You’ve probably never heard of Wadi Rum. But I bet you’ve seen quite a bit of it in one of your favourite films. That’s because Wadi Rum, which is a sandy valley in Jordan, has been used in quite a few of them.

And you might be able to guess what it’s been used for when you see what it looks like…

That’s right – Wadi Rum is a little piece of Mars on Earth. It was used as a Marsy film location in Red Planet [2000], The Last Days on Mars [2013] and The Martian [2015]. But it was also used to represent a generic alien planet in Prometheus [2012] and as the planet Jedha in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [2016]. As well as being used as an Earth dessert in Laurence of Arabia [1962].

Wadi Rum

Credit: Daniel Case (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Despite being mainly typecast as the Red Planet, Wadi Rum is also known (confusingly) as the Valley of the Moon. I’m not entirely sure why, as the moon is quite clearly white and Wadi Rum is quite clearly not.

Wadi Rum is Arabic for “Sand Valley”, which is a pretty accurate name for it. It’s also the largest wadi (valley) in Jordan, lying 37 miles east of the city of Aqaba.

Wadi Rum

Credit: Oliver Clarke (CC BY 2.0)

37 miles away from Aqaba and 33.9 million miles from Mars…

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