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1. Inside the alleys

2. An ocean of palms

3. Many never see anything but Figuig

4. What seems insignificant but tells the story


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World of its own

The blood feuds are over now, but Figuig was for centuries a world of its own, where kids growing up only had blurred images of what was on the other side of the ocean of sand. Unlike the majority of oasis in Sahara, Figuig was not an important stop for the caravans crossing the Sahara, the only major groups crossing through Figuig were Moroccans setting out on the long journey for Mecca.

Figuig, Morocco

Figuig, Morocco

Figuig, Morocco

Figuig, Morocco

Seven communities, or really villages, only some hundred metres apart, has been the basic structure of Figuig. This structure is found in many other isolated oases in the Sahara: when contact with the rest of the world was erratic, and the one society divided into several societies, since the outer threat was too small for the communities to join forces. And with the nomadic tribes as the main enemy, division proved effective, as this reduced the profit of each conquering. Families, or klans, could be fighting forever over the sparse resources, and even today, when no fighting longer occurs, the old division lines means much for the people of Figuig.
Figuig has about 200,000 date palms, all get their water from artesian wells. The communities of Figuig have always had a problem with the water resources. There are seven villages here, and the largest of them is Zenega, which is also the richest. The most beautiful setting is found in el-Ma'izz, which has vaulted lanes and houses with large verandas. El-Oudarhir, almost grown together with El-Ma'izz, has much of the same.
Figuig is a border town, only 2 km from Algeria, but at present, border crossing is not an option for travellers (visa is virtually impossible to get).

Figuig, Morocco

By Tore Kjeilen