Middle East Enders – – Slices of Bedouin Life

A few more snippets of life in the Sinai, Egypt…

On a rare windless winter day in Dahab I went for a bike ride out of Dahab and down the coast. The beautiful turquoise water kept drawing me further and further down the sandy road, past the Bedouin arishas, to a large, deep bay. Bedouin men were taking advantage of the conditions to snorkel for fish – and so were the Bedouin ladies. As I cooled my feet in the clear water, a lady emerged from the sea, dripping wet in her gallibeya, scarf and snorkel – “shiribi shay!” she called (drink tea). Well, it would be rude not to! I spent the afternoon with her and her 2 friends, on a girls fishing trip – we had tea on the fire, and then tropical fish and rice for lunch. The day became so hot I had to jump in the sea with all my clothes on too. I love the randomness of life here – you never know who you will meet and how your day will pan out.


 Tropical fish and rice for lunch – a traditional Mzeina meal.


An old Mzeina tribeswoman, a nomad in the Sahara. I love old Bedouin women – born in the desert, once they are gone, many, many old traditions will go with them. They have so much history and so many stories to tell of days gone by. Most of them smoke ‘khodri’, a green tabacco which gives them raspy voices.


The vege man delivers veges to our street once a week – this is so the Bedouin ladies can shop without having to go out in public to the market. Quite convenient too!



Bedouin weddings are loud, colourful affairs, with Egptian music blaring loudly into the night. All the ladies are in their best sexy outfits, belly-dancing the night away, while children run wild amongst the old ladies, who sit cross-legged, sipping syrup, tea or coffee. The men are at their own party.



The dress man is the favourite truck of all the ladies, he needs to come by more often though!


My neighbors make Farashia (Bedouin bread) every day and always bring me a piece. Love it.


Some of the wild little Bedouin kids who swarm me every day when I leave the house, asking for ‘chipsi’ or ‘ice creamu’ or trying to jump on the back of my bike for a ride – if I am not quick enough to get away from them, that is! Monkeys, all of them! As soon as a Bedouin child can walk it is put on the street to play with the other kids. The mothers don’t really know where they are, they just trust they are ok. They run around barefoot, on the beach, through the dusty streets, looking for amusement.



A group prayer late afternoon in the desert. It’s always more powerful in a group.


The Mzeina are coastal Bedouins. It almost never rains on the coast – so it’s kind of funny watching their disorganisation when they spend a night in the mountains and it does rain! Here they are all trying to dry out before the annual Mzeina vs Tarabine camel race.


I love the special people I meet in St Catherines village. These two are particularly interesting characters – Dr Ahmed on the left is a herbal medicine specialist and can prescribe herbal medicine to cure any ill, and Mohamed collects old stories from the storytellers of various tribes to record them for time immortal.


Here’s another interesting man – the snake doctor! He was bitten by a snake as a young man and survived, which means he has special powers. Village children get immunised by him from scorpion and snake bites by eating a spoonful of sugar mixed with his spit. mmm!

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