Virtually all the people living in and around
Wadi Rum are of Bedouin origin and, until recently, led nomadic
lives, relying on their goat herds. They belong to seven tribal
groups, of which the three largest are the Zalabia tribe who make up
the majority of people living in Rum Village (see
Rum map); as Rum village is the
only village inside the protected area; the Zalabia tribe is largely responsible
for tourism services and operate many of the jeep and camel tours.
These services are organized through the Rum Tourism Cooperative,
a locally run society that shares the tourism business between the
The other prominent tribal group is the Zweideh tribe, based in
the villages of Disi on the northern edge of the protected area.
They also run tourism services, including campsites and vehicle
tours. Zweideh are not entirely dependent on tourism
for their livelihood, having access to a large underground water
source that enables them to practice profitable agriculture
Other tribes are Sweilhieen, Omran, Godman and Dbour tribes. They live in different
villages depending mainly on livestocks raising and partially on tourism.
though most local Bedouin have become villagers, they still maintain
goat herds for milk, meat and 'jameed', a type of yoghurt. For parts
of the year, some families or family members return to a wandering
existence with their flocks. Few, however, are able to continue
a truly nomadic existence today and the traditional Bedouin lifestyle
is fast disappearing.