Oujda (or Wejda) is an old city in the north-east of Morocco, about 15 kilometres west of the border of Algeria, and is the capital of the ‘Oriental region’ of Morocco. There are some indications of an early settlement during the Roman occupation at ‘Marnia’. Throughout the history, Oujda played an important role due its strategic location.
Oujda was founded in 994 by ‘Ziri ibn Attia’ (a Berber king of the ‘Zenata’ tribes). The city is built on the plains of ‘Angad’ surrounded with the beautiful mountains of ‘Beni-Snassen’. Due to the legacy of the ‘Almoravides’ and ‘Almohads’ dynasties, it was the capital of the ‘Zenata’ tribes during the first 80 years. In 1048, there were made several additions to the city. In 1206, it became a major centre for the ‘Almohads’. ‘Sultan Youssef Ben Tachfine’ captured the city and added the fortifications. In the 13th century, the Sultan ‘Abou Youssef Yaqub’ rebuilt the city and gave it a more imperial character. He built the Kasbah, mosques, the palace, and the fortifications. Later, the ‘Ottoma’ regency of Algiers gained control over the city, but ‘Moulay Ismail’ regained it in 1687 and further developed the place.
From the 16th century, it was contested by the ‘Alaouite’ dynasty of Morocco and the Turks in Algiers. When the Turks established their hegemony on Algeria in 1692, Oujda fell under Turkish rule for a few weeks. The French occupied the city twice, in 1844 and again in 1859. However, the French had to withdraw because of the strong Moroccan resistance. In 1907 and 1908, Oujda was re-conquered by the French, which used the city as a French military base to gain control over eastern Morocco.
The modern city owes much of its present form to the French and its current glory can be owed to those times. Oujda’s medina is heavenly rebuilt and is now completely surrounded by the ‘ville nouvelle’. There are a few touristic and historic locations such as ‘Sidi Yahya’s’ oasis, the Kouba of Sidi Abd el Ouaab, the 13th century ‘Merinid’ grand Mosque, and the ‘medresa’ (school) built by Sultan ‘Abu Ya’qub’. However, due to a lack of resources, tourism does not contribute much to Oujda’s economy. In 2003, King Mohammed initiated some major projects to improve the city. Oujda relies heavily on trading because of its location between Algeria and Morocco.
Oujda is part of the tourism region ‘Maroc Mediterranee‘ of Morocco.