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Celebrate Saharan Culture at the Taragalte Festival, Zagora

The festival’s guests can ride camels, drive 4x4’s across Saharan sand dunes, take tours of the nearby oasis and kasbah, and enjoy traditional dance performances and music concerts.

Rabat – The 2019 Taragalte Festival: “Wisdom of the Sands” will begin today, November 1 in the Mhamid El Ghizlane oasis and will continue until Sunday, November 3. The 10th installment of the festival in the southern region of Zagora marks a decade of cultural exchange and celebration of Saharan heritage

Musicians at the 2016 Taragalte Festival. Photo by Abdellah Azizi.

The festival will explore the life and legacy of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist, and pioneering aviator. He lived from 1900 to 1944 and had a profound connection with Morocco and it’s nomadic people. 

Saint-Exupery spent 18 months in Tarfaya, a city in the heart of the Sahara, between 1927 and 1929. His experiences in Morocco inspired his iconic 1943 novella “The Little Prince,” one of the world’s most read books

circa 1935: French airman and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The events of the 10th Taragalte Festival will unfold near Bivouac Le Petit Prince, a campground in the last oasis before entering the Sahara Desert. The bivouac is seven kilometers south of the village Mhamid El Ghizlane, across the Oued Draa and close to the Algerian border.  

Events at the Taragalte Festival

The weekend of the Taragalte Festival will be full of music and adventure.

The daily schedule for the 2019 Taragalte Festival.

The festival will showcase three exhibits of nomadic culture every day. The exhibitions will feature local crafts, photography, and painting. 

The crafts exhibit will include Saharan rugs as part of the sustainable development and heritage framework “Carpet of Life.” Guests can tour the local carpet-making villages and will have the opportunity to weave their own creations. 

The photography exhibition will feature the work of Belgian photographer Charles Henneghien, who lived in Morocco from 1962 to 1970, while the painting exhibition will feature the work of Mohamed Bennour.

Charles Henneghien. Date unknown.

The festival will host educational conferences about “Nomadism and rapprochement of populations beyond borders” and “Water, groundwater and the Oasis ecosystem in the face of climate change.”

Nomadic hockey and camel racing will undoubtedly be show-stoppers on Saturday, November 2. 

Every night, attendees can stargaze while taking tea with musician Jean-Noel Sarrail and the nomads of the Sahara desert.

The program’s highlights will surely be the traditional dance performances and music concerts of various genres, including Saharan rhythms, blues, jazz, and rock. 

Performers at the 2016 Taragalte Festival. Photo by Abdellah Azizi.

Day passes to the Taragalte Festival are priced from MAD 200 to 500 depending on the amount of days purchased, up to three days. Day passes cover all concerts, shows, tours, and activities.

Visit the festival’s website for more information regarding accommodation and transportation. 

The “Green Oasis”

In addition to offering entertainment and cultural exposure, the Taragalte Festival promotes sustainable development and is committed to eco-responsibility. 

The site of the festival, Mhamid El Ghizlane, is an oasis threatened by the growing Sahara desert

Desert near the Mhamid El Ghizlane oasis. Photo by Viktorija Mickute/Al Jazeera.

“To cope with drought and desertification, Taragalte Festival recognizes the preservation of oasis and as models of resilience to climate change,” the festival’s official website reads. 

“With the ambition to revive the Oasis of M’hamid El Ghizlane, the festival aspires to act on the local sphere by protecting the ecosystem and empowering the inhabitants through training and awareness actions.”

The M’hamid El Ghizlane oasis. Photo by Viktorija Mickute/Al Jazeera.

The festival will work with the Zero Sbel and Spiralium environmental NGOs to efficiently collect and sort the weekends waste. The festival’s organizers encourage attendees to bring reusable water bottles and will offer multiple water points on site. 

Festival go-ers can also partake in a tree planting initiative in the oasis near the festival site on Sunday, November 1.

The festival works to empower the local community to protect their ecosystem through training and awareness actions. 

Caravan of Peace

The Taragalte Festival is set to welcome the 6th “Cultural Caravan for Peace” to promote peace and stability in the Sub Saharan region. The project supports dialogue, cultural exchanges, and social cohesion in the Sahel and Sahara regions through music and art.

The Taragalte Festival is one of Morocco’s most popular events in the southern provinces.   The festival has now been working for a decade to promote sustainability, cultural exchange, and appreciation for Saharan art, music, and heritage.