Torremolinos joined forces with the Western Saharan region of Dakhla this week to celebrate the Semana de Dakhla festival, a programme of events aimed at the promotion of the cultural and tourist attractions of this region of Morocco, known as 'the pearl between the sea and the desert'.
Organised by the Regional Council of Tourism of Dakhla, in collaboration with the National Office of Tourism of Morocco and Torremolinos town hall, the festival was held in the gardens of the Pablo Ruiz Picasso cultural centre. A traditional Arabic Jaima and two large marquees hosted a series of cultural activities, including tribal dancing, folklore displays and gastronomic tastings.
The inauguration, held last weekend, was attended by José Ortiz, mayor of Torremolinos, and Khatat Yanja, president of the region of Dakhla and the Moroccan consul for Malaga, Algeciras and Cadiz.
During the opening ceremony, the mayor of Torremolinos was presented with a stone encrusted janbiya, a curved-blade Arabian dagger.
Berber tribal dancing
The highlight of the evening was a dazzling demonstration of indigenous Berber dancing. Dressed in distinctive dress, the performers presented typical male and female tribal dances, driven by the razzmatazz accompaniment of varying percussive instruments.
Each Berber tribe in Morocco has its distinctive dress (especially for the women), language, dance, and social customs. The dance is an integral and constant affirmation of who and what they are.
Visitors were invited to sample some of Morocco's most famous sweet delicacies like chebakia, deep-fried dough, coated with syrup and sesame seeds; and Kaab el Ghazal, delicate almond and cinnamon-flavoured pastry strips.
There was also an exhibition of artefacts from local archaeological digs and these included ancient documents, books, jewellery and coins.
The region of Dakhla, the southernmost region of Morocco, is characterised by a rich cultural heritage. It has a vast desert, plains and mountains, along with many sites with historical significance that constitute an important archaeological heritage of the region. The main economic activity of the city is fishing and tourism. In recent years, Dakhla has become a centre for aquatic sports.