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Battle To Save Star Wars Set From Desert Sand

A campaign has been launched in Tunisia to save the set where numerous Star Wars scenes were filmed from the encroaching desert.


The location for Mos Espa, the hometown of Anakin Skywalker, was built at Ong Jmel in the south of the country in the 1990s for Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.
Local boys sell traditional souvenirs in the Star Wars movie set in the Ong Jmal, in the Nefta, south of Tunisia

The tourism ministry is aiming to raise 300,000 Tunisian dinars (£113,000) for the restoration of the site.

"Mos Epsa is located in a very windy region, threatened by sand dunes which the wind moves by around 15 metres a year. One dune has already buried 10% of the site," said Nabil Gasmi, from one of the tourism groups involved in the campaign.

"We managed to remove 8,000 cubic metres of sand in 12 days. Unfortunately some of the set has already collapsed," he said.

The Tunisian state has allocated 160,000 dinars to the project, with an appeal launched on a crowdfunding website to raise a further £27,000.

The ministry hopes to secure the rest of the money from sponsors and private donations.

Fahmi Houki, an official at the ministry, explained that the sand clearance was a temporary operation, because the dunes are constantly moving, and would save the set for another eight to 10 years.

The North African country's tourism industry suffered from the violence and political instability that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled a decades-old dictatorship.

The new tourism minister, Amel Karboul, said last month that she wanted to improve Tunisia's image as a holiday destination by raising awareness of areas away from the coast like Ong Jmel, which have previously attracted little attention.