by Webmaster @ Sub Sinai
Most of Sinai's population are Bedouins, who claim descent from the tribes of the Hejaz on the Arabian Peninsula, and thus rate themselves amongst the purest Arab genealogies. Only the Jebeliya tribe is anomalous, tracing its origins to the Caucasus.
Traditionally, each tribe roamed its own territory in search of grazing and settled around local oases. The Mizayna claimed the land between El Tor and Nuweiba; Tarabeen a awathe from Nuweiba to El Arish; the Jebeliya the Saint Catherine's region, and so on. The number of tribes in Sinai is uncertain, ranging from 14 to 27, depending on which of their subdivisions are counted. Other tribes include the Sawalha, Alekat, Walad Shaheen and Tiyaahah. Collectively, they are known as the Tawarah (Arabs of Tor), after the ancient name of the peninsula, or simply as Al Arab.
Tribal and family honour were paramount, raids and camel rustling a perpetual cause for blood feuds that might persist for generations. Agriculture or fishing was a hand to mouth activity, secondary in herding goats and camels - the latter being the measure of a tribe's wealth, with racing camels esteemed above all. Though devout Muslims, the Bedouin retained pagan superstitions and practices from the "time of darkness" with their common law - urf - instead of regular Islamic jurisprudence.
Unsurprisingly, the Bedouins took advantage of discarded weaponry to resist outside authority, attempts to settle the nomads having little success until the 1970s. By providing employment and exposing the Bedouin to Western comforts, the costal resorts had an equally profound effect on traditional lifestyles. Nowadays, many earn their living through tourism, taxi driving or construction work, and stone huts with corrugated iron roofs and TV antennae are more common than black tents.