I encountered my first charming Bedouin seller aged somewhere in his twenties on my first day at Petra. I had entered Petra that morning via a different entrance instead of through the Siq, on horse with a local guide. However, he abandoned me at the top of a mountain gesturing that I would have to walk the rest of the way from there as he couldn’t take the horse down. “Around 45 minutes walk.” It was near sunset and I was a little nervous I’d be stranded in Petra in the dark- the main trails are busy but off the main trails you can go without seeing a single other person.
I scrambled down the rocks until I got to some steps which headed towards the main path. On my way I saw an Argentinian guy I recognised from my hostel in Amman. I was pleased to see him and we made our way to the exit together past the main stalls.
As we reached the famous treasury, we were in luck- barely any other tourists were left at this point. He got out his fancy camera and I took out my phone for some cool shots when a bedouin seller in his twenties appeared speaking in a cockney accent “hello lovely where are you from”. I laughed because his English accent was actually very impressive. His kohl eyeliner and headscarf made him look like he’d stepped off the set off Pirates of the Caribbean! They have their patter down to a tee and you can’t help but laugh. Only Bedouins are allowed to sell and work within the grounds of Petra. The industry is unregulated- you see children selling when they should be at school, guides acting and doing as they please and so on. Most are very friendly and will take no for an answer. They used to live here in the caves of Petra but the government have rehoused them in a nearby village within walking distance of Petra.
We chatted for a bit and he offered to take my photo. Being a solo traveller I jumped at the opportunity of getting a photo stood in front of the treasury with nobody else in shot.
He appeared very friendly in a cheeky way, but I just laughed it off as it didn’t seem threatening at all. He then asked if I wanted to join him for some tea and to watch the sunset which I politely declined and returned to my hostel.
The next day I was walking along in Petra alone when I heard a cockney accent “Hello English how are you?” It was him again. We chatted for a bit and as I had a drink in front of the monastery I observed him and his friends in action..
They speak to EVERY female in their 20s/30s. They start off by asking where they’re from and breaking the ice with a cheeky comment (and they know the basics of all languages – Japanese, French, German- you name it!) andthey are funny.. although after ten minutes you realise they use the exact same jokes and lines on everyone! This was all fine, but they very quickly move on to the topic along the lines of:
-Do you want to join us for a barbecue in the desert tonight, we sit in a cave, make fires, cook food the Bedouin way out in the open air under the stars etc
-Do you want to come with us to watch the sunset? We can take you somewhere amazing etc etc
– We can offer you an authentic experience in the desert etc
– Come with me and I will show you the best views away from the crowds, you will love it etc
Some of them were really quite persistent and trying different tactics to gain the women’s trust.
At first I didn’t think anything of it and laughed it off as them just being a bit cheeky. But when I realised they were really focusing on getting these women alone and usually at night, I started to question their motives. They didn’t even try and get to know the woman even slightly first. So what did they really want?! Was it just company or something more?!
With this in mind I later googled scams on female tourists at Petra and was shocked at what I found as there are some very scary stories…
Blog- scams on females – the guy in the photo on this blog was the one who talked to me at the treasury in the cockney accent.
Dark and scary romance secret
Some accounts are downright sinister. There are stories of once the woman is out in the desert/cave etc, that drinks been spiked and attacks have subsequently taken place. Other accounts are more typical financial based scams- from women who were harassed for money once they returned to their home country- their Johnny Depp would regale them with stories of medical fees, dying donkeys etc. I am not tarring all with the same brush, but there has to be something in it for them to be so persistent. Don’t feel bad about being clear and direct to the point of rudeness where necessary.
So although it might be tempting to go and watch the stars under the night sky, or have a bbq in the caves of little Petra or the desert, for your own safety just say no thank you and move on!
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.