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Bedouin with a young goat in central Qatar—M. Ericson/Ostman Agency
Any member of a community of Arabic-speaking desert nomads of the Middle East. Ethnically, the Bedouin are identical to other Arabs. Bedouin traditionally have made their living by animal husbandry, and social rank among them is determined by the animals that they herd: camel nomads enjoy the greatest status, followed by sheep and goat herders and, finally, cattle nomads. Traditionally, Bedouin would migrate into the desert during the rainy season and return to cultivated areas during the dry season, but since World War II (1939–45) the governments of many countries have nationalized their range lands, and conflicts over land use have arisen. Many Bedouin have since adopted sedentary ways of life; most, however, retain pride in their nomadic heritage.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bedouin, visit Britannica.com.
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