Origin Of Tarabeen
A name of Tarabin derives from the Taraba valley in Saudi Arabia where this tribe has once settled. Originally Tarabin were called Boqom tribes, but later found it easier to refer to the valley after they moved to Sinai.
Tarabin Bedouin traced their ancestry to one ‘Atiya who belonged to the Quraysh tribe, to which Mohammed the prophet of Islam belonged, and lived at Turba east of Mecca. It is believed that ‘Atiya migrated to Sinai in the 14th Century. He was buried at al-Sharaf near Suez. ‘Atiya had five sons to which various clans of the Tarabin trace their descent. Musa’id was remembered as ancestor of the Qusar; Hasbal of the Hasabila; Nab’a of the Naba’at; Sari of the Sarayi’a. These four sections lived in Sinai.
The Sinai Tarabin Bedouin are currently located just north of Nuweiba and arrived to the peninsula around 300 years ago. In 1874 they are recorded in a list of Bedouin, produced by the Palestine Exploration Fund, as “in the Desert of the Tih”.
Transformation of the Bedouin society and its problems
The past few decades have proved difficult for traditional Bedouin culture. Due to the changing surrounding and erection of new resort towns such as Sharm El-Sheikh Bedouin lifestyle is changing, too. Their once-nomadic culture is transforming and these changes are not easy for the community. We can see the erosion of traditional values and this community faces relatively new challenges, such as unemployment and various land issues. With urbanization and new education opportunities offered, Bedouin started to marry people outside their tribe which once was completely inappropriate.
Bedouins living in the Sinai peninsula generally did not benefit from employment in the initial construction boom due to low wages offered. Sudanese and Egyptians workers were brought here as construction laborers instead. When the tourist industry started to bloom, local Bedouin increasingly moved into new service positions such as cab drivers, tour guides, campgrounds or cafe managers. However, the competition is very high, and many Sinai Bedouin are unemployed. Moreover, because of their traditional way of life, Bedouin women are usually not allowed to work outside their house.
Since there are not enough employment opportunities, Tarabin Bedouin as well as other Bedouin tribes living along the border between Egypt and Israel are involved in inter-border smuggling of drugs and weapons, as well as infiltration of prostitutes and African labor workers.
In most countries in the Middle East the Bedouin have no land rights, only users’ privileges, and it is especially true for Egypt. Since the mid-1980s, the Bedouin who held desirable coastal property have lost control of much of their land as it was sold by the Egyptian government to hotel operators. Egypt did not see it as the land that belongs to Bedouin tribes, but rather as a state property.
In the summer of 1999, the latest dispossession of land took place when the army bulldozed Bedouin-run tourist campgrounds north of Nuweiba as part of the final phase of hotel development in the sector, overseen by the Tourist Development Agency (TDA). The director of the Tourist Development Agency dismissed Bedouin rights to most of the land, saying that they had not lived on the coast prior to 1982. Their traditional semi-nomadic culture has left Bedouin vulnerable to such claims.
Attitude of Egyptian authorities
After the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the Sinai Bedouin were given an unofficial autonomy due to political instability inside the country. But Egyptian authorities traditionally view the Bedouin cross-border ties with Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia with suspicion. The Ouda Tarabin case is a good example of it.