Southern Tunisia celebrates its traditions
By Mona Yahia for Magharebia in Tunis – 29/12/08
Until Monday (December 29th), southern Tunisia is dancing to the tunes of two festivals, the 41st International Festival of the Sahara in Douz, which started on Thursday (December 25th), and the 30th Oasis Festival in Tozeur, which was launched Friday (December 26th).
The two southern cities of Douz and Tozeur are nearly 130 km apart, yet they share similar popular and cultural traditions.
Khaled, a fan of the festivals, noted that "both festivals symbolise Tunisian civilisation. This year, we have noticed intensified participation from Gulf States, especially since they too share with us [the culture of palm trees]."
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Secretary-General of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities in Saudi Arabia, and his accompanying delegation, attended both festivals.
At its launch on Thursday in the H'naiech Stadium, the International Festival of the Sahara featured a show representing the various traditions of the Tunisian desert and its heritage. The show's highlights included games, contests, suluki hunting, horse and pony races, and traditional weddings.
Tunisia, which relies heavily on tourism, is seeking to revitalise its southern regions through festivals such as these, which attract large numbers of foreign tourists. All hotels in the region were booked until after New Year's Eve.
Khalil Ajimi, Tunisian Minister of Tourism, said, "The event is a key tourist and economic beacon that has generously contributed to extend the tourist season, making our national heritage known, and enhancing Tunisian competitiveness in tourism."
"Music and Weddings in the Oasis" was the slogan of the Tozeur International Oasis Festival.
Mohammed Arbi Adfi, a member of the festival committee, stated, "This year, we have dedicated the show to weddings with palm tree branches. Last year, the theme of the festival was food. We try to come up with something new each year, while preserving our customs and traditions."
Abdel Wahed Mabrouk, director of the Tozeur festival, added, "This resembles music festivals, since weddings are diverse in character and extend for seven days. Shows start with 'once upon a time'."
Many popular bands from Tunisia, the Maghreb and other Arab states participated in the festival. Nearly one thousand people played a role in the celebration, including horsemen, Sufi bands, folk bands, artists and popular poets, as well as women and children.
Folk and Sufi bands toured the streets of Tozeur on a daily basis, performing shows of horsemanship, dances, and other unusual performances such as reptile taming or Fadawi tales told in the Dar bin Azouz in the old town.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.