Bedouin life

Since immemorial time, life continued as it always had for the desert nomads of the Wadi 
Rum region. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they practiced transhumance as
 a means of sustaining a viable livelihood. They roamed the desert landscape in search of 
natural browse and water for their large herds of goats, sheep and camels. These resources were sparse and intermittent, thereby, necessitating migratory movements
 over vast distances, varying seasons and extreme conditions. In the words of the Bedouin 
elders, “Life in the past was simple yet very hard.”
  
But all of this began to change during the 1950s when the lands in and around Wadi Rum 
began to experience drought conditions. Reduced levels of precipitation exacerbated the
 already fragile ecosystem of the Eastern Hisma or desert, ultimately setting into motion
 a dynamic chain of events that continue to affect the area and the people to this day.
           
The Bedouin’s transformation from nomadic to sedentary to participants in the
 local tourism trade highlights their intrinsic aptitude to adapt to the ever-changing wor
ld around them. Known for their hospitality, they provide their guests with a unique 
opport
unity to experience the traditions and customs of a way of life that is quickly changing. It is this mixing of the old with the new that makes the Wadi Rum Protected Area a 
vacation destination like no other

About The Bedouin

Before the tourists came, the Bedouin didn’t know anything about the rest of the world and stayed in the desert the whole time. There were no villages, just tents that we would move when we needed to.  The Bedouin at this time made their living from sheeps, goats and camels.

There were no borders, all the Bedouin were the same.  We weren’t from Saudi or Jordan, we were just Bedouin. As there were no borders we were able to travel long distances and trade along the way. At this time, there were more rain, and less people.  We would build dams in the canyons to catch the water. In the summer we would find a good place to live and then we would change to a different place for the winter.  When we moved we used camels and ourselves, not cars like today, this time was before cars.

The life was a hard life, but a good life.

There were not as many people and the people here were just Bedouin people.  There were lots of rabbits, mountain goats and Orynx, so people could hunt more easily for food.  There was also Wolves and Hyenas at that time.
The wolves were not dangerous as they were afraid of the Bedouin, but the Hyenas were more dangerous. If they found you asleep on the ground they would dig a big hole under you until you fell down inside the hole, then they would eat you.
If people were sick they would go to an old man or woman who would make medicine from the plants and trees that grew here. If this didn't work then they would make an object hot in the fire and put this on the body.  Likewise the old women would deliver babies. 
When a boy was born then the family would kill a sheep and everybody would come together and celebrate. If the baby was a girl then they would still be happy but the celebration 'ceremony' was a little bit different.
When a young man wanted to get married, in those days it was not normal to marry with love.  The young man would go to the girls father and talk (he would also bring his mother and father with him).  They would say to the father of the girl, I need your daughter.  Some fathers would then ask for camels or money, but some fathers wouldn't, they would just want to be sure that their daughters were going to be treated well, and that was enough for them.
The young man and girl would then get married once these things were agreed, but the girl would not know the man before. Sometimes it would be a good marriage, and sometimes not.  It was a matter of destiny.
When people got married all the Bedouin from all around would come.  They would hear the news that there was going to be a wedding (no mobile phones then). They would come together to enjoy each others company and to play music. At that time the weddings lasted for a week.
Now weddings last for two or three days. In the past people would have traveled a long way for the wedding, so that is why it lasted so long. But people didn't just come and eat and be waited on.  Everybody would bring something (like food, or coffee, etc) and they would all work together to cook, clean and to make the party. 
When it was evening 12 - 14 men would stand in a line and sing and clap. They wouldn't have lutes or drums. Then 3-4 women would dance in front of them.
In those days there was no government, police or laws.  We did have rules though.  So if somebody did something wrong, for example stole some sheeps from somebody else, then the person who was robbed would send people to see the robber, and invite them to go to an old man who would help them to resolve the problem. They would invite the robber three times and if he wouldn't come, then the person who was robbed would be free to do what he liked, in retaliation.
Now the Bedouin are very different, not many live in the desert the whole time now. They all go to the village because the rain doesn't come as much and there are not enough plants for all the livestock.  Now the water comes to a village in a pipe.  Even the Bedouin that do live in the desert now, have cars. 
They still keep camels but they keep them for the tourists and we buy food for them to eat.  Sometimes people keep racing camels or camels for milk. People also moved to the village for the school.
Life is different now. they stay in the village and work with tourists.  It is a good life though. they still keep their sheeps and goats but not so many, just enough for their own used and if we have guests.  People live in houses and often have a tent close to their house.  Everyone also has a camel for tourists.
So what else?… to be continued when you visit Wadi Rum.

What Animals might you see here?

Camels, Sheeps, Goats, Orynx, Donkey, Wild Dogs, Beetles (and other insects), moths, butterflies, ants, lizards (all different kinds), mice, gerbils, hyrax, hedgehogs (yes really) and crickets.