March 30th 2016
Bedouins not only have a long history in the land of Israel, but in recent years this cultural slice has become a popular tourist attraction. A traditionally nomadic people without any particular allegiance, the Bedouins have slowly been indoctrinated into the Israeli culture. This has been a difficult process for both sides, but both the government and the people of Israel have warmly welcomed them into society and helped to make the transition more comfortable.
A small minority in the Israeli population, Bedouins number approximately 200,000 and are mostly found in the Negev region of the country. As a tourist, this group will particularly interest you for their heritage, cultural differences, and the fascinating way they bridge contemporary living with ancient practices. Here are a few entertaining ideas for learning and living like a Bedouin (at least for a few hours!)
Kfar HaNokdim is situated in the Kanaiim Valley, tucked away between Arad and Massada. As soon as you draw near, you’ll see the expansive Bedouin tents made out of rich black goat hair and adorned beautifully.
Sit crossed legged on the floor of a Bedouin tent, drink some traditional, homegrown teas with delicately flavored spices that will warm you from the inside out, and watch as your hosts prepare coffee in the traditional ceremonious manner (spoiler alert: This includes drums, roasting coffee beans, and some delicious sensations!)
The Bedouin Experience is a movement started by two ambitious civil rights members to bring the Bedouin culture to the forefront of Israeli tourism. Together, they have built a beautiful activity center where tourists can come learn about the culture and enjoy some of the delightful specialties of this tribe. You can go on a camel ride, take a guided tour through the desert, visit the sheep market, marvel at the exquisite desert embroidery or weaving, or participate in one of the many interesting activities that they have running all day long. One thing is for sure, it is quite the Experience.
There are many other traditional Bedouin communities that are opening themselves up to tourists. In all of these you will be able to experience Bedouin culture firsthand, look upon the traditional garb of the people wearing tahras, jalabiyas, and amaymemma, and partake in the delectable foods of the people such as baklava, fetir (tortilla like bread), and fresh rice and salads that are beyond comparison.
If you are extremely adventurous, be sure to spend the night in one of these Bedouin tents because gazing up at the star-filled skies from the unencumbered domiciles of these simplistic people is an experience you will never forget.