WADI RUM - Breathing fresh air into the Kingdom’s tourism industry, the inaugural Jordan Air Balloon Festival dotted the skies of southern Jordan with a host of aviation events.
The Ministry of Tourism launched the festival on Friday in Wadi Rum, as part of efforts to boost tourism in the Kingdom’s “Golden Triangle” area — Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Rum.
Events began with air balloons launching from the desert at sunrise and lining the sky.
Activities continued throughout the day on Friday, including live DJ sets and a night-time light show that was streamed live on the event's Facebook page.
Nadia Mehdawi, a visitor from Amman who attended the festival with her family told The Jordan Times: “The whole experience was mesmerising and a turning point for tourism in Jordan.”
“My kids had a blast enjoying the beautiful balloons in the sky and having it in a place like Wadi Rum gave it another magical dimension,” she added.
However, a handful of events on Friday were postponed due to “very high wind speeds” in the valley, leading to “dangerous” flight conditions, according to Hadi El Farra, co-founder and marketing manager for the event.
Despite best efforts from the air balloon operators and festival managers, safety concerns were taken into consideration and cancellations of all aviation activities continued through to Saturday morning and afternoon, Farra said.
Tara, a Jordanian festival-goer visiting Wadi Rum from Amman on Saturday told The Jordan Times, “We were encouraged to come to the festival by some friends who attended last night and said that the DJs in the evening were great.”
However, Tara added, “We’re disappointed about the air events being cancelled today [Saturday], so we might not stay until the music tonight.”
Farra confirmed that Tara and any other customers disappointed with their ticket purchase were given a full refund.
“We spent a long time reviewing weather forecast and weather maps, we even had weather experts stay in Wadi Rum for the past five days to make sure everything was fine. Everything was perfect until yesterday but unfortunately we cannot control the wind,” he told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
“Hopefully the event will carry on as usual, even tonight if the weather is fine,” he added, noting that Friday was the “perfect launch”.
Mehdawi said that safety was a priority in the minds of visitors too. “Most importantly, all the safety and hygiene precautions were taken into consideration,”she said.
“I can’t wait for next year’s festival” she added.
The event is set to continue in Wadi Rum until Tuesday.
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