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The International Sahara Festival in Douz, Tunisia

The Tunisian culture is a synthesis of especially Arab and Berber elements, which come to expression in, among others, its jewellery, ceramics, tapestry, and music. Tunisia cherishes and promotes its heritage in its museums and various cultural institutions and initiatives.

Tunisian culture incorporates elements from the empires and civilizations that have occupied its territory over the centuries. The Romans, Phoenicians, Arabs, and French have all left distinct traces, contributing to Tunisia’s rich and multi-layered culture.

Various ethnic and ideological groups, such as traditional Muslims, secularists, Jews, and Christians, live side by side in Tunisia, in a complex cultural landscape. Whilst the vast majority of Tunisians are Sunni Muslims, they do not constitute a homogeneous community but can be classified broadly into three groups: Salafists, moderate Islamists, and the general Muslim population.

Tunisian souks are famous and a favourite tourist destination. Tunisian women who dress traditionally wear characteristic long, colourful dresses, often decorated with embroidery. Most Tunisians speak Arabic and, influenced by the culture of the protectorate, French.

For many years, the International Sahara Festival has taken place in Douz, at the end of December. The festival lasts for several days and attracts thousands of people from the Sahara region, as well as national and international tourists who want to celebrate Saharan culture. Traditional arts and crafts, games, singing and dancing, and camel races are performed at the festival, combining historical and modern cultural elements.

Tunisians enjoy a variety of famous cultural events throughout the country. Every year, music, arts, and cinema festivals in Tunis-Carthage bring together thousands of people. Regular expositions by art students and concerts by music students are also popular, taking place mostly in Tunis, usually hosted by universities. Tunisia’s traditional music, malouf, today mixes with contemporary music, resulting in a variety of music styles that can be heard at Tunisia’s many concerts. Modern jazz festivals take place regularly. Tabarka, for example, hosts an annual jazz festival. In addition, the Centre for Mediterranean Music in Sidi Bou Said presents a vast variety of other musical events.

Photos from the International Sahara Festival in Douz, Tunisia