Sinai Bedouins

In the old days, the Bedouins traveled around the bounder less Sinai Peninsula from Saudi Arabia to South Sinai on their camels as early as the 6th Century AD.  Some traveled from closer proximities of the Nile River in Egypt and Jordan. They navigated toward places all over Sinai with their belongings and animals and settled along valleys and oases where they can establish a feasible way of life.

There are about 8 tribes in Sinai now.  The Bedouins that we see all over Sharm El Sheikh are from a tribe called Muszeina who live to protect the nature in protected areas like Nabq and Abu Galum; from Nuweiba to Taba, there is the Tarabin tribe; in West Sinai is a small tribe called Aleigat; within the territory of El Tor to the mountainous regions of Wadi Feiran and Sarabit El Khadem are the Qararsha, Awarma and Awlad Said, which collectively compose the Sawalha tribe; from the valleys and high mountains of St. Katherine, the Gebaleya have settled since the 6th AD as the protectors of its natural resources; and along the Gulf of Aqaba from Jordan is the Masayeed tribe.

Once the Bedouins settle in their respective territories, they begin establishing their sources for survival; planting crops, breeding animals like goat, sheep and camels, and earning income from trade. From these basic sources, they have managed to keep a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, goats, and chicken cooked in a traditional way with herbs and olive oil.

Bedouins base their whole life with respect on traditional honor codes of hospitality, courage and purity of women.  They have a Tribal council whose authority has been passed down to him from his predecessors in order to execute the Bedouin system of justice true to these codes.

During the Israelis, the Bedouins were treated under occupation. Though they were treated well, they could not have passports, and therefore they didn’t have identity.  Whereas when Egypt recovered Sinai, the Bedouins gained their passports and identity, which opened the doors for traveling elsewhere outside of Sinai.

They are rich in traditions.  They have hospitality, poetry, music, and respect for nature.  A common man can go to the desert and find more hospitality from the Bedouins than in the town and in all the cities.  They are very peaceful. They like to meet new people, go out with them and show them around.

Their poetry is as defined as well as their systemize lifestyle.  It deals on subjects of desert life, battles, philosophy, weather, nature, love and hospitality.  It is quite difficult to understand for the common man, as the structure of such personal composition alters profoundly within the poem.

Nature is very important to them.  Whenever they settle in a territory, they ensure the conservation of its natural resources as their culture is well established on it. They also love the rain because it doesn’t happen very often.  Whenever it rains they are very happy as a lot of vegetation grows, so the animals, especially the goats get to eat fresh food instead of garbage.

Now with the climate change and the progressing development of South Sinai, their age-old heritage is being threatened to oblivion.  Thus to strengthen their hold on this, a festival, called Characters of Egypt is held every October in Marsa Alam, where 8 tribes gather from all over Egypt to unite in a showcase of culture, music, Bedouin law, food tradition, and in traditional Bedouin games.


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