Monday, April 04, 2005

Ammarin Bedouin Camp 

I had a two hour meeting with the manager of the Ammarin Bedouin Camp which is a camp located down in Beidha which is right next to Petra. Most Americans have probably never heard of Bedouins let alone knew that there are many different tribes of Bedouins across Jordan. Well I was one of those people, but after yesterday I can tell you all about the Bedouins, especially the Ammarin Bedouins, and some of the issues and differences they have with the Petra "Wadi Musa" Bedouins. It's all very fascinating. And the sad thing is that unlike our Native Americans, little to nothing is popularly known about Bedouin cultural heritage. However, like our Native Americans, many Bedouins still live separately from the rest of the population and have a tough time (and no casinos). For the most part, the are still a nomadic people. For example, they don't really farm besides barley and oats to feed their sheep which is their main source of bartering/income and their children don't normally go beyond 8th grade.

Anyhow, the Manager of the Ammarin Tribe Camp that I met with yesterday is an amazing man. He actually grew up in Amman and then went to school in Louisiana and then got a masters in Florida. After returning to Jordan, he decided to get back to his roots. So he moved down to Beidha where he has been living for five years in the Government subsidized housing they built for the Bedouins when they moved them out of Petra six years ago.

Most of the people in the Manager's tribe still live in tents. He has made it his goal to raise the standard of living in the area while maintaining the unique cultural heritage of the people. My company, i Jordan, is working with them to plan and promote several festivals and community development projects. We are also working with him to promote tourism to the area where they have some nice tents with showers and they cook visitors traditional Bedouin meals. I actually get to go down there next weekend to meet with the tribe and the chief and stay over in the camp. I am very excited.

Wow, now I know why my brother wrote such long blog posts when he was in China! There's such a learning curve and so much to write about. But I'll wrap this up. Here's the website for the camp if you want to check it out: www.bedouincamp.net.


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