<p>Hajja Oum Mohamed (53), who embroidered her own portrait, in her garden in Gharba Valley, South Sinai, Egypt.</p>
2022 Photo Contest, Africa, Open Format

The Longing of the Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken

Photographer

Rehab Eldalil

07 April, 2017

Hajja Oum Mohamed (53), who embroidered her own portrait, in her garden in Gharba Valley, South Sinai, Egypt.

This collaborative project, made with members of the Jebeliya community, reflects on what it means to be Bedouin in contemporary times. It focuses on the interconnectedness between people and land, which the photographer believes defines the notion of belonging. Bedouins have inhabited the Sinai peninsula for centuries and face stigma and discrimination in Egypt. They face discrimination in Egyptian society to this day due to their perceived role as collaborators during the Israeli occupation of the Sinai from 1967 to 1982, when the Bedouins who resisted the occupation remained on their land to protect it. This discrimination has resulted in Bedouins being barred from joining the army or police force and serving in government, and the profits from the Sinai’s lucrative tourism industry bypassing them.

As an Indigenous community, Bedouins have been perceived in the media as isolated from, and a threat to, modern society. Stories of Bedouin women, who were prohibited from being seen by men without consent up until the 1990s, were consistently taken out of context and their images were used without their permission. Challenging this stereotype in the project, portraits of women from the community, printed on fabric, were embroidered by the women themselves, contributing to and taking control of their own representation. While the female participants collaborated through embroidery, the men from the community contributed with handwritten poetry, resulting in a multimedia journey through the identity of the Bedouin community in South Sinai, Egypt.

The photographer is a Bedouin rights activist and has been an active member of the community for the past 15 years.

Rehab Eldalil
About the photographer

Rehab Eldalil is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller born and currently based in Cairo, Egypt. Her work focuses on the broad theme of identity, explored through participatory creative practices. In 2011, Eldalil received a photography BA from Helwan University, Cairo. Whilst graduating, she participate...

Read the full biography

Jury comment

The photographer tells the story of the Bedouin community of South Sinai, Egypt, and portrays cultural practices with subtlety and poetry. The intentional use of collaborative storytelling methods highlights the diversity of Saharan cultures and its multiple influences. Furthermore, the layered approach of embroidery, text and testimonies captures quiet moments of daily life of a population that the photographer originates from.