Will Smith visits Jordan’s Petra with ‘Aladdin’ crew

Will Smith visited Petra in Jordan with his crew on Wednesday.
Updated 09 November 2017
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Will Smith visits Jordan’s Petra with ‘Aladdin’ crew

JEDDAH: US star Will Smith has thanked the royal family and people of Jordan for taking “perfect care of us.” Smith, who arrived this week in Aqaba for shooting Disney’s “Aladdin” visited Petra with his crew on Wednesday.
“We’re shooting Aladdin in Jordan. Took my crew to see PETRA! It’s been on my Bucket List for about 20 years. IT’S CRAZY! Special ‘Thank You’ to the Royal Family & to the people of Jordan. You all took PERFECT CARE of us. We Shall Return!” the “Men in Black” star wrote on Facebook, posting a group photo of the trip.
Earlier, Al-Rai newspaper quoted Commissioner of Tourism and Commerce at the Aqaba authority’s special economy unit, Sharhabil Madi as saying that Smith’s visit was related to the filming of “Aladdin,” in which the latter plays the role of the Genie.
Madi added that attracting famous international figures to Aqaba comes within the framework of the authority’s plan to promote the region as a safe tourist and economic destination.
“The authority has to take advantage of the presence of such artistic figures who are filming global films watched by hundreds of millions around the world and bearing the name of the place where these films are produced. Aqaba today gained international fame due to these works of art,” he said.
He added: “There will be dozens of artists and international foreign and Arab stars participating in the production of Aladdin, which is being filmed in the ‘Valley of the Moon Wadi Rum’ for a period of up to two months.”
Smith was also photographed having dinner at a restaurant in Aqaba.
Many Jordanians on social media welcomed the actor and his crew to their country.
Hisham Ayyash wrote: “Jordan and Jordanians love you and we were honored to have you in Jordan. We will be waiting for your next trip to us! To everyone and on behalf of all Jordanians, please count Jordan as your 2nd home any time!”
“We are honored to host your new film Mr. Smith, hope you have a blast in Jordan and take a glimpse at the true Middle Eastern culture away from the noise of American mainstream media. Make sure to try mansaf (traditional Jordanian dish),” wrote Shadi Hawari.


Ozil defends controversial picture with Erdogan

Updated 22 July 2018
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Ozil defends controversial picture with Erdogan

  • Ozil said he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins
  • He insisted he did not intend to make a political statement

BERLIN: Footballer Mesut Ozil said Sunday he had no regrets about his controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany’s national squad ahead of the World Cup.
Breaking his silence over the snapshot that caused outrage during the tournament, the Arsenal midfielder said in a statement on Twitter that he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement.
“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey,” he said.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”
Ozil said he had first met Erdogan in 2010 after the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel watched a Germany-Turkey match together.
“Since then, our paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe,” he said.
“I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.”
Ozil said despite the timing of the picture with teammate Ilkay Gundogan and Erdogan — shortly before the president won re-election in a poll endowing him with sweeping new powers — “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies,” Ozil said.
“I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different. Whatever the outcome would’ve been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture.”
Ozil, 29, came in for stinging criticism in Germany for their shock first-round defeat at the World Cup.
Team boss Oliver Bierhoff suggested after the debacle that Germany should have considered dropping Ozil after his failure to explain himself over the Erdogan picture.
Bierhoff later backtracked, saying that he “was wrong” to put Ozil under undue pressure, but the picture continued to draw scorn from fans on social media.
Germany is home to more than three million people of Turkish origin.