Hashish Smuggling by Bedouin in South Sinai

  • Emanuel Marx
Part of the Studies in Organized Crime book series (SOOC, volume 7)

This paper examines the changing fortunes of the smuggling operations of South Sinai Bedouin. The Bedouin are a link in the international drug traffic delivering hashish and other drugs to the inhabitants of the Nile Valley. The full-scale entry of the South Sinai Bedouin into drug smuggling began around 1950, and in less than two decades smuggling grew into a major industry. At its zenith it provided about 30% of the aggregate income of the Bedouin population. Then smuggling stopped almost overnight, for during the 15 years of Israeli occupation, from 1967 to 1982, the crossing from the Sinai Peninsula into mainland Egypt was too dangerous for the operators. During my fieldwork in South Sinai, which overlapped with the Israeli occupation, most of the Bedouin were working as migrant laborers and a handful entered the budding local tourist industry, so that the loss of income from smuggling did not cause them economic hardship. But the leaders of the smuggling gangs remained at home, and it was quite easy to meet them. They appeared to be inactive, but I soon realized that they were working hard at keeping the smuggling organizations alive: they fostered the ties with members of their former gangs and looked after their mountain retreats. They were convinced that the political and economic situation would sooner or later change, and that drug smuggling would once again become feasible. Other Bedouin too acted to forestall an uncertain future: they maintained orchards and small flocks, which at that time yielded no income, as an economic reserve.


Drug Traffic Drug Trade Sinai Peninsula Safe Route Drug Smuggling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aziz, H. (2000). Employment in a Bedouin community: The case of the town of Dahab in South Sinai. Nomadic Peoples, 4(2), 28–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauman, Z. (2000). Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bovenkerk, F. (2004). The dark side of Dutch drug policy or the failure of half-way legalization. In Global drug policy: Building a new framework (pp. 161–164). Paris: Senlis Council.Google Scholar
  4. Claudot-Hawad, H. (2006). A nomadic fight against immobility: the Tuareg in the modern state. In D. Chatty (Ed.), Nomadic societies in the Middle East and North Africa: Entering the 21st century (pp. 654–681). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  5. Dumreicher, A. von. (1931). Trackers and smugglers in the deserts of Egypt. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  6. Fournier, G. (2002). Global drug policy: A historical perspective. Paris: Senlis Council.Google Scholar
  7. Hussein, N. H. (1990). The sub-culture of Hashish users in Egypt: A descriptive analytic study. Cairo Papers in Social Science 13[2]. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar
  8. Jarvis, C. S. (1931). Yesterday and to-day in Sinai. Edinburgh: Blackwood.Google Scholar
  9. Kershaw, S. (2006). Tribal underworld. New York Times, February 19–20, 2006.Google Scholar
  10. Lane, E. W. (1895). An account of the manners and customs of the modern Egyptians. London: Gardner. (First published in 1836).Google Scholar
  11. Lavie, S. (1990). The poetics of military occupation: Mzeina allegories of Bedouin identity under Israeli and Egyptian rule. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  12. Levey, M. (1971). Hashish. Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, 3, 286–287.Google Scholar
  13. Levi, S. (1980). Emuna vepulhan shel habeduim biderom Sinai (Belief and ritual among the bedouin in South Sinai). Tel Aviv: Society for Protection of Nature, Tsukei David Field School.Google Scholar
  14. Levi, S. (1987). Habeduim bemidbar Sinai (The bedouin in the Sinai Desert). Tel Aviv: Schocken.Google Scholar
  15. Rosenthal, F. (1971). The herb: Hashish versus Medieval Muslim Society. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  16. Russell, T. (1949). Egyptian service: 1902–1946. London: Murray.Google Scholar
  17. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2005). World drug report 2005. Accessed June 2007. <>.
  18. Weir, S. (1985). Qat in Yemen: Consumption and social change. London: British Museum Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emanuel Marx

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations