Tuesday, July 8, 2008



PETRA -- CNN concluded a week-long series dedicated to the Middle East with an unprecedented event on Friday night -- a live international broadcast from the ancient Nabataean city of Petra. The event was part of an hour-long special daily report live from Beirut by CNN International anchor Jim Clancy, and cohosted from Petra by Hala Gorani.

"We wanted something really spectacular," said Eye on the Middle East Amman producer Shems El Wazer. "For us, this has been a monumental challenge." The network began planning the Petra broadcast in October with a survey of the archaeological site. The most important step was to see if such an event was feasible. Because of the steep rock formations near the Treasury, from where Gorani presented the show, the best satellite signal could only be found in a clearing 1.2km away.

The engineering crew first needed a fiberoptic cable long enough to transmit the live feed, and then had to hope that nothing happens to it; such cables are easily damaged, and the area has a lot of tourist traffic, including horse carriages, donkeys, and on this day, trucks, all of which had a hard time seeing the thin grey cable among the dirt and sand.

The setup also included 900 yards of audio cables, 300 yards of video cables, a wireless camera, and lights to illuminate the 45 metre tall Treasury.

The crew started work at 6:30am on the day of recording and didn't leave for 14 hours. The equipment was brought through the winding and bumpy roads, sharp turns, and often steep climbs to reach the heart of the ancient site by horse-drawn carriage and van.

A special two-metre-high platform had to be built in Amman and then taken by truck to Petra. Without the stage, the shot would have excluded the upper half of the Treasury -- the focal point of the event.

Another logistical challenge was getting the government to approve the event. According to Jordan Tourism Board Managing Director Mazan Homoud, the Ministry of Tourism surveyed the site to assess possible environmental consequences, especially by allowing vehicles onto the site. The stage, satellites, and volume of equipment meant that the trucks had to drive right up to the Treasury.

With one of the lights to illuminate the Treasury not working, and the constant drone of generators in the background, the show nevertheless went ahead with no major problems.

"It is a privilege to anchor five live hours of news from this region," Hala Gorani told The Jordan Times. Gorani, whose parents are Syrian, grew up in the US and France -- but said she would like to continue working in the region. She said that growing up with multiple cultural influences is an asset that has made her more attuned to the subtleties of the region.

"Eye on the Middle East," like CNN International's monthly "Inside the Middle East," set out to go beyond the breaking news and into the social and cultural landscape of the region. The week of special programming on the region included live news shows and special features from Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Morocco.

The events are part of CNN's 25th anniversary celebrations. Earlier last week, the Amman production team relayed live reports from the Citadel, Abdoun Circle, Kan Zaman restaurant and the University of Jordan.

"It is absolutely breathtaking. You know, this is not a sight you can ready yourself for with pictures or any kind of footage..." Gorani said during Friday night's programme. "It's grander than you expect."

Victoria Macchi, Jordan Times, November 28, 2005

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We “me and family” made a trip to Petra in Jordan in April 2007. it was a piece of art and  fabulous.

We flew from Berlin to Amman- Jordan. We traveled at modern buses with a guide/driver.

Our route was Amman, Jerash, Ajloun , Petra , Dead Sea.

On the way we experienced architectural, archaeological, historical and cultural places: noble mosques, interesting museums, ancient castle, unique ruins, stone paths, the lowest point on earth with mineral salty water at Dead sea. Also we went to see how nomads live in their tents.


Before our trip we got a lot of warnings and surprising comments on Jordanians' hostility toward Westerners. Anyhow in every city, town and village we felt ourselves very welcome and every person was polite and hospitable to us.

Our guide was the best possible guide. His knowledge of Jordan, the past and the present is enormous and his driving style is convincing, A trip with him was like a trip with a friend not with a formal guide.

From my experience, http://libertytourism.com/Programs.html is one of the best tours at Jordan where all you may need and ask on one place.

Hans Herrman