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Lessons I learnt from Bedouins

Lessons I learnt from Bedouins

Bedouin. Till the time I visited Jordan, this word had conjured an image of mysterious desert-bound nomad, dressed almost like a Sheikh.

About 40% of Jordanians are Bedouins. I met few of them in Petra and Wadi Rum … some had camels or donkeys to take us around, some were guides and some other were businessmen. Their way of looking at life while still connected to roots are things to learn for anybody.

Here’s what I learnt:

1. Modern Jordanians have a strong connection to their culture, heritage and ancient code of conduct. The men proudly wear Keffiyeh, the red checkered scarf locally known as the Shemagh mhadab, indicating they are Jordanian.

2. In the past, the Bedouins used to be nomads, traveling through the desert looking for food and water. Now some of them live in small settlements in the deserts. In Jordan it is compulsory for every child to go to school till grade twelve, and so now we see that the entire present generation is educated, if not the earlier.

3. Bedouins are famous for their hospitality. If you happen to visit a Bedouin tent, the first thing the host would do is to offer you a cup of hot aromatic Arabic tea. Coffee is also traditional but tea is considered to be more social. A fire always keeps going … for the next pot of tea or coffee.

4. If you are crossing the desert and pass by a Bedouin settlement or even a tent, a Bedouin will offer to host you for three days and three nights. Only at the end of this period, he would ask you about your business. Isn’t it a noble way to treat your guests or strangers? Just for the record, you cannot stay in his family’s tent as this is a private area. Strangers are welcomed, but staying over in host’s personal tent is not welcome. You got to sleep in a separate tent.

5. If you set up a tent in desert near someone else, you must invite them to dinner. If you are new to your Bedouin neighborhood, then you must introduce yourself and invite your neighbors to a feast. After all, good relations with one’s neighbors means happiness. 🙂

6. The three elements essential to Bedouin living, namely, water, food and fire must be shared. Of course, camels as well. Even if you do not have plenty of them, it’s still your duty to share them with others.

7. Bedouin are not gypsies, most of them have permanent houses and they are affluent. But they enjoy camping and often bring in their families, pitch tents and live out in the desert for a few weeks.

8. Bedouins are fun loving people. They have their own quotes, with some of them having deeper meanings.
What is the secret of happiness? “Life is short, don’t make it difficult.”

Bedouin compliment for a woman? “You look like a camel.” Hint: You can imagine how much they love their camel. 😀

As a host they feed you well, placing across meals much more than you can ever eat. So much so that they themselves joke, “You are our guest; you are our prisoner.” 😀

Have you ever experienced Bedouin Hospitality? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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45 thoughts on “Lessons I learnt from Bedouins”

  1. Before reading this article, all that I knew about Bedouins courtesy my social science textbook was that they are nomads. Good to see they too are evolving with the times yet haven’t forgotten their values.

  2. Wonderful portraits. The ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ (the last guys) has been pretty famous, I have been seeing and hearing about him on many blogs.


    1. Thank you.

      Yes, he is very famous. You ask him his name & he’d say ‘Lost in Petra’. He even has a FB page by the same name ‘Lost in Petra’. 😀

  3. Thanks for sharing this interesting tips. Now I know I shouldn’t be offended when they say I look like a camel. I hope to visit Jordan soon and stay in a Bedouin tent.

  4. I learned something new today and I love their quotes, life is short, why make it difficult! What a wonderful group of people to meet and wish we could have more of them in the world!

  5. I agree that tea is more social than coffee so I’m obviously a Beduin at heart. And the next time someone says I look like a camel I won’t take it the wrong way. What a fascinating and fun culture – and so hospitable.

  6. I love starting a day learning something new. Thank you for teaching me so much about the Bedouins. As a traveler who loves the art of food and dining in each culture, fact #4 really touches my heart. It’s such a great tradition of hospitality, I would love to experience travel in Jordan and meeting the Bedouins one day soon.

    1. Thank you Brenda.
      I am glad that it could evoke some feelings towards Bedouins.

      Do go there soon and let us know of your experience.

      P.S.- If you want a company, I don’t mind a repeat. 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing these interesting facts about the Bedouin. I would love to meet them, although I worry I would offend them by not accepting their tea as hospitality – it’s so hard to explain when you don’t drink hot drinks!

  8. I would love to visit Jordan someday–it’s near the top of our list of places to go! Such interesting facts about the Bedouins. I love how they sound so welcoming and they sound like wonderful hosts. Would be fun to stay in a camp and I wouldn’t mind popping in for coffee or tea! 🙂

  9. OMG! This is lovely! To be honest. I wish we all still have a “strong connection to our culture, heritage and ancient code of conduct”. I remember that in old times hospitality was something very important in every culture. I grew up in a Slavic country, where we used to say “Guest in the house, God in the house” 🙂 But nowadays people are afraid to welcome in strangers, they even have no time for their families and friends. We tend to treat everything on the “consumer – supplier” basis. This is so sad. We forgot about our roots, about hospitality. I wish I will meet Bedouins once in my life! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us :*

    1. Absolutely! In older days it was considered very rude if people don’t behave in in nicer way.

      Your quote is similar to our quote. we say Guest is God.

      You are welcome.

  10. Interesting! I have been to Jordan many times, in fact more than I can remember and I always tell people it is great if they have time to visit Wadi Rum and interact with the desert and Bedouin life, even if today, you can also see a lot of them in Petra. Thanks for the nice memories

  11. Bedouins sound like such gracious and hospitable people. Seems they really love their camels (the compliment for women cracked me up!). Thanks for sharing these interesting facts! 🙂

  12. Seems they have been raised well for centuries. I like that they have to be compulsorily educated till grade twelve and that they would offer you tea on meeting them. These are some of the fine-prints to raise a family in the best possible way!

    Also, hospitality first and business later even makes good business sense.

    Meeting such ‘quality’ folks should be an honor and privilege for us!

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