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01 May 2019

The ‘wonder and awe’ of the Middle East

Will Smith on why he loves travelling to the region


Will Smith, at 50 years old, is not the man he once was—and he likes it that way. Having kids so young in his life, he has hit a new phase with a renewed love of travel, experience, and giving back to the world around him. “That’s what I’m seeking in my life right now. I want to be able to give my gifts, but I hope that they’ll be received well, and that they’ll bring love and light into people’s lives,” says Smith.

It is also later in life that the Middle East has become a second home for the actor, who most recently spent time in Jordan to film Disney’s Aladdin. “When you travel to locations, everything changes inside of you… When we were in Wadi Rum, just to walk out you experience the wonder and awe... For me, it was absolutely spectacular,” says Smith.

Jordan is not the only location in the Middle East he loves. “I came to Dubai about 15 years ago. I was crossing over to Mumbai. It was the first time that the Emirates Airline had the nonstop from Los Angeles. And so I stayed here a couple days, and it was absolutely amazing to me what the dream of Dubai was,” Smith says. “There are just some places where they fit for you.

Sometimes you just show up places, and you don’t know why, but it just agrees with you. Dubai dreams the way I dream. I’m completely at home, and I feel inspired, and I want to create, and I want to be a part of the ideas, and the bridge between the Middle East and America and the West. I just feel like my gifts would be particularly useful here. I want to be a part of it.”

In Dubai, Smith has a very clear plan of how he likes to spend his time. “You have to start the day at Skydive Dubai. That’s the best way to see the Palm from up high. I brought my kids to Dubai, and we jumped together. I’ve jumped probably five times at Skydive Dubai. I play a lot of golf, and I love to play in Dubai, as it has some of the best golf courses in the world,” Smith says.

The Middle East is not the only place Smith loves to travel. “There are a couple of really cool hideouts for me. I love Trinidad, in the Caribbean. If I’m going to disappear, South Africa is another really good place to get away.” There are still boxes left to tick on his bucket list, however. “The Seychelles, the Maldives, Bora Bora. I haven’t done a lot in Indonesia either. I would love to go through there.

Those are the top ones on my list.” When travelling, there’s only one item he can’t live without. I have to have my iPad. I have my whole library on there. I don’t watch movies a lot on flights because of the small screen. I feel like it’s disrespectful to my fellow artists. I can’t say, ‘Hey Denzel! I caught your movie on the flight! You were so little!’ Flying is my reading time.





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