Restoring, Recording and Inventorying the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the M’Hamid Oasis, Morocco
M’Hamid, the most remote in the Draa Valley, Southern Morocco, features one of the best preserved examples of ksour, vernacular earthen settlements surrounded by high defensive walls and reinforced by corner towers. Ouled Youssef offers a complete panorama of traditional pre-Saharan habitat both in terms of urban configuration and earthen construction techniques. Besides, it enjoys diverse intangible heritage associated with local traditional crafts – cooking, basketry and women’s clothing production – arts – Rokba music and dance – and building techniques – rammed earth, mud brick and tadelakt.
The villages of Ouled Youssuf and M’Hamid El Ghizlane share important buildings and family ties. Across the gardens lies a marabout, a small building with a square floor plan topped by four domes, where Sidi Abdellah Khalifa, a holy man worshipped by the local community, is buried.
About the project
Both the tangible and intangible heritage of Ouled Youssef have recently become highly vulnerable as a result of irreversible physical, socio-economic and cultural change. Despite its distinct heritage and tourism potential, the village has not yet received adequate attention.
The project aims to contribute to the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of the M’Hamid Oasis by identifying, recording and documenting key built heritage assets and associated cultural practices, while training international participants. The objectives are to:
a) restore and promote architectural and cultural heritage as a motor for local development;
b) identify and document historic sites;
c) record threats to tangible and intangible heritage;
d) record traditional building techniques and associated crafts;
e) record community perceptions, requirements and aspirations;
f) create a tentative inventory of relevant structures/open spaces as well as cultural practices, and establish their heritage values;
g) build capacity and raise awareness in traditional architecture and construction.