Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Tunisian Sahara in a Dire Need for Help

Tunisian Sahara
Tunisian soldier patrol in the desert 27 December 2006 in the town of Douz as the 39th International Sahara Festival closes. The festival, held 600 kms (370 miles) south of Tunis, draws locals and tourists for a cultural event that celebrates the region’s heritage and desert people. AFP PHOTO FETHI BELAID (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Hakim Marzouki

Some wealthy people from Gulf states are used to pay visits to the Tunisian desert to enjoy a poaching expedition targeting a rare species of endangered white deer. Some local brokers facilitate it for them under the pretext of being their “tourist guides” or “travel agents”, with the official and semi-official bodies turning a blind eye.

The sniping trip inside these “reserves” ends with selfies “captured by the wealthy with the bleeding deer on the social media, smiling with their rifles and surrounded by their myrmidons on the red nights, and perhaps on the tunes of the song “Bosat Al Reeh” to the verse “Your white deer float on the shores”. Who knows?

The tragic irony about this farce of a massacre is that the escorts of these “snipers” intentionally capture the herd of deer a life. They lock them up in special shelters and then release them before the hunting trip so that the visitors can enjoy the pleasure of sniping on their own. When they realize their goal, they usually leave the carcasses to those who made the task easier for them. They do that while pretending to have the “ethics” of gentlemen in the hobby of hunting.

Doesn’t all this refer us to a scene of blatant immorality? Especially if we know that some of these also come to the same desert to snipe a rare type of the “Houbara“, which they were told strengthens the sexual capabilities of men so that they can be stud in bed.

How angry and sad we are over Arab conditions when we know that the same desert was where the famous movie “The English Patient” was filmed. That was in an area of enchanting beauty, known as “Ong Jemel”. Another good example is the famous “Star Wars” movie. The producers of this film kept using the space where it was filmed as a tourist attraction for movie lovers.

Why do people in civilized societies come to our desert to relive with their good inhabitants, see their landmarks, and gaze upon the beauty of oases and dunes that contained dinosaur eggs and witnessed events and battles that changed history, while the oil-rich come to kill this beauty and pursue the mirage of impossible virility!?

Civilization starts with respecting nature and appreciating beauty, going towards the other and supporting humanitarian causes wherever he is. In the same context, civilization turns into an ugly and miserable scene, when the rich ignorant, in the name of tourism, comes to tarnish man and nature by practising his degenerate whims for a few dollars.

Does the blame fall on the desert that gifted him with oil in his country so that he comes to tarnish it in other countries?

Between tourism and prostitution is a thin thread. This thread is solid and firm in developed countries, while it is weaker than spider webs in underdeveloped countries.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our bloggers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.

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