The population of around 35,000 is descended from Bedouin tribes from Libya and the north coast, and more recent settlers from the Nile Valley and Fayoum. They have always been independent-minded, although they are very welcoming to visitors.
Music and song
Traditional music is very important to the Bedouin. Flutes, drums, and the simsimeyya (a harp-like instrument) are played at social events, particularly weddings. Songs sung in a rural style are passed down from generation to generation, and new songs are invented as well. Bahariya is a good place to see and hear this traditional Bedouin music.
Agriculture remains the main source of income for the oasis. Cultivated crops include dates, olives, apricots, figs, melons, rice and corn. The iron ore industry nearby provides jobs for many Bedouins in the area. Tourism is a more recent and important source of income for locals, and it has brought an international presence to the oasis.