1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/El Wad

EL WAD, a town in the Algerian Sahara, 125 m. in a straight line S.S.E. of Biskra, and 190 m. W. by S. of Gabes. Pop. (1906) 7586. El Wad is one of the most interesting places in Algeria. It is surrounded by huge hollows containing noble palm groves; and beyond these on every side stretches the limitless desert with its great billows of sand, the encroachments of which on the oasis are only held at bay by ceaseless toil. The town itself consists of a mass of one-storeyed stone houses, each surmounted by a little dome, clustering round the market-place with its mosque and minaret. By an exception rare in Saharan settlements, there are no defensive works save the fort containing the government offices, which the French have built on the south side of the town. The inhabitants are of two distinct tribes, one, the Aduan, of Berber stock, the other a branch of the Sha`ambah Arabs. El Wad possesses a curious currency known as flous, consisting of obsolete copper coins of Algerian and Tunisian dynasties. Seven flous are regarded as equal to the French five-centime piece.

El Wad oasis is one of a group known collectively as the Suf. Five miles N.W. is Kuinine (pop. 3541) and 6 m. farther N.W. Guemar (pop. 6885), an ancient fortified town noted for its manufacture of carpets. Linen weaving is carried on extensively in the Suf. Administratively El Wad is the capital of an annexe to the territory of Tuggurt.