THE AL FUGHA OASIS

For most Europeans the word “oasis” conjures up a little island of paradise, lost in the ocean of the desert. Al Fugha is precisely that.
In the 1930s it was made up of 2,500 palms and a few hundred inhabitants. Today, practically nothing has changed: the lifestyle and daily rhythms of its people, the reassuring shade provided by its palms to anyone chancing upon it, the feeling it conveys of being a remote corner of the desert, surrounded by imposing plateaus.
The magic of this 12th-century village built in stone and mud – although now uninhabited – is undiminished. Through the village gate, which was closed every evening at 8.30 pm to keep out unexpected guests, one gains access to the narrow streets lined with houses. Each dwelling had its own well, supplying spring water channelled through an incredibly intricate network of underground natural waterways.

At that time dates were a truly precious commodity: the door to the mosque's storage room – where dates harvested on religious properties were kept – had three locks, each key being in the custody of a different guardian. The dates from these properties were used only for the community's celebrations and feast days, or to be given as alms to the needy: precious commodities that needed to be kept safe from any attempt at theft.