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The Emirates in 1976 – The Bedouin family

This article follows on from the previous article: The Emirates in 1976 – A “time bomb” and a Bedouin village

The day after we had filmed the distribution of food rations at Al Kaznah, we followed the rice ration into the desert.  We drove about ten miles into the wilderness to a small camp .   We got stuck in the sand several times, but now, we knew how to get out of it.  (Which is more than our driver did).

We were in the back of beyond.  We saw no building and no camps until we arrived at our destination.

There were none of the traditional black Bedouin tents.  The accommodation was made of packing cases and cardboard.  They could use cardboard because it very seldom rained.  What seemed ludicrous was the sight of Persil packets and empty bottles of Seven Up. Hanging on he side of one of the living quarters was a large Japanese battery-powered radio.

It looked quite out of place.

On arrival, the ladies of the family scurried away to the safety of their accommodation.  The head man indicated that he wanted a blanket on the ground.  A young man went for the blanket and spread it out on the sand.  We were then invited to sit down on a circle.

We were offered Arabic coffee.  I had not drunk that since Jordan.

The headman was asked the question why did he and his family not live in the new village.  He replied, through our interpreter, an Egyptian teacher, that he was a Bedouin and his place was in the desert.  I asked why did he live so close to the village. He replied that he received a stipend for each of his children that attended the village school, so he had to be close enough to take them there each day.  His Land Rover was supplied by the government.

They kept some goats, maybe as many as thirty and they also had a few camels. At around 10 o’clock in the morning, we were told, the goats would all walk off over the dunes.  We asked where they were going.  They said that they did not know where they went, but that around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which we witnessed, they all came back.  Nobody knew why they went, where they went, of why they came back at a precise time of day.

The Bedouin were very pleasant people .

UAEcameraOur crew had been discussing previously the question as to why Arabs wore black cloaks under their flowing white gowns in such heat. We decided to ask the Bedouin. Whatever answer he gave perplexed the Egyptian, but, eventually, he worked it all out so that we might understand what was said by the Bedouin.

According to the Bedu, the black material, being non reflective, allowed the body heat to permeate the material and leave the body.   They believed that it was more important for the body to lose heat rather than trying to stop the elements heating up the body.

It all made sense at the time.

During the conversation, the headman got up and walked off into the desert. It was a while before he returned.

When we left, all the family, of about fifteen people, including the women stood waving us off.

Our Land Cruiser got trapped in the sand several times before we reached a stretch of bitumen. Our driver was amazed that we knew how to get out of the sand.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2013.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For other articles about UPITN click here.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. My grandfather had come to UAE in 1947 and worked at the British Embassy located at the Dubai Creek. It was nothing then… it only got its independence in 1971. He surely did see Dubai grow

    December 17, 2013

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