Tozeur

 

 

The city and oasis of Tozeur lies in central Tunisia on the northern edge of the Sahara Desert, midway between the large salt lakes of Chott el Jerid and Chott el Fejej to its south, and Chott el Gharsa to its north.

 

It is on the most southerly road into Algeria, which has been a major caravan route for camel trains since antiquity. The oasis being a stop off place it became the site of a major Roman outpost called Tusuros.

 

The area of Jerid, around Tozeur, is famous for its distinctive architectural style. The locally produced bricks in pale shades of beiges and yellows are predominant, and in some areas compulsory by law. Whereas in other areas mosaic and tiles are used, the Jerid buildings, and their interiors, are decorated by elaborate patterns built into the brick walls. It is noticeable however that in the narrow streets and alleys of the poorer areas of the medina the fancy geometrically designed brickwork is a cladding laid over more substantial roughly built walls. At many major junctions and roundabouts throughout the region large monumental structures are built out of brick, reminiscent of Legoland.

 

The oasis of Tozeur contains hundreds of thousands of palm trees, and must have been a major supplier of nourishment in the barren area during antiquity, today it is a major exporter of dates. Over two thousand natural springs fed the oasis with water through a system of irrigation canals designed and built by the Arab engineer Ibn Chabbat in the 13th century.

 

Unfortunately the drilling of deep wells, to supply water to new oases, of inferior quality, in the area, with lack of forethought and disregard to the local farmers, has depleted the natural water supplies causing failures in the irrigation system. This is now having to be replaced by nasty concrete pipes running through the oasis on concrete piers, and the water which was historically freely available is now a cost that farmers can hardly afford. The local fauna is also suffering from the lack of the canals now the water is contained in pipes. The deterioration of the oases due to bad management and forward planning is one of Tunisia's problems affecting employment and income in the area.

 

It is fair to say that the service in hotels is very good, as the staff and much of the local population earned their living from tourism, but generally in the area there is an undercurrent of apathy and resentment to all things foreign, which brought about the "Arab Spring."

 

The two Gulf Wars caused severe problems to the itinerant migrant workers in North Africa and the Middle East where millions of workers worked in other countries. This not only brought mass unemployment but also shortages of skilled labour to many industrial and agricultural employers.

 

 

 

 

Tunisia Tour

   

Main Square

 

Typical Street

 

House with Precision Brickwork

 

"Precision" Bricklaying

 

French Colonial Hotel Splendide

 

Medina Bazaar

 

Abo Al Qassim Al Shabbi