Bishari people



The Bishari are an ethnic group inhabiting Northeast Africa. They are one of the major divisions of the Beja people. The Bishari speak the Beja language, which belongs to the Afroasiatic family.



The Bishari live in the eastern part of the Nubian Desert in Sudan and southern Egypt. They reside in the Atabai (also spelled Atbai) area between the Nile River and the Red Sea, north of the Amarar and south of the Ababda- basically between the Nubian desert and the Nile valley, an area of limestone, mountains, with sandstone plateaus.

The Bishari population numbers around 42,000 individuals.



The Bishari speak the Beja language as a mother tongue. It belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic family.

The Beja inhabiting Sudan also speak Sudanese Arabic as a second language. In 1949, a member of the Bishari tribe stated that when they meet a stranger, they immediately ask "'Are you biggaweijet (=BiĊĦari) or belaeijt (Arab)?'" and continued "‘...We call our language biggawija and it contains many elements of Arabic (belaeijet).'"



The Bishari are traditionally nomadic people, working in husbandry of camels, sheep, and goats in the Southern part of the Eastern Desert. It's an area that is off the beaten path- largely unexplored. Of the tribes in the area, this tribe lives in the more remote areas. The Bishari and the Bishari Qamhatab, believed to be ancient Bishari, have traded agricultural commodities with other people since ancient times.


The Bishari are mostly Sufi Muslim. Al-Maqdisi wrote that the Bishari of his time (tenth century CE) were Christians.