- Abstract Bedouin Arabs in Israel are a Muslim society undergoing dramatic social change. The Bedouin have lived in the Negev desert since the sixth century, having migrated there from the Arabian Peninsula. In the course of the last five decades this traditionally nomadic/semi-nomadic population has undergone rapid modernization and urbanization, and today approximately 120,000 Bedouin Arabs live in the Negev. Traditionally herders and farmers, only about 5 per cent of the Negev Bedouin are still semi-nomadic tent dwellers. Most families are sedentary, living in sub-tribal groups in shacks and houses. The Negev Bedouin population has the lowest socio-economic rating of all localities and social groups in Israeli society.