You Know You’ve Lived in Saudi Arabia When…

You Know You’ve Lived In Saudi Arabia When…
Type: Geography – Countries
Description: “You think SR500 is a good price
You enjoy channel 2
Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the housekeeper
You think black is appropriate daytime wear
You wear a jacket inside and take it off when you go out
You know which end of a swarma to unwrap
You think that the further you inch into an intersection the faster the
light will turn green
You give directions by landmarks
You have more carpets than floor space
You expect gold for every birthday
You send your friends a map instead of your address
You begin admiring other women’s “Designer” abayas
You expect to pay more for water than for petrol
You’ve heard of or tried “hubbly bubbly.”
You get confused because US money isn’t color-coded.
You remember not eating in public in the daytime during the holy month of
You know someone is referring to Pepsi when they say “BEBSI”.
You have ever had to wait for prayer call to be over to finish shopping.
You have friends from 50 different countries.
Rain is still one of the most wonderful sounds in the world.
You have sat in a “men’s” or “women’s” section in an airport, hospital, or
You think anyone with a cane is out to get you.
You think a desert storm is a war.
You think a red light means “step on it.”
You don’t think it is ostentatious to own more than one Rolex.
Your school closes early because of sandstorms
You are not surprised to see an 8 year old driving the car next to you
You can’t buy anything without asking for a discount
You think cars only come in white.”


Saudi Arabia’s New Bedu

The New Bedu

Bedu  (




LOCATION: Deserts of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt

POPULATION: 4–5 million




The Western term Bedouin is actually a double plural; in the Arabic language the people we know as Bedouin refer to themselves as “Bedu” (also plural, but for simplicity it will be used here as both singular and plural). The definition of who is and is not a Bedu has become somewhat confused in recent times, as circumstances change and the traditional nomadic life of the desert herders has had to adapt. Generally speaking, a Bedu is an Arab who lives in one of the desert areas of the Middle East and raises camels, sheep, or goats. The Bedu traditionally believe they are the descendants of Shem, son of Noah, whose ancestor was Adam, the first man (see the book of Genesis, chapter 5, of the Bible).

The Arabian Peninsula historically has been the crossroads for trade as well as war. Bedu tribes often took strangers into their system and offered them the tribes’ full protection and identity, thus intermingling with other peoples. Bedu are considered the “most indigenous” of modern Middle Eastern peoples, meaning they lived there before anyone else. The first appearance of nomadic peoples in the Arabian desert can be traced back as far as the third millennium BC.


Now that we have the definition of the term “Bedu” I want to discuss the Bedu of yesterday as well as of today.  Yesterday (or should that be yesteryears) Bedu was a nomadic man who would traverse the desert atop his camel or horse.  He knows the desert like no other for that is his home.  The Bedu of yesteryear would be able to pitch a fast tent wherever he wished to stop and set up camp.  Sometimes instead of a tent, he’d simply sleep under the stars and at times, snuggled up with his camel for warmth.  He didn’t need any fancy accessories.  He found his way by instinct with help from the stars and constellations.  He was usually a wizened man of few words who appreciated and enjoyed his simple life.


The traditional Bedu of yesteryear would wear his thobe, ghutra, smaugh and typical desert sandals.  He may carry a walking stick to assist him when moving through the shifting sands.


Technology and the modern day world has caught up with today’s Bedu.  For many of  the new Bedu’s the camel or horse has been replaced by either a Toyota Landcruiser, Toyota Prado or some other type of four-wheel drive SUV.  He will no longer have the small simple tent.  Instead it will be either a larger and spacious tent or in many cases these days, it will be a trailer.  Either one (tent or trailer) will be equipped with heating and air conditioning,  toilets, potable running water, kitchenette area and of course, a satellite dish and television.  Many bedus now have their notebook computers and surf the internet at night using satellite internet.  And of course his vehicle is equipped with a state-of-the art GPS (global positioning system) for navigation.  Mobile coverage remains minimal in the heart of the desert so most likely he will also be equipped with a Thuraya satellite phone.


The New Bedu will resemble the bedu of yesteryear to a degree in his clothes.  He may still wear the thobe, ghutra and smaugh but more often than not the typical desert sandals have since been replaced with high top sneakers.


This past weekend a dear friend was sharing pictures with me of a recent foray he made into the desert.  He managed to take a photograph of  Today’s Bedu.  Here was this wizened Saudi tribal man and in his case, wearing a pristine white thobe in spite of being in the midst of the red sands with a bisht over his thobe.  He had on his smaugh and ghutra.  And yes, best of all, peaking under the thobe one could identify Air Jordan sneakers.  The photo was taken showing this New Bedu’s profile while he was busily engaged talking on his Thuraya satellite phone.

%d bloggers like this: