Dadi, Shabanu's father, is a strong and warm-hearted man. He heartily enjoys the challenges and freedoms of desert life. He is handsome and quick to break into a song or a smile. Although his culture is structured to reward parents who raise sons, he dotes on his two beautiful daughters. He sees that Shabanu is just as capable and strong as any son, and he lets her assume the responsibilities and work of a male child.

Dadi works hard to support his family and to make decisions that will benefit them. He seesaws between judiciously making decisions that will benefit his family in the long term and indulgently making decisions according to his emotions and immediate concerns. Much of his indecision centers on Shabanu. He loves her deeply and wants to make her happy; at the same time, he knows he must subject her to discipline in order to prepare her for life with her husband.

At the same time, Dadi has an impulsive and domineering side. Shabanu often catches glimpses of him when he is angry, which remind her of an angry and impetuous male camel. He loves his daughter but also has been steeped in a culture of male authority. When Shabanu defies him, he becomes truly and sometimes uncontrollably angry.