Social Documentary Photography – The Life & Struggles Of Egypt’s Bedouins

Camels and horses are routinely confiscated for misdemeanours; they are usually kept until the end of the day or overnight and released for a fee. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)
Camels and horses are routinely confiscated for misdemeanours; they are usually kept until the end of the day or overnight and released for a fee. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

By , November 13, 2015

http://edgeofhumanity.com/2015/11/13/bedouins/

This social documentary photography was submitted to Edge of Humanity Magazine by Documentary Photographer Walter Rothwell.

Click on any image to see Walter’s portfolio of projects and photographs.

From project “Pyramids Of Giza” by Walter Rothwell.

As International Governments react to the recent events in Egypt with yet more travel bans, the Bedouin working at the Pyramids of Giza face another chapter of uncertainty, they depend on tourism for their livelihoods, their animals depend on it for their very lives.

Tending to the animals. Many of the camel owners have a stable inside the house, internal and external doorways are built with extra height to accommodate them. The family and animals have a close relationship but they are far from being pets. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Tending to the animals. Many of the camel owners have a stable inside the house, internal and external doorways are built with extra height to accommodate them. The family and animals have a close relationship but they are far from being pets. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

The camels walk through the house to access their stable. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

The camels walk through the house to access their stable. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Generations of Bedouin have plied their trade at the pyramids, taking tourists around the site on camels and horses, making a good living over the years but their way of life was coming to an end.

Deeply proud of their heritage, they try to keep many of their traditions alive. At a wedding the bride dances on the back of a camel, animals play an important part in celebrations, trained horses dance and camels are danced upon. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Deeply proud of their heritage, they try to keep many of their traditions alive. At a wedding the bride dances on the back of a camel, animals play an important part in celebrations, trained horses dance and camels are danced upon. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Homework. Many of the children attend school but some, mainly boys, forego education and go straight to work at the pyramids. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Homework. Many of the children attend school but some, mainly boys, forego education and go straight to work at the pyramids. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

A Bedouin girl cleans up after the camels. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

A Bedouin girl cleans up after the camels. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Playing with their food. Many families keep chickens, ducks, geese, even goats and sheep on their roof, a secure supply of food. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Playing with their food. Many families keep chickens, ducks, geese, even goats and sheep on their roof, a secure supply of food. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Eid al-Adha, the ‘feast of sacrifice’ the meat will be distributed amongst the family and surrounding neighbourhood to those less well off. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

Eid al-Adha, the ‘feast of sacrifice’ the meat will be distributed amongst the family and surrounding neighbourhood to those less well off. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

The children constantly pretend to ride camels and horses. When the changes at the pyramids are eventually completed, it is doubtful if many of them will follow in their fathers footsteps. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

The children constantly pretend to ride camels and horses. When the changes at the pyramids are eventually completed, it is doubtful if many of them will follow in their fathers footsteps. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

In 2007, when I began this documentary, the Egyptian government was initiating a plan to expel them from the pyramids. It started with the construction of an 18 km security wall to restrict access, then the installation of 200 CCTV cameras.

A dispute over money ends in a fight. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

A dispute over money ends in a fight. (Kafrat al Jabal, Giza, Egypt)

The final stage was under way, building a concrete road for electric trains to shuttle the tourists around, when the plan was completed, all the Bedouin and their animals would be excluded from the pyramids. As the heavy construction machinery rumbled across the plateau, they watched daily as the road lengthened until it eventually reached the base of the pyramids in 2011, then, the Arab Spring revolution began and all construction was abandoned.

Ground works for an electric train road at the base of the pyramids, when finished tourists will be shuttled up to the pyramids and then back to their coaches, horses and camels will be banned from the site. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

Ground works for an electric train road at the base of the pyramids, when finished tourists will be shuttled up to the pyramids and then back to their coaches, horses and camels will be banned from the site. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

The electric train road nears completion. Snaking through the Giza plateau, when completed, it will be the only option for travelling around the pyramids. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

The electric train road nears completion. Snaking through the Giza plateau, when completed, it will be the only option for travelling around the pyramids. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

The bedouin had been granted a last minute reprieve but it was double edged, post revolution chaos erupted and tourism collapsed in Egypt.

. Waiting for tourists at the pyramids. As the number of visitors drops the competition amongst owners becomes intense. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

Waiting for tourists at the pyramids. As the number of visitors drops the competition amongst owners becomes intense. (Pyramids of Giza, Egypt)

For the Bedouin and their families, the Arab Spring has turned into an endless, barren, summer. The Cruise ships sail past, tour companies stay away, at the pyramids only the locals and the dust remain, leaving hundreds of owners and thousands of animals with no living. They hoped the new military government would bring stability and the return of mass tourism, not terrorism and more travel bans.