Oujda, Morocco

 

Oujda (Berber: ⵡⵓⵊⴷⴰ, Wujda, Arabic: وجدة), the capital of eastern Morocco, the capital of the Masjids (mosques), or the thousand-year-old city, is one of the oldest cities in Morocco. It is located in the center of the Angad plain in the northeast of the country, bordered to the north by the Beni-Snassen mountains and to the east by Algeria. Oujda was founded by the Berber zenet chief Ziri Ibn Attia, around 994.

Oujda Morocco

It is the capital of the prefecture of Oujda-Angad, in the eastern region, and its proximity to Algeria makes it a crossing point between Morocco and Algeria. The city has a population of 494,252 inhabitants, according to the latest general population census of 2014, making it the eighth largest city in Morocco.

 

Content

What to do in Oujda

1 Geography
1.1 Location
1.2 Climate
2 History of Oujda
2.1 Prehistory and Antiquity
2.2 Foundation
2.3 Almoravid and Almohad Dynasties
2.4 Zianid and Marinid Dynasties
2.5 Saadid and Alaouite Dynasties
2.6 French Protectorate in Morocco
2.6.1 French Administration
2.6.1.1 One of the largest railway stations: the train as a tool of penetration
2.6.1.2 Military Presence
2.6.1.3 Government
2.6.1.4 Population
2.6.1.5 Public transportation
2.6.1.6 Bus services
2.6.1.7 Rental cars
2.6.1.8 Banks
2.6.1.9 Photography
2.6.1.10 Bookstores and postcard shops
2.6.1.11 Newspapers
2.6.1.12 Arab baths
3 Demographics
4 Health
4.1 Mohammed VI University Hospital
4.2 Al Farabi Hospital
5 Monuments
5.1 The medina
5.2 The ancient families of the city
5.3 Various monuments
5.3.1 Dar Sebti
5.3.2 Sharif Al Idrissi Library
5.3.3 Park of Lalla Aicha
6 Neighborhoods
7 Economy
7.1 Primary Sector
7.1.1 Main enterprises
7.2 Secondary Sector
7.2.1 Main companies
7.3 Tertiary sector
7.4 Transport and infrastructure
7.4.1 Rail transport
7.4.2 Road transport
7.4.3 Air transport
7.4.4 Urban transport
8 Traditions and communities
8.1 Festivals
8.1.1 Yennayer
8.1.2 Thara
8.1.3 Arsse
8.1.4 Horse Festival (Tbourida)
8.2 Folklore
8.2.1 Fantasia
8.2.2 Laalaoui
8.2.3 Musical and Rhythmic
8.3 Proverbs of Oujdis
8.4 The ujdi dialect
8.5 Popular legends
9 Culture
9.1 Education
9.1.1 The French Ibn Khaldun Mission (A.F.M.I.K)
9.2 Mohammed VI Theater
9.3 Cinema
9.4 Music
9.4.1 The gharnati
9.4.2 Allaoui
9.4.3 Raï
9.4.4 Reggada
10 Sports
11 Gastronomy
12 Handicrafts
12.1 Traditional clothing

 

Our selection of things to do and see in Oujda

 

Located near the border with Algeria, the city of Oujda – or “capital of the Orient” – is not the first city you think of when you think of Morocco. However, there are a number of things to do and see in Oujda that make it as dynamic as it is atypical. It’s also a unique city from which it’s easy to escape to the sea or the desert… in the same day. Here are our top 10 things to do in Oujda.

 

Tour the medina and souk of Oujda.

 

Only have one day in Oujda? Go to the Medina and the Souk! It is perhaps the first thing to do in any Middle Eastern city… The medina – or old town – and the souk are indeed a good way to establish a first contact with the local population. However, be careful what you buy, as there are always counterfeit products.

 

Oujda is no exception to the mix of tastes and smells that you usually find in a souk. By the way, do not hesitate to discover the “Souk El Ma” or “water market”: in the past, rainwater was sold there! This water was used for the surrounding gardens. Atypical, isn’t it? You will not fail to appreciate the arches and ramparts of the medina, as well as the charm of the stones marked by the sun. Undoubtedly a must-see if you spend a day in Ouja.

 

The Dar Sebti house: a must-see in Oujda

 

This “mini-palace” is not very well known and yet it is worth having fun! This house was donated to the city by a merchant from Fez, Abdellatif Senti, in the late 1940s. Today, it is a party hall where weddings and events are held, but it is also home to the Gharnati Music Study and Research Center. An authentic and colorful place not to be missed in Oujda.

 

The Lalla Meryem Park

Just opposite the Dar Sebti house, the Lalla Meryem Park is one of the must-see places in Oujda. After a day of walking under the Oujda sun, you will enjoy a stroll in the shade of its palm trees! You will also discover a lively place, full of culture with an open-air theater, the Museum of Traditional Weapons. In summer, it also hosts numerous music festivals.

 

Among the most famous in Oujda, you will also find the Lalla Aïcha Park, a park of about twenty hectares with everything you need to let off steam: a playground, an equestrian or tennis club, a swimming pool… If you spend a day in Oujda, be sure to visit one of these parks.

 

Bab Sidi Abdelwahad

 

This is the old gate of the city, located east of Oujda. Very beautiful with its amber color, this gate offers many architectural details to admire. Enhanced by the large esplanade on which it opens, it is also a very important crossing point in the city. The other gates of the city are: Bab El Gharbi, Bab Ouled Amran, Bab Sidi Aïssa and Bab Al Jamai.

 

The mosque of Al Kabir and its three fountains

 

There are several mosques in Oujda… Also known as “The Great Mosque”, the Al Kabir Mosque is undoubtedly one of the things to see in Oujda, as it is the oldest monument of its Medina. Built in 1298, the mosque has been renovated several times since then so as not to lose any of its splendor. Good to know: on the right of the entrance, take the alley that will lead you to the Medersa Merinide, a school whose architecture and tranquility will mark your visit to Oujda.

 

Enjoying a hammam in Oujda

Discovering the Arab baths of Oujda is one of the activities to do in Oujda… even if many of them have unfortunately been destroyed. Among those that remain, Hammam El-Bali, which means “ancient hammam” – sometimes also known as hammam of Sidi Yahya (named after the patron saint of the city) – lives up to its name, as it is the oldest in Oujda. It is therefore of real historical interest, although some prefer the hammam “Ajjarda” or “Jarda”, not far away, and its beautiful architecture with its dome and fountains.

 

The oasis of Sidi Yahya

 

A few kilometers from the medina of Oujda, Sidi Yahya has everything to relax, with its palm trees and its watercourse. It is also a crossroads of interreligious encounters, with Muslims, Christians and Jews rubbing shoulders. You can see the mausoleum of Sidi Yahya, the patron saint of the city.

 

Surroundings of Oujda

Because of its location, Oujda allows you to go to the sea, the forest or the desert, and all during the day.

 

The forest of Sidi Maâfa: a few kilometers from Oujda, this forest is an ideal place to recharge your batteries in Oujda and have a beautiful view of the city by climbing a little.

 

Saidia beach: about 60 km from Oujda, Saidia is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in northern Morocco. With its magnificent beach, but also with its numerous festivals and events, Saidia is very popular and has international fame.

 

The lagoon of Marchica: The lagoon of Nador is a unique natural site! Its unique flora and fauna (even threatened for certain marine species) make this lagoon a place of special interest around Oujda.

 

The Zegzel valley: there are two prehistoric caves that figure in the top of things to see in and around Oujda, the “Grotte du Chameau” and the “Grotte du Pigeon”.

So, are you ready for your trip to Oujda?

 

 

Geography. Location of Oujda in Morocco

The city is bordered to the east by Algeria, to the north by the province of Berkane and the Mediterranean Sea, to the west by the province of Taourirt and to the south by the city and the province of Jerada. It is located 5 km west of Algeria, 52 km from the beach of Saidia, 60 km from the city of Berkane, 140 km from the city of Nador and 152 km from the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

 

Climate in Oujda

 

The city of Oujda has a Mediterranean climate with mild to cold and rainy winters and hot summers.

 

Rainfall is irregular and snow can fall in winter. Rainfall varies between 350 and 500 mm per year.

 

The average annual temperatures range between 15°C and 20°C. Maximum temperatures can exceed 40°C, for example on July 31, 2001 with 46.2°C or on July 12, 2011 with 45.7°C, while absolute minimum temperatures sometimes fall below 0°C, such as on January 28, 2005, when the temperature dropped to -7.1°C. However, temperatures are always mild on the Mediterranean coast itself.

 

The city of Oujda experiences in August a hot wind from the Sahara called chergui.

 

History of Oujda

Prehistory and Antiquity

Mauretania and Numidia.

In the caves around Oujda, remains of human activity from the primitive period can be found: flint, points, etc. Specimens of stone age industry have been collected around Oujda, towards Sidi Yahya, some carved flints, including a beautiful scraper, at Aïn Serrak, cores, blades, points and scrapers, at Sidi Moussa, in the Oued Isly, scrapers, blades, points and quartzite discs. The polished stone industry, which coincides with the beginning of current geological times, has also left some traces in the region. Towards the gardens of Sedd and at the confluence of the Oued Nachef and the Oued Isly, there are foci of the ancient Neolithic. On the plateau of Djorf El Akhdar, half of a polished axe of a form derived from the boudin axe has been found. In the surroundings of Oujda and Taourirt there are Amazigh burial mounds of various forms, characterized by the poverty of the furnishings: remains of human bones, beads, leather pendants, spearheads, etc. A dolmen was discovered in 1884 by Charles Vilain in Ayt Iznassen.

 

According to historians, Oujda would be Lanigare, mentioned by Ptolemy, or Stabulum regis located west of Nigrensis (Tafna). Before the arrival of the Romans, the populations established east of the Moulouya river were united under the kingdom of Massayleses. In this state, rich in population and products, cereal cultivation and livestock breeding developed. According to the Roman historian Sallust, the Mulucca River, today’s Moulouya, separated the kingdom of Jugurtha, king of Numidia, from that of Bocchus, king of Mauretania. The castellum of Melwiya would be the Jbel Mahseur located 20 km south of Oujda. Some current local traditions maintain the memory of Rome. There are fractions of the Ayt Iznassen tribe who call themselves al Bakia and claim to be descendants of the Roman conquerors.

 

From the 1st century, Judaism spread throughout the region. Judaizing and semi-nomadic clans settled in the region. The anti-Semitic persecutions of the Visigoths and Justinian redirected many Jews to the region. The memory of a great Jewish period in the region can be read in the legend of Sidi Yahya Ben Younès and in the history of Debdou.

In late antiquity, the Oujda basin was populated by numerous peoples. According to the historian Abu Hamid El Ghazali, they were inhabited by Christians under the reign of a king named El Ablak El Fortas (“the scabby albino”).

 

Foundation

The medina of Oujda was founded in 9943 near the plain of the Angads by Ziri Ibn Attia, chief of the Maghrebi tribe, who established his court there3. Invested by the Umayyad Khalifs of Cordoba with the command of the two Maghreb, Ziri Ben Attia decided to settle in the center of the country he was to administer. He therefore chose to create a capital near the source of Sidi Yahia and the mountains of Beni-Snassen, which could serve as a refuge.

 

The city was for eighty years the seat of the Zenet dynasty3. Gradually, it gained importance thanks to its status as a relay city on two major trade routes: the north-south route from the sea to Sijilmassa, and the west-east route from Fez to the East. Its strategic situation will expose it to several destructive invasions during its history.

 

Almoravid and Almohad dynasties
Youssef Ibn Tachfin took Oujda in 1081.

Around 1208, Oujda came under the power of the Almohads, who built a new fortification.

It then passed to the Almoravids and then to the Almohads, who built a belt of fortifications in 1206. Later, the Marinids and the Almohads clashed violently over it.

Zianid and Marinid Dynasties

Throughout the history of the successive dynasties of the Muslim West, Oujda came to assume an important strategic role.

 

Due to the rivalry between these two powers, Oujda was destroyed in 1271 by the Merinid sultan Abu Yaacoub Elmarini. It was rebuilt by his son Abu Yaacoub Youssef5 in 1295 and surrounded by new ramparts, with a kasbah, a palace, baths and a mosque. In 1314, it was under Zianid domination and resisted an attack by the Merinid sultan Abû Saïd Uthmân ben Yaqub.

 

Saadid and Alaouite dynasties

From the 16th century, Oujda was at the center of the rivalry between the Moroccan Cherif and the Ottoman Empire; the city changed hands several times and was only definitively united to Morocco at the end of the 18th century.

 

French Protectorate in Morocco
From the 19th century, Oujda was harassed by the French presence in Algeria, which led to the battle of Isly (1844) and the first western occupation of the city.

 

In 1907, the city was occupied again, five years before the establishment of the protectorate.

 

French administration

 

The church of Oujda, symbol of the French presence.
Oujda was occupied and evacuated by French troops a first time in 1844 and a second time in 1859. The reoccupation of Oujda was then decided following the anti-French agitation of the Moroccan people after the assassination of Dr. Mauchamp in Marrakech on March 19, 1907. It was carried out, without any coup, by General Lyautey on March 29, and Oujda was then used as a base, along with Ghazaouat (Nemours), for the pacification of the Beni Snassen. A certain effervescence having then taken place in this massif, it was occupied at the end of 1907, and French influence then spread throughout the Amalat of Oujda5.

One of the major stations: the train as a penetration tool

 

As early as 1910, a first section of railroad was built linking Oujda to Maghnia (Algeria). Later, the railroad was extended to Fez in 1924, to Bouarfa and its mines (1929), to Ghazaouet (1935), then to Béchar/Colomb Béchar (1941) and Kenadsa (1948). This was the beginning of the trans-Saharan railroad project leading to Niger. Oujda and the Moroccan eastern region thus became a strategic location in the perspective of further integration of French colonial rule in North Africa, through these infrastructures. The independence of the Maghreb and the consequent national egoism put an end to this project.

 

Military presence

In 1912, the French were allowed to establish their action beyond the Moulouya and reached Msoun in 1913, then Taza in 1914, at which time troops from eastern Morocco joined those from western Morocco.

 

In 1917, French operations led to the establishment of the Outat El Haj post in the Moulouya, and to the union, at Missour, of the troops of the northern region with those of the southern region of Western Morocco at Bou Denib. In the same year, the latter troops also joined those of Meknes.

 

Government

 

The administration was controlled by the chief auditor of the civil region of Oujda, which depended on the General Residence of Rabat. The European colonization developed rapidly in the northern part of the city from 1908. In the south, not far from the station where the railway line from Oran to Colomb-Béchar ends, commercial transactions had some activity, in particular during the creation, at the end of the 1920s, of the mining (coal) town of Jerada.

 

Populations

 

In 1918: 13,000 Muslims – 4,800 French – 3,000 other Europeans – 1,300 Jews; a total of 22,000 inhabitants.

 

In June 1948, a pogrom struck the city’s Jewish community6,7 . Five Jews were killed, as well as a French gendarme, fifteen others were wounded, and houses and stores were destroyed6,8. The riots in Oujda and Jerada caused even more casualties in the neighboring town of Jerada (37 Jews killed and 29 wounded).

 

Public transport

 

Omnibus – from the Hotel Simon and the Hotel Central to the station – Price: 1 fr. per seat
Coaches – Rue de Mania Station (First zone: 2 fr per way – double way 3 fr – Second zone: 3 fr per way – double way 3,75 fr – half day 12 fr – full day 20 fr – Oujda – Sidi Yahia, return with one hour waiting time: 8 fr)

 

Demographics of Oujda

According to the last census of 2014, the city of Oujda had 506,274 inhabitants, an increase of more than 3% per year since 1982, despite emigration and a growth slowed by the closure of the border (emigration and smuggling with Algeria are two important sources of income). There is significant immigration from all over the world, especially from France, Belgium, Germany and Canada.

 

Evolution of the population of Oujda in the 20th century: 6,500 inhabitants in 1910; 34,500 in 1936; 80,500 in 1952; 129,000 in 1960; 260,000 in 19829.

 

Health

Mohammed VI University Hospital Center
The Mohammed VI University Hospital Center (CHU) was inaugurated on July 23, 2014 by King Mohammed VI10. The UHC started its activities on July 25, 201411.

 

Al Farabi Hospital
Al Farabi Hospital is an autonomously managed hospital providing medical care and services to a population estimated at about two million inhabitants, covering the prefecture of Oujda-Angade and the entire eastern region. Built in 1954, the hospital has, among others, medical services (225 beds), surgical services (204 beds), a resuscitation and emergency department (19 beds) and a mother and child unit (122 beds). With a medical staff of 643 people, 73 of whom are physicians, Al Farabi Hospital, which serves a regional population estimated at almost 2 million souls, is built on an area of 27,000 m2, of which 9,620 are covered, and has an average occupancy rate of 50.85%, with almost 109,000 inpatient days and 33,186 admissions per year.

 

Monuments

The medina of Oujda covers an area of twenty-five hectares and houses several monuments of undeniable historical value. It was surrounded by a belt of gardens planted with olive trees, a belt a thousand meters wide in some places. Each garden was delimited by an adobe wall 1.80 to 2 meters high, perforated with numerous holes. These gardens thus constituted an appreciable defense system, which was reinforced in the 1880s by the construction of adobe walls six to seven meters high, forming a continuous enclosure crossed by two diametrically opposed gates, and bordered by a wide and deep ditch dug to build the wall. The medina comprised nine districts corresponding to the different fractions of the Oujdie population: Achekfane – Ahl Oujda – Oulad Amrane – Ahl El Jamel – Oulad El Gadi – Oulad Aïssa – the Mellah – the market district (merchants and craftsmen) and the kasbah district (offices of the makhzen).

 

The most outstanding medieval monuments of Oujda are: the Great Merinid Mosque, the Merinid Medersa, the Merinid Moorish Bath and the Merinid Kasbah. These monuments date back to the 13th century. The walls of Bab Sidi Abdelouhab, Bab Lakhmiss, Bab Oulad-Amrane and Bab El-Gharbi date from the late nineteenth century.

 

The medina

The medina represents the old town of Oujda with its Moroccan character. It is delimited from the rest of the new city by its crenellated walls and its merlons. In addition, the city has gates of remarkable architecture of Arab-Andalusian style, which allow an exchange between the old city and the modern one; Among the gates of the medina, we find the Sidi Abdelwahab gate (Bab Sidi Abdelouahab) located to the east, the El Khemis gate (Bab El Khemis) demolished in June 1920 located to the north, the Oulad Amran gate (Bab Oulad Amran) facing the street of Marrakech and the Gharbi gate (Bab Gharbi) to the west. The door that remains the most remarkable is that of Bab Sidi Abdelwahab with its ogival door framed by two bastions on which the marshal made hang the severed heads of the rebels hence its name of “door of the heads”. Near the Sidi Abdelouahab gate, there is a weekly souk, held every Thursday in a square outside the medina walls, five fondouks or hotels, three mosques (Djamaâ El Kebir, Djamaâ Heddada and Djamaa Sidi Okba), a medersa, and there were three synagogues (one was recently restored12 ). In the irrigated orchards fed by the springs of Sidi Yahia Benyounes, the inhabitants of the city cultivate vegetable gardens.

 

The medina of Oujda also boasts numerous palaces, including Dar Al Makhzen and Dar Al Bacha, as well as a school that was the first modern school in Morocco and celebrated its centenary in 2007: the Sidi Ziane school, formerly called the “French Arab School” and then the “Urban Muslim School of Sidi Ziane Square”.

 

The ancient families of the city
In pre-colonial times, the population of Oujda was made up of groups of varied origins. In 1907, the diversity of its origins was already very large. According to Voinot, there were the Oulad Amran, the Mbasso, the Achegfan, the Ahel Oujda, the Oulad el Gadi, the Ahel d’Jamel, the Oulad Aissa and the Oulad Khouna. These seven groups had given their names to the seven districts of Oujda. Each of them would have been composed of elements of different origins.

 

The Oulad Amran are subdivided into :

 

the descendants of Moulay Abdelkader Jilali: fractions of Moulay Mohyeddine Kadiri, Sidi Mohammed Ben-Abdelghani Kadiri and Moulay Rchid Kadiri;

Chekarna : they are chorfa (the one who descends from the prophet through Fatima) and would be according to some of the ksar Oudaghir of Figuig, according to others of Nédroma (Algeria);

Oulad Sinaceur, Touhami, Rachidi, Benali Hassani, Mechrafi, Berroukech, Ben-Dahhou, originating from Mascara.

Oulad Osman, Maqri, Mir-Ali, Ben-Mansour Houti; originating from Tlemcen. Oulad Moulay and Abbes: also Chorfa would have left the region of Tlemcen in the XVIth century to flee from the Turkish domination;
Ghouazi or Oulad Ghazi: he would have originated in Tafilalet or Beni-Snassen;

The Tlemcenians arrived in Oujda at about the same time as Moulay Abbès;

the Mbassos: their real name is Bbasso, originally from Tlemcen;
The Achekfans are said to have very varied origins, ranging from the Beni-Snassen to the Tafilalet, passing through Tlemcen and Figuig.
The Ahel oujda are made up of two small groups:

 

The bequia: from the Beni-Snassen, which means “the rest” is composed of the Oulad Menni, the Oulad Mohamed ben Larbi and the Oulad el Moul; it would be the last vestige of Antiquity, of the pre-Islamic population that would have occupied the city at the time of the legendary sultan El Ablak el Forta;
The Kouarda: it includes mainly people from Kouarda and perhaps also some from Beni-Snous and Beni-Bou-Saîd (Algeria).

 

The Jamil family: The Jamil family is one of the richest families in Oujda, thanks to the prosperity of their family business.

The Ouladd el Gadi are very mixed; this fraction is made up of Arabs and Berbers from everywhere. There are, among others, the Beni-Snassen, the Cherada, the Beni bou Saïd, as well as people from Zoui and Aïra, near Nemours.

 

The Ahel el Djamel have diverse origins like the previous ones; the Oulad bou Kais come from the ksar of the same name (south of Oran); the Beni-Khaled from the Beni-Snassen, the Ouled Chamma from Tlemcen, the Ouled Filali from Tafilalet.

 

The Oulad Aissa are divided into Oulad el Mir and Oulad Aissa. The first are from the Beni Mimoun, among the Beni-Mengouche, Beni-Snassen, the second the Oulad Aissa from the west. Some families of the Oulad El Arabi of the south of the Atlas and the Beni-Yala have been integrated in the Oulad Aissa. The population diversified under the French protectorate in 1907 due to the constant influx of people coming from all over eastern Morocco, Algeria but also from western Morocco, Fez, Marrakech and even from the Saharan provinces of Morocco, Sous and Tafilalet.

 

The Bouzidis, a great lineage of Idrisi families, came from Fez and Tlemcen to settle in the city in the 20th century.

Dar Sebti is one of the most fabulous palaces in the city. Built in 1938 by a great merchant of the city, it was restored and renovated. It has a dual function: it is the headquarters of the Center for Studies and Research of Gharnati Music, and the venue for various cultural and festive activities (wedding parties, exhibitions, receptions, etc.). In front of this palace, the Lalla Meriem Park is laid out for relaxation and houses a museum. This park is also the headquarters of the Orient Tourist Office. It was once used as a children’s school, also in the 1970s.

 

Sharif Al Idrissi Library

The Charif Al Idrissi Library, established in 1956, was part of the small network of modern public libraries of the last century. The current library is housed in a beautiful Moorish house that belonged to the Pasha of the city of Oujda. Since then, it houses reading rooms and a specialized multilingual library.

 

Lalla Aicha Park

Not far from the medina, the Lalla Aïcha park covers an area of about 20 hectares. Created in 1935, it is a place of relaxation for the inhabitants of Oujda. It offers a beautiful leisure area with its swimming pools, sports fields, tennis and horseback riding clubs, as well as playgrounds for children.

 

The park was renovated and rebuilt in 2016, a new athletics track was created and the gardens underwent a landscaping upgrade, with Arab-Andalusian influence.

 

Lalla Meriem Park, designed for relaxation and housing the Lalla Meriem museum. This park is also the headquarters of the Orient Tourist Office. You can also learn Gharnati music there.

Economy

The privileged geographical position of Oujda is an advantage for its prosperity and progress. The city has a commercial and tertiary vocation.

 

Primary sector
Main companies
Colaimo is a dairy cooperative present in the eastern region.
Isly plast: Transformation of plastics.
Coca-Cola.
Technopolis.

Secondary sector
The city has an embryonic industrial fabric:

Industrial zone (Mohammed V boulevard) with an area of forty-eight hectares plus seven hectares of extension and with one hundred and forty-four industrial lots.

Al Boustane II industrial zone with an area of one hundred hectares, eighty-one industrial lots and one hundred and forty-seven lots in the economic activity zone.

Professional premises: sixty-five lots with different surfaces (twenty of less than 40 m2 ; twenty of less than 80 m2 ; fifteen of less than 160 m2 and ten of less than 240 m2), where numerous factories have been installed (construction materials with the cement factory of the Swiss group Holcim, canning factories, flour mills, dairies, packaging units, chemical products…).
Main companies
Bioui Travaux is a Moroccan public works company (700 employees).

Tertiary sector
Tertiary sector, it contains a wholesale commercial facility, a well-equipped administrative apparatus (main town of the wilaya region, regional delegations of the ministries) and rare services, in particular liberal professions: architects, medical specialists, notaries, accountants, lawyers, research offices, etc. In the new medina, the souk El Fellah (souk El Fellah) and Melilla (souk Melilla or Mlilia) attract both local customers and visitors.

 

The high number of bank branches, more than thirty, is linked to the function of receiving the capital of Moroccans living abroad (MRE) from the city and its region.

 

The capital of the eastern region, capital of a region with a number of natural assets and favorable for the development of tourism, is characterized by the beach of Saidia, fourteen kilometers long and with fine golden sand. The Beni-Snassen mountains offer a beautiful natural landscape forming the Zegzel valley, with gorges, waterfalls, caves, etc.

 

Six kilometers from Oujda, the oasis of Sidi Yahya has a souk on Friday mornings. The capital of eastern Morocco, located at 450 m altitude, offers palm trees, eucalyptus, mimosas and lilacs, a delight for the senses. The medina remains strictly traditional.

 

Today, the region is destined to play an important role thanks to tourism, especially with the creation of a large tourist center on the beach of Saidia (57 km north of Oujda), the doubling of the Oujda-Saidia road, the Oujda-Fes highway, the planned extension of the Oujda-Angad airport (addition of a runway and creation of an arrival and departure hub), the construction of hotels, the improvement of roads and boulevards in the city, the development of the medina, etc.

 

Saidia is a large tourist area at the gates of Europe, located 60 km north of the city of Oujda, with a beautiful sandy beach 14 km long.

 

Every year, in July and August, a festival of music and popular arts of Gharnati is organized there.

 

As part of the Azur plan that the Moroccan government has launched to develop the country’s tourism activity under the name “Vision 2010”, the Moroccan government launched an international tender in which thirteen companies participated and which was won by the FADESA group, one of Spain’s leading real estate groups.

 

The Sidi Yahya oasis is located just six kilometers from the center of Oujda. It is a meeting place for several ethnic groups and various religions. It houses the mausoleum of the city’s patron saint, Sidi Yahya Benyounes, as well as the tombs of several saints.

The park of Sidi Mâafa, which is part of the Jbel Hamra forest, is a real lung of the city, located 5 kilometers from the center, where you can climb the Jbel Hamra. The site offers a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Work to improve the park’s paths and trails began at the end of 2006. The park was inaugurated on April 7, 2007.

Guefaït, located 25 km southwest of the mining town of Jérada, this small village already deserves the name of oasis thanks to the greenery of its beautiful gardens that contrast with the surrounding steppe. The waterfalls, gorges and springs of the Oued Za, the main tributary of the Melwiya, offer a particular charm to the visitor.

 

Tafoughalt or Taforalt (in Tamazight ⵜⴰⴼⵓⵖⴰⵍⵜ), in Morocco, is a small village, belonging to the Amazighs of Béni-Snassen (ethnic group) Ayt Iznassen, located in the mountains rising 1,500 meters above sea level. It has several stores where mountain dwellers often go to buy provisions. Visitors are attracted by its waterfalls (zegzel) and loquat plantations. It is also a tourist destination that is currently being developed.
The Wilaya of Oujda has several springs of remarkable interest. They are particularly appreciated for the characteristics of their water:

 

Benkachour spring
Al Aagreb spring (Sidi Chafi): 12 km west of Taourirt, it is also known by patients suffering from skin diseases and rheumatism.

Fezouane spring: it is located in the northern foothills of Beni Snassen, near the road linking Ahfir to Berkane. It is known for the effectiveness of its waters in the treatment of liver and kidney diseases.

The waters of the Zaouiat Sidi Hamza spring, near Jérada, have positive effects on patients suffering from rheumatism.

Transport and infrastructures
Railway transport
Diesel locomotive.

Oujda is connected by rail (ONCF) to the west with Fez, Rabat and Casablanca, and to the south with Bouarfa. There used to be a railroad to the east and Algeria, but the line has been closed since 1994; this railroad was built during the construction of the Trans-Saharan Railway.

 

The train from Oujda to Fez is pulled by a diesel engine, while the track is equipped with catenaries.

 

Road transport
The bus station is next to the 3 March square, southwest of the ONCF station. It is served by a national and international transport company (Compagnie de transport marocaine, or CTM) and two others for Oujda’s roads (Chark and Nour).

 

The capital of the eastern region, capital of a region with a number of natural assets and favorable for the development of tourism, is characterized by the beach of Saidia, fourteen kilometers long and with fine golden sand. The Beni-Snassen mountains offer a beautiful natural landscape forming the Zegzel valley, with gorges, waterfalls, caves, etc.

 

Six kilometers from Oujda, the oasis of Sidi Yahya has a souk on Friday mornings. The capital of eastern Morocco, located at 450 m altitude, offers palm trees, eucalyptus, mimosas and lilacs, a delight for the senses. The medina remains strictly traditional.

 

Today, the region is destined to play an important role thanks to tourism, especially with the creation of a large tourist center on the beach of Saidia (57 km north of Oujda), the doubling of the Oujda-Saidia road, the Oujda-Fes highway, the planned extension of the Oujda-Angad airport (addition of a runway and creation of an arrival and departure hub), the construction of hotels, the improvement of roads and boulevards in the city, the development of the medina, etc.

 

Saidia is a large tourist area at the gates of Europe, located 60 km north of the city of Oujda, with a beautiful sandy beach 14 km long.

 

Every year, in July and August, a festival of music and popular arts of Gharnati is organized there.

 

As part of the Azur plan that the Moroccan government has launched to develop the country’s tourism activity under the name “Vision 2010”, the Moroccan government launched an international tender in which thirteen companies participated and which was won by the FADESA group, one of Spain’s leading real estate groups.

 

The Sidi Yahya oasis is located just six kilometers from the center of Oujda. It is a meeting place for several ethnic groups and various religions. It houses the mausoleum of the city’s patron saint, Sidi Yahya Benyounes, as well as the tombs of several saints.

The park of Sidi Mâafa, which is part of the Jbel Hamra forest, is a real lung of the city, located 5 kilometers from the center, where you can climb the Jbel Hamra. The site offers a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Work to improve the park’s paths and trails began at the end of 2006. The park was inaugurated on April 7, 2007.

Guefaït, located 25 km southwest of the mining town of Jérada, this small village already deserves the name of oasis thanks to the greenery of its beautiful gardens that contrast with the surrounding steppe. The waterfalls, gorges and springs of the Oued Za, the main tributary of the Melwiya, offer a particular charm to the visitor.

 

Tafoughalt or Taforalt (in Tamazight ⵜⴰⴼⵓⵖⴰⵍⵜ), in Morocco, is a small village, belonging to the Amazighs of Béni-Snassen (ethnic group) Ayt Iznassen, located in the mountains rising 1,500 meters above sea level. It has several stores where mountain dwellers often go to buy provisions. Visitors are attracted by its waterfalls (zegzel) and loquat plantations. It is also a tourist destination that is currently being developed.
The Wilaya of Oujda has several springs of remarkable interest. They are particularly appreciated for the characteristics of their water:

 

 

 

Thara

It is the feast of circumcision or khatan of young children, usually between birth and three and a half years old. The child wears a qachaba or 3baya, a kind of white cassock; the “Hajjam”, once a “surgeon” for the occasion (nowadays circumcision is performed by a surgeon in the hospital), performs the circumcision of the child, who is given a hard-boiled egg in his hand, a symbol of fertility. The pain is quickly relieved by the women’s yodels, and the child is brought into a room where he is visited by all his relatives. Gifts are given to the child to be forgotten.

 

Arsse

A wedding that lasts four days according to tradition. On the dfou, the husband’s family sends gifts to the bride, as well as sheep and all the supplies that will be used to prepare the festive meal. Then there is the lhenna (henna day) where the bride is taken by the hand by the young women of her family for the complete preparations: afternoon in the hammam; visit to the hairdresser, the beautician… In the evening, while the guests arrive, she tattoos her hands with fine henna tattoos; during this evening, she wears a white dress embroidered with green thread or a black, blue or red velvet dress embroidered with gold thread. On the third night, the day of the third arss, the groom comes with his family and they share milk and dates. The bride has to parade in seven traditional dresses specially designed for this event. At the end of the evening, the groom takes his wife home and they become a couple. The last day is the hzam, a meal organized and brought by the bride’s mother to celebrate the wedding, which ends with a convivial evening in which the bride’s family joins her in her new apartment: during the meal a girl is asked to wear a belt around her waist to mark the passage from girl to woman. As a reward, the bride offers money (a ticket) to the boy.

 

Feast of the horse (Tbourida)

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(The Ouaâda)

 

Folklore

Detailed articles: Moroccan music, Fantasy (Maghreb) and Reggada.

Fantasy

Fantasia is an equestrian show in which riders show their skill in handling horses and weapons. At the end of the race, the riders have to shoot a shot called baroud in a synchronized manner.

 

Laalaoui

In the past, the warriors danced as a sign of victory over the enemy, hence the use of the rifle, the constant pounding of the feet on the ground to the rhythm of the music and, several times during the dance, the warriors bend down to pick up some earth and smell it, a symbol of belonging to the land.

 

This style is not the only one in this region, there is the zamer (flute).

 

Musical and rhythmic
– The pure urban musical heritage of Oujda is the Gharnati, i.e. the Andalusian Grenadian music.

-The Bedouin musical heritage is the arfa.

 

Once strongly marked by the bendir (a kind of tambourine) and the zamer (a kind of flute with two horns), this musical style integrates the Moroccan folk heritage which has been modernized by mixing modern instruments such as drums, guitars, bass, violin and synthesizers incorporating traditional instruments.

 

It is from the rhythmic 4/4 and 6/8 that this music is worked to perpetuate the ancestral music. The background music is in 4 beats, but the arrangements are drawn from different melodies related to what is done around the world. The sounds push the local melodies towards universality.

 

The reggada and the allaoui are an integral part of a local heritage to be preserved, the art of Aarfa, after a long lethargy and its local confinement, wakes up to spread nationally and internationally. Several musical structures of the Marocet are inspired by it.

 

Proverbs of Ujdis

 

You do not buy vegetables with words (Lhdra Ma Tchri Khodra): words are wind.
Every sheep is suspended by its leg (Koul Me3za T3lég men Kra3ha): each person is solely responsible for his actions.
He who digs a hole falls into it (li 7far 7afra l5ouh tah fiha): he who conspires or wants to harm others always suffers setbacks or is the victim of his own misdeeds.
Raindrops make the river (gatra b gatra ya7mal lwad): one must be patient in life.
What one has earned during the day is lost at night(talab yatlab w mratou tsada9) : one must know how to spend money usefully.
Oh, bride! Who found you beautiful? – My mother and my aunt opposite: (Chkoune chokrak a laarouss ? – Mma w khalti lli gbalti) = Relatives are false witnesses.
My princess is beautiful and she is even more so after her Hammam! (Lala zina ou zadha nour el hamam) : It is bad and it has become even worse!
The Oujdi dialect
The Oujdi dialect is particularly close to the dialects spoken in Oranie (Western Algeria).

The main characteristics of the Oujdi dialect that differentiate it from other Moroccan dialects are

the absence of the verbal prefix ka in the inactive complex: one would thus say nakoul (I eat) instead of kanakoul ;
the distinction between the 2nd person masculine and feminine, in the realized form dert (thou hast made – masculine) and derti (thou hast made – feminine)
a lexicon specific to the region, but which, due to the opening to the rest of the kingdom, is being lost and normalized in a very significant way.
M’haya and Angad tribal elders and oujdis tend to pronounce interdentals; examples: thlatha, ‘three’; n’dharbek, ‘I hit you’; hadhi, ‘this’. The other Oujdis (the majority) say tlatha, n’darbek and hadi, as in the rest of Morocco.

 

POPULAR LEGENDS
Characters and heroes of tales and stories :

Lounja is a myth of a woman with very long hair.
Majtitte
Aicha Kandicha
rqueia Mimmiss
Kabrane l’Mouta is the nickname of a worker who dug tombs in Oujda.
Baâ (Sidi Yahya) or Ba3: this is a character from the 1960s who disturbed the silence of the oasis with a cry close to bleating, hence the nickname.
Idrissi Zerguit (Mly-Driss)
Sidi Yahya Benyounes, patron saint of the town
Meeting point of several civilizations, this oasis also houses the mausoleums of several saints, the most venerated of which is Sidi Yahya Benyounes. For some Christians, he is Saint John, son of Jonah and contemporary of Jesus [ref. needed]. For the Jews, he is a Castilian rabbi who settled in Oujda in 1391.

 

Popular beliefs attribute to him a baraka of a long life of eighty years dedicated to the worship of God.

 

Culture
Education
The city of Oujda has the University Mohammed I (UMP), created in 1978. It has six higher education centers (four faculties and three schools plus the regional pedagogical center for the training of first cycle teachers (CPR):

Regional Academy of Education and Training of Oujda, (AREF-Oujda).
Primary Teacher Training Center, (CFI-Oujda)
Regional Pedagogical Center for the training of first cycle teachers, (CPR-Oujda)
Faculty of Science,
Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences, (CPR-Oujda)
Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of Oujda (FLSH)
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of Oujda (FMPO)
Higher School of Technology (Ecole Supérieure de Technologie)
National School of Applied Sciences (School of Engineering)
National School of Commerce and Management (E.N.C.G)* Institute of Commerce and Management (I.C.G)
Institute for the Training of Technicians in Architecture and Urban Planning (I.F.T.A.U.)
French Business School (E.F.A.)
Preparatory classes for grandes écoles (Lycée Omar Ibn Abdeaziz)
Lycée Technique (L.T.O)(Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Economics…)(Formerly known as Lycée Garçon and often called Lycée Omar)
Lycée Maghreb Arabe Technique (BTS and other disciplines)
Specialized Institute of Applied Technology – Lazaret
Specialized Institute of Applied Technology – Sidi Mâafa
Specialized Institute of Applied Technology – El Aounia
Specialized Institute of Applied Technology – Hay Assalam
The city of Oujda has several private primary and secondary schools. As well as a school teaching in French (Al-Badil Group).

 

The French Mission Ibn Khaldoun (A.F.M.I.K)
The French Mission Ibn Khaldoun is an establishment dedicated to the French language, especially for people who want to improve their French. It is possible to take accelerated French courses, in summer and winter, and to attend theater sessions presented by students of the institute, which allow them to put into practice the lessons they have learned. Trips are also organized to learn more about foreign countries.

 

The Mohammed VI Theater

 

nterior of the Mohammed VI Theater
Built in 2014, the Mohammed Vi Theater is a public establishment under the supervision of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture. It covers an area of 6500 m2, of which 4900 m2 are covered. Its auditorium has a seating capacity of 1200. The establishment offers, among other things, private rooms for artists, backstage areas, eight workshops, spaces dedicated to inaugurations and another for guests of honor.

 

Cinema
Detailed article: Moroccan cinema.
Oujda organized the 1st Moroccan Film Festival in 2005.

Music
Detailed articles: Moroccan music and Arabic-Andalusian music.
The gharnati
Through Islam, Morocco has received an important artistic heritage from the East. Subsequently, it was the recipient of the Andalusian culture. The origin of gharnati music dates back to the last centuries of Muslim Andalusia (1232-1492). The time of the Beni al Ahmar dynasty in Granada.

 

Today, part of the musical tradition of this precious heritage appears in the Maghreb countries under the name of ala, gharnati, malouf and, recently, Andalusian music. Cordoba, Seville and Granada have contributed to the diffusion of Andalusian language, poetry and music.

 

In Oujda, Andalusian music reigns in all ceremonies, weddings, intimate soirées, etc. Despite the instrumental pieces used, it is the song that predominates, divided into two categories

Melismatic singing with a free rhythm improvised by a solo voice supported by an instrument;

syllabic singing, in which the melody is fixed in advance and is sung with a specific rhythm, generally performed by a group of voices in unison, sometimes enriched by some vocal ornaments performed by one of the members of the group.
The first musician to introduce gharnatie music in eastern Morocco in the 1940s was Mohammed Salah Chaabane, known as Sheikh Salah. His sons Mohammed and Nasreddine Chaabane continued his tradition after his death in 1973. Some of Mohammed Chaabane’s former students have become teachers and conductors.

 

Dr. Ahmed Thanthaoui, PhD in literature and art, research professor, writer, former artistic director of the Al Moussilia ensemble in Oujda and current president and artistic director of the Ibn Al Khatib ensemble of authentic culture and art.

 

In Oujda, the most famous gharnatie musical group is the Al Moussilia Association, directed by Dr. Ahmed Thanthaoui between 1993 and 2016. The group consists of about sixteen members between instrumentalists and singers (boys and girls). In 2016, he founded the Ibn Al Khatib Authentic Culture and Art Ensemble and chairs it. He is mainly dedicated to the research, preservation and dissemination of the rich musical heritage remaining in Morocco. Among his academic publications: الموسيقا الأندلسية بالغرب الإسلامي (2008) , a book considered a reference book on Arabic-Andalusian music. Gharnatie music, the name by which music originating from Al Andalusia is known in Morocco, forms the main basis of his repertoire, which also includes other Moroccan and Arabic musical forms.

 

Allaoui
The allaoui is a traditional war dance with several variations. It is found in Oujda and in the eastern region (up to Wad Amlil, 50 km east of Fez, beginning of the cultural and geographical eastern Morocco: Taourirt, Guercif, Berkane, Oujda), and in Algeria in Oranais, Oran, Tlemcen, Nedroma, Maghnia, Ghazaouet, Sidi-Bel-Abbès, Tiaret, etc.

 

Raï
Raï is an Algerian musical genre that was probably born at the beginning of the 20th century in the Oranie region (Oran, Sidi-bel-Abbès Mostaganem and Aïn Témouchent)15,16,17 Since the 1990s, this music has become internationalized. The raï has spread to Oujda thanks to Algerian traders, and to the whole Maghreb and the Middle East thanks to Algerian artists such as Cheb Khaled and Cheb Mami. It has been modernized using modern electric and electronic instruments. It sings of love and social difficulties. This new genre naturally found an audience first in the region of the ancient raî gasba.

 

Reggada
The reggada, a typically oriental musical style, is a war dance originating from the Beni Snassen. The reggada is very present in Oujda.

 

Sports
Oujda has the following sports associations:

Mouloudia Club d’Oujda (MCO): soccer, rugby, handball, track and field, basketball, judo
Union Sportive Musulmane d’Oujda (USMO): soccer, handball, judo
Union Sportive Musulmane d’Oujda (USO): rugby, athletics, handball, judo
Cheminots Sports Union of Oujda (USCHO)
Étoile sportive d’Oujda (ESO): athletics, soccer, judo, boxing
Renaissance Club Oujda (RCO): soccer
Oujda’s sports infrastructure consists of a municipal stadium (rue de Casablanca-1921), a Stade d’Honneur (20,000 seats) inaugurated in 1976, the ROC stadium (Rugby Oujda Club-Route deJerada-1919), a sports complex at Parc Lalla Aicha and other multi-sports halls.

 

Gastronomy
The gastronomy of the city of Oujda is the result of a multi-ethnic mix, this cuisine derives mainly from Berber, Andalusian and an imposing influence18 of Algerian. As in all Moroccan cities, the cuisine of Oujda includes specialties such as pastilla: stuffed with a succession of bricks, harira: a fermented soup with the particularity of being seasoned with caraway in Oujda, or couscous. In addition, this cuisine includes several dishes and pastas of Algerian origin, such as bakbouka of offal in sauce, karan: a chickpea flour custard flavored with cumin, douida: a traditional pasta similar to noodles, al khoubiz : a dish based on chard and garlic, tchicha be zaatar: Algerian peasant soup with wild thyme and spices, tchichat mermez: green barley prepared in the form of couscous, or sprinkled with lben (buttermilk). This term is used in eastern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. However, the tchichat mermez originates from the city of Biskra, in eastern Algeria, the barania: a dish based on meat, chickpeas and fried eggplants originating in the city of Tlemcen but cooked throughout Algeria, the sfirya: a dish based on meat and almond pastillas cooked in the oven, originating in the city of Algiers (sfiria)19,20 prepared at one time by the poor and which later became a royal dish eaten by the high nobility of the tribes of Algiers21 , as well as pastries such as makrout, zlabia, kaâk. ..

 

Handicrafts
Traditional clothing
Although the takchita fashion has arrived in the city of Oujda, the traditional clothing is preserved and is essentially of Algerian origin22,23 . Among these attires, we find the gandoura (dress) and the rezza24,25 (turban), for the male clothing elements, and for the female clothing elements we find the kaftan24 of Tlemcen, the karakou24 of Tlemcen is distinguished from that of Algiers by the presence of a velvet skirt instead of pants, the Maghrebi haïk leaves a single opening at eye level, the Constantine gandoura embroidered with gold thread on velvet. However, the main dress that remains very popular among the women of Oujda is the blouza26 , originating from Tlemcen but which has adopted the name of Blouza Wahrania (in reference to the city of Oran). These costumes are mainly worn on the occasion of a wedding.

 

As for everyday clothing, there is the female gandoura, a dress decorated with simple motifs worn in the home, and the hooded djellaba, which was originally worn by men but has also become a feminine garment for women.

 

Today, men wear less and less these traditional costumes in favor of jeans, sweatshirts, sneakers… However, these garments can be found during family celebrations (weddings, circumcisions, baptisms, etc.) or religious festivities (during Ramadan to go to the mosque on the 27th day of Ramadan). The traditional hairstyle is the white or yellow turban. It can still be seen in the city of Oujda during the fantasies or in the traditional war dances.

 

 

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Guide to Oujda, Morocco
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