The situation on the ground, as we were to find out was somewhat different.
Let’s start with the myth that Bir Tawil is “unclaimed”. In some respects this is true, in that the spat between Sudan and Egypt means that technically at least no country claims Bir Tawil, the reality though is more complex.
Firstly, and in real terms the area falls under the jurisdiction of Sudan rather than Egypt. Sudanese regularly travel to, and through Bir Tawil. If someone wanted to truly claim Bir Tawil they’d need a military with more clout than Sudan. This is not opinion, it’s a fact I have well and truly witnessed.
Also whilst no sovereign nation “officially” claims Bir Tawil, the Ababda tribe have been traversing this territory for a long time. And they told us in no uncertain terms thst no matter what “nonsense” is written on the internet, we should spread the message that the place is theirs.
So, does anyone live in Bir Tawil? The reality is that yes they do, there are almost 1000 miners living and indeed working in Bir Tawil, overseen by tribal elders. There are even permanent settlements in Bir Tawil.
We know these things, because we saw it with our own eyes, and talked to the people on the ground.
The story of Bir Tawil is much more complex, and interesting than first meets the eye.