Virtually all the people living in and around Wadi Rum are of Bedouin origin and, until recently, led nomadic lives, relying on their goat herds. They belong to seven tribal groups, of which the three largest are the Zalabia tribe who make up the majority of people living in Rum Village (see Rum map); as Rum village is the only village inside the protected area; the Zalabia 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 between the villagers.
The other prominent tribal group is the Zweideh tribe, based in the villages of Disi on the northern edge of the protected area. They also run tourism services, including campsites and vehicle tours. Zweideh are not entirely dependent on tourism for their livelihood, having access to a large underground water source that enables them to practice profitable agriculture
Other tribes are Sweilhieen, Omran, Godman and Dbour tribes. They live in different villages depending mainly on livestocks raising and partially on tourism.
Even though most local Bedouin have become villagers, they still maintain goat herds for milk, meat and ‘jameed’, a type of yoghurt. 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 today and the traditional Bedouin lifestyle is fast disappearing.