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Bedouin family. at the end of the 19th century
Bedouin family in the Wahiba Sands desert in Oman

Bedouin (from Arabic بدوي badawī “not settled”, “nomadic”) refers to a nomadic desert inhabitant (Arabic: al-bādiya , “steppe, desert”) of the Arabian Peninsula , the Syrian Desert , the Sinai , in parts of the Sahara and in the Israeli Negev . The word badawī is usually not used as a proper name by the Bedouins. They call themselves ʿarab (عرب' Arabs '), in contrast to the settled (non-nomads), ḥaḍar . This term applies to townspeople and peasants alike and corresponds to the Arabic expression fallāḥūna (fallāḥīn) . The term used to distinguish it from the Bedouins, namely Fellache ("splitter, plowman"), goes back to this.

The Bedouins are Arabs and the vast majority of them follow Islam . They consider Ishmael to be their progenitor. Meanwhile settled descendants of the Bedouins are subject to considerable discrimination as Bedun (Arabic for stateless persons) in many Arab states .


Arab Bedouins reached Africa as early as the first century BC: in 46 BC, the Romans captured 22 dromedaries from Beduins in northern Tunisia. Around 400 years later, mounted camel nomads were a constant, serious threat to the Roman African provinces. In the modern age, the Bedouin lifestyle is increasingly threatened, in particular by fixed demarcations, state programs for settlement (with permanent residence) and increasing water scarcity .

Way of life

Bedouin in South Jordan

Bedouins live mainly from raising cattle . Among other things, they breed dromedaries , sheep and goats , for which they look for grazing in the desert and especially in the fringes of the desert. Bedouins only slaughter their dromedaries on rare occasions. She connects respect and love with these animals that are so important to her. In addition, the dromedary has a high status value. The Bedouins mostly eat bread, milk, cheese, vegetables, dates , pulses and olives . If they live by the sea, fish and seafood are also part of the table. Their animals (goats, sheep, etc.) are usually only slaughtered on special occasions and represent a feast. Bedouins only use their right hand to eat. As with most Islamic peoples, your left hand is considered unclean because this hand is used for cleaning. The dress code is clearly regulated. Men and women wear their clothes and shawls in traditionally given colors. It is improper for men and women to show bare skin.

In some areas such as Egypt or Sinai, Bedouins live from tourism, which they brought to life with globetrotters through their hospitality and then either worked for organizers or had their own holiday camps, e.g. B. in Mahash , Nuweiba , Dahab . For example, self-managed Bedouin camps have been set up on the original beaches in Sinai since the late 1980s and are visited by guests from all over the world.

Bedouins also work as guides for study trips or desert trips . However, these sources of income are becoming increasingly difficult due to the sale of land, displacement by international organizers and government agencies or attacks in the holiday area.

The Arabic -speaking Bedouins are unfamiliar with the Berber-speaking people of the Tuareg in North Africa to be confused. The northeast African Bedscha are also traditionally Bedouins.

Tribal beings

Bedouins are still closely linked to their respective tribe , whose patriarchs and sheikhs they can often name up to centuries ago. Some trace their family tree back to the Prophet Mohammed . Disputes not only affect the contestants, but the entire tribe, and if necessary are settled in a court chaired by the sheikhs of the respective tribe. It is also important for a wedding that the bride and groom come from the same tribe or at least from a friendly tribe. Most Bedouins still marry their bint ʿamm , their cousin, to this day . Many Bedouin men still marry more than one woman.

Bedouin in Israel

Bedouin in Jerusalem between 1898 and 1914

During the Palestine War of 1948, the majority of the Bedouins, who are now only semi-nomadic, fled or were expelled. A large part of the Negev subsequently became state or military territory, and the Bedouins were relocated to a reserve-like area in the northeast of the Negev, which makes up 10% of the area of ​​the Negev.

Since the 1960s, the Israeli government has been trying to encourage more Jewish settlers to settle as well as to move the remaining Bedouin population to cities specially founded for them, e.g. B. Ar'ara BaNegev , Hura , Klassenife and Tel Scheva to relocate and compensate. Bedouins had refused to officially register their landed property since the 19th century in order to avoid taxes.

Since the 1950s, the desert areas have been greened and reforested. The grazing of cattle herds in large parts of the sensitive Negev ecosystem was restricted or banned in order to reduce further damage. Bedouins have been raising herds of goats in this region for decades, which are responsible for the spread of desertification.

In 2008, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an immediate stop to the destruction of Bedouin houses in illegal settlements and for an independent investigation. According to HRW, Israel has destroyed thousands of such illegal homes since the 1970s. As the climax of the recent disputes over the evacuation of the state-unrecognized Bedouin village Umm al-Ḥīrān , a teacher and a policeman were last killed in controversial circumstances in January 2017.

Another incident that became internationally known was the demolition of the village of Khan al-Ahmar , which was ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2018. The 180 residents living in dilapidated tin huts that were built next to a motorway, without sewerage and, according to Israel, illegally, were offered a new residential area in Abu Dis or Jericho . Ismail Khaldi is the first high-ranking Bedouin and Muslim diplomat from the State of Israel.

Although the Bedouins are not subject to conscription , the Israeli army has special units made up of volunteer Bedouins, in particular as trackers.

The Bedouins in Israel are often supported by the European Union with humanitarian aid in the form of building materials, tents and the like, which are then regularly torn down or dismantled by the Israeli authorities, often on the grounds of a lack of permits. In June 2019, there was diplomatic resentment when the Israeli authorities offered such seized EU material at an auction.

Bedouins in the West Bank

According to the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA), child underdevelopment levels in Bedouin communities in the West Bank are twice as high as those in Gaza . Almost half of the children suffer from diarrhea, one of the main causes of death worldwide in children under five. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) , the Palestinian residents in the northeastern West Bank, which is part of Area C (under Israeli military control), are prevented by Israeli restrictions from building or maintaining their infrastructure such as schools, health facilities or To worry about sewage treatment plants. According to aid organizations, Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to farmland in the area are starving thousands of people.


As Bidun stateless people in the Arab world are called. In Kuwait, in order to gain full citizenship (including the right to vote), a 1948 law required Bidun to prove that they had lived in the country before 1920. This family tree law still applies to Kuwaitis in general. The bidun status is inherited and results in considerable social discrimination .


Web links

Commons : Bedouin  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Bedouin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ State Museum of Ethnology Bedouins in the Negev, p. 14 f.
  2. Forgotten Bedouins in Negev? In: New Germany.
  3. ^ In the realm of death , Süddeutsche Zeitung mbH. 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  4. "Allah does not see what happens under the roof" , in Welt Online
  5. ^ Bedouin Lexicon
  6. a b The desert quakes , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH. December 14, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  7. Ismael Abu Sa'ad: BEDOUIN TOWNS IN ISRAEL AT THE START OF THE 21st CENTURY: The Negev Bedouin And The Failure Of The Urban Resettlement Program - Ismael Abu-Sa - Requ. In: Retrieved June 27, 2019 .
  8. ^ The Indigenous Bedouin of the Negev Desert in Israel. Negev Coexistence Forum, p. 8 , accessed on July 16, 2010 .
  9. ^ Initiative: Evacuation-Compensation for Negev Bedouins (English) , Ynetnews . July 27, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2010. 
  10. Israel's Bedouin Villagers Demand Justice (English) , AOL News. September 9, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010. 
  11. a b The Martin Luther King of the Beduins , WeltN24 GmbH. March 30, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  12. Fred Scholz: Nomadism is dead. In Geographische Rundschau , Issue 5, 1999, pp. 248-255.
  13. Jody Butterfield: Holistic Management Handbook: Healthy Land, Healthy Profits, Second Edition . Island Press, 2006, ISBN 1559638850 .
  14. ^ Israel: End Systematic Bias Against Bedouin (English) , HRW . March 30, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2010. 
  15. ^ Anger in the desert , Central Council of Jews in Germany Kdö.R .. December 2, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  16. Magda Albrecht: Destruction of a Bedouin village in the Naqab / Negev desert - a chronology. In: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Israel Office. February 23, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017 .
  17. Dov Lieber: Fear and loathing in Umm al-Hiran. In: The Times of Israel . January 19, 2017, accessed May 16, 2017 .
  18. Chan al-Ahmar and the legal questions In: , October 4, 2018, accessed on October 13, 2018.
  19. kev / dpa: West Bank: Israel does not allow Bedouin village to be evacuated for the time being. In: Spiegel Online . October 23, 2018, accessed April 12, 2020 .
  20. ^ Zionist Personalities-Ismail Khalidi
  21. ^ Adam May: Bedouin Trackers: the IDF's sharpest eyes. In: Israel Defense Forces . March 27, 2012, archived from the original on May 29, 2016 ; accessed on May 16, 2017 (English).
  22. ^ "EU slams Israel over planned sale of seized West Bank aid" Times of Israel from June 1, 2019
  23. OPT: West Bank Bedouins worse off than Gazans (English) , IRIN Middle East. July 28, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  24. The Bedoons of Kuwait. “Citizens without Citizenship”. Human Rights Watch
  25. ^ Martina Fuchs: Kuwait police clash with hundreds of protesters. Reuters, February 19, 2011