chapter  12
The Railway’s A dvantages for the Bedouins of Syria
Pages 4

We have already explained that there are many completely ruined and deserted villages on the road from Damascus to Ma'an. The very existence of the Damascus-Medina Railway would mean the restoration of that area and the construction of new villages, along the railway. In this manner, wealth and riches would be the lot of all the inhabitants, particularly of the Bedouins in the vicinity, indeed of others too, in that extensive, huge wasteland, which is fertile [however]. In case these Bedouins do not become civilized, but remain in their present nomad state-as their wealth consists in sheep, goats, camels, and cattle-even then they would profit. When an opening is found for their wool, samn, and lambs, the Bedouins would increase their efforts in this direction: consequently, they would increase in scope. Likewise, if the Bedouins turn to buying and raising goats, there are important advantages to this, in addi­ tion to laban and its profits, [106] such as [the sale of] goat hair, kids, and skins-all very valuable. Whoever considers the large area of Damascus, and its consumption of sheep and samn, knows that the

Damascenes are badly in need of these products. However, lands suitable for raising sheep are remote from Damascus. This imposes heavy expenses for transportation. Also, the Bedouins do not see any great advantage to be derived nowadays from these products. They are afraid other Bedouins might raid them. Consequently, they limit production to their own needs. Dealers in sheep and samn who reach the Bedouins buy okkas of samn at ridiculously low prices. Sometimes the farmers of Syrian villages go to the Bedouins, taking along their fruit; then they exchange an okka of apples, pears, grapes, or honey for an okka of samn. Hence the Bedouins do not see much profit in raising sheep; in addition, they fear raids by other tribes. Nearby land suitable for sheep raising is very expensive, so that people may spend more on the sheep than gain thereby.