Secrets of the Sinai

Herbal treasures belonging to the Bedouin

A Bedouin standing at 7,000 feet, south of St. Catherine. About 2,000 Jabaliya Bedouin live near Mount Sinai. “Jabaliya” means ­“mountaineers” and is often rendered as “people of the mountain,” referring to Mount Sinai. Unlike other tribes, the Jabaliya aren’t Arabs but are ­descendants of Bosnian and Wallachian serfs brought by the Emperor Justinian during the sixth century to build and service St. Catherine’s Monastery; another theory holds that the Jabaliya are descendants of Romanian and Egyptian slaves.