First broadcast date
Beni Abbes, also called “The White Oasis”, is located south west of Algeria in the Wilaya of Bechar, in the heart of the Saoura.
Thanks to its tourist attractions such as Ksar Sidi Abdessalem, dating from the late 15th and early 16th century, and numerous excursions, it attracts many tourists, who find rest, after a walk or a camel ride, at the Rym Hotel, at the foot of the big dune.
EPTV - Canal Algérie
Tourism and cultural sites
Credits / Cast
- Didane Abdelaziz - Director
“Passerelle” is a French-language television series made by Canal Algèrie, whose programmes, though produced in Algeria, are dedicated to Algerians and North Africans living in Europe. The series shows short film reports about Algerian culture, history, heritage and tourism. With two regional offices, one in Bechar in the south-west of the country, the other in Oran, west of Algiers, the Passerelle programmes cover the whole of the vast country fairly evenly and touch on many aspects of Algerian culture.
The film about Beni Abbès proudly shows off the merits of this small town with a population of 11,000 (2009), located at the entrance of the Grand Erg Occidental (also known as the Western Sand Sea), a region of the Sahara with 80,000 km2 of sand dunes. The town has a palm grove, major historical monuments and a good tourist infrastructure.
Known from the 12th century, many Arab, Berber and African populations settled in this town and developed its agriculture, thanks to a regular supply of water which meant a fertile palm grove could be cultivated. Several fortified villages (Ksars) were built, and the largest of them, built in the 15th century, is now officially listed as part of the national heritage. French colonization made Beni Abbès a centre for tourists and scientific research, and in the early 20th century Charles de Foucaud spent four years there, before going on to Tamanrasset. Today a centre of tourism for those wishing to explore the dunes of the Sahara, in the 1920's and 1930's Beni Abbès was called the White Oasis or the Pearl of the Saouara, when Orientalist painters settled there and Citroën organized car rallies.
The film report, in the somewhat naive style of tourist propaganda, emphasizes the history of ksars, the wealth of the architectural heritage, the flora and the friendliness of the people, listing all the tourist activities the town has to offer. In a simple, cheerful way it emphasises the quality of the hotels, the warm welcome from the locals, the traditional way of life. The pictures show us the walls of the old ksar and camel trekking across the dunes, the municipal swimming pool and the canals irrigating the palm grove. Listening to the commentary no one would imagine that during the colonial period Beni Abbès was a strategic base for oil exploration, nor that the local tourism industry is not enough to reverse the nearly 60% unemployment rate.
J. Grand'Henry, « Le parler arabe de la Saoura (Sud-ouest algérien) », Arabica, T. 26, Fasc. 3 (Sep., 1979), pp. 213-228
Ramès C. 1941, « Beni Abbès (Sahara oranais). Etude historique, géographique et médicale », Archives de l'Institut Pasteur d'Algerie, t. XIX, n° 1, March 1941, pp. 80-157.
Charles de Foucauld 1993, Carnet de Beni Abbès. 1901-1905. Paris, Nouvelle cité.
Murray A. 2000, « Le tourisme Citroën au Sahara (1924-1925) », Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire, No. 68, pp. 95-107.