The Bedouin in the Middle East

Authored by: Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder

Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138649040
eBook ISBN: 9781315626031
Adobe ISBN:


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Most researchers agree that the term Bedouin is derived from the Arabic word badiya (desert) and designates a nomadic or semi-nomadic desert lifestyle. The term Bedouin does not constitute an ethnic, national, or religious group but rather represents a lifestyle that is undergoing change. Some scholars, however, propose a wide range of alternative interpretations of the term Bedouin, referring to spatial/geographic features (nomadism), lifestyle (e.g., pastoral nomads raising livestock on natural grazing land), or culturally linked tribalism. 1 Certain behavioral norms and kinship ties have become part of the Bedouin cultural identity, such as dress, dialect, marriage customs, and the like, some of which vary in accordance with time and place. 2

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