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Sunday, 5 August 2012

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The Wilaya of Ghardaia

Ghardaïa Province
ولاية غرداية
—  Province  —
Map of Algeria highlighting Ghardaïa
Coordinates: 32°29′N 3°40′ECoordinates32°29′N 3°40′E
Country Algeria
 • PPA presidentMr. Fekhar Mohamed (FLN)
 • WāliMr. Fehim Yehia
 • Total86,105 km2 (33,245 sq mi)
Population (2008)[1]
 • Total375,988
 • Density4.4/km2 (11/sq mi)
Time zoneCET (UTC+01)
Area Code+213 (0) 29
ISO 3166 codeDZ-47

Ghardaïa (Arabicغرداية ,MozabiteGhardaïa in Tifinagh.svg) is the capital city of Ghardaïa ProvinceAlgeria. The commune of Ghardaïa has a population of 104,645, with 82,500 in the main city according to 2005 estimates. It is located in northern-central Algeria in the Sahara Desertand lies along the left bank of the Wadi Mzab. The M'zab valley in the Ghardaïa Province (Wilaya) was inscribed under the UNESCOWorld Heritage List in 1982, as a cultural property evaluated under the criteria II ( for its settlement having an impact on urban planning even to the present century), III (for its Ibadi cultural values), and V (a settlement culture which has prevailed to the present century).[1][2]
Ghardaïa is part of apentapolis, a hilltop city amongst four others, built almost a thousand years ago, and founded by theMozabites a Muslim Ibadisect (non-Arabic Muslims, including the Berbers) in the M’Zab valley.[3][4] It is a major centre of date production and the manufacture of rugs and cloths.[5] Divided into three walled sectors, it is a fortified town. At the centre is the historical Mʾzabite area, with a pyramid-style mosque and an arcaded square.[6]Distinctive white, pink, and red houses, made of sand, clay and gypsum,[7] rise in terraces and arcades.[6] In her 1963 book, La force des choses the Frenchexistentialist philosopherSimone de Beauvoirdescribed Ghardaia as "a Cubist painting beautifully constructed


The name of Ghardaïa has its origins in a female saint named Daïa who lived in a cave (ghār) in the area before it blossomed into a town inhabited by Kharijite Muslims who came to escape persecution from Orthodox Muslims in the north.[5][6]
Gardaia name is derived from the Tamazight word Tagherdayt ( ⵟⴰⴳⵀⴻⵔⴷⴰⵢⵜ)which means the castle. The Mozabites came from the Zab area of Aures. The fled the area from the Arabic hellalin invasion. They are Ibadin Muslims.


The M'Zab valley, in limestone plateau, as inscribed under the UNESCO Heritage List, is a unique conglomeration of five cities confined in area of 75 km² situated 600 km to the south of Algiers, the capital of Algeria. Original architecture of the semi desert valley is dated to early 11th century ascribed to the Ibadis with their cultural identity originally traced to the Maghreb who had their capital at Tahert as an Ibadi Kingdom. They were forced to leave Tahert consequent to a devastating fire in 909 (it is reported that destruction was caused by the founder of the (Shi'ite) Fatimid Dynasty[4]). They first moved to Sedrata and finally to M'Zab valley. They settled in five fortified villages located on rocky outcrops, known locally as “Kosars”, even though they could have lived in one larger village encompassing all the five, which were planned with meticulous details to precise layouts defined by set principles of community living within a defensive environment. Each village was planned in diverse topography comprising a small island, a ridge, a hilltop, a peak and a recess. The villages were fortified in such a manner that they were inaccessible to the nomadic groups. The five villages set up with identical planning concepts were Ghardaia, Melika, Beni Isguen, Bou Noura and El Atteuf. The identical “miniature citadels” as they are termed had each their own mosque with minaret functioning as watch towers, houses built around the mosque in concentric circles and surrounded by a high walls (extending up to the ramparts). which together gave the feel of a fortress to each village. The mosque also provided for storage of grains and arms for defence.[1][2][4] However, during the summer season a they migrated to a "citadel" outside the fortified villages, in an informal setting of artificial palm grove, a cemetery and a mosque.[4]
Ghardaïa, as a village, was established in the 11th century,
It was developed into a town by Kharijite Muslims who came to Ghardaïa as a haven to escape the persecution from Orthodox Muslims in the north. The ancient ksar of Metlili-Chaamba was founded by Tamer and Trif in the 12th century and is inhabited by theChaamba, descendants of the Beni-Mansour Souleima Ben Medina (Saudi Arabia), a collection of tribes among whom are the Ouled Allouche, the Ouled Abdelkader, the Chorfa, the Almorabitines (descendants of the Prophet of Islam Mohammed), the Zouas, and the Beni Beni Brahim or Merzoug. The village of Berriane was built in 1679 and historically was a place of conflict between the Arabs and Berbers and Mozabites.
These people revolted against French colonialism in the popular uprisings of 1864 atBouchoucha. Colonel Alphonse Ferjeux Didier, who commanded Ghardaïa from 1883 to 1886 and again from 1890 to 1895, was said to be deeply understanding of the politics of the Mzab peoples.

Layout and architecture

The unique layout of the Ghardaïa village is dictated by the rocky terrain of the region. Apart from the mosques and the housing pattern layout, with the mosque at the top of the hill, and the houses laid in labyrinthine alleyways, there is also a large market centre. The houses in particular are oriented in such as way that it admits sunlight into every as they strongly believe: "Inhabitants of the house where sun comes in will never see a doctor". Chimneys are also set in such a way that it does nor encroach their neighbours comfort


Local berber architecture
The residents have preserved the original medieval architecture remarkably well; the valley of which it forms being a part of an official World Heritage Site. The Medabian quarter lies to the northwest. The military compound and hospital are located in the southern area.[6] It is given the epithet "the pearl of the oasis" and is as one of the most important tourist regions for its ancient cultural heritage in southern Algeria. Apart from the tourism interests, the Wilaya of Ghardaia also draws anthropologists, architects, researchers and historians to explore its rich cultural, anthropological and architectural uniqueness.[14] An interesting aspect of their community welfare is the fact that they follow the rules of governance diligently and also contribute to the maintenance and care of the community. Mozabites in the light of their rigid approach in negotiations, dominate the financial sector, particularly in banking and wholesale sectors They also have their own mosque, cemetery, recreation and sporting activities. They have a patriarchal system of social inheritance. Another unique feature among the Mozabites is that right from birth a “Mozabite is looked after by the community for education, work, marriage, and the building of a home. Touiza (groups of volunteers) are organised for building houses.”[13] The Wilaya of Ghardaia is also well known for its Weaving, Dinanderie D'art, basketry, pottery and carpet weaving (tapestry). The rugs of the area so popular that every year the "National Day Of Rugs" is held in March.[14]
The Mozabites of Ghardaia have their distinct identity of traditional costume of saroual loubia (baggy trousers) and chéchia (head gear).[13]


Every spring, the commune of Metlili-Chaamba, 31.3 km (19.4 mi) from Ghardaïa, celebrates the "Day mehr" when people from all over the country and other parts of the world attend and participate in a camel race.
In March and April, a carpet festival provides an opportunity for celebration, competition, as well as sales.[15]


Ghardaïa is the traditional heart of the M'zab valley and home of the Ibadi religious sect in Algeria. As a religious Muslim sect they did not subscribe to the doctrine of Sunnism andShi'ism.[4] They practice a different way, praying, worship of God and designing mosques as compared with Malikis who form the majority of Algerians.[13] Here, wasting water, and more generally any gift of land, is considered a sin.[7] The Ghardaïa Mosque, built in the 10th century, is of Moorish architecture style. Its tower, simple and elegant, includes a large portal at the top of the shaft, the design of which provides for ventilation flow.[16]
The White Fathers, a Roman Catholic missionary society, live in a hermitage near the old city, and have a collection of books on the Sahara.[15]
The Jewish quarter is in the eastern side of the city and is noted for its craft shops and many wells.[6]


It is served by Noumérat - Moufdi Zakaria Airport (or simply Ghardaïa airport). There is also a bus station.[17]

[edit]Notable Metilli people

The Wilaya of Ain Temouchent

ولاية عين تموشنت
—  Province  —
Administrative map of Aïn Témouchent province
Map of Algeria highlighting Aïn Témouchent
Coordinates: 35°18′N 01°08′WCoordinates35°18′N 01°08′W
Country Algeria
CapitalAïn Témouchent
 • PPA presidentMr. Tikhmarine Lakhdar (FLN)
 • WāliMr. Bouderbali Mohamed
 • Total2,376.89 km2 (917.72 sq mi)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total384,565
 • Density160/km2 (420/sq mi)
Time zoneCET (UTC+01)
Area Code+213 (0) 27
ISO 3166 codeDZ-46

Aïn Témouchent (Arabicولاية عين تموشنت‎) is a province (wilaya) in northwestern Algeria, named after its capital: Aïn Témouchent.

[edit]Administrative divisions

It is made up of 8 districts and 28municipalities.
The districts are:
The municipalities are: