Desert Living

This is a typical scene in a sparsely populated area in the outskirts of the city of Jeddah. With a few buildings and palm trees of varying heights in the background, several white tents and lots of trash are visible in the foreground. The nomadic tribal people who still live in tents in Saudi Arabia are called Bedouins. They are diminishing in numbers as more and more settle into the cities into permanent digs. Trash tends to be a problem in all areas of the city, even though thousands of street cleaners from other poorer countries are employed to clean up the trash. The thing is that littering is a huge problem because they know that there are all these workers hired to clean up after them – it’s a vicious cycle, and not a very pretty one either.


About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Culture, Desert, Life, Nature, Photo, Saudi Arabia, Tradition and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Desert Living

  1. Qusay says:

    Susie, these tents are not for nomads 🙂 I used to think they were.

    We the Jeddah natives go to the red sea and either rent or own those little cabins or apartments, or villas, I am sure you’ve been to a few of them, I think u even did a post on a resort, right?

    Due to urbanization, people came from all over Saudi for work in the cities, and since going to the sea is not part of their culture, they go out to the outskirts of the city and set up tents like that. Some also set it up like a frat house if you will. I am surprised no satellite dishes were captured in the photo.

    As for trash… I guess we need a campaign like smoky the bear or the native american with a tear rolling down like the one they did for pollution in the States.

    • Thanks for the explanation, Qusay. I don’t get answers from my husband when I ask him about things like this… he thinks I ask way too many questions!

      • Qusay says:

        No worries, they just popped up a few years ago around Jeddah, I had to ask about them to know, and most of my friends didn’t know about them, I knew about them from coworkers who frequent those tents. There are more of them around other major cities.

  2. Roberto says:

    With the internet the distances become smaller and we know a little of each culture without leaving home.
    Thank you for sharing this post.


  3. Dina says:

    Thanks for this post; it really helps me understand.
    So would all the residents of the tents in the group be of one chamulah (like here)?
    Does the government encourage Bedouin to leave their nomadic tents and settle in towns (like here)?

    • Hi Dina – I’m sorry but I really don’t know the answers to either of your questions. It would probably be next to impossible for me, as a woman married to a
      Saudi, to ever have the opportunity to personally speak to anyone who lives in this type of set up. If I ever find out, I will let you know.

      • Dina says:

        OK, thanks Susie. I see your point.
        I forget that while here the Bedouin population is a topic of interest and is much in the media, that might not be the case in neighboring countries.

  4. diane garwood says:

    Hi Susie, I was just appalled at the amount of trash, seemingly everywhere, when I was visiting a couple of years ago. There are really some beautiful landscapes, and they are filled with all this trash, just blowing around in the ever-present wind! I even commented to my hosts, on the natural beauty of the desert, especially, but how it was so marred with the tons of garbage stuck in the fences, bushes and shrubs running alongside the freeways, city roadways and neighborhoods. In America we get heavy fines when we litter, and I don’t know if it is that threat or that we are somewhat more proud of the way our countryside, looks, that our roadways seemingly are just so much cleaner. I know I was disgusted in never being able to get a picture without the ubiquitous trash always in it! I think Saudi Arabia could benefit with some road beautifying campaigns. And teach the upcoming generations to respect their land. The gorgeous desert is not just their personal trash can and ash tray!! Love your posts.They bring back so many memories for me, the good as well as the not-so good

    • The trash everywhere is one of the most annoying and frustrating parts of living here for me… I don’t know that a campaign would work here. So many just do not clean up after themselves – even in the food courts in the malls. People really stare at me like I’m crazy or beneath them when I bus my own table…

      • diane garwood says:

        Yes, you are probably right about campaigns not really working. It is really too bad too. I thought the desert and its many different looks and colors was fascinating to look at while we drove around. I never got tired of looking for camels or at the different rock formations. Just beautiful, really! Maybe, insha’Allah, someday, the environment and even just the views of roadsides will become someone’s pet project, and “they” will start cleaning up. It has to really start at home, though, and from what I saw, that day may not ever come, for sure. The children are being raised with a sense of entitlement that there will always be someone else (like a nanny) there to pick up after themselves. This extends from dirty clothes and dishes at home, to shopping bags, kleenex etc. out in the cities, to trash being strewn about the streets in neighborhoods and on out into the beautiful desert. It was so very sad to see.
        A matter close and dear to my heart!!!

      • I totally agree about the sense of entitlement that most Saudi children are being raised to believe. Importing millions of workers from poorer countries to do the dirty work that no Saudi would ever do brings a multitude of problems along with it. Same thing with bringing in all these drivers to drive half of the population around – it’s just ridiculous and very harmful to the economy. I don’t know what it will take for Saudis to realize that this cannot ultimately work like this forever. It will all come crashing down around them one of these days…

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