When I received the invitation from Tunisian Tourism for a trip to its well-known island Djerba, I felt like my mind was being injected with a strong wave of excitement. I was going to see the famous island, depicted as the Home of Lotus Eaters by the legendary Greek Poet Homer in the end of 8th century BC!
Vivian Xu reports
Djerba is an island located in the Gulf of Gabes, off the East coast of Tunisia, the largest island of North Africa. In classic Greek literature, it is the beautiful island with which Odysseus came across while fleeing from the dangerous sirens’ songs. It was also known as the island of dreams, because the lotus fruits (in fact - according to later studies - dates from palm trees) will make you lose all memories of your home and loved ones. They say you would remain on the island forever.
The Land of Harmony
The first members of the Djerba Jewish minority arrived in 586 BC. Escaping from the destruction of Jerusalem, some Israelite temple priests came to Djerba and settled. The ancient El Ghriba synagogue, also known as the Djerba Synagogue, is situated several kilometres southwest of Houmt El Souk (the main town of Djerba).
As the centre of Jewish life on this island, El Ghriba is well-preserved in its original look. It is believed that the synagogue was associated with Solomon's temple (the first holy temple in ancient Jerusalem). After its destruction, a door and a stone were carried out by the High Priest and incorporated in the synagogue. Every year, thousands head to El Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba annually for the Lag Ba-omer holiday and celebrate the revelation of important jewish texts.
Due to Djerba’s strategic location, it has always been a highly contested territory in history, from Normans in the 12th century to the Ottoman in the 16th century, until the French’s protectorate in the 19th century. The presence of different leaderships led to the coexisting of three religious groups in this small and densely populated island. "Djerba is known for people living together, for peace, and I think it's an ideal and unique place in the world where all the communities live together in peace," said former Minister of Tourism René Trabelsi.
International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition (IADE)
In this island of dreams, the International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition (IADE) took place at the beginning of March. This was the first edition in Tunisia, thanks to the considerable growth of the aerospace and defence industry in the country. Tunisia is now really positioned as a strategic defence and aeronautical platform for the entire African continent.
The exhibition welcomed exhibitors and delegates from 43 different countries. Stretching over 150,000m2 of the Djerba Airport, IADE Tunisia boasted an exhibition area of 10,000m2 and successfully placed six large military aircrafts and other land defence equipment.
In the last two days of the event, IADE opened its doors to the general public and welcomed more visitors. This way, attendees had the opportunity to discover and learn on the exceptional aerial program. “This show will be a dream come true for enthusiasts and the younger generation will not miss the opportunity to meet professionals and create new vocations,” said Islem Louati, Managing Director of IADE Tunisia.
Where to eat?
HQ’s Recommendation: Haroun
Located by the waterfront in Houmt Souk, this place has spectacular views and a traditional Djerban menu. It is seafood lovers’ heaven!
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