120506–Memories of Mada’in Saleh

by Irina Bernebring Journiette

Saudis can’t go here. They say it’s because of the djinn. The evil spirits haunting the place. I read about djinns in my newly bought catch–the Hakawati–the storyteller. The djinns seems like facinating creatures, out of this world but still so much a part of it. In the book the djinn steals Fatima’s hand and she has to climb into the underworld and become his lover to retrieved it. The djinn’s make for good entertainment. In Mada’in Saleh however, they seemed all long gone. Left was the smell of cold death in the gravechambers of the Nabateans, the same people that built Petra in Jordan, came here to reside and then to bury their dead. Lavish ornaments and chambers carved into the soft, now eroding, sandstone. Nothing other than a breathtaking beauty slowly vanishing. Perhaps the only thing that will remain is the memory of the djinn. But then again, the day before we arrived one of the two hotels in the city next to the site was burned to the ground and we all know that the Djinn lives in fire.