Some Arabic words used on our pages:-
Bab - A gate into the Medina. For defensive purposes the Medina walls had only a limited number of entrance gates which were heavily fortified.
Erg - Desert area with large sand dunes.
Kasbah / Ksar - Kasbahs are old citadels or fortified houses and Ksars are old fortified Berber villages. Both words seem to be interchangeable. They look like square medieval castles with high crenellated walls and turrets on the four corners. Magnificent!
Madrasa - A school. The Islamic culture has a long tradition of fostering academic study. Many of the madrasas we saw were many hundreds of years old, well kept and often still in use.
Medina - The older area of a city with traditional Arabic dwellings, Mosques, etc. surrounded by defensive walls. Many cities are clearly divided between the Medina and the modern Ville Nouvelle areas with their French colonial influences.
Riad - A private house built round a courtyard, often with a fountain in the middle. To protect the privacy of the inhabitants from the outside world, all the surrounding rooms have windows only opening inwards on to the courtyard, unlike ordinary houses where the windows open outwards.
Souq - A market. An area with small shops typically grouped by trade. No prices are displayed. If you ask the price of anything the expectation is that a purchase must then be concluded - usually after a lot of haggling.
Wadi - A dried up river bed which only contains water during times of occasional heavy rain. Unfortunately Wadis are becoming more common resulting in a negative impact on the local communities.