En Route from Beersheva to Arad

As soon as you leave Beersheva, you'll see clusters of Bedouin tents and flocks -- and also houses, for today the Bedouin are being strongly encouraged by the government of Israel to settle down.

At the first major intersection not far from Beersheva, take the right turn for Arad and The Dead Sea. A bit farther on you'll begin to see Bedouin villages -- the Abu-Rabiya tribe has four such settlements between Beersheva and Arad, all fairly close together. Until the 1950s, the nomadic Bedouin roamed freely over the Negev, and some even continued to cross the borders into Egypt and Jordan, which at the time were still at war with Israel. Since then, there's been a slow program of restricting them to settled communities. The new Bedouin villages of the Negev consist largely of concrete huts and some planned housing projects. At times it may be possible to see a few traditional black goat-hair tents, which are amazingly cool in summer and warm in winter. Some villages may be quite large; others may be nothing more than three houses and five tents. Many of these settlements have not yet been recognized by the government, and so have no electricity, running water, schools, or medical or social services. Another thing to note is that the Bedouin here do a lot of farming, growing mostly wheat, but also other grains, fruits, and vegetables, most of which they sell in the Beersheva markets. A great deal of experimental agricultural work is being done along this road: Sisal is grown without irrigation; tamarisk, eucalyptus, and other trees are planted in small areas, where their growth is watched carefully by scientists who are planning to cultivate even more of Israel's desert.

When the road starts snaking around tight curves, you'll know you're approaching Arad.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.