Understanding Egyptian Bedouin Culture

January 18, 2013 by

Things To Do

Bedouins With Their Camels. Photo courtesy of mattk1979 via Flickr.

Bedouins With Their Camels. Photo courtesy of mattk1979 via Flickr.

Understanding the Egyptian Bedouin culture is an integral part of understanding Egypt’s history. Mostly living in Sinai, they are easily distinguished by their desert lifestyle, adorned heavily with robes from head to toe. Indeed, it is their nomadic lifestyle that makes them different from your average Egyptian.

Although the early beginnings of the Bedouin are vast, their characteristically nomadic lifestyle is traced to the late 19th-century, when the Ottoman Empire attempted to force their assimilation into society. Toward the end of their rule, new regulations were put in place to make them register their property with the government, resulting largely in refusals from the Bedouin, who began moving from one place to the next.

At the turn of the century, nomadic settlements became more prominent and despite several troubling years ahead, persist to this very day. In parts of Sinai seemingly in the middle of nowhere, one can see rows of makeshift homes that are inhabited by the Bedouin.

Because there is a growing interest in these people among visitors to the Middle East in the area, there are now several ways to get an understanding of how these tribal people live. In fact, there are now plenty of tribes that offer the full-on Bedouin experience with a variety of tour packages.

Easily booked online, tours often include trying traditional foods, exploring Egyptian Bedouin camps, meditation rituals, trekking and safaris. In the city of Dahab, several tour agents in town will offer more tamed Bedouin tours that come with some of the experience above coupled with more modern activities such as massage, horse riding and even quad biking.

- Contributed by John Reality

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