Machine, AI, being, God? The best guarded secret of the country of Egypt, Former Earth. One which secured them their galactic future and survival, at the same time, damning them in the eyes of every nation of the Republic for an eternity.
The desert is a curse from the Water God upon the wicked people who live in the South.
Said people offended the Water God in some way, and so the Water God placed water-trappers, bizarre, water-sucking beings, in the soil, and within years, the wilderness became a desert.
Thus, the desert folk shamans have special powers that allow them to find water-trappers so that they can be dug up and their water harvested.