Filled with highly Instagrammable backdrops and ancient monuments, Jordan has more to offer than just Petra, the Dead Sea or Amman. At least, that’s what the latest season of the Arabic travel show, ‘My World to You’, wants to prove.
Now in its third season — previous seasons covered Thailand and Tunisia — the series will premiere on November 27 on OSN’s lifestyle and entertainment outlet TLC Arabia, becoming the channel’s first Arabic-language show.
It’s the brainchild of Dubai-based Lebanese media personality Darine Al Khatib, who wanted to shine a light on the “hidden jewel of the Middle East” in the show’s latest go-around.
“Jordan has way more to offer. You go to areas like Ajloun in the mountains, or you go to Salt and you walk in a historical street called Share’e Hammam [Al Hammam Road], and you understand the history behind it and how the people from Nablus, when they fled Palestine in ‘48, influenced the architects of this street,” said Al Khatib, who is both the producer and presenter of the series.
During the 10-part season, Al Khatib journeyed to the town of Umm Qais, where she took in a view of Syria, Palestine and Lebanon, and visited the world-famous Wadi Rum, where she felt one with the universe.
“For me, it was an unbelievable experience just being there surrounded with a colourful desert, amazing sunset and the hospitality of the Bedouin people,” she said.
The show also featured the best tour guides around — the locals. But it was no easy task getting them to speak on film, according to Al Khatib.
“In Thailand, if I’m followed by a camera and I speak to any of the locals, they’re all mostly welcoming. They don’t care if there’s a camera present. In Jordan, no. People take a while to open up. It’s not because they’re stuck up, or they don’t want to be on camera — they’re genuinely shy,” she said.
“Once they start trusting you and trusting that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying — that you’re connecting with them on a human, emotional level — they really start opening up and they just show you how genuine they are as people,” she added.
Al Khatib has gone from directing and producing more than 500 hours of programming at Fatafeet TV, to screening her film ‘Houdoud Al Zaman’ at the Monaco Film Festival, and lead starring in the romantic drama ‘Love’s Improvisations’, which screened at Dubai International Film Festival in 2012.
She aired the first season of ‘My World to You’ the following year on Fatafeet TV, where it became the channel’s most viewed show in March of 2013.
This new season was particularly memorable to her, because it marked several firsts. She braved her fear by taking on extreme sports like paragliding, flying in glider aircrafts with no engine, and rappelling, a controlled descent down a vertical drop using a rope.
More than that, the picturesque views she took in — and the experiences she soaked up from the natives — have stuck with her. A Bedouin guide showed her how to get soap from a plant, and let her in on an ancient home remedy of killing, drying and eating scorpions to protect against venomous bites.
“The Bedouin people took me on, explained their culture to me openly, allowed me to cook with them Zarb, which is a traditional Bedouin Jordanian dish that you bury underground for two to three hours,” said Al Khatib. “This whole experience made me appreciate what nature has to offer.”
The season filmed every day for a month, starting in mid-October and wrapping around last week. It was an unusually quick turnaround in terms of post-production, but with the show ready to air, Al Khatib hoped it would inspire people to travel despite their fear of the unknown.
“We are all connected as people, we all have the same emotions, no matter where we are. Sometimes we even share the same stories. If this inspires people, I would be very thrilled,” said Al Khatib.
As for her biggest personal reward? The approval of the Jordanian people.
“If Jordanian people watch the show and say, ‘You have [done] our country justice and our people justice,’ I’d be humbled by that.”
Don’t miss it!
‘My World to You’ premieres on TLC Arabia (channel 212 on OSN) on November 27 at 10pm.