Jordan Local Leader - Tala Momani
A busy mother of a 2 year old child, Tala is an environmentalist with a keen interest and experience in social development and tourism. Tala has a degree in environmental sciences and worked with one of the world's largest environmental NGO's "Friends of the Earth" where she delved into the social development issues of rural and remote areas and gained a deep understanding of the challenges that local communities in Jordan face. Her passion for travelling, nature and outdoor activities led her to become a tour guide in 2008 and has been leading adventure trips for KE since then. Tala is one of few female tour guides in Jordan and she also teaches the ‘Adventure Tourism' course for tour guides at the Jordan Applied University.
We interviewed each of our leaders and here is what Tala had to say...
How old are you?
In Jordan too, women don't like to be asked about their age!! But if you insist I am 30.
Where were you born?
Abu Dhabi / United Arab Emirates
Where do you live now?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
4 sisters and one brother
Can you give a brief outline of your education?
I have B.S in Environmental Sciences
How did you come to be working in the tourism industry?
During my work with Friends of the Earth as environmental projects manger, I organized a lot of nature and adventure trips for the children and youth as part of the environmental educational activities. Since then I realized the natural hidden treasure and huge tourism potential that the country carries and the lack of technical guides to run canyoneering trips. So I took rappelling and canyoneering instructor courses, and since then tourism has played a big part in my everyday life.
Have you had any training specific to working with foreign tourists?
Yes, I am certified as a licensed tourist guide, which I obtained after 10 months of studying Guiding at the Jordan Applied University.
What is your first language?
What languages do you speak?
How did you learn to speak English?
At school mainly and I can say that TV is my second English school.
Which KE holiday do you most like to lead?
Trekking in Wadi Rum "JOR"
What has been the most amusing moment you have experienced on a KE holiday?
It is always amusing when we all get together at night after dinner next to the campfire chatting and playing.
What has been the most challenging incident you have faced on a KE holiday?
I don't recall any.
Do you think that foreign tourism is a good thing for your country?
Of course tourism can be the most important industry if it done wisely and in sustainable and responsible manner. It gives the nature, archeological sites and the intangible heritage of the country added value and economical value.
What do you do with your free time?
I guide in my free time!! I never considered guiding as my full time job, and I never took back to back trips. I always enjoyed serving people and showing them around this amazing country. So to keep it this way, I choose to make guiding as my leisure time thing rather than every day job.
What is your favourite sport?
Scuba diving, hiking, canyoneering, climbing and horseback riding.
When travelling with a group, what do the local people say about your clients?
Outgoing people and down to earth.
Have you travelled abroad, and if so where?
Yes, to USA, Japan, Hungary, Turkey, Sir Lanka, Egypt, Israel, Syria and Lebanon.
Which countries would you like to visit ?
My bucket list of country is very long, Iceland ,Iran, China, Chili and the Amazon are on the top of my list.
What music do you listen to - who is your favourite performer?
I more related to the oriental and classical Arabic performers. But I still enjoy Enya, Eva Cassidy, Jewels and the old songs of Chris de Burgh. Even though I was told by KE's travelers not to mention Chris as he is totally out of style, but I still like him.
Which person do you most admire in the world?
My two year old baby girl.
Do you know of any local projects that our charity, the Juniper Trust, could work with?
Unlike the neighbouring country Jordan is unfortunate with very limited natural resources and very vulnerable and stressed from the regional political perspective. However, it is still continueing to develop and grow and absolutely needs all the help it can get both on a national level and local level. I am personally involved and connected with some NGO's and local projects that would benefit from help from charities whether in the tourist destinations we go to or not.
What you have to say about Tala...
"Thanks for everything Tala - you are an exemplary tour guide. Thanks for all your thoughtfulness, good temper, and high level of skill and knowledge. We all had a great time." Nick & Ann
"Tala was excellent. Good company, knowledgeable, attentive and an excellent ambassador for Jordan. One of the best leaders I have met." Giles Staddon
"Tala was an outstandingly good trip leader." Ian Woodburn
"The support crew were great and leader outstanding: courteous, friendly and helpful people." Ian MacPherson