Ever wondered what the locals in the Middle East and North Africa look like or where they come from? In celebration of this week’s FriFotos topic, I will give you a short intro and cultural background of some of the different peoples of the region.
Bedouins are the desert nomads of Arabia. Divided into clans or tribes, their heritage and culture may go so far back in time that I could not tell you precisely where it all began in the region. However, I can tell you that according to Wikipedia, many Bedouins began to adopt a more semi-nomadic lifestyle under British rule. Nowadays, this is still the case. I had the pleasure to interact with Bedouins in the Sinai peninsula when visiting Dahab (Egypt) and Petra, Jordan.
As the Bedouins, Nubians were nomadic peoples that settled in the Nile Valley (southern Egypt and northern Sudan, specifically) around the 4th century. It is estimated that their last kingdom collapsed in 1504 (Wikipedia). Nowadays, Nubians are still somewhat semi-nomadic, traveling throughout Upper Egypt seeking for work in the tourism industry, typically running trips on their feluccas. On the photo above, I am with a Nubian captain taking a felucca ride around the cataracts of Aswan, Upper Egypt.
Mostly found in North Africa, I encountered the Berbers in Morocco. Polite an hospitable (just like their other neighbors), these indigenous peoples are thought to be descendants from tribes in Ancient Libya, Ancient Egyptian records show (Wiki). Moreover, I learned from this Wiki article that there are some well-known Berbers: “Zinedine Zidane (French-born international football star of Algerian Kabyle descent) and Ibrahim Afellay (Dutch-born football player of Moroccan Riffian descent)”
Wait…Egyptians? That’s right. While it can be argued, Egyptians take great pride on who they are and their ancient ancestors. I particularly remember this extreme pride of the liberal husband of an Arabic teacher I had my first semester in Cairo. His utter dislike for Gulf Arabs aside, he strained that he was NOT an Arab, but a Pharaonic Egyptian with perhaps a spec of Nubian in him. This was the first time I heard a local in the Middle East distance himself from Arabs. Eventually, though, it was clear to see how proud Egyptians were of their land — and how he probably isn’t the only who thinks this way.
Umm yeah, I had to…
oh wait, WRONG PHOTO!