Bedouins (بَدَوِيُّون) of Petra, Jordan

Honestly, I didn’t even know what a Bedouin was before I went to Jordan.  I guess I have spent entirely too much time in USA cities to even vaguely understand that these people still exist.

Bedouins (بَدَوِيُّون) of Petra, Jordan

Not only do they exist, they seem to thrive. I saw hundreds of bedouins inside the UNESCO world heritage site of PETRA.  When I saw this cute little one, I could not resist her, as she had the most beautiful little smile.  She was a very pleasant little thing and could speak some English.

Bedouins (بَدَوِيُّون) of Petra, Jordan

The “one denar” girl

You can see that she got me right away with “One denar!”

  See those postcards in her arms, well they are now mine for “one denar”.

Bedouins of Petra, Jordan

The Bedouins are descendants of a nomadic tribe called the Nabatean. They are mentioned in the bible as people from Canaan. They have lived in Petra since prehistoric times and are desendents of the people who carved these magnificent structures into the side of mountains.

Bedouins (بَدَوِيُّون) of Petra, Jordan

Now look at that little cutie and his Daddy!  I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them.  They walked and walked and walked the trails of Petra.  The dad seemed so patient and kind to his little one.  It was almost as if he was showing him off to us.  He took him up high into the cliff dwellings and even lifted him up to a caucasian western male, so that they could make it to the next level of dwellings.

Bedouins (بَدَوِيُّون) of Petra, Jordan

In 1985,  when UNESCO came into Petra and took over the preservation of this magnificent prehistoric site, they built a village just outside of Petra for relocation of most of the families that lived there.   In this village, they have electricity, water, houses, schools, telephone, internet, and other modern amenities.

Take a look at this little cutie.  He was mesmerizing.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of him either.  In a way, he seemed sad.  He almost never moved and just sat there on that blanket with what appeared to be his grandfather playing the goat skin instrument called the Rabab with a bow.

A rabab player rests the instrument vertically on his knee and draws the bow across the string in a similar fashion to a cello player.  It is a rectangular wooden frame fitted on both sides with goat skin.  It is played with a bow that is typically made of real horsehair.

This instrument is the essential melody instrument of the nomadic Bedouins; customarily played by the sha’ir, or poet-singer, to accompany heroic and love songs.

A real life Johnny Depp!

There are still about 100 families who live inside Petra, in tents and caves. These people have camels, donkeys, horses and goats, as well as mobile phones!

 Most of them work as tourist guides inside of Petra.

The women tend to sell jewelry and souvenirs and the children take travelers on their donkeys up and back to the Monastery or other various points within Petra.

From their smiling faces, I can see that

they are as curious about us as we are about them!


See my post on Petra At Night:

A candlelit night in Petra, Jordan: A night I will never forget

Recommended Reading about Jordan:

The Top Things to do in Jordan

Off to Jordan

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan by Night

Aqaba, Jordan

Khol Eyeliner and the Evil Eye

Bedouins of Jordan

Here is a Petra Live Stream Cam if you are interested in watching it.



  1. […] was believed to protect against eye disease and help control the glare of the sun in the desert.  I know I saw plenty of Bodouin men in the desert of Jordan wearing it as well, so there must be something to its therapeutic use.  Modern day American football players use it […]

  2. Eric Auxier November 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Loved Petra! Also was fascinated to meet Bedoins! got to spend the night out in the desert with them, eating their food and sharing their entertainment. Amazing experience!

    • admin November 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Yes, it is an amazing experience. I have read about people now who are doing couch surfing with them. A lot of them are for hire, so that they can be your guide and they take you to their cave and you can eat and drink and hang out with them. They are very personable. So cool you got to hang with the Bedouins!

  3. Ariana December 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Petra is definitely on my bucket list. I love how you provide a cultural background in your trip reports. It makes it a very interesting read.

    • admin December 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Thanks for the comment. Petra is a must-do for any world traveler. I had my aspirations set on it for a while and one day, those award destinations just suddenly appeared! That’s how things work when you play the points game.

      • Ariana December 5, 2012 at 11:15 am

        What is a good place to stay in Petra? I know Marriott has a hotel nearby. Any other recommendations?

        • admin December 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

          If you are going to stay on points, Marriott would be an OK option. But the closest place to the entrance of PETRA is the … Crowne Plaza Resort, and it has an amazing CAVE BAR, one of the oldest bars in the world. One of the walls is part of an ancient tomb carved by the Nabataeans. The tables are placed outside on a large piazza and within the cave, where lanterns cast a haze over the bar’s sandstone walls is quite amazing; some seats are even tucked into what were likely individual burial niches.
          Across the street from the entrance is the expensive Movenpick, and just a short walk around the corner are the Petra Palace or Petra Moon, which both get rave reviews from Tripadvisor.

  4. admin December 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Crowne Plaza Resort sold the place and it is now called The Petra Guesthouse. Petra Moon is rated #1 on Tripadvisor and that is where we stayed. The location was perfect, as well as, the price and the breakfast was included. Also, our room was immaculate with modern conveniences, they were polite and the front desk guy even went with my husband to get gas in the rental car the last night,as it was difficult to tell him how to get there!!

  5. […] Bedouins of Petra Jordan […]

  6. […] Bedouins (بَدَوِيُّون) of Petra, Jordan […]

  7. Muza-chan November 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Great photos 🙂

    • admin November 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Thanks! This is one place that is easy to photograph!

  8. Marcia November 7, 2013 at 8:02 am

    She’s so adorable and with a smile that would melt the coldest heart. I love seeing children with their fathers. Very cute!
    Petra’s been on my list, like forever! Thanks for reminding me that I must get off the sticks and just go already.

    • admin November 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Just go already! It is an amazing journey!

  9. Leigh November 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    You have a great selection of beautiful people shots. I hadn’t appreciated that the Bedouins had been moved out of Petra so good to get a little education reading this post. Thank you.

    • admin November 7, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks, yes, I think the people are some of the most interesting thing about this place!

  10. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} November 10, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Petra is on my bucket list of places to visit. I like that you’ve focused this post on the people of the area, the Bedouins. That one picture of the boy and man up on the ledge though made me think of how nervous I would have been if it had been myself and one of my kids when they were younger. I like that they have mobile phones even though the outer trappings are so traditional.

    • admin November 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      The people of Jordan certainly make this place special. Not only the Bedouins, that are inside the walls of Petra, but also the Jordanians who work in the tourist industry and helped us with our hotel, rental car, food, etc. They are a very special group of people.

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