The Bedouin or Bedu are a grouping of nomadic Arab people who have historically inhabited the desert regions in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and the Levant. The English word bedouin comes from the Arabic badawī, which means "desert dweller", and is traditionally contrasted with ḥāḍir, the term for sedentary people. Bedouin territory stretches from the vast deserts of North Africa to the rocky sands of the Middle East. They are traditionally divided into tribes, or clans (known in Arabic as ʿašāʾir; عَشَائِر), and historically share a common culture of herding camels and goat. The vast majority of Bedouin adhere to Islam, although there are some fewer numbers of Arab Christian Bedouins present in the Fertile Crescent.
In Arabia and the adjacent deserts there are around 100 large tribes of 1,000 members or more. Some tribes number up to 20,000 and a few of the larger tribes may have up to 100,000 members. Inside Saudi Arabia the Bedouin remained the majority of the population during the first half of the 20th century. However, due to change of lifestyle their number has decreased dramatically.
Livestock and herding, principally of goats, sheep and dromedary camels comprised the traditional livelihoods of Bedouins. These were used for meat, dairy products, and wool.
Most of the staple foods that made up the Bedouins' diet were dairy products.
Oral poetry was the most popular art form among Bedouins. Having a poet in one's tribe was highly regarded in society. In addition to serving as a form of art, poetry was used as a means of conveying information and social control.