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Bedouins are nomads (they keep moving to different places looking for food or water). Word "Bedouin" was derived from an Arabic word "Badiyah" which means in English "desert', therefore word "Bedouin' refers to those who live in the desert. Bedouins generally are recognized by their nomadic lifestyles, specific dialects, social structures and culture. Their numbers are decreasing.

Many bedouin tribes journeyed by camel from oasis to oasis, following a traditional way of life and maintaining a pastoral culture of exceptional grace, honor, and beauty.

The Egyptian state doesn't make sure how many are the Bedouins, because not all of them had been registered. But they are about 500,000 living in Sinai, and they are split into main 10 tribes (the tribe often claims descent from one common ancestor), each tribe should be consisting at least of 25,000.

Every tent represents a family; every camp (family about 300 persons) makes up a clan. A number of kindred clans make a tribe. All members of the same clan consider each other as of one blood and superior to and over the other. Water and pasturage are tribal property. The spirit of the clan demands unconditional loyalty to fellow clansmen and a strong belief in his tribal superiority in return to the tribal security - the support to survive in hostile environment.

Each tribe must have its leader (in Arabic "Sheikh"). That Sheikh (chosen by the tribe members) is not necessary to be the oldest but the most wise man in the tribe. On his shoulders there will be many responsibilities; he is the basic interval when disputes are being taken place among the tribe members. Additionally he is the only mediator between the tribe members and the outside governments and organizations.

The Bedouins originally came from the Arabian peninsula between the 14th and 18th centuries, making the bedouin themselves relatively recent arrivals in this ancient land. Their main language is the Arabic, used with local dialects depending on the tribal varieties. Recently some of them start to speak in the Egyptian dialect because they are watching the Egyptian T.V.

The national media in Egypt used to give a bad picture about the Bedouins ignoring their main role in the war victory of 1973 against Israel focusing on their inter-border smuggling of drugs and weapons.

In Egypt the Bedouin have no land rights, only users’ privileges, Since the mid-1980s, the Bedouins who held desirable coastal property have lost control of much of their land as it was sold by the Egyptian government to hotel operators. The Egyptian government did not see the land as belonging to Bedouin tribes, but rather as a state property.

Most of Sinai Bedouins are shepherds herding camels, sheep, goats and cattle. Some do fishing especially in the settlements near the sea like in Dahab city. Others (because of the tourism development in the southern Sinai) work in tourism field (i.e. camel-ride, stargazing, desert safari, etc.). Ever since the rise of Islam and beyond Bedouins were already acting as 'tourist" guides, leading pilgrims to places of worship: Mecca, St. Catherine and Jerusalem crossing the Sinai on the Darb el Hajj (the pilgrim's road) to Saudi Arabia or Palestine.

Bedouins live on milk, cheese, fish, dates and goat or sheep meat. But now some of them can go to the near city where there are fruit and vegetable market, and then they buy whatever they need. Concerning water, they drink the water they get it from the wells.

Bedouin life (which of course matches an environment (desert) like where they stay) is full of opacity and excitement. Bedouins and desert are sharing common things like tranquility, patience, peace and unlimited thinking (unlimited desert). The hostile desert environment obliged to a fabulous hospitality towards other desert travelers. A complete stranger could stay as long as he wants without being asked of his whereabouts. Bedouins are famous for their warmness, kindness and generosity.

Bedouin women still keep the traditional costume which is a long dress, covers the holy body (in black or dark colour) with the burqa on head. While men should be dressed in such long dress (called gilbab) with the famous Arab scarf on their heads.

For achieving justice Bedouins have many ways for example:

* Blood calls for blood. If a member of a clan commits murder inside the clan, nobody will defend him. In case of escape he becomes an outlaw. No worse tragedy could happen to a Bedouin than the loss of tribal protection. A Bedouin without protection and security of his tribe is helpless and lost in the desert. If the murder is outside the clan, a vendetta is established, and any fellow clan member may have to pay for the crime with his own life. A blood feud may last for many years.

* Bisha'a (trial by fire or fire test) is a ritual practiced by Bedouin tribes for the purpose of lie detection. It is also practiced, and is said to have originated among, some Bedouin tribes of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the rituals in the Bedouin justice dispensary system for maintaining Sharaf - the Bedouin honor code. The basic ritual consists of the accused being asked to lick a hot metal object (spoon, ladle, rod, etc.) thrice. He is provided with water for rinsing after the ceremony. He is then inspected by the official who presides over the ceremony - the Mubesha (or Mubasha) and by the designated witnesses of the ritual. If the person undergoing the ritual is found to have a scarred or burnt tongue, it is concluded that he was lying. The Bisha'a is usually performed only to resolve the gravest of civil or criminal offences.

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