The International Festival of the Sahara (desert) may have summed up the city of Douz more than anything else. This festival started out in the early 20th Century (precisely in 1910) as a celebration called “Aid Al-Jamal” (meaning the celebration of the camel). It was then limited in organising “Meheri” (foal) marathon and popular gamesunder the presence and supervision of the French resident-general. Since 1967, the festival has become internationally known as one of the oldest and most prestigious festivals in the world. It has arisen thanks to the honest wills of people locally, regionally and nationally in addition to the support of the ministries of culture and tourism, youth and sports, agriculture, women and family and environment as well as the national and touristic organizations in the region.
Thus, the festival grew to become a truthful mirror and a facade carrying the image of the glorious Tunisia to different parts of the world. As a matter of fact, Douz International festival of the desert is like a beautiful card travelling the world and carrying the image of Tunisia as its people have always wanted it: a land of meeting. The massive influx of visitors from friendly and sisterly countries might be the greatest proof of the value of the festival in exporting the image of the bright Tunisia, the jewel of the Mediterranean and the pearl in its necklace over the ages.
The French artist Michelle Gons described the city of Douz saying:”It is the capital of the arts of the desert as well as its cultures”. That’s why the different editions of the festival have achieved peerless attendance especially from local touristswhich is the wager of internal tourism proving that this latter does not get affected by international conflits. The committee of the festival seeks to open new windows on the Arab world and Europe in order to meet the expectations of all the Tunisians who wager on the role of the festival as a Tunisian model of sticking to their identity and at the same time ensuring openness to the world. This is clearly translated in the wide international participation either officially or through the various performances like Douz national equestrian and perseverance race which is organised by the festival committee with the cooperation of the National League for the equestrian sports. The festival committee also cooperates with the Foals Arab Union to organise the international marathon of foals with the participation of the national team of France in addition to popular Libyan music bands from the depth of the dessert and Algerian ones from ‘Ghat’ and ‘Ghdemis’ as well as the groups of “Touergue” with their covered faces and traditional dances that bring joy to the city of Douz. Moreover, troops from Jordan, Kuwait, Korea, Greece, Russia and France have participated in the festival. These international participations are widely covered by the media in its printed, visual and audio formats.
The committee of the festival takes great care of all creative arts like popular poetry which witnesses peerless attendance. Great poets from Tunisia, Libya and Jordan participate in the poetry reading contest. Activities and spectacles for children also take place during the festival. In the field of fine arts, the committee of the festival concentrates on the talented youth of the region by organising exhibitions in Mhamed El-Marzouki cultural centre.
The committee of the festival takes also great care of the spectacular performances of folk music bands from Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Egypt as well as other parts of the world. Besides, one should not forget the “Samour” Night which takes place during the festival and is animated by popular poets and writers. The committee didn’t neglect the intellectual aspect as well and thus organized national and international conferences.
Despite the importance of both the cultural and intellectual aspects of the festival, “H’nich” yard remains the secret behind the fame of the festival thanks to its unique shows attended by 100.000 people daily. As a matter of fact, for four days, the guests of the city enjoy equestrian performances, “Meheri” (foal) races, “Slougui” (dog) hunting, camel wrestling and the traditional wedding of Douz as well as the folk music bands coming from the edge of the desert. Many TV channels, present in the festival, covered the daily shows and documented them. Later, they presented some of them as documentaries.
The continuation of the success of the festival is in the hands of the different ministries concerned with the file of the festival in its details (The Ministry of Culture / The Ministry of Tourism /The Ministry of Youth and Sports /Ministry of Agriculture / Ministry of Women and Family Affairs / Ministry of the Environment ...). This is due to the fact that the size of the festival and the number of its guests that reaches about 1000 do not go hand in hand with the financial capacity especially if we compare it to other festivals that enjoy better financial resources even though their audience is not as important as that of the International Festival of the desert whose audience enjoys the shows for free.
List of Board Members
Of International Festival of Sahara in Douz
|Nom et prénom||poste|
|3||Nakoussi Romdhane||Secrétaire général|
|4||Ben Mohamed Chrif||porte-parole officiel|
|7||Ben Ibrahim Fadhel||membre|
|8||Mosbah Mohamed Ali||membre|
|12||Ben Abdelhafidh Mohamed||membre|
|15||Belhadj Abdallah Sami||membre|