Located a three-hour drive outside of Cairo is Fadel Island, an isolated community nestled in the fertile lands of Egypt’s Nile Delta.
Few of its roughly 5,000 residents would call the area their ancestral home as more than 70 years ago their parents and grandparents travelled hundreds of kilometres to build a new life there.
Their story begins in 1948 in the Palestinian town of Beer Saba’a, today part of southern Israel. The Bedouins who lived there were forcibly displaced from their homes in what Palestinians call Nakba – the catastrophe – the war that led to the creation of Israel.
While most of Beer Saba’a’s Arab population sought refuge by travelling east towards Jordan, a small number, thought to be about a few hundred people from the Namouly tribe journeyed west, crossing the Sinai desert before reaching the Nile Delta.
Many who arrived in 1948 fully expected to return within a few months. Some would collect seeds hoping to plant in Palestinian soil.
Today their descendants remain in Fadel Island where memories of Palestine still burn strong. Despite challenges they have faced since their arrival, they remain connected to their heritage and remarkable family story.
Egypt’s Fadel Island profiles a forgotten community as it adheres to its traditions and customs, tracing the tribe’s history of uprooting – and the roots they have planted since.