This Glamp in Sinai Promises a Return to the Bedouin Way of Life

By incorporating the local Bedouin community, Badw manages to stand out from the conscious travel crowd.

By Scene Traveller


In a world where levitating vehicles, inverted skyscrapers and literally ‘making it rain’ (otherwise known as cloud seeding) are fast becoming a conceivable and prevalent reality, the once dominant notion of ‘simplicity’ seems to have long faded into the rugged background, giving way to far more tech-reliant and Blade-Runner-esque advancements to take the global lead.

Yet, for those of us not too eager to live out a Terminator/Dune/Mad Max fever dream on the daily, there comes a deep-rooted yearning for something quieter, slower, simpler. A re-connection to the natural wonders that over millions of years have formed the building blocks of our ever-shifting world. Catering to the nature-appreciative and nomadic souls among us, a novel luxury camping experience has sprouted in the middle of Sinai’s mountain-lined desert landscape, offering restless souls a way back to the joie de vivre associated with a humble existence.

Introducing Badw, the nature-centred brainchild of Omar Samra – legendary Egyptian entrepreneur, adventurer, motivational speaker, mountaineer, business owner, Explorers Grand Slam achiever (dear God, this is all one man?), astronaut candidate, and former Goodwill Ambassador to the UNDP.

Enveloped within the expansive Martian terrain of Sinai’s Wadi El Khassif, Badw’s glamping experience manages to marry the authenticity of a natural desert stay with the lavishness of modern hospitality. As Samra himself puts it over a lengthy (and yet still too short) conversation with SceneTraveller about sand, simplicity and Samra-ventures, “At Badw, you’re in the middle of the wilderness with all the comforts of a hotel.”

With spacious (and more importantly – weather-proof) sleeping quarters in the form of walk-in tents, a handmade ‘Beit Sha3r’ main tent, sustainable solar-powered amenities, chauffeured 4x4 vehicles, and traditional Bedouin delicacies, Badw seems to quite artfully harken back to a time of nomadic serenity and natural stillness, all while ensuring a homely and cosy stay.

“A lot of Egyptians have this dread of being outdoors,” Samra explains. “So, to come to a place like Badw and heal your relationship with nature is magic.”

Impressively, it isn’t just the physical setup and personalised experience that Badw is doing differently, it’s also the foundational base upon which it is all organised – an equal partnership between Samra and his Bedouin friend and business partner of many years, Youssef Barakat.

In other Bedouin-style glamping sites you may have seen, or even visited, the locals are usually involved simply as service providers. They rarely have management input and they certainly don’t have any real stake in the business. Badw, however, is co-owned by Samra and Barakat, who have worked together for over a decade, organising ultra runs and other events in Western Sinai. Just like all their previous shared endeavours, this latest venture of theirs shares the same philosophy of collaboration and integration with the local community.

“I couldn’t think of doing this without Youssef,” Samra tells us quite sincerely. “He has a lot of invaluable experience from over the years. He has great ideas, and he really cares.”

The presence of Barakat as an owner guarantees a harmonious symbiosis between the camp and its setting, and highlights the importance of the inclusion of local communities, who are not only more familiar with the land but also have a much stronger claim to it.

“I’ve always worked closely with the Bedouin. They’re always very central to my plans. With Badw especially, the local community was of vital importance even from the inception of the idea itself.”

Much like the founding of Samra’s bespoke adventure travel company Wild Guanabana, the essence and inception of Badw can be traced back to Samra’s globe-trotting (and human-ability-defying) travels, way back to his first formative trip over 20 years ago, taking a break from the chokehold of corporate life in London to cycle from Nice to Naples with a friend.

“That cycling trip was the seed for everything to come,” Samra excitedly recounts. On returning from the famed origin-story-type trip, he became determined to shift his life’s focus from the monetary and mundane to the adrenaline-inducing and adventurous.

Years later, it’s safe to say Samra saw his existential resolution through.

After his epiphany, he started filling up the piggy bank with the coins that would later fund a much larger international border-hopping trip across Asia and South America.

“It was very nomadic in a way, not knowing what I would do or where I would go from one day to the next,” Samra excitedly and – dare I say – almost wistfully recounts. “It gave me a good idea of the kind of energy I wanted to invite into my life”.

Fast forward a few decades and global economic crises, all the way past his nearly-folklore-ish journey as the first Egyptian to summit mount Everest, and Samra continues to value and respect the nomadic way of life. If a man who many would describe as having ‘done everything’ still sees the value of such simplicity, then there must be something seriously powerful, seriously potent about it.

“I think that’s the way tourism should be. The ability to experience something uniquely simple, to become familiar with the locals, and, of course, to get out of your comfort zone.”

Whilst it might be out in the wilderness, Badw successfully strikes a balance between removing yourself from your comfort zone and physically remaining extremely comfortable – a contrast that people often conflate, particularly when they think of camping. However, as I myself have come to learn over the course of this feature, leaving your comfort zone does not have to mean sleeping in scratchy sheets and putting yourself through material misery and discomfort. Much more importantly and profoundly, it’s about transforming your general environment, and embracing the change this can have upon you. 

At the end of the day, there has always been beauty in simplicity, and we’ve all always known this innately, but it can take a very specific and special experience to bring that subconscious knowledge to the fore. 

Badw offers precisely that.

(Co-written by Layan Adham Ismail and Patrick Davies)


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