(Xinhua) -- On the terrace of a two-floor Dar El Souk cafe,
located in the heart of Douz town in southern Tunisia, local university
students were drinking coffee, while enjoying the traditional Sahara dance
On the souk square, the folk bands
wearing farmla jackets and balga shoes, known as traditional clothes of
Sahara region, played folklore music to the cheers of audience.
Wang Wenkai, a 30-year-old Chinese
tourist, said these “exotic” performances enabled direct interaction with
“the traditional life and customs of Sahara” as well as “the enthusiasm of
the desert people.”
The 51st Douz International
Sahara Festival, themed “protect cultural heritage of Sahara region,” kicked
off on Thursday in the small Tunisian town of Douz, and is expected to
attract 50,000 tourists to the town for the charm of local folk customs.
Bachtoula Bechir, spokesperson of the
festival, told Xinhua that more than 20,000 visitors attended the
celebration activities on the first day, while Sami Beljaj, director of the
festival’s organizing committee, said a series of more activities will be
hosted in the four-day festival.
“There are cultural performances such
as nomadic traditional songs and dances, traditional wedding ceremonies,
traditional sports such as camel fighting, horse racing and Slougui hunting
(dog hunting), as well as traditional crafts and local food exhibitions,”
According to Tunisian Culture Minister
Mohamed Zine El-Abidine, the world-famous annual international desert
festival has great significance.
It not only helps protect the
traditional life and culture of Sahara region in southern Tunisia, but also
attracts foreign tourists, promotes tourism and creates more job
opportunities for local residents, he said.
This festival, originally known as
nomadic local camel festival in the early 20th century, has now
developed into an international festival, attracting a large number of
tourists each year to Sahara region.
Bai Guangming, cultural counselor at
the Chinese Embassy in Tunisia, said the Douz festival also has a great
charm for the Chinese tourists.
“Since Tunisia offered visa-free entry
to Chinese tourists last year, more Chinese visitors have come to this North
African country,” said Bai.
“Douz in the Sahara region has become
a must-visit-place for the Chinese tourists,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bechir said his country
welcomes “more Chinese tourists to discover the beautiful landscape of
Sahara and the traditional culture of the region.”
Mohamed Gharsailla, a 32-year-old
waiter from Dar El Souk cafe, said “this festival brings successful business
and we have received customers from all over the world, including Germany,
Italy, France and China.”
“Douz has really become an
international tourism town and we feel proud and happy,” he added.