The populations of the western regions of the Sahara have undergone significant changes over the past fifty years, notably associated with a shift from a history of nomadic pastoralism to an ontological redefinition as dwellers of urban settings. The self-identification of these populations is currently under question, acknowledged-at least since the 14th century-by the “long struggle of competitive cooperation between sedentary societies and their nomadic neighbors” (P. Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History, 2002: 16).

Mellah neighborhood, eastern Nouakchott

The runway of Nouakchott’s now dismantled 
airport is presently used for recreational 
purposes (meetings, picnics, barbecues)
Unregulated architectural efforts form the bulk 
of the urban landscape 
“Industrial” landscapes are often associated 
with the overwhelming mechanization of the 
means of transportation 
Auto repair shop in the Arafat neighborhood, 
Prefab commercial stand at Nouakchott’s marbat 
(livestock market)
Different urban habitats coexist side by side
Thousands of people still live in prefabricated 
shacks in Nouakchott’s periphery
Luxury villas are also part of Nouakchott’s 
more central locations
© Francisco Freire for CAPSAHARA, 2020