The Longing Of The Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken (Independent: 2018-present)
شوق الغريب للى تقطّع سبيله
Derived from a translated verse of Bedou’ poetry The Longing Of The Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken is a personal project that explores the liminal spaces in the Bedouin life in St. Catherine, South Sinai, Egypt. Questioning the idea of belonging and finding our place that has been taken from us. And working collaboratively with members in the community to depict the contemporary Bedou’ identity within the socio-economic and political situation.
Since the end of the Israeli war in 1973 and retrieval of the Sinai land by 1982, most surviving archives about Sinai have been stored in the St. Catherine’s monastery; one of the oldest monasteries in the world protected by Muslim Bedouin communities of seven tribes called Tawara طورة. In accordance with the Egyptian government, the archival data in the monastery are prohibited to be accessed - withholding the history of the land, its people and my possibly family’s. I grew up not knowing where I’m from, archives that hold the history of my family are lost between conflict and power struggle. I hold on to a conflicted connection to discover my roots within the mountains and find my place within its houses. My given name Eldalil* (meaning guide – traditionally families were given names based on their most celebrated craft) is my only truth and my only way of tracing my Bedouin and Palestinian ancestry.
Remarked as traitors for remaining in Sinai during the war and a national threat lurking in the mountains, the Bedouin community became outcasts, second class citizens to post war Egypt. In the game of power between Bedou’ and authority – those who are the land verses who claim it – Bedouin communities in St. Catherine are deprived from proper medical & educational access, infrastructure and stable income. Tourism which accounts for 80% of the communities’ income has deteriorated significantly since 2013 when the authorities completely closed off roads leading to the area for all touristic vehicles. Despite inhabiting & protecting the Sinai lands for hundreds of years, the communities remain in constant struggle with authorities, facing discrimination, stigma & stereotyping. Yet, the Bedou’ remain & adapt as they are the keepers of the land.
Addressing identity and representation, I focus on co-creating alternative visual narratives of the contemporary Bedou’ identity in St. Catherine by inviting community members to add embroidery, poetry, commentary and sound onto the photo works. In addition to developing archive for the natural and cultural elements of the Bedou’ in collaboration with tribe elders. Through contributors’ commentary I also aim to highlight the social injustice and power struggle between the Beoduin community and authorities.