How do you capture the entire character of a culture that has no written record, has lived for centuries in relative isolation and exists in complete harmony with one of the world’s most extreme environments?
The Bedu people of Wadi Rum, Jordan, are the only Middle Eastern people named as an Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO. An intangible heritage is classed as one that is fast disappearing in the face of 4x4s and reality TV.
This summer, to benchmark how intangible heritage should be studied, award winning adventure and travel photographer Mark Abouzeid took a team of 11 into the searing summer heat for the first expedition of this two year quest. They returned with 12,000 photos, 15 hours of video, 5 hours of audio recordings and enough notes to fill several volumes about the daily life, culture and environment of the Bedu.
“Why bother?” people often ask Mark. “I have lived with the Bedu,” he says, “and truly believe that they have so much that we ‘moderns’ truly need.”
- They live in harmony with their environment without giving up progress;
- The men are proud yet curious, strong yet sensitive, independent yet tribal, serious about their work yet always laughing…singers, poets, warriors and fathers.
- We rarely see beyond the veil when we ask what it means to be a woman in this culture
- The Bedu still possess tribal medicines and natural vaccines, not known to the west
In this presentation, Mark, an always entertaining public speaker, will introduce the audience to the Bedu of Wadi Rum; highlight the broader scope and long term goals of the Bedouin Heritage Project’s work; offer anecdotes, pictures and video of the challenges faced; as well as how a professional project turned into a voyage of discovery for Mark, a Lebanese man raised in the US who knew little about his own culture.