During the Israeli occupation between 1967 and 1982, Bedouins remained on their lands to protect them. Even though they helped the Egyptian forces regain possession of Sinai during the war, their resistance to the occupation was overlooked. The larger Egyptian public came to view them as traitors. So began a long struggle to secure civil rights and basic needs. Like many indigenous communities around the world, Bedouins of Sinai are commonly misrepresented in the media, portrayed as isolated from, and a threat to, modern society. Throughout it all, they remain the keepers of the land - protecting it from harm as it has provided them with blessings in return.
“The Longing Of The Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken” is a personal project in which I reconnect to my roots and work collaboratively with the Sinai Bedouin community to explore the notion of belonging and the interconnectedness of people and land.
The project focuses on the process of finding and seeking the meaning of belonging cited through the Bedouin community of St. Catherine, South Sinai, Egypt. The community are participants in the creative process. I’m focusing on visually depicting the poetic harmony of people and land while using the community’s commentary of embroidery, poetry, sound, and storytelling to link the photographic work with topics of representation, social injustice, and the history of the community’s struggles. The final outcome of the project is a complementary collection of photographs, written content, embroidery, and multimedia.
The project attempts to understand the layers of an identity and the intertwined connections between people and land, which defines the notion of belonging. In doing so, the project aims to raise questions and create a dialogue on the meaning of identity and the search for belonging. I believe it’s a common human emotion to seek a definition of one’s identity, yet its complexity is often ignored, creating flattened labels and othering. With this dialogue, I’m building a bridge between the voices of the Bedouin community and western audiences who have long seen the Bedouins and many other indigenous communities through a romanticized gaze.
This project has been my opportunity to process my estranged ancestry and the Sinai land that the community has sacrificed so much for and in return live in its blessings. It’s this interconnectedness which survived in my blood and drew me back to this land to find my roots and way home.