Bedouin Mechanics For Flat Batteries - How To Start Your Car In The Desert and more...



Bedouin Mechanics For Flat Batteries - How To Start Your Car In The Desert

 

When people who live in the desert have a flat battery and there are no other cars around, sometimes it's not possible for our passengers to push the car as it's in soft sand. This is how the problem can be fixed if you have a manual car and two other people with you.

You need a jack, a long strong rope, a piece of wood (or if you find it a flat stone) to put the jack onto so that it doesn't sink in the sand.

Lift up one of the back wheels with the jack, then tie the rope around the raised wheel enough times to make it easy to spin quickly, and leave a lot of rope to pull it with.

Take the air filter away from the box to allow as much air as possible to reach the engine quickly.

One of you must sit in the driver's side of the car, pump the clutch, change into third gear, and switch on the ignition while two other people quickly pull the rope and make the back wheel spin fast.

This is almost the same as pushing the car, because the wheel is moving - and your battery should be able to charge when the engine starts. Leave the engine running for for at least 15 minutes to allow the battery to charge.

After this you can move. :-)


Camels in Sinai – our Gift of God عطاء الله

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Camels are an important part of our life and culture and each has its own very different personality. We call them the Gift of God (“Ata Allah”) because they provide so much of what we need in life - transport, milk, food and clothing. Arab poets also call them the 'ship of the desert” or “land ship” as they have the perfect bodies for life in the desert*.

Here at The Bedouin Way we want you to learn a little more about these beautiful, loveable, funny-looking creatures that mean so much to us and fascinate you. We talked to Ramadan Soleman, Atik Salaam and Gomaa Farag, so this has been written in their words. We hope you enjoy our story from Sinai!

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A member of the family

The older Bedouin generations respect camels very much because they were so important in life before the days when we had cars. We treat our camels like our children. We love them, feed them, talk to them and they are family to us. They like quiet places so we try to help them be relaxed and happy away from noise. Some families have two camels, and others have 30 or 40 for tourism. Each has its own personality, just like people.

Caring for each other

If they are sick we treat them with herbs. There are some special people in Dahab who can also give heat treatment to draw out the sickness, which is very effective. Eleyan Faraj and Mohamed Abu Soradic (both from Assalah) are known for this.

Camels can also help us when we are sick. Their milk is very healthy for the body, and if we have arthritis we wear a bracelet made from camel hair and rabbit bones, which helps the pain. The camel can feel if a person is sick. If you are not well the camel becomes more gentle and he will try to take you back home.

They also know if you are scared. Once Atik Salaam was on a trip with a guest in the Wadi Gnai Oasis. He says, “My customer left me alone and slept away from me in the desert. I was scared as I was by myself and I had nowhere to sleep so I lay next to my camel. The camel knew I was scared and didn't move all night. He made me feel safe. The camel takes care and looks after you because you're his man.”

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Pregnancy, perfume, and practice

Female camels are pregnant for 12 months. They have one baby each pregnancy and sometimes 10 or more children in their lifetime. The baby leaves her after three years when it is old enough to look after itself.

You should never wear skin cream, perfume or anything with a strong smell when you are with a baby camel or it will die. This is why we take the mother to the desert to have her baby – it is silent there and safe away from people. She is taken there for her last month of pregnancy to have the baby and then she comes back after one month. The best camel milk comes when the mother is weaning.

We train camels when they are three years old with a rope and we show them how to move with us. Then at four years they learn to carry things. We use special people to teach them. You must control the camel and be strong – there is a system to follow to have a well-behaved animal. The male always remembers what he is taught for life, but the female will forget after one year so if she is not reminded we need to train her again. Racing camels have different training because they have to learn to run fast with a person on their back.

 

Camels and companionship

The female is usually friendlier than the male, especially to her owner. They become friends and she will never leave him alone. If he dies she will stay with him and die herself if she can. There is a story that in Saudi Arabia an old man died in the desert, and his female camel was found dead next to him a long time after. She did not want to leave him there alone because she loved him.

But males also become very close to their owners. When Ramadan Soleman’s 74-year-old uncle died, his camel cried for one month all day and all night. Ramadan says, “He was a good man and treated the camel like his child. He had it for 15 years and he only fed it the best herbs and plants.”

Gomaa Farag had a camel for two years and he says, “The camel takes on your personality. I bought him when I was 15 years old but he was crazy. Over time he became more chilled out. If you are calm and relaxed with your camel then he will be the same. If you are nervous and angry he will take this on also. “

Gomaa also says that, “When you have a camel you never forget him because you have a nice time. Two camels become friends very much also - if they live together and one leaves, then the other is very upset.”

crazy-camel-sunglasses-sinai

Crazy camel

In the winter the male camel will become crazy when he is on heat and you should never trust him, as he does not respect people. He will not eat or drink and he makes a song when he sees a female or another camel. He loses his mind and sometimes we have to put something in his mouth to keep it closed. There are many stories about males killing their owners when in this season. The way you will know is they make a “bubble mouth” to show they have the power – they control all other male camels this way and make them shut down.

Clever camel

All camels have a great memory. They know the voice of their owner from a very long distance. They always know their way home and remember where there is a water place in the desert. Once you show them this they will always go back to it when thirsty.

Every tribe has a brand on its camels. They are sometimes in the desert for a long time but everyone knows they belong to. During Spring Pasture time, we leave the camel to eat for as long as it wants to and it will go to its home when it is ready and there are no more things to eat.

According to very old Bedouin stories, 1 May to 5 June every year is when men, women and animals all over the world have less energy. Old people tell their children and grandchildren that they would not even let their camels work during this time. This is because you cannot see the stars (nejoom) so the mood is not always good. This time is called “gyub al nagem”.

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Camel cuisine

As well as transport, milk and clothes we eat camel meat. There are special camels just for food – they are eaten when they are young and big. The best age for this is six years old. A professional person will kill them in the halal way – the camel dies calmly, and the person who slaughters it will say, "Bismillah Allahu akbar” to make sure the animal has Allah’s blessing. The common translation is "In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate".

Halal means foods that Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic Shariʻah. We try to eat animals that have had a happy life, nice food to eat, space to move and a peaceful death.

*Useful Facts

On the move

Camels have feet for all kinds of land. When the animals sit down on hot sand, they have hard skin on their knees, which protects them from burning and they can swim naturally because they have long legs. Camels can run at a speed of 65 km/h (18 m/s; 40 mph) in short runs and they can stay at 40 km/h (11 m/s; 25 mph) for one hour. They can carry 200kg weight and they are very strong. This makes them useful when we have to move or for safaris.  

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Eating and drinking

The hump of the camel carries stores fat from food, and saves it for when food is not there. They can live for a week or more without water and several months without food, but we always feed and water them when we can. The first sign that a camel needs food is when the hump turns soft and does not stand up any more. Camels mostly eat grass, a’dra and sh’eer, which we grow especially to feed them. Their long necks help them to reach plants that are higher from the ground.

The mouth allows camels to eat the tough thorns that even sheep and goats cannot manage. This is possible because their lips have strong hair that lets them take their noses to thorny plants and break them. The mouth is specially made for chewing and digesting plants with thorns.

camel-race-wadi-zalaga

Fighting off sand and wind

Their hair is thick and protects against the extreme conditions of the desert, and it also helps to keep water in the body. They can close their nostrils to stop sand coming inside and their long eyelashes also protect them against wind and sand.

How old is an old camel?

They normally live for around 32 to 40 years.

Buying a camel

A normal camel costs between EGP 6,000 and 10,000 (EUR 625 - 1,040) . For racing, the price will change according to its dynasty (“salala”). We trace their family back as far as we can, so for example a 4x4 can be traced 4 generations back on each side of the family and a 5x5 can be tracked 5 generations back. In Sinai some are EGP 100,000 (EUR 10,400) and in the Emirates they can cost more than EGP 1 million (EUR 104,000).

 

If you have any other questions about camels please ask us here and we will be happy to answer them.

Copyright © 2014, The Bedouin Way. All rights reserved.


Ramadan in Sinai

ramadan-in-sinai

A Holy Month

Muslims worldwide celebrate Ramadan every year on the 9th lunar month of the Islamic calendar.  It is religious time of devotion where we become close to Allah, through fasting and purification, where we give ourselves to God, our spirituality and the people around us.  Many benefits can come from fasting, especially in this month where the rewards are multiplied.

The Quran says that fasting is important to help us develop God consciousness through self-control, while remembering and assisting the poor, the hungry and the sick.

Fasting

Fasting helps cleanse the body and purify the mind.  During this holy month of Ramadan we read, recite and listen to the Holy Quran to help purify our thoughts and calm our hearts and minds. It is a time to cast away bad habits, and negative thinking so that we may become closer to God.

From puberty onwards, Muslims respecting Ramadan must not eat, drink or smoke between the hours of dawn and dusk. We keep the fast for 29-30 days of the month – dependent on the stages of the crescent moon. Our days are spent reading the Quran and praying, as well as going about our normal everyday life. If we have jobs we still work and fast at the same time.

When Ramadan comes in the summer months, which is when Sinai is at its hottest, it is often a challenge to fast and continue working too, but this is the point of Ramadan. To remind us of the challenges that face the poor, appreciate what we have, and thank our God for carrying us through.

Sunset

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Before the sunset prayer known as Maghribit, and just before the sky turns orange our ‘breakfast’ is prepared.  This is when we break our fast each evening. It is our tradition to send steaming plates of freshly cooked food to our neighbours.  A few dates are eating to help our sugar levels, and water is taken to help us rehydrate before we begin our sunset prayer.

Dates are important in other ways during fasting as they follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. They are easy for the stomach to take, rich in minerals, good for the body, and they prepare us for the meal we are about to eat.

Our friends and family then sit together to enjoy what is known as Futuur (the breakfast).   Bedouin enjoy fish, chicken, meat, soup, salad, bread and many other things and the breakfast can be anything we like. People will often gather outside their homes and business to eat their food and invite others to join.   

Blessings are bountiful when we share our food. Even on ordinary days it is our culture to invite people to our table, and we never turn people away.  But during this precious month of Ramadan all Muslims are encouraged to share food as a further reminder to be selfless. Breaking the fast is a wonderful time of celebration and togetherness.

The second meal we eat is before Fajr (the dawn prayer) and is know as Suhuur (dinner). Bedouin men from any area generally meet in a large seating area called a Magad. Everyone is welcome, and those who are able will bring a large plate of food with them to share with the rest of the men. Women eat together and share with one another in their homes.  

The Three Parts of Ramadan

The first 10 days are the days of mercy.
The second 10 days are the days of forgiveness.
The third 10 days are to seek refuge in Allah from the hellfire.

During the last 10 days of Ramadan is Laylat al Qadr, which means "The Night of Destiny" or "The Night of Power". We believe this is the most holy night of the year in which the first revelations of the Quran were sent down to Muhammad.

We offer extra prayers on this day, particularly the night prayer. We wake, pray, and hope God will be near us on this night and reward us if he chooses to.  

Thought to be on one of the odd-numbered nights towards the end of the month (especially 27th), it is possible to see a strong light, and if we see this strong light we will be very close to Allah.

In all there are 5 Pillars of Islam. Fasting (Sawm) during Ramadan is the 4th pillar. The other four pillars declare there is one God and that Muhammed is God’s Messenger (Shahadah). That Prayer should be 5 times each day (Salat). Any money that can be spared should be given to the poor (Zakaat). And a pilgrimage to Mecca should happen at least once in our lifetime (Hajj).

Eid-ul-Fitr

The end of Ramadan is marked by a big celebration called Eid-ul-Fitr, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. We will talk more about this nearer the time.

* Those who are not required to fast are the mentally ill, old people, the sick, those who are travelling, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or breast-feeding. This time can be made up for in the months before the next Ramadan begins.

Copyright © 2014, The Bedouin Way. All rights reserved.


The Story Behind The Bedouin Way

This is a note from Sofian Noor, who founded The Bedouin Way earlier this year.

Nasser-the-bedouin-way

"I want to tell you why I make my business The Bedouin Way. The website www.thebedouinway.com was used by my cousin Nasser in Nuweiba from 2004 until he died too young. His pictures are on the right. Earlier this year I decided to build it again in his memory.

Nasser inspired me so much when I was a boy and he taught me everything I know about the desert, looking after camels, guiding, cooking and driving. The web address was available so I bought it. This was a good way to thank Nasser for everything he did for me and to wish him well in heaven.

sofian-noor-the-bedouin-way

My biggest dream for the Bedouin Way is to give work for the Bedouin I know and trust across South Sinai and promote our culture to people all over the world. Thank you to everyone for your support.

Sofian

Bedouin Law

Bedouin-Law-Mount-Sinai
It would be better to die with honour than to bring shame and dishonour upon yourself and your tribe.

Our laws are not written down. Our history, law and traditions have all been passed down orally from one generation to the next.

We believe that there are things that are much worse than death. It would be better to die with honour than to bring shame and dishonour upon yourself and your tribe.

This is why we reserve banishment as the worst punishment for repeat offender. It is a very rare event, but if someone is repeatedly brought in front of a court, they will eventually find themselves being expelled from the tribe in a process called ‘tashmees’. This word comes from the same root as the word for the sun and it literally means ‘exposure’.

In the desert, you will die if you exposed to the sun for extended periods. When we banish criminals from the tribe, we are exposing them to the world. We make it known everywhere that the banished man is not covered by the protection of the tribe any longer and that we will not claim responsibility for him anymore. Should he be murdered or kidnapped, we will no longer help him – we expose him to the world in his own shame.

If we have any problems in society, we try to solve them at a Bedouin court, usually held within the tribe. If this is not possible, we take our problems to another tribe, in the hope that their court might provide a better result. Our judges are usually wise, respected men (‘sheikh’s) that are well versed in our laws and the Qur’an.

Both parties will have to agree on what type of court proceeding they will be pursuing. They can either go to one court and accept that judge’s ruling as definite, or they can go through three courts of appeal.

This would mean that they could disagree with the sheikh’s verdict and get a second opinion at another sheikh’s court and then a third. NB. Should the second sheikh agree with the ruling of the first sheikh, there is no possibility of going to the third court as that verdict is binding.

Sheikhs usually try to hand out fair punishments that build respect, because overly punitive rulings could provoke a tribe war. When making a ruling, the intention of the offender is taken into account as much as their action.

The usual punishment for the intentional killing of another person is either a tribute or execution, depending on the mercy of the victim’s family. There is usually an expectation on that family to be merciful however and a tribute of one hundred camels is usually levied in exchange for a life.

Finally, we do not have much of a problem with perjury. If someone is accused of lying, then we tap a hot spoon (‘bi’a’) on that person’s tongue three times. If the spoon burns their tongue, then they lied. If it did not burn their tongue, then they are virtuous and they were telling the truth.

To appear at court, a defendant must find himself a guarantor (‘kafil’) who will act on his behalf.. This guarantor is responsible for the defendant should he decide to run or not pay any fine and must ultimately pay any fine or receive any punishment in the defendant’s stead, should he choose to run.

Not just anybody can become a kafil however, because it is a respected position. The kafil must a trustworthy man and he has to receive the blessing and praise of the community first.

If you have questions about Bedouin Law we will be happy to answer them.

Please comment here and we will reply as soon as we can.

Copyright © 2014, The Bedouin Way. All rights reserved.

   


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