Sahrawi, Western Sahara Economy

Sahrawi, Western Sahara Economy and Society



The Sahrawis are nomadic shepherds, because they have a subsistence economy; that is, they travel enormous distances in search of better pastures, making use of the camel (dromedary or yemel), which serves both as a beast of burden and as a consumer in meat, milk, take advantage of your skin, hair for tents or tents. In addition to owning herds of goats and sheep. They have an agriculture that hardly exists, since they limit themselves to sowing in the graras (clayey soils of humid subsoil especially barley, from which they prepare chicha or barley flour). Therefore their diet is reduced.

  • Alcuscu, which are made with barley flour plus a fat or oil and water, meat from the herds when they have it served in the gauze or tray, milk in abundance, either fresh or lebén or sour raib, some dates when they go in a caravan and copious amounts of tea.

According to Insidewatch, the Sahara is rich in fishing, and it extracts salt in slabs that change in the souks or markets. As for minerals, it has iron in the southern areas and phosphate deposits are well known. Their subsistence is based mainly on camel meat and some species of cereals. The milk and meat of this animal are prepared in their own way. The different dishes originate from the necessities of nomadic life: for example, the t¡tgu¡t, made up of dried meat wrapped in camel butter that kept it for a long time and was prepared expensively when traveling.

The small vegetation on the surface of the desert offers berries and wild fruits that are highly appreciated by the Sahrawis. Including: AZAGblameanafisedmajgardabgerzim¡TEDASMETR, etc.

Natural resources


In 1947 the phosphate mines at Bou Craa were discovered, which gives Western Sahara great economic importance. Bou Craa’s open-cast phosphate mines are the largest in the world. The existence of uranium, oil, gas, lead, titanium, gold and zinc has been detected.


Its coasts to the Atlantic Ocean are among the richest fishing areas in the world. The European Union, thanks to the association agreement with the kingdom of Morocco, and particularly the fishing agreements, took advantage of the access to this area, without worrying about the status of the territory on which the waters depend, until it was suspended by Morocco.

The EU (European Union) commissioner in charge of the question of fisheries, in 1999, asked about the question of the delimitation of the territorial waters of Morocco and its exclusive economic zone, replied that they were waters that depended on the sovereignty of the kingdom according “to International Law and not to political factors.” This makes it clear that it was not the competence of the Commission to define the waters off the coast of Western Sahara and to shield itself, without mentioning it, after the Moroccan decree presented to the United Nations in which it defined its territorial waters as they were before. 1975, and ignore the official information from Morocco regarding the activities of the ports of Dakhla and El Aaiún.


Regarding the territory’s possible oil reserves, the oil exploration contracts in the territorial waters of Western Sahara were signed a short time ago, between Morocco and the North American companies Keer Mac Gee and the French Total Fina Elf, have provided an interesting approach.

For the first time foreign oil companies, and not exactly small ones, are going to officially undertake exploration in Western Sahara. The French company sponsoring the Paris-Dakar rally does not ignore the international status of a non-autonomous territory, the rally organizers are faced every year with the problems that the crossing of the territory presents.

Social development

Formerly the Saharawi society, was a clearly hierarchical society, where all people were part of a tribe. The main tribes that inhabited Western Sahara can be grouped into:

  • Hasanias, the group of warriors, who were those who had military power.
  • Zuaia, the group with a certain religious prestige.
  • The group of those who were dedicated to raising cattle and who had to pay tribute to the other tribes.

There were also other population groups: artisans, musicians, and slaves.

All the residents of Western Sahara are currently Saharawi citizens. All these old traditional social structures have been transformed until arriving at the present form of modern social organization.

Sahrawi, Western Sahara Economy

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