A Bedouin Cautionary Tale - Treat your Camel Well

She never forgets so be kind to her... Photo by Cassi Agee

She never forgets so be kind to her... Photo by Cassi Agee

Bedouin stories are usually based on truth, such and such, happened to so and so. The teller may or may not embellish a little for the entertainment factor... We tell a lot of cautionary tales because this is how we pass on lifestyle and behaviour advice to each other. This story is old and began with truth..

The story begins many years ago during the time Bedouin people did not have Jeeps. If there was anywhere you wanted to go you relied on your camel, your donkey or your feet.

Camels Never Forget

A young man from the area of Wadi Rum had decided he wanted to travel to some family members tents which were a good two days, one night ride away. He owned one camel at the time (he was a young man), but he had not always treated this camel well.

When he told his father he wanted to take his camel to visit their family members his father warned him. He said:

Your camel doesn't like you, she didn't forget the times you mistreated her when she was younger. You were not kind to her. Go if you must, but be careful, you cannot trust her.

The young man set off into the desert to visit their family and as they left the goat hair tents of his family behind them he kept his fathers advice in mind.

They travelled all day and then, before night fell, the young man collected wood and prepared a fire. He made the fire next to a typical Wadi Rum sandstone mountain.

He took care to tie his camel well before it was time to sleep. He made her sit and tied two ropes around her knees so she was not able to stand up.

He took another precaution. When she was not looking he made his bed next to the fire, but did not really sleep there. He crept away to sleep up on a ledge of the mountain. He lay down to sleep overlooking the fire and where he had tied his camel.

During the night his camel did not sleep.

She wriggled and moved, slowly inching her way closer to where she thought the man was sleeping. 

Finally, she reached the sleeping man, suddenly, she rolled onto him, over and over. Her intention was clear. She meant to kill him.

The young man, watching from high up on the mountain saw her and shouted.

The camel got such a fright because the young man she thought she was killing was not in his bed, she had a heart attack and died.

The young man had lost his camel as the result of his wrong treatment of her and he had to walk the rest of the way to reach his family. If they had been further from his family, this could easily have resulted in his death as well.

His lesson was learned, and from that time on, he was kind to his camels. 


Bedouin people have huge respect for their camels, and the relationships is one of mutual dependence. Camels are smart, never forget and they will try to get their own back if you are unkind with them.