with the foundations in his life to be very happy and successful.
When I am not busy with the camp I enjoy watching La Liga and Champions League as well as Japanese anime films.
Often in seasons when tourist arrivals are very few in Wadi Rum, I am regularly working on upgrades to develop the camp, but I also help within my community and my extended family to help coordinate events and resolve issues such as electricity outages in the village.
What Wadi Rum means to me
I have lived my entire life in Wadi Rum, and only traveled to Aqaba and Amman, I have never stayed outside this valley for more than a few days. This place means a lot to me and the community, culture, religion and tradition are all very important to me. Although we are always influenced by the technological advancements of the West, our history and way of life remains constant in my life. I intend to raise my children with the same values that were imparted on me and my parents, and their parents, and their parents before them.
Our people have lived in this valley for hundreds of years and we are connected to our land. We are proud Jordanians but mostly we are proud of our Bedouin ancestry. My forefathers have faithfully served all of the great empires that controlled this land and we have always had an understanding with those empires that they provide us our autonomy in our lands and we will defend these lands against anyone who challenges their authority. That is part of the reason why Wadi Rum has always rested at the edge of the great empires of the past, since before the time of Mohammed. In my lifetime we hold King Hussein in high esteem, but we maintain our Bedouin traditions and values close to our hearts.
Sharing our place
For all the centuries we have lived in this place it has been an inhospitable land, those who have traveled through have sought our custom to re-energise themselves as they pass through this hot, dry landscape. Over centuries much like our Muslim brothers in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, a strong culture of hospitality has been developed. We welcome visitors to our land and we are pleased that people from all over the world are interested to come and learn our culture and custom.