Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The term "Bedouin" means, "those who live in bādiyah" or "those who live in the desert".
The Bedouin from the Arabic badawī بَدَوِي, or badawiyyūn بَدَوِيُّون) are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ʿašāʾir (عَشَائِر)..

The Arabian Desert is the second largest subtropical desert in the world. It covers almost the entire Arabian Peninsula. Almost a third of the desert is covered in sand, and temperatures can reach a sweltering 129 degrees Fahrenheit in places. Despite only one river running through the Arabian Desert, groups of humans inhabit the desert and survive the inhospitable climate.

Humans have lived in the Arabian Desert as far back as early Pleistocene times, approximately 2.6 million years ago. Artifacts have been found over the breadth of the desert, showing that humans lived in different areas at that time. Their way of life included breeding camels, Arabian horses and sheep. They also took part in agriculture.

What is a Tribe?
A tribe is a group made up by a number of clans, each clan made up of individual families who can trace their ancestry back to one original source. Each clan always has its own wells, grazing grounds and land. These clans are further split into groups each performing different functions within the tribe i:e herding and rearing cattle, guiding traders etc. At the head of the tribe there is always a leader called the Sheikh.

The Sheikh is the leader of the tribe that has considerable power, but must always adhere to traditional customs and the advice of the council of tribal elders. The Sheikh is always elected from a noble family, but any one from this family is eligible for the position, however it is usual for the Sheikh to be the oldest male. The Sheikh is the spokesman for his tribe and is often the one called upon to resolve disputes or to act as a champion in order to resolve differences.

People living in the Arabian Desert are known as Bedouins. Bedouins are nomadic; they have no fixed place to live. 
They travel from place to place earning a living as tradesmen, stockbreeders and transporters. Some Bedouins move seasonally, while others move all the time. However, in the 21st Century some Bedouins have had to adapt by settling in small villages. They split their time between making a living in the desert and staying in a village as they get older. They use the internet and TV to help create new business.

For those Bedouins living full time in the desert, shelter comes in the form of a tent. The tent must be lightweight so they can move it easily during their travels. The tent size depends on the size of the owner's family and his status. It is made from the woven hair of sheep and goats. The hair is usually black, which absorbs the desert's heat and keeps the inside cool. A curtain divides the inside of the tent into a men and women's section. The women's section has food stores and cooking equipment, and is not seen by any man except the tent's owner.

Historically, the Bedouins used to earn a living by taming wild camels and Arabian horses over 3,000 years ago. Since the 14th century, when the Romans opened sea routes for trading, the value of livestock has declined. While they do still deal with livestock, both as a source of food and to in trade, the Bedouins have had to adapt to modern society, and they now own modern technology like trucks to transport tourists across the desert.

Bedouin men and women traditionally carry out different roles in society. Bedouin men are generally the ones who go out to earn a living for their families, some work today as safari guides, drivers, shop keepers, or in construction and maintenance. Whilst the women work in the home looking after the house, the family and the livestock of goats and camels. 

Generally women are not to mix and socialise with men, unless they are from their family or are guests invited to the family home. Many of Bedouin Women are excellent at making detailed beadwork necklaces and bracelets which are sold by their children.

The Bedouins of the Middle East call the camel Ata Allah, or “God’s gift”.

The Bedouins are a previously nomadic desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group and have over 160 distinct words in their language to describe camels and their traits.

They are divided into five related tribes and are organized on several levels.

Several tents of Bedouins would travel together as a goum when resources are plentiful, and these groups were sometimes linked by patriarchal lineage.

The family unit called a bayt usually contained three or four adults, a married couple plus siblings or parents, and a bunch of children.

A well known Bedouin saying is “My brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers”, and this reflects their strong honor codes, and traditional systems of justice and common law in Bedouin society typically revolved around these codes.

Disputes are settled and justice and order are maintained by this organizational framework, according to an ethic of self-help and collective responsibility.

The image of the Bedouin herdsman is extremely important in Arab culture. Indeed, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was sent to live among the Bedouin as a child so that he would be in touch with his people's roots.

Despite their lifestyle changes, Bedouins still hold traditional values. Bedouin Arabs are generous and play host to other Bedouins. They don't particularly welcome outsiders, often becoming aggressive to them if their honor is threatened. Marriages are arranged by families. Boys and girls are separated at a young age, so it's up to parents to find suitable spouses.

Bedouin weddings
Bedouin weddings are usually held during a full moon, and are an excellent way to experience this unique culture. The weddings can last from 2 - 5 days with most of the celebrating happening during the night time. Much of the celebrating is done in the family homes. But big weddings held once or twice a year are often held in a big valley in the desert. One of the highlights includes a special night of tribal dancing and live music. This is when unmarried women can look for a husband, and dance in front of potential suitors. This is an amazing experience, as this is one of the few times of the year that young men and women can mix together, in the hope of finding love. Like weddings elsewhere in the world, a Bedouin wedding provides everyone the opportunity to dress up in their best clothes and celebrate with food, music, and dancing. 

Starting from the 1950s, many Bedouin throughout the Middle East began to leave the traditional, nomadic life to settle in the cities in their region, as population levels have grown.

Once I put this blog post, I received a review from my friend from Jordan. He said that much of the article is untrue. Including the fact that host the King of Saudi Arabia among the Bedouins. I collected information about the Bedouins throughout the Internet and not sure of its authenticity.
At first I wanted to remove an article, but then I thought that maybe someone will leave the comments, which will help me learn more about the history of the Bedouins.
I would be very grateful for that.

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