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Desert survival

Living in such an unforgiving environment there are strict laws amongst the Bedouin to protect their territorial rights. Trespassers are not easily forgiven or forgotten.

But the hospitality of the Bedouin is legendary and strangers are welcomed into the Bedouin home with wonderful shows of courtesy and respect. The dangers and hardship of the desert have fostered this approach and, as they are isolated people, encountering others is cause for celebration.

A new arrival is often reason enough for a feast. These meetings are celebrated in Bedouin poetry, sayings and songs.

Men receive guests in one side of the tent whilst women's quarters are shielded by a woven curtain. Should a guest arrive on horseback the Bedouin master asks permission to feed the horse himself. Then they settle down for coffee. Surprisingly coffee making equipment is as prized by Bedouins as swords or guns, as this equipment is among their few possessions that they can share with a guest.

Coffee is prepared personally by the master of the tent. Beans are roasted over fire and cooled in wooden dish, before being pounded in a mortar and boiled with cardamom. Three cups of coffee is polite. El'Heif, the first cup, is tasted by the Bedouin to make the guest feel safe; El-Keif, the second, is poured and tasted by the guest himself; El-Dheif, the third cup, is also drunk by the guest, who then shakes out his cup and hands it back to his host. Once coffee is drunk by a guest he is under the protection of the host.

Read about a feast as described by Lawrence.

Water | Food | Shelter | Clothing | Transportation | Navigation | Hospitality

Bedouin feast
  Bedouin hospitality is legendary  

Lawrence of Arabia