The town of Douz acts like a curtain for the wonders just to the south. Driving through the compact, narrow streets of the centre, you’ll wonder what all the hype is about. Why journey to this remote outpost which appears abandoned during the intense midday summer heat? But as the sun sets and the streets cool, Douz comes alive – the cafes around the central souq fill up and as you pass through the intervening palmeraie (palm grove), the sight of the Grand Erg Oriental reveals its magical self, a seeming mirage until you set foot on its sandy shore.
People here are naturally open and friendly, conscious that the local economy has depended on groups of foreigners turning giddy at the prospect of riding a camel, and that those tourists have been staying away in recent years.
Every Thursday, the souq is home to a colourful weekly market.