The project is to create a community media center in Dahab. The focus is Bedouin life in the town of Dahab, on the eastern Sinai coast. This is a region with an intersection of three distinct groups of people: the Bedouin, agents of the Egyptian state (workers, investors and government officials), and foreign tourists.
With modernization and a global economy Bedouin communities have faced challenges to their traditional autonomy. Since the Egyptian reoccupation of the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, the government has adopted an aggressive policy of modernization, suppressing the Bedouin through state processes of development and integration. The Bedouin of southeastern Sinai especially are facing pressures resulting from urban development and tourism in their territory.
The revolution in Egypt, and the ouster of Mubarak, has marked a seemingly new beginning in Egypt. What this means for the future of Bedouin relations with the central state is unknown. Current events present an increasingly volatile political situation, and Bedouin opposition reportedly has frustrated military efforts.
The Sinai region is going through economic and social transformation as the state tries to include the Bedouin in the narrative of the Egyptian nation while addressing the issues of economic stagnation (with reduced tourism) and growing anarchy. Research in the Sinai Peninsula is most important at this time.
A community media center would provide a unique lens through which to film life in Dahab. The overarching goal is to promote social advocacy and economic equality for the Sinai Bedouin populations, while documenting issues confronting the community. Of particular interest is the intergenerational identity crisis among the Bedouin youth who now face a global economy and modern communication technology while living within traditional families.
A community media center with Internet connections could include radio and television. There would be workshops and courses to give students ‘hands on’ experience with photography and video. Community forums incorporating imaging and communication technologies are an established medium for the expression of and engagement with contemporary conflicts and social issues.
What makes this project unique is that participants will film their own stories. Film and photography will allow Bedouin youth to express their narratives personally rather than through layers of analysis. The experience of confronting their issues through visual media can serve the students in many ways and will serve as an important document of this period.