About beduin culture
The Bedouin of the Sinai
The Bedouin (or Bedu) have lived in the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa for centuries, traditionally maintaining a nomadic pastoral lifestyle within some of the harshest and most unforgiving terrain on the earth. The Bedouin lifestyle is traditionally an endless search for water and grazing land for their animals. Generations of experience have meant that the Bedouin have learnt to adapt and acclimatize to the inhospitable environment of the desert, working with it rather than against. They carry few personal possessions due to their constant roaming and move from one place to another in groups of no more than a few families. In winter they use a goat-haired tent (known as a ‘beit shaar’ or ‘the house of hair’) to sleep in to keep them warm; in summer they live under the shade of the desert’s spindly trees. Their constant migration between grazing lands means that the available terrain never becomes over-grazed and allows it to be replenished naturally. The Sinai Bedouin consist of a number of different tribes who moved on to the peninsula from Arabia between the 14th and 18th Centuries. Today they are approximately 400,000 in number. Like all Bedouin they place a good deal of importance on respecting tribal laws and place their family loyalty above all else. Disputes, justice and order are all traditionally dealt with by the honour code of the tribe. The Bedouin are famed for their hospitality to strangers who, even today in this modern era of easy transport and communication, will be treated as honoured guests in a Bedouin home.
Modern Bedouin lifeSadly many of the traditional aspects of Bedouin life have vanished due to the huge changes in the political landscape of the Middle East over the past century. Borders that closed traditional migration paths and government policies that do not allow for free movement mean that many Bedouin have been unable to continue their old way of life and have chosen instead to settle. However this has also brought positives. When settled, Bedouin children are able to attend school and many are able to now go on to higher education which will hopefully bring a higher standard of living to the Bedouin overall. The upsurge in cultural tourism over the past decade also means there has been a revival of interest in Bedouin traditions which is helping to somewhat preserve at least some of this unique culture. We welcome you warmly on your journey into our culture and would be happy to sit beside the fire and tell you more about it.