Bedouin Heritage Project and “Bedouin Revival”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on May 15th, 2010 in Arabia, USA

Check out this website and tell me what you think: the Bedouin Heritage Project. In many ways, Daughters of the Wind and it is are ‘like-minded’ websites. I was just telling Jeanne Craver, who pointed me to it, that I expected a lot of such websites to crop out in the coming years, as a ‘Bedouin revival’ trend takes root in several Middle Eastern countries, as as global knowledge and interest around this topic converge online.

I eventually expect this trend of longing for everything Bedouin to reach the asil Arabian horse in the USA, especially after the launch of the Gift of the Desert exhibition and the opening of the Arabian Horse Gallery in Lexington, KY this year. So here is a prediction for you: in five years’ time, Middle Eastern people, whether of Bedouin heritage or not, will be knocking at the doors of American backyard breeders of asil Arabians of desert background — BLUE STAR, Davenports, etc — and asking to buy some of their Hamdani, Haifi, Krush or ‘Ubayyan horses.

If you are curious about this ‘Bedouin revival’ now taking place in the Middle East, read this 1999 (more than ten years old already!) article by Sulayman Khalaf of Al Ain University in the UAE, about Camel Racing in the Gulf: Notes on the Evolution of a Traditional Cultural Sport‘. The section on the politico-cultural aspects is of particular relevance to this post. Prof. Khalaf, who hails from the Middle Euphrates region in Syria, is indeed one of the first to have documented and written about this ‘revival’.

5 Responses to “Bedouin Heritage Project and “Bedouin Revival”

  1. HI Edouard–this is very encouraging news! I went to the site and read a few of the articles. In the one about camel breeding the following jumped out at me:

    “No way, that stupid camel tries to bite me every time I touch her legs. I need someone to catch her head while I cut the rope.”

    Am so glad to know an honest-to-goodness Bedouin has a similar problem to mine even though his is with a camel and mine is with a Bedouin horse. 🙂

    As one the project’s headquarters is in Florence (ony 40 minutes from me) I look forward to going there next time I get down the road.

    Thanks for this positive post.


  2. Thank you so much for you comments about the Bedouin heritage Project. I am one of the co-founder’s of BHP and wanted to shed some light on our roots and work.

    The work initially stems from UNESCO recognisizing the unique cultural space of the Bedu in Wadi Rum, Jordan, as an intangible world heritage to be protected for the future. Like many oral cultures, this one is at risk due to modernization, political forces, mass tourism, pollution and a growing age divide.

    Our work is to help the Bedu find the means for protecting this valuable heritage and knowledge…for them, primarily. We are pleased that a revival is going on, since it should help us get the support necessary, but would say that the safeguarding and transmission for future Bedouin is our primary concern.

    The information we have on our website, which will be expanded to include video, audio, inventories and research, is a means for generating greater awareness as well as building bridges with the West but is by no means our main focus. The bulk of our work takes place in the desert of Wadi Rum, for the time being, and throughout the bedu Communities around the region, over the long term.

    We thank you for spreading the word and hope to provide more insight as time goes by. Elena, feel free to visit me in Florence. It would be a pleasure and I could share with you extensive videos on Arabian Horse Husbandry as told by (an english speaking) Zelabieh Bedouin.

    Thank you, Mark Abouzeid

  3. Mark, you are to be commended for your work on the BHP. Perhaps you know of Sharif Abdunnur, a Palestinian classmate of mine at AUB and now a faculty member there. He also has extensive collection of Bedouin songs (ahazeej) which he recorded on audio. You can google him and find him easily. Another AUB faculty, Rami Zurayq has also edited an interesting book of folk stories told by the Al-Abu Eid Bedouins of Lebanon.

  4. Edouard, Thank you so much. That is very useful information and I will contact them both. I am of Lebanese heritage myself…my father was born and raised in Beirut…I had wanted to attend AUB for university but in 1979 things were difficult.

    We have many photos of the Desert Endurance Race if you would like to use some for your site. We can let you use them under a creative commons license. Let me know…

  5. Yes, of course. I’d love to be able to display some of them here. Thanks for the offer Mark

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