Rednecks (in the Arabian Gulf?)

Typical Bedu transportation -- no longer the camel.

Rednecks can happen anywhere.  Or, maybe a better shorthand:  Rednecks happen.

I’ve seen them in some ritzy places like Carmel Valley in California where they drive big diesel-guzzling souped up Ford trucks probably with the specific intent of pissing off their conservation-minded, Audi-driving neighbors. And I’ve been to the heart of Redneck country, Arkansas and southwest Alabama and southern Georgia and Lousiana, where to be called a Redneck is something of a badge of honor, of status finally achieved after the labor-intensive application of many reems of peel-on Confederate stickers.

Here in the Middle East the locals have a specific name for their Rednecks:  Bedu.

This is the word from which we, in the English language, receive our highly romanticized notion of Bedouin, hard men eeking out a living in the desert, carrying all their worldly possessions with them on camel-back, and mysterious women with scorching-hot kohl-lined eyes glancing surreptitiously from beneath their veils.

But, such is not the case.  Bedu are Rednecks wearing dirty white dishdashas, nothing more.  And a good part of the youth population (who can blame them?) shun the richer life-style of Ferraris and smooth-riding Toyota Prados for desert-worthy little hooptie trucks, upon the tailgates of which it is not uncommon to see four, five, six, maybe even twelve young men riding.  The trucks blast down the highways (notice how remarkably nice this highway is!) at 140 kmph, 90mph, swerving in and out of traffic, and they bump along the gravel wadi beds at similarly frightful speeds.

In a way, this is survival of the fittest.  Hold on tight or you’ll be thrown off.  And the only thing that really differentiates the Bedu and the American styles of Rednecking is the absence, here, of beer, NASCAR and chewing tobacco.  The similarity makes a person want to dig up all of Jeff Foxworthy’s old jokes:

You might be a redneck if . . . you can name more than three ways that this picture is Not Quite Right.

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4 responses to “Rednecks (in the Arabian Gulf?)

  • Bev Jackson

    I love these photos you post. And how about those highways? More info please! (don’t tell me US $)

    When I was in Morocco, it was said there were ‘true’ Bedouins in the Atlas mountains that were more like the old cowboy bandana’d highway robbers who stopped and mugged anyone who owned anything substantial, not riding a camel. For that reason, I was not allowed on bus trips to other schools for sports events. The dreaded Atlas mountains…

  • Bridget Buchholz

    There has to be some witty comment here about headcoverings, the intense sun, and the word redneck, but I can’t seem to formulate it.

  • guitta

    For me,rednecks/bedouins are the cowboys of the western world.
    on the other hand,I can’t help it ,I need to comment on their highways….soooo smooth and clean!!!!

  • Benjamin Buchholz

    Yeah, the highways can be very nice here in Oman. In other places, with the exception of the UAE, they are often not very nice. What you see is a lot of cheap Indian, Sri Lankan and Philippino labor . . . that is a real brick sidewalk extending on each edge of the highway, and the median, the bricks all hand-laid. The total absence of trash in this particular picture isn’t quite the norm, although Oman tends to be a fairly unlittered place.

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