The Mozabite people are a Berber ethnic group living in M’zab in the northern Sahara in Algeria. They speak Mozabite (Tumẓabt), a branch of the Zenati group of Berber languages. Most also speak Arabic. Mozabites are Ibadi Muslims.

Mozabites live in five oases, namely, Ghardaïa, Beni Isguen, El Atteuf, Melika and Bounoura and two other isolated oases farther north: Berriane and Guerrara.

According to tradition the Ibadis, after their overthrow at Tiaret by the Fatimids, they took refuge during the 10th century in the country to the southwest of Ouargla. They founded an independent state there.

In 1012, owing to further persecutions, they fled to their present location, where they long remained invulnerable.

After the capture of Laghouat by France, the Mozabites concluded a convention with them in 1853, whereby they accepted to pay an annual contribution of 1,800 francs in return for their independence. In November 1882, the M’zab country was definitely annexed to French Algeria.

Ghardaïa (population of 93,423) is the capital of the confederacy, followed in importance by Beni Isguen (4,916), the chief commercial centre.

Since the establishment of French control, Beni Isguen has become the depot for the sale of European goods. The Mozabite engineers built a system of irrigation works that made the oases much more fertile than they used to be.


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