Badreddine Al-Wahaibi – Tunisia
It has been four decades since American director George Lucas packed his luggage and camera equipment from the “Neck of the Camel” deep into the Tunisian desert, returning to Hollywood to finalize the movie “Star Wars,” leaving behind an abandoned, upright decorator in El-Baida who will know a new lifestyle at the hands of Bedouins of the region.
The camel neck region belongs administratively to Tozeur Governorate, and it contains an embodiment of the fictional city of Moss Aspa, the birthplace of “Skywalker”, one of the film’s heroes, and the site was chosen to photograph scenes of the invasion of space and space cities due to the distinct terrain that the director saw similar to the outer space planets .
The filming location of the movie, which was shown at the cinema in 1977, entered the tourist paths for Tunisia, to become one of the most important attractions for Tunisian tourists and foreigners to discover and touch the real world in which the events of this “global epic” took place, which led the people of the region to develop multiple commercial activities around it.
Many merchants from the region stand around the site, who rely mainly on selling antiques and souvenirs related to life in the desert, and you often find a good impact in the soul of tourists, in addition to providing tours inside the site or in the areas bordering the appearance of camels and horses, especially at sunset .
Al-Hadi Friwa (55 years old) says that for more than two decades, he used to stand near the site to sell “gauze”, which is a scarf worn by the Bedouins to protect the face from heat and sandstorms, adding that this secluded corner in the desert has become a haven for young people in the region looking for a livelihood due to the small work prospects And earning in addition to poverty.
He adds that the film employed many of the people of the region during its filming, in order to know the details of the desert and the safe paths in it, in addition to securing some requirements for building decoration that seemed very strange to many of them during that period, especially as it related to space, stars and housing for beings strange to their imagination.
The neck of the camel website attracts many youth music events that derive its success from the name of the film, which was printed in the memory of many generations, especially the electronic dune demonstration that was held on the site, with the opportunities provided by these occasions to create commercial activities based on parallel services to them.
Travel agencies are keen to organize exploratory trips for the desert oases chain, but the camel neck region remains the most attractive corner for tourists, due to the rugged terrain leading to it in four-wheel drive convoys, leading its leadership to the people of the neighboring regions for their experience in their details and routes.
Tourist artistic legacy
The decoration of the movie Star Wars is an important cultural and touristic heritage in the Tunisian desert, with all the movements and measures it required to preserve it as a vital economic artery for Tunisia and the people of the Neck of the Camel region, deep in the desert, which was returned by director George Lucas to the fore after decades of isolation.
The film threatens the desert, prompting the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism to launch fundraising campaigns based on the contributions of “Star Wars” fans who have been organized into associations and clubs, to save the decor. And two years ago, they were able to collect nearly a hundred thousand dollars to restore it and remove nearly forty thousand tons of sand that started crawling on it.
Commercial activities around the filming location of the movie “Star Wars” are limited to selling traditional desert products, and the absence of events that suit the privacy of the place, and the French tourist, Sarah, believes that she wishes that some necessary life facilities would be made that would make discovering the site more enjoyable and comfortable.
The film industry represents a field of intense competition between many Arab countries, which seek – by creating isolated desert areas – to attract global film producers, with the huge material capabilities and advanced infrastructure required in those areas, which Tunisia may not have at the present time.