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The best Western Sahara City in Morocco, (El-Ayoun – Laayoune)


The best Western Sahara City in Morocco, El-Ayoun

The largest city in the Western Sahara region, which is under Moroccan sovereignty and which is contested by the Polisario Front. It combines the urban character with the Bedouin desert heritage and is the epitome of a conflict that has continued since 1975.

El-Ayoun constitutes administratively the center of the Laayoune region, Boujdour, Sakia El Hamra, one of the approved authorities in Morocco.


The inhabitants of El-Ayoun city are members of the desert tribes that make up the so-called Al-Bayan or Hassani community.

It is an incubator for the most important branches of the Sahrawi tribes, such as “Raqeebat”, “Aroussiyyin”, the Sheikh Maa Al-Ainin family and others, and has a population of about 170 thousand people.


Historical sources trace the emergence of the first nucleus of the city of El-Ayoun to the period of the Spanish colonization of the Sahara. In 1928 a military base was established around which some elements of urbanization grew. During the fifties, some basic facilities and services began to appear to meet the needs of the colonial power, especially the families of the Spanish soldiers working in the region.

The importance of the region increased at the end of the forties with the discovery of the Spanish geologist, “Manuel Yamadinia”, the existence of phosphate mines in the nearby Boukraa region in 1947.

General Franco visited El-Ayoun in 1950. In January 1958, the Spanish government issued a decree classifying Western Sahara as a Spanish province, with its administrative capital El-Ayoun.

Historians link the migration of groups of desert nomads to the city center to the military operation “Ecovision” launched by the Spanish-French alliance against the Moroccan Liberation Army in the Sahara.

The city had a special section for Spanish urbanites and another inhabited by people. It was newly constructed on the bank of the Sakia El Hamra valley in 1973 at a site called “Oyoun Al-Medalashi” – the source of freshwater – 25 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.

After the departure of the Spanish colonialism and the extension of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara region, the city of El-Ayoun experienced a great urban expansion and a remarkable urban growth that made it a modern city.


The areas around Laayoune are rich in important mineral and mining resources. The desert tourism movement has also flourished with the construction of major hotels and markets for local dessert products, as well as marine tourism on the coast of the “mouth of the valley” in the suburbs of the city.


Laayoune includes a museum of desert art and a complex for traditional industry. The silver market is full of the types of antique jewelry that used to decorate the desert.

There is the “Al-Masid” oasis, 15 kilometers southeast of the city, which is a water source surrounded by palm trees, and it was in the past a resting station for old commercial caravans.

The desert, as it is in our imagination, also means beautiful and charming oases, and in Laayoune, there is the oasis of “Al-Masid”, located 15 km southeast of the city and located on the southern bank of the Wadi Al-Hamra, which is a source of water surrounded by palm trees, and it was in the past It is a resting station for old commercial caravans, and the place is considered a place for recreation for the city’s residents. As well as by local travel agencies. Near the Al-Maseed Oasis, there is the site of Al-Dashira, known historically as the Battle of Al-Dashira, which took place in 1958 between the Sahrawi resistance and the Spanish forces, and in which the Spanish military fort is located.

For lovers of ecotourism, “Al Nila” is a tourist site of great ecological importance.

It is located 26 kilometers from the village of Akhfenir, which is a unique place for environmental diversity.

The site is also an important station for migratory birds, especially “pink flamingos”, which is considered one of the rare birds.

The site has attracted the interest of many researchers and environmental organizations, including the Global Fund for the Protection of the Environment. It is also distinguished by the presence of an archaeological site close to it for a prehistoric city. “Al-Nila” has been classified as a national park by the Moroccan Water and Forests Administration, and the first stages of its tourist qualification have begun…

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