The setting dictates how the families live, how they support themselves, and their cultural, traditional, and religious beliefs. The family must become nomadic in the desert, requiring that they live simply and economically. Shabanu wears the same tunic and skirt for three years.
The desert setting also controls the mode of transportation, which is for Shabanu's family, camels. We learn all about camels, as it has been the transportation for the people of this region for generations.