The Bedouin are an Arab seminomadic group, descended from nomads who have historically inhabited the Arabian and Syrian deserts. Their name means "desert dwellers" in the Arabic language. Their territory stretches from the vast deserts of North Africa to the rocky sands of the Middle East.
Sinai – Photo Tip

Prepare for the unexpected

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Sinai – Photo Tip Prepare for the unexpected

The first time I met Um Rabbia was when I was hiking through the Sinai with a Bedouin guide.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

One night, when we were talking about the position of women in the Bedouin society and the limited freedom they enjoy, he told us about a remarkable woman who lived in the desert without a husband, an uncle or even a brother to look after her and how unusual this was. Our group decided to make a detour to visit her.

A year later I returned to the Sinai to spend a week with Um Rabbia and her family to write a story about her life in the desert for a woman’s magazine. When I gave Um Rabbia the photo I took of her the first time, she surprised me by hugging me and kissing me on the cheek.

Later that week, I asked her to pose for a portrait. When she came out of her tent she was carrying the photo I had given her. I was setting up my camera when all of sudden Um Rabbia’s young camel appeared. His name was Khashm, which means nose. The camel was given this name because he was very nosy. I quickly took a photo which later turned out to be the best shot.

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Um Rabia, which means ”mother of Rabia,” lives in a tent in the Sinai desert with her children, goats and blind mother. Her husband lives with his other wife on the coast. Bedouin laws are very strict for women, but Um Rabia is a special case. She does as she pleases and gets away with it. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

NIKON F5

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/350
ISO
50
Focal
70 mm

Um Rabia, which means ”mother of Rabia,” lives in a tent in the Sinai desert with her children, goats and blind mother. Her husband lives with his other wife on the coast. Bedouin laws are very strict for women, but Um Rabia is a special case. She does as she pleases and gets away with it.

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