Tunisia attempts to rescue Darth Vader’s hometown

The set, originally built to film “Star Wars Episode One - The Phantom Menace,” was damaged by shifting sand dunes

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Tunisia’s tourism ministry and several organizations have announced an international fundraising campaign to rebuild a 1990s Star Wars set, built in the southern Tunisian area of Ong Jmel.

The campaign, named “Save Mos Espa,” aims to raise 300,000 Tunisian dinars ($188,929) to restore the site which has been damaged by shifting sand dunes.

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

“We managed to remove 8,000 cubic meters of sand in 12 days. Unfortunately some of the set has already collapsed,” he added.

According to Fahmi Houki, an official at the tourism ministry, clearing the sand was only a temporary solution, and would only save the set for another eight to ten years.

The Tunisian state launched an appeal on a crowd funding website to raise $45,000. It also allocated 160,000 dinars for the project.

The set for Mos Espal, hometown of Anakin Skywalker, the protagonist who later becomes Darth Vader in the blockbuster film series, was originally built to film “Star Wars Episode One - The Phantom Menace.”

Tunisia’s tourism has been hit due to violence and political turbulence, following a 2011 uprising that toppled the president.

(With AFP)

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