Electronic music festival rocks Tunisian desert

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A two-day electronic music festival got underway Saturday in the southern Tunisian desert where the original Star Wars movie was filmed, drawing thousands of fans and star DJs.

As the sun set over the lunar-like landscape of the Sahara desert in Tozeur region near the Algerian border, people danced on dunes in the town of Nefta under heavy police protection.

Tunisia’s tourism sector – which accounts for around seven percent of GDP – was left reeling by extremist attacks in 2015 on a museum and a tourist resort that left dozens dead, including 59 foreigners.

But the sector has since rebounded on the back of improved security, with an expected record total of nine million people visiting the Mediterranean country in 2019, according to industry officials.

“I adore such festivals in France but here in the desert and in the midst of this landscape it is magical,” said Melissa Fleury, a 22-year-old who travelled from France to attend.

The festival was first launched in 2014 but was put on hold the following year after the deadly attacks.

It is organized by a Franco-Tunisian hotelier with backing from the Tunisian tourism ministry.

This year the festival – named “Les Dunes Electroniques” – has drawn around 20 musicians, including award-winning Swiss-Chilean DJ Luciano.

Six thousands concert goers are expected to attend the festival which will run until Sunday.

Fans are being treated to 30 hours of non-stop electronic music from across the globe, including traditional Tunisian rhythms, according to organizers.

The Tozeur region of southwest Tunisia where the festival is taking place served as a set for Anakin Skywalker’s village Mos Espa in the Star Wars films.

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