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Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir,[1] better known simply as Sallah (Arabic: صلاح‎), is a fictional character played by Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies in two of the four Indiana Jones films; Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He also appears in various comics and novels, and is featured in the Disney theme park attractions, the Indiana Jones Adventure and The Great Movie Ride.

Indiana Jones character
Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir (John Rhys-Davies).png
First appearanceRaiders of the Lost Ark
Last appearanceIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Portrayed byJohn Rhys-Davies
OccupationProfessional excavator



Sallah is a hefty, bearded Egyptian excavator. He lives in Cairo and is a close friend of Indiana Jones. He is a dedicated family man with a wife named Fayah and nine children, all of whom seem to have a fondness for Indiana (at one point they all surround him to save him from a group of Nazis who have their guns drawn on him). Sallah is depicted as being jovial, good natured, and occasionally cowardly (when seeing the numerous snakes inside the Well of souls, the room that houses the Ark of the Covenant, he suggests to Indiana, "You go first"), although Sallah doesn't suffer from a fear of snakes as does Indy. He seems to be extremely strong, although he is apparently unaware of his enormous strength (at one point, he gives Indiana a bear hug, causing him a great deal of discomfort, probably because Indy had just been shot in the arm). He has a strong baritone voice and he seems to have an affinity for Gilbert and Sullivan. He is often seen singing tunes from H.M.S. Pinafore when he is in a good mood. In Raiders of the Lost Ark he is mostly seen wearing a turban (perhaps to blend in with the other diggers working for the Nazis), and in The Last Crusade he is seen wearing a fez.


Sallah appears in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), where he helps Jones decipher the inscription on the back of Marion Ravenwood's medallion by taking him to an old wise man who is also a friend of his. They learn that the Nazis are digging in the wrong location for the Ark of the Covenant—due to them only having access to one side of the medallion—so Sallah and Jones infiltrate the Nazi dig and they discover the real location of the Well of Souls, where the Ark is kept. He reluctantly joins Jones in the snake-infested tomb, and they move the Ark to the surface. However, the Nazis discover the secret dig and capture the Ark and Sallah. They also throw Marion into the tomb with Jones, and seal it shut. Jones and Marion escape, however, and he tells Sallah to secure some transportation back to England. He makes a deal with the captain of the Bantu Wind, a tramp steamer, for bringing Jones, Marion, and the Ark back to the States, referring to the two of them as his family.

He reappeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), where he fails in stopping Marcus Brody from being captured by the Nazis at İskenderun. Sallah later takes Jones and his father, Henry to the Nazi convoy near the location of the Holy Grail. He borrows his brother-in-law's car, which is destroyed in the ensuing battle between the Nazis and the Grail's guardians. Indy tells Sallah "no camels" and Sallah takes horses from the killed guardians for the return trip, as well as camels to compensate for his brother-in-law's loss. At the film's end, Sallah inquires what "Junior" means, and Henry Jones Sr. explains that it is his name: "Henry Jones, Jr.". Indiana (who apparently does not like his given name) reveals that he nicknamed himself "Indiana" after his dog, leaving Sallah roaring with laughter.

Sallah appeared in Marvel Comics's The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, where he helps Indiana recover the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol in Marrakech (that Rene Belloq stole in the Raiders opening sequence).[2] The 1990 novel Young Indiana Jones and the Tomb of Terror details his first encounter with Indiana in 1913, and his full name is given as Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir.[1] Sallah reappeared in the ninth and twelfth Bantam Books novels set before the films: in 1933 Sallah helped Indiana find the philosopher's stone,[3] and the following year he provides sanctuary for Jones on his way to the Great Sphinx of Giza.[4]

Concept and creationEdit

The script specified Sallah as a thin 5'2" Bedouin, while Steven Spielberg envisioned him as "a small creature from the Star Wars cantina in an earthbound adventure film". He offered the role to Danny DeVito, who passed because of his commitment to Taxi. Spielberg saw John Rhys-Davies in Shōgun, and changed the role accordingly, advising the actor portray Sallah as a cross between his role in Shōgun and Falstaff.[5] Kevork Malikyan, who played Kazim in Last Crusade, also expressed interest in the role, but a traffic jam caused him to miss his audition.[6]

When Davies reprised his role for Last Crusade, he imagined Sallah had become richer since Raiders, leaving excavation in favor of selling antiques. He wanted to convey that Sallah "has gotten older and a little fatter. This time, we see him without the appurtenances of his wife and children. He's a little more resolute now, and he's more ready to have a physical go at the Germans himself. But other than that, he's still the same old Sallah".[7]

There are two scenes deleted during filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark featuring Sallah. One is an extension of the scene where Sallah loses the rope into the map room, after two Nazi soldiers demand help from him in freeing their truck from the sand. The entire scene also involved several Nazi soldiers demanding to be served water, while Sallah panics and spills water on their uniforms. The scene was supposed to have smoke in the background, but tires used in the scene made it too dark. Spielberg cut the scene to avoid spending half a day reshooting. The other scene depicted Sallah's fate after Jones and Marion's entrapment with the asps. The Germans decide to execute Sallah, but a young soldier put in charge of the operation has second thoughts.[8]

There were also two scenes featuring Sallah cut from the finished cut of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. During the scene where Sallah fends off the German kidnappers, he hits a camel which spits mucus over the Nazis, and another shot with Sallah fighting the Nazis. The other depicts Indy and his father meeting Sallah at the İskenderun train station. It was deleted because of showing a minor transitional plot element.[9]


Sallah ranks at number 47 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the best sidekicks. They recalled his line, "Asps, very dangerous – you go first", citing it as "not the words of a coward, but rather, of a faithful (and perfectly honest) companion".[10] Empire named him their thirtieth favorite element of the films, citing "his indomitable spirit", a "lovely singing voice" and "a roguish streak to match Indy’s own".[11]

Kenner released a 3.75" action figure in 1983.[12] He was included in a TSR, Inc. collection of metal miniatures the following year.[13] In 2008, Hasbro released a 3 ¾" Sallah figure that included shovel and a torch accessories.[14] An Adventure Heroes figurine, which comes with a cobra and a mummy, was also released.[15]


  1. ^ a b Les Martin (1990). Young Indiana Jones and the Tomb of Terror. Random House. ISBN 0-679-80581-8.
  2. ^ David Michelinie (w), Daniel Reed (p). "The Gold Goddess: Xomec's Raiders" The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 9 (September 1983), Marvel Comics
  3. ^ Max McCoy (1995). Indiana Jones and the Philosopher's Stone. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-56196-8.
  4. ^ Max McCoy (1999). Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-56197-5.
  5. ^ "Raiders of the Lost Ark: An Oral History". Empire Online. 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  6. ^ "Casting the Crusaders". Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  7. ^ Will Murray (August 1989). "John Rhys-Davies, Dangerous Actor". Starlog. pp. 45–48, 50.
  8. ^ "Deleted Scenes". Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  9. ^ "Deleted Scenes". Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  10. ^ "Greatest Sidekicks: Nos. 26-50". Entertainment Weekly. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  11. ^ "Top 30 Reasons Why We Love Indy — Part 1". Empire Online. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  12. ^ "Kenner — Series 2: Action Figures". Retrieved 2008-04-22.
  13. ^ "TSR Unpainted Metal Miniatures". Cool Toy Review. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
  14. ^ "Hasbro - 3 ¾" Action Figures Wave 1: Basic Figures". Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
  15. ^ "Hasbro — Adventure Heroes: Wave 1". Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-04-22.

External linksEdit