Bedouins of Serabit
|Women Handmade crafts in Serabit|
This history of South Sinai is concurrent with the composition of the current inhabitants of Serabit el-Khadim, who are mainly of the Ulaykat tribe with some members of the Muzzeina. The tale of how these two tribes come to reside in the area is a popular tale told by old and young alike. Hajj Radwan, Abu Muhammad, of the Muhammads, of the Muzzeina tribe recalls the tale with relish,
"… The Ulaykat were fighting vicious wars with other tribes, (mainly) Al-Sawalhah and Beni Said, trespassing on their land. Muzzeina (Bedouins) were moving from below (probably Dahab and Nuweiba) looking for a place to settle. Al-Sawalhah tried to form a pact with the Muzzeina, but the latter refused and instead formed an alliance with the Ulaykat, which allowed the latter to win the raging war and become kin ever since.” Hajj Radwan's wife described the alliance in one sentence: “The two tribes agreed; the land is one and the daughter is one", thus intermarrying and settling down together. This is also the case with the Barakat Family, one of the wealthier families in Serabit el-Khadim. They currently own “Camp Barakat.”
Bedouins as observed in Serabit el-Khadim, have intricate traditions, still upheld despite exposure to modernity, tourism, and national and international politics. For example, it is still shameful to appeal to a regular court of law. Despite the presence and accessibility of state courts, most use urfi laws and tribal courts instead, which are formed by the elders of the tribe and witnessed by the families of the sparring parties. All these factors combined lead to today's Bedouin, who wears both a Jalabyyah (flowing robe) and (fake) Ray Ban sunglasses. He is still limber, with high endurance of the desert, distrustful of non-Bedouin, a perceptive businessperson whenever possible, and adherent to traditions of his own that he fiercely believes in, but does not force upon outsiders. The nomadic Bedouin may have become extinct in Sinai, but what has been created is quite intriguing and definitely worthy of appreciation.