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Egypt
Bedouins

The life of the Bedouins in past and present

Bedouins are mainly Arab desert dwellers, living in tents and sometimes had formerly a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence. Among other influences of Western culture and tourism has the Life of many Bedouins changed dramatically in recent decades, but some still alive with traditions and customs that go back many centuries. The word comes from the Bedouin Arab badawi, which means desert dweller or nomad. The word badw where it is derived, means desert (like the word Sahara incidentally) and has also received the meaning Bedouins themselves.

Earlier


Cultuur_2_01The life of a Bedouin was hard. He had to withstand extreme heat and cold and sometimes hunger and thirst. He must have a lot of endurance and perseverance and alertness and readiness to fight, because there was always something wrong or danger threatens. These properties were considered special virtues of the Bedouins. Life was complicated by disputes over grazing land and water sources, cattle raids and passage through other people's tribal area. This life was possible only within tribal. A family, who was excluded, could only save from destruction to adopt themselves by another tribe. It was indeed saved, but they never became a full member of the tribe and remained an outcast. Bedouins always again were forced to withdraw to new pastures. Therefore their effects were kept to a minimum.


The Bedouins are proud, warlike, brave, chivalrous and welcoming. A Bedouin wants to overcome, wants to show who he is and what he can to everyone. He does not only belong to the best tribe, he also wants to do anything to be allowed to stay. At that strain a Bedouin wants to have a high Cultuur_2_03position, earning respect from other Bedouins. The cowards are despised. But courage alone is not enough. When a Bedouin returns from a trip with a big booty, it is expected to hand out a lot to others. Avarice is not appreciated. The hospitality of the Bedouins goes very far. A guest, who comes to visit at family and Bedouins, can count that he is protected. The Bedouins themselves make it difficult to use the hospitality of someone else. There is a kind of rule: Questions means humiliate you. A Bedouin wants to make his guest as well as possible. He gives you a lot of food, if necessary, he gets himself nothing. Eating the Bedouins is simple. There are certain rules for eating. There is eaten out of a common scale, in which only the right hand is being used. Rice, meat, bread and dates are picked up between the thumb and the index and middle fingers of the right hand and placed in the mouth. The Bedouins drinking camel milk, goat milk, coffee and tea.

Life now

Today, many Bedouins changed their traditional existence to a more modern way of life. Yet the Bedouin culture still survives. The Bedouin population is still very friendly and welcoming, the people are happy and work to build a good liveable oasis, where more and more good facilities and living conditions are created. Fortunately, much remained of the old culture preserved.

All children go to school to 12/13 years. Most girls then stay at home to help in the house and learn the household from the mother. Education is in the larger towns of a good standard. In smaller areas is often a lack off training materials.
When there is no school in the village, the children stay with family in the slightly larger villages in order to be able to school.
When you first visit, a Bedouin village seems as if time has stood still here. The life of men is largely separate from that of women.

In public life, the men form the majority, though in major cities much changing in this. Men work on the plantations and go at sunset, some still on their donkeys home. In the evening they seek each other out, at home or in the teahouses and public meeting places. Drink their Bedouin tea and smoking hookah. The women live in the house and take care of the children and the grandparents, often in a large family connection. The grandparents fit again toddlers. Combined, the women provide for cleaning the house, laundry and meals. The sons still live with their parents after marriage, there is often built a house. In the parents, after their marriage, the daughters went to live with the family of man. However, the time is also in Bahariya, the village that the base for our travels, stood not still. More and more cars, more roads .... Mobile phones did their entry. The television and the tourists bring the residents into contact with other cultures. The Bedouins are facing changes in their lifestyle and their traditional Islamic tribal culture mixes with Western culture. Men are more likely to adapt and to take effect, the modern culture in itself but women are bound by honor and tradition to remain within the vicinity of the family and therefore have little chance of advancement. Nevertheless, the old traditions still remained stores.

The Bedouins live in the here and now, that means a look ahead to tomorrow be successful but the time span for the day after tomorrow is actually too far. Everything is focused on the future time (even later) is always accompanied by the word "insh'Allah" (God willing). The Bedouins can provide for their own subsistence, they live on what nature offers them and use this wealth to the fullest. The people are proud of their wilderness. Guides know the roads with their eyes closed, they are so close to nature that they do not even need any tool to keep alive. Their hearing, sight, touch and smell is as sharp as a animal, their ingenuity is unlimited.

The deteriorating economic situation and political uncertainty make it now days for many Bedouin increasingly difficult to build a reasonable living.
Unemployment among Bedouins is very high and there are no social services. Only a few people are graduating from high school and even fewer graduates from college, or have a vocational training.