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MzaynaMzayna: Bedouins of the Sinai – of Old and New
Anina Gmür, Katrin Biallas, Daniel Auf der Mauer

Preface by Salim Alafenisch
144 pages, 94 photographs
20 x 28 cm
ISBN 978-3-7165-1711-6

For centuries the bedouins of the Mzayna tribe in the southern Sinai desert in Egypt have lived as nomads according to their tribal culture. Livestock breeding, religion and family dominate their life in the desert and structure their tribal society. But their way of life is changing. The amount of rain falling in the desert has decreased rapidly in the past decade, making it impossible for the bedouins to live as nomads anymore and feed their animals off the land. While the Egyptian authorities allocate apartment blocks for the bedouins to help them settle, the older generation of the Mzayna prefer to stay amongst their own, settling in various small bedouin villages and camps constructed in the desert, most in close proximity to an oasis. The relationship between the indigenous bedouins and the Egyptians has been fraught for centuries, as the bedouins are being seen as a nuisance and as lesser citizens.
Most Mzayna bedouins make their living working for the tourism industry in the tourist cities of Dahab or Sharm El Sheik. The close proximity to international tourists has started to change the tribal culture of the Mzayna. Modern media, western values and urban ways of life are particularly influencing the younger generation of bedouins. Ancient traditions such as female circumcision and arranged marriages are starting to be challenged. Mzayna women are reflecting on child education and emancipation. On the other hand, religion plays a more important role than ever – many young Mzayna follow a much more strict interpretation of Islam than their parents ever did.
The Mzayna are at a crossroads – some fear they will just be swept away. In the transition from their traditional nomadic lifestyle to a more modern and settled urban way of life, they are searching for a new identity.

About the Artists:
Daniel Auf der Mauer is a freelance photographer specialising in editorial and corporate photography.
In 2012 his first photo book, a collaboration with the photographer Anina Gmür, was published by Benteli Publishers: “Mzayna – Desert Days” is a long-term documentary about the Mzayna bedouin tribe in the south Sinai desert in Egypt showing the challenges they are facing in the transition from their traditional nomadic lifestyle to a more modern and settled urban way of life. “Mzayna” is featured on the shortlist of the German Photobook Award 2013.
Daniel is a member of the journalistic photo agency 13 Photo, which is based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Artist Website

Anina Gmür is a photographer and cinematographer.
Artist Website

Katrin Biallas is an ethnologist from Switzerland.

About the Author:
In Salim Alafenisch’s books he gives insights into the life and culture of the Bedouins.
Alafenisch was the son of a Bedouin born family. After a childhood as a camel shepherd he learned to read and write, and went to Nazareth to high school. In London and Heidelberg he studied sociology, anthropology and psychology. Alafenisch now lives as a freelance writer and storyteller in Heidelberg.
Alafenisch’s themes come from his own experience and his life story. He writes about the clash of modernity and tradition as well as about the everyday life of the nomads in the present. He draws from a rich oral narrative tradition, which he discovered as a child in the tent of his father or at the nightly camp fire of the Bedouins.

About the Publisher:
Benteli Verlag was founded in 1899 and is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Book Materials and Specifications:
Softcover book with dust jacket – medium size book (8.25 x 11.25″). 94 colour plates range in size from 6 x 4″ to double page, full bleed spreads (15.5 x 11.25″)