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Bedouin children in Jordan

Photo Essay: Bedouin Children in Jordan

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Wadi Rum Desert; Jordan

These kids have a huge backyard.  There’s no swimming pool or trees to climb, but plenty of room in which to play.  And it’s pretty hard to get lost.

They are members of a Bedouin tribe in Jordan.  The Bedouins are known for being nomads who subsist by breeding camels and herding sheep and goats in the deserts of the Middle East and northern Africa.  In fact, the word Bedouin means “desert dweller” in Arabic.

Bedouins comprise about one-third of the population in Jordan.  In recent decades many of them have settled in cities and villages and have been provided with government services such as education, housing and health clinics.  In return, they have been loyal supporters of the Jordanian monarchy.  However, some Bedouins — like this family – still prefer their traditional nomadic lifestyle.

I took this photo on the way to Petra, the country’s most visited tourist attraction.  The children were playing in front of their family’s tent, which is made of strips of cloth from goat and camel hair.

I don’t speak Arabic and they didn’t speak a word of English.  But their smiles spoke volumes.  They seemed genuinely happy to have some visitors.  And I was happy to get a brief glimpse into a culture that remains largely unchanged from Biblical times.

Copyright © Dan Fellner 2013