Secrets From The Sahara Gateway to the Sahara : Douz
The Sahara or the desert is the enchanting blinding beauty, the Sahara is that charming lady with her golden dress who steals your heart at first sight, is these soft sand beads that caress your toes, is these burning wafts and breaths that spoils your hair and your face to make you feel light and swift like autumn leaves.
The desert is one of the most important elements of the touristic scene in Tunisia. When we talk about the desert in Tunisia, we are talking about the village of Douz which is referred to as ‘‘the desert’s gateway’’. Douz is 20 minutes far from the city center Kébili and it is internationally known with its touristic activity. Every year, Douz hosts the International Festival of the Sahara, a four-day celebration of traditional nomadiac desert culture. The festival usually held in November or December, almost at Christmas time, features traditional music and dancing, poetry readings which is still a primary method of communication in the desert, camel wrestling, and racing of horses and dogs known as ‘Sulugi’. The founders of the ‘Festival of Desert’ have succeeded in introducing their region and their deserter through this annual festival, for its rich material, in which all the presentations that summarize the cultural and social heritage of Douz that has been for long a model of the desert’s culture and rhythms, chosen by the world’s top filmmakers to produce their films. Until recently, Douz was known as al-Marazeeq (المرازيق ), because most of its inhabitants come from the Arab Marzeeq tribe (قبيلة المرازيق العربية), some assert that the name of Douz is of Berber origin, while some say it is Roman. This city, which dates back to the tens of centuries, has known successive cultures, but its main characteristic is the Arab-Islamic culture, in the Othman era (العهد العثماني) it was a hotbed for the pilgrims of Morocco and Algeria. Douz is known for desert tourism, which is a winter tourism, when the people became aware of its value, they took pleasure in nature and exploited its elements. The motorcycle is the most important means of transportation in the city, it is used as a daily mobility along with other the purposes such as hunting rabbits and deer.
There are many attractive tourist areas in Douz, the traditional market located in the center of the city, the central cemetery as one of the city’s main monuments, and Ghilan palace or Kasar Ghilan (قصر غيلان), a picturesque oasis that attracts foreigners with its charm. To get to know Kasar Ghilan that is a 170 kilometres far from Douz you have to dive deep into the desert passing by the Well of Sultan (بير السلطان), a deep well of fresh water where the people of Douz are provided with potable water. Kasar Ghilan, a touristic space, a mixture between green palms and golden sand surrounding a pond sparkling with its water, with restaurants and hotels and tents all around the place for the visitors to rest before they head to the palace, which is located in the middle of the desert, using camels or quads.
Douz and everything that is nearby is nothing but desert nature turned by the genius of its owners and the strategy based on the real tourist outlook using the least potentials to a global destination for tourists.