This post is part of a weekly feature called Discovery of the Week. By discovery, I mean a place, a custom or dish that is not widely known. See, I love to read travel magazines, websites and books. Very often, I find beautiful and interesting gems that not a lot of people seem to know about. That is why I thought about introducing this feature because I am sure it will expose a lot of astonishing places. Additionally, I enjoy learning about the many amazing places in the world. I believe my readers also enjoy this activity.
Discovery of the Week: Dakhla
Where it is located: In Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco.
What it is: A city built on a narrow peninsula of the Atlantic Coast.
Surprisingly, the city was founded in 1502 by Spanish settlers during the expansion of their empire. The Spanish interest in Western Africa’s desertic coast was the result of fishing activities carried out from the nearby Canary Islands .
The Spaniards were seal fur traders, hunters, fishermen and whalers in the Sahara coast. They established whaling stations with some cod fishing and trading.
However, it was not until 1884 that Spain refounded formally the Dakhla area as Villa Cisneros, in the settlement dating from in 1502.
In 1965, the United Nations asked Spain to decolonize the Western Sahara territory. In 1975, Spain relinquished the administrative control of the territory to a joint administration by Morocco and Mauritania (the countries adjacent to the area).
A war exploded between the two countries and a liberation movement for the control of the territory. Eventually, Mauritania withdrew from the fight and Morocco gained control over the territory. However, since the liberation movement declared the independence of the region at one time, not all countries recognize Morocco authority over it (it is a disputed region).
The main economic activities of the city are fishing and tourism. In recent years the town has become a centre for aquatic sports, such as kitesurfing, windsurfing and surf casting. The Dakhla Festival has been taking place for more than 5 years. It promotes music, arts and sports in the area. The New York Times selected Dakhla as one of the places to visit in 2012.
Did you know about Dakhla? Let me know in the comments section below.