Nov 05

Introducing the Joudour Sahara Music School

We're proud to announce the launch of the first phase of a new project in Morocco: the Joudour Sahara Music School. Located in the Sahara desert, in the small oasis town of M’hamid El Ghizlane, this new music program will focus on preserving valuable ancestral cultural knowledge, and will provide music education to the youth in this remote area of Morocco.

The end of October heralded the arrival of several major musical events in M'Hamid El Ghizlane. As the annual Festival Taragalte - a 3 day "festival under the stars" featuring local and international musicians - took place on the sand dunes of the Sahara, classes began at Joudour. Both boys and girls are welcomed at this new program, and for many of the female students attending, it will be their first opportunity to take music classes. The long-term vision is to expand the program to include a larger school and community center. A fundraising campaign for the construction of this expansion will be launched soon.


In 2008, brothers and Moroccan natives, Halim and Ibrahim Sbai (pictured above left and right, respectively), founded the Festival Taragalte, a celebration the cultural heritage of the Moroccan Sahara. Prior to starting the festival, the brothers had been involved with cultural and environmental work in the region since 2005 with the Dutch-based company, Sahara Roots. In it’s first year, Festival Taragalte featured the iconic Saharan blues band Tinariwen, and from that point forward, Taraglate became a mainstay in Morocco. They have since joined forces with two of the two biggest festivals in West Africa, the Festival of the Desert and the Festival of Sego Sur le Niger in Mali, to create the Cultural Caravan of Peace, where artists from each country band together to perform at each festival and promote the message of peace and tolerance and the diverse culture found throughout the Sahara and Sahel. 

Fast-forward to 2015, when PFCF Advisory Board member Stacie Freasier visited Morocco and became enamored of the musical richness of the region. She subsequently connected with the Sbai brothers and began conversations about the potential of a music school being created in their hometown of M’hamid El Ghizlane. Since then, a core team has been assembled that includes of Freasier, PFCF's Director of African Programs Francois Viguie, former Peace Corps Volunteer Thomas Duncan, Moroccan-born architect and TED Fellow Aziza Chaouni, and president of Sahara Roots, Wanda Hebly. These advisors on the Joudour Sahara Music School represent a vast wealth of knowledge and experience on the education and development of youth in M’hamid.