Whereas the Dead Sea might have been a better-known tourist destination, Aqaba and the Jordanian shores of the Red Sea are becoming more and more popular. Its waters host some of the most productive and diverse coral reefs in the world!
When one visits Southern Jordan, the central part of the Exodus (that is, the parting of the Red Sea) comes to life. It is, for sure, a tourist attraction. But it is also a pilgrimage site.
From the sandy and sunny beaches of Aqaba by the Red Sea — a tourist city par excellence, with its luxurious resorts, generous restaurants, and scuba-diving schools — one can perfectly well see Egypt. It is difficult not to imagine the sea being parted in half, with Moses approaching one’s table walking from the other shore.
Of course, what neither Moses nor Aaron nor any other legendary pilgrim ever dreamed of doing was riding in a jeep across the magnificent Wadi Rum desert during sunset, discovering ancient petroglyphs dating back more than 10.000 years. Now, every visitor can do it, riding in the back of a jeep driven by locals, who might even take the tourist/pilgrim for tea or coffee in a Bedouin tent—not to mention the many glamping options available.
Contemplating the stars (and the Milky Way) while drinking tea in this magnificent desert in the middle of the night, enjoying the proverbial hospitality of the Bedouins, certainly makes one remember the promise God made to Abraham: “I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”
The Wadi Rum got its name from the Romans. The area was directly under Roman rule during Trajan, although the Decapolis was built during the Hellenistic Period. But although “Rum” literally translates as “Roman,” the word also refers in general to Byzantine Christians.