4 / 10
4. Wadi Rum
Before the days of the Rashidun Caliphate, the Wadi Rum desert belonged first to the Nabatean kingdom, then to the Roman empire and, finally, to the Byzantines. It was during this last period when, apparently, it got its current name: the inhabitants of the desert —mainly Bedouin tribes who either worshiped Roman gods or had become Christians— would refer to the Christian monastic and ascetic communities established in the region as “Rum,” that is, “Romans,” a word that would apply to Eastern Romans (that is, Byzantines) and Greek alike.