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M'Hamid El Ghizlane

Tête de ligne du trafic transsaharien au seizième siècle, Taragalte (ancien nom de M’Hamid el Ghizlane) était l’une des principales villes de la province du Drâa,
Selon l’historien Jacques Meunié dans son ouvrage « le Maroc Saharien des origines jusqu’en 1670 », Taragalte était peuplée par plus de vingt mille habitants dont environ deux mille de confession juive.
Elle était située dans la palmeraie sur les rives du fleuve Drâa, le plus important de la région qui prend sa source au sommet de l’Atlas prés de Ouarzazate et se jette dans l’Océan Atlantique après avoir parcouru plus de mille deux cents kilomètres

The land was very fertile, agriculture, grazing and harvesting dates allowed its inhabitants to live there comfortably. Commercial caravans continued to roam the Sahara between Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and Mali until the mid-twentieth century. Its geographical location as "Gate of the Sahara" was confirmed by his majesty Mohamed 5th (grandfather of his majesty Mohamed 6th, the current king of Morocco) during his historic visit in 1958.

M’Hamid El Ghizlane se trouve à cent kilomètres de la ville de Zagora et quarante kilomètres de la frontière algérienne. Elle est toujours irriguée par le fleuve Drâa mais le barrage « El Mansour Edahhabi » construit en 1972 à deux cents kilomètres en amont du fleuve a considérablement réduit l’irrigation de la région.
Actuellement dix mille personnes y vivent encore, la moitié d’entre elles sont des semi- nomades, qui se déplacent dans un rayon de deux cents kilomètres et l’autre moitié s’est sédentarisée

The lack of water since the construction of the dam weighs on agriculture and the local economy and does not even allow the development of basic agricultural activities (cereals, vegetable gardens, dates etc.) which are therefore increasingly reduced . This explains the very high level of emigration (a quarter of the population, especially young people, has already emigrated to other big cities).

Due to the proximity of the dunes and the cultural and natural wealth of the Hamada du Drâa, we are witnessing an increasing tourist craze for the region. Tourism has grown strongly over the past twenty years, offering work opportunities for the local population, both sedentary and nomadic, but unfortunately this activity is not without negative consequences for the environment.

Halim Sbai and his team have promised to undertake an ambitious project to remedy existing gaps by raising awareness as much as possible among the local population, and also by alerting visitors to the fragility of the environment. A Cultural Tourism Center project in the oasis of M’Hamid on the edge of the sand dunes is in the process of being implemented. This center will complement its mobile bivouac and the actions already undertaken (planting trees, developing women's craft skills, collecting and recycling waste) to allow visitors to get involved and thus help the beneficial effects on the environment.
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