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Desert Guide

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Omar was born in Taos 1975. As a child, Omar was given the responsibility of looking after his father's sheeps and camels. When he was seven years old he entered the school in Hassi Labied and stayed there till the end of highschool. The last few years of studying was spent in Meknes where Omar got the urge to return to the desert because he could not forget that style of living.

Taos is a small village about 40km away from Hassi labied. Most of the houses were built for soldiers whose duties were to guard the Algerian border.

In the beginning there was no water source in the village and the inhabitants got their water supply from the neighbouring towns which got delivered by trucks.

Omar's father was also working as a soldier in a military and he owned a few camels, one of which was white. During celebrations in the village, a camel race was sometimes had. Omar's father often won these races on the back of his white camel.

Hassi Labied, where Omar lives today is a little village just north or Rissani on the road towards Merzouga. It is right next to the dunes of Erg Chebbi.

In the other direction you have a huge plain of stone desert. The oasis of Hassi Labied is similar to other oasis but with a unique feeling because of its closeness to the great dunes. The village itself consists of mostly mudhouses that blend in quite well with the landscape. These Kasbahs were not part of the landscape in the past few year. In the past, most Erg Chebbi's inhabitants where nomads who lived in tents and travelled across the Sahara desert in caravans to trade. In recent year however, since borders have been drawn between countires which share the Sahara, it is no longer possible to cross into Algeria, Mauretania, Malil or Sudan so tradding has ceased.

The change in climate also effected the lifestyles of the nomads. As it got more and more dry, the rivers and lakes dried up and left carvings in the landscape. The grass soon disappeared leaving a barren land unsuitable for grazing animals.

In Hassi Labied, water conditions were good and this offered the nomads a new life. Date palms were planted and a small argriculture developed in the oasis. In the seventies, tourists slowly began to pour in to Hassi Labied and Merzouga and now it's a well known place on the Moroccan tourist-map. Many things have been modernised in the last few years to facilitate tourism including the asfalting of roads from Rissani to Merzouga.

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