"The nomads of the nomads" in the Empty Quarter (1930s)
The word 'bedou' literally means desert dweller. From times immemorial bedous have been travelling without the need of a visa or passport through the Arab deserts through the region of Trans-Jordon, now chopped into many states. The Bedous around Makkah were among the first people to convert to the message of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and hence Islam is a very important part of their lives. No mosques are necessary for the bedou as he stops where he is when it is prayer time, turns towards Mecca and prays on the sands of the desert. A strict code of honour and discipline governs the lives of bedous and everyone, including the children, have a role to play in the day to day life of a tribe. Renowned for their warm hospitality a typical meal in a bedou tent could consist of meat and rice followed by coffee. Since pre-Islamic times poetry has been a very big part of bedou culture and in fact it is said the first bedou converts to Islam were attracted by the beauty of the poetry of the Qur'an. Today many bedous have given up their traditional way of life, and it is not uncommon to see a modern bedou son build a house for himself as his parents continue to happily live in their tent in his garden.