Virtually all the people living in and around Wadi Rum are of Bedouin origin. Until recently, the Bedouins led nomadic lives, relying solely on their goat herds. They are comprised of seven tribal group; the largest of which is the Zalabia tribe who make up the majority of people living in Rum Village. This tribe is largely responsible for tourism services, and operate many of the jeep and camel tours. These services are organized through the Rum Tourism Cooperative, a locally run society that shares the tourism business with the villagers.
The other prominent tribal group is the Zweideh tribe, based in the villages of Disi, situated on the northern edge of the protected area. Like the Zalabia people, they also run tourism services, including campsites and vehicle tours. However, they are not entirely dependent on tourism for their livelihood. Having access to a large underground water source, the Zweideh people are able to have profitable agriculture businesses.
Other tribes include the Sweilhieen, Omran, Godman and Dbour tribes. They live in different villages and depend mainly on livestock and partially on tourism.
Even though most local Bedouin reside now in established villages, they still raise goats milk, meat and ‘jameed’, a type of yogurt. For parts of the year, some families or family members return to a wandering existence with their flocks. Few, however, are able to continue a truly nomadic existence, and the traditional Bedouin lifestyle is fast disappearing.