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Who Are the Bedouin?

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This Bedouin man is fighting to maintain his traditional nomadic lifestyle.

A Bedouin man in Israel with his camels

David Silverman / Getty Images

Definition:

The Bedouin are nomadic Arabs of the desert. Bedouin pastoralists are found throughout the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. They keep animals such as camels, sheep and goats, moving from pasture to pasture or from water source to water source.

The image of the Bedouin herdsman is extremely important in Arab culture. Indeed, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was sent to live among the Bedouin as a child so that he would be in touch with his people's roots.

The word bedouin derives from an Arab word, badawi, meaning "desert-dweller."

 

Pronunciation: "BED-oo-in" or "BED-win"

Alternate Spellings: beduin

Examples:

"The Juhayna tribe of Bedouin range around the areas of Mecca and Medina, the sacred cities of Islam."

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