The Bedouins of Petra


Most tourists who visit Petra in Jordan awe the grandeur and mystery of this city carved in stone but for me, it was the people of Petra who captured my eyes and heart.

The Bedul, although nomads for generations, were merchants who lived in Arabia. At its height — in the century or so prior to and after the birth of Christ. The Nabataeans Empire included parts of Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. And the seat of the kingdom was Petra, a city that the Nabataeans literally carved by hand from the rose-red cliffs of what is now southern Jordan.

During my visit, I had the privilege of interacting with the Bedul; the tribe living in the ancient caves in the city of Petra, not as a tourist but as a friend. I sat and listened to their stories while sharing a cup of tea as the winter wind blow on our faces. The women described their largely nomadic existence, moving seasonally across the desert. The children showed me the aqueducts and piping systems where the ancient Nabataeans engineers took advantage of every natural spring and every winter downpour to channel water where it was needed. It was indeed a fascinating experience talking to nomads about their way of life. They speak Arabic, English, German and French fluently!

At the end of the day, it was not just a visual experience visiting Petra but it was one that touched my heart. By sun down, I walked the ancient city carved in stone blessed with the experience. I could hear the children shouting my name; Tuffaha (Apple) echoing the narrow canyon.