Regional Gathering

Bedouin cross national borders to gather in Wadi Rum, seeking to protect their cultural heritage

Bedouin communities from Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine travelled to Wadi Rum, Jordan, to celebrate their shared heritage. This was a rare opportunity for Bedouin from different countries to gather and discuss how to sustain their culture in order to meet the challenges of modernisation, marginalisation and displacement.

Historically, nomadic Bedouin communities moved throughout the Syrian desert and Arabian peninsula, thriving even in the harsh conditions of the badia. However, the creation of national borders and restrictions on travel have limited their movement and their interaction with each other.

Today, each community faces different challenges. Each finds in its culture a source of strength, resilience and hope. These communities possess a common if diverse identity, distinct from the traditionally-settled communities of the Levant. It is vital that they develop strategies to sustain their culture. The gathering helped to achieve that by providing a forum to make connections, share solutions and envision a better future.

HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan met with the participants at the historic site of Humeima.  HRH said that the Arab Islamic civilisation was based on pluralism, diversity and mutual respect away from the talk about minorities and majorities.

Prince Hassan added that Bedouin qualities of hospitality, chivalry, of protecting the weak and vulnerable are an integral part of the Bedouin ethics that unite us.

HRH stressed the importance of citizenship and empowerment of the Bedouins.  “When we talk about intangible heritage, we need to make sure that such meetings are put into context and that publications and digital documentations should enhance the concept of human dignity  and enable the Bedouins to understand their Arab citizenship as part of their identity and their place as an Arab.”  

He said that the concept “our heritage is indicative of us” is part of our shared humanity; “such meetings should be an opportunity to share experiences and expertise and enhance mutual respect and shared values”.

Hamda Abou Eid from Lebanon said “meeting with the Bedouins of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine was excellent. Each country has its customs and traditions and we found that many of them are common. This is because our roots in the Levant are the same.”

Many of the Jordanian Bedouin, who hosted the gathering, still practice traditional lifeways alongside running tourism and other businesses. “I benefited a lot from this gathering …. [and from] seeing the ambition of these people to preserve the Bedouin lifestyle, their future vision for safeguarding it, and their passion in challenging the obstacles that stand in their way” (Aisha Al Amaren)

 

The Palestinian participants included youth researchers who have been training in the documentation of cultural heritage. “I came to meet with my Bedouin brothers from Lebanon and Jordan in this place – Wadi Rum – that has a nomadic symbolism and reminds us that the Bedouins were without borders. In coming together, we … revived the memory on which our ancestors and fathers lived when there were no political boundaries.” (Mahmod Zawahra)

The gathering involved practical demonstrations of cooking, tent construction, traditional crafts and desert survival. At night the Bedouin sat beneath the stars, sharing stories and experiences of navigating by the night sky, which were captured in a ‘night sky map’ art work. The group – which included men and women, elders and the young – discussed men’s and women’s roles, the care of livestock and textile making. On the final day, the group shared visions for the future and identified the challenges faced by each community and solutions rooted in culture and living traditions.

The event culminated in an optimistic celebration with feasting, music and dance. The programme coordinator, Aphrodite Sorotou of INHERIT, said:  

This gathering was like a dream come true. When we started working with Bedouin communities in the Bekaa in Lebanon, we saw that it was an important aspiration for them to come together with their brethren from other countries. The gathering has also proved important for understanding the whole story behind their cultural heritage, both in the past and now. Seeing them together – embracing each other, celebrating their cultural similarities and differences – we all realised how much protecting their living heritage is the way forward for them and the generations to come.”

The Wadi Rum gathering is part of the Cultural Corridors of Peace programme, which has been working with Bedouin in Lebanon and Jordan to document their living heritage as a means of securing the sustainable development of their communities. An exhibition in Beirut is planned for later in the year and an online archive of photographs, film, interviews and other material is being produced. 

 

Regional Gathering

Bedouin cross national borders to gather in Wadi Rum, seeking to protect their cultural heritage

Bedouin communities from Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine travelled to Wadi Rum, Jordan, to celebrate their shared heritage. This was a rare opportunity for Bedouin from different countries to gather and discuss how to sustain their culture in order to meet the challenges of modernisation, marginalisation and displacement.

Historically, nomadic Bedouin communities moved throughout the Syrian desert and Arabian peninsula, thriving even in the harsh conditions of the badia. However, the creation of national borders and restrictions on travel have limited their movement and their interaction with each other.

Today, each community faces different challenges. Each finds in its culture a source of strength, resilience and hope. These communities possess a common if diverse identity, distinct from the traditionally-settled communities of the Levant. It is vital that they develop strategies to sustain their culture. The gathering helped to achieve that by providing a forum to make connections, share solutions and envision a better future.

HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan met with the participants at the historic site of Humeima.  HRH said that the Arab Islamic civilisation was based on pluralism, diversity and mutual respect away from the talk about minorities and majorities.

Prince Hassan added that Bedouin qualities of hospitality, chivalry, of protecting the weak and vulnerable are an integral part of the Bedouin ethics that unite us.

HRH stressed the importance of citizenship and empowerment of the Bedouins.  “When we talk about intangible heritage, we need to make sure that such meetings are put into context and that publications and digital documentations should enhance the concept of human dignity  and enable the Bedouins to understand their Arab citizenship as part of their identity and their place as an Arab.”

He said that the concept “our heritage is indicative of us” is part of our shared humanity; “such meetings should be an opportunity to share experiences and expertise and enhance mutual respect and shared values”.

Hamda Abou Eid from Lebanon said “meeting with the Bedouins of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine was excellent. Each country has its customs and traditions and we found that many of them are common. This is because our roots in the Levant are the same.”

Many of the Jordanian Bedouin, who hosted the gathering, still practice traditional lifeways alongside running tourism and other businesses. “I benefited a lot from this gathering …. [and from] seeing the ambition of these people to preserve the Bedouin lifestyle, their future vision for safeguarding it, and their passion in challenging the obstacles that stand in their way” (Aisha Al Amaren)

The Palestinian participants included youth researchers who have been training in the documentation of cultural heritage. “I came to meet with my Bedouin brothers from Lebanon and Jordan in this place – Wadi Rum – that has a nomadic symbolism and reminds us that the Bedouins were without borders. In coming together, we … revived the memory on which our ancestors and fathers lived when there were no political boundaries.” (Mahmod Zawahra)

The gathering involved practical demonstrations of cooking, tent construction, traditional crafts and desert survival. At night the Bedouin sat beneath the stars, sharing stories and experiences of navigating by the night sky, which were captured in a ‘night sky map’ art work. The group – which included men and women, elders and the young – discussed men’s and women’s roles, the care of livestock and textile making. On the final day, the group shared visions for the future and identified the challenges faced by each community and solutions rooted in culture and living traditions.

The event culminated in an optimistic celebration with feasting, music and dance. The programme coordinator, Aphrodite Sorotou of INHERIT, said:

This gathering was like a dream come true. When we started working with Bedouin communities in the Bekaa in Lebanon, we saw that it was an important aspiration for them to come together with their brethren from other countries. The gathering has also proved important for understanding the whole story behind their cultural heritage, both in the past and now. Seeing them together – embracing each other, celebrating their cultural similarities and differences – we all realised how much protecting their living heritage is the way forward for them and the generations to come.”

The Wadi Rum gathering is part of the Cultural Corridors of Peace programme, which has been working with Bedouin in Lebanon and Jordan to document their living heritage as a means of securing the sustainable development of their communities. An exhibition in Beirut is planned for later in the year and an online archive of photographs, film, interviews and other material is being produced.

 

التجمّع الإقليمي

يلتقي ممثّلون للمجموعات البدويّة من بلاد الشام وخارجها للتجمّع في الأردن، وللاحتفال على مدى ثلاثة أيام بتراثهم الثقافي المشترك الذي يواجه التهديدات في المنطقة اليوم بسبب النزاعات، والتهميش، والنزوح. يوفّر التجمّع منصّةً لتواصل البدو وتبادلهم الأفكار والتجارب حول صون تراثهم الثقافي وتعزيزه، ويشكّل ذلك جزءًا من جهدٍ مكثّف أكثر لتحسين ظروفهم. يقوم الحاضرون في التجمّع بعرض مجموعةٍ من الأنشطة والممارسات الثقافيّة والمشاركة فيها، ويتبادلون الذكريات، والمعرفة، والقصص. وسيتمّ رسم خريطة تشاركيّة لسماء الليل، فسماء الليل تتجاوز كلّ الحدود، واستُخدمتْ قديمًا لتوجيه التحرّك على المسارات التي اعتمدها البدو الرعويّون في تنقّلهم.

Cultural Corridors of Peace is funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

       

Cultural Corridors of Peace is funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

       

Cultural Corridors of Peace is funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.