A Closed Desert

A photo essay exploring the different aspects of Mauritania, an unknown and minsundertood african country.

Religion is one of the key elements of the Mauritanian society. in the past during colonization in the XIX century, Islam was regarded as a unifying principle between the maures and the black population against the Europeans. In this way, during the independence in 1960, the country officially became the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The constitution says ( Article II ) : « The religion of the people of Mauritania is Islam », turning it in a state religion. Because of the ethnic and tribal divisions in the country, religion is seen by the government as essential for national unity.

Ten years ago, thousands of tourists were helping to increase employment for the locals through booking hotels, tour guides, car rentals, restaurants, and shopping at local markets. After the murder of four French people in the South West of the country in 2007, the French government eventually prohibited touristic trips in the country. After ten years without attacks, the tourists are slowly coming back explained one of the local guides. In 2008, French special forces formed, among the Mauritanian army, small forces with a high mobility and knowledge of the desert to fight against jihadists on the Eastern frontier. The drop of the iron value, one of the principal exportation resources of the country, stopped the economic growth of the country. Despite of these various activities, the unemployment rate remains high, at 10,2 % in 2017, leading some young Mauritanian to immigrate, as the country is located at a strategic position on western Africa, at the transition between sub Saharan African and Maghreb

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