Mauritania Culture

Mauritania Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Mauritania

According to HYPERRESTAURANT.COM, Mauritania is a country located in Africa. The spread of newspapers in Mauritania is very modest. There is a daily newspaper in French and Arabic, Ach-Chaab, published by the state news agency Agence Mauritanienne de l’Information (AMI). The freedom of the press, introduced in 1991, has meant that the state magazines have received competition from several new magazines. Freedom of the press is, however, severely limited, and all newspapers must be examined by the censor before obtaining a dissemination permit from the Ministry of the Interior. The opposition newspaper Mauritaine Nouvelles has at times been banned.

The State Office of Radiodiffusion et Télévision de Mauritanie (ORTM), founded in 1958, broadcasts radio on eg. French, Arabic and Wolof and TV since 1984. There are 149 radio and 96 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, Mauritanian cultural life is characterized by the country’s position as a bridge between Arab and African culture. In the north, Arab influences dominate, while the peoples in the south are more influenced by the African culture in Senegal.

The Moors (see Population and Languages) are known for their crafts. Silver, carpets, jewelery and wood carvings are sought after among tourists.

Traditional music is of Arab origin and differs from other West African music traditions. In Mauritanian music there is often a four-stringed lute, tidal, sometimes a harp, hardin, and usually a solo singer who makes tributes to God. The country’s internationally best known artist was Dimi mint Abba (born Loula bint Sidati Ould Abba), who lived between 1958 and 2011 when she passed away after a concert in Rabat in Morocco. Like other popular contemporary musicians, she blended traditional Mauritian music with Western pop music.

The country has an internationally renowned film director, Abderrahmane Sissako (born 1961), whose film Timbuktu won seven awards at the French Film Academy Césargala 2015, including the award for best film. Timbuktu, which takes place in the Malian city of the same name, was also nominated both for the Gold Palm in Cannes and in the category of best foreign films at the Oscars.



High-level meeting on Western Sahara

December 5

Mauritania, like Algeria, participates in meetings with representatives of the Moroccan state and the liberation movement Polisario in Geneva, Switzerland, for talks on Western Sahara. Three foreign ministers and the Speaker of the Sahrawi National Council (their parliament) participate. It is the first time since 2012 that the UN has been to a similar meeting. The aim is to start regular negotiations on the future of Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.


The US removes trade benefits

November 5

The US cancels an agreement with Mauritania that has given the African country favorable trade terms. The change comes into force on January 1, 2019. The reason is that after a review, Washington states that Mauritania has not done enough to eliminate hereditary slavery and the tolerance of forced labor. Mauritania reacts upset and a government spokesman says the decision is a “betrayal of the friendly relationship between the two countries and a denial of the efforts” made by Mauritania to curb slavery. Slavery was banned in Mauritania in 1981, and in 2015 Parliament decided that slavery is “a crime against humanity”and can provide imprisonment for up to 20 years. There is then old a kind of slave cast that is expected to help with tasks such as guarding livestock or doing housework without payment. No official figure exists, but some organizations estimate that there may be around 43,000 slaves left in Mauritania.


The Prime Minister is replaced

October 29th

Prime Minister Yahya Ould Hademine resigns and is replaced by Mohamed Salem Ould Béchir. Instead, Yahya Ould Hademine is assigned a role as advisor to the President. Former Army Chief of Staff Mohamed Ould Ghazouani is named new Defense Minister, his first civilian post. Mohamed Ould Ghazouani is sometimes mentioned as a possible successor to President Ould Abdel Aziz. Otherwise, the old ministers are allowed to keep their jobs.

New UN-led talks on Western Sahara

October 16

The Government of Mauritania accepts an invitation from the UN for new talks on the future of Western Sahara in December. Also included in the talks will be the police guerrilla and the governments of Morocco and Algeria. Morocco maintains that negotiations should be based on a proposal for Western Saharan autonomy within Morocco, while Polisario demands that Western Saharans should have a referendum on independence. When the UN got into a ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario in 1990, a promise of referendum that was not fulfilled was included.


UPR wins its own majority

September 15th

In the second round of the parliamentary elections, UPR wins all 22 seats that are at stake. Together with 67 mandates from the first round of elections, the ruling party gets 89 of the 157 seats and its own majority in Parliament. The opposition alliance FNUD receives a total of 29 seats, 14 of which go to Islamist Tewassoul. The so-called moderate opposition receives 10 seats. The turnout is 64 percent according to the Election Commission. UPR also wins big in the regional and local elections. The party takes home all 13 regional councils and wins in 162 out of 210 municipalities.

The ruling UPR takes the lead in the election

1 September

General elections are held for Parliament, the City Council and, for the first time, 13 regional councils. About 100 parties are running for candidates, which is more than in any previous election. About 1.4 million voters are registered for the election. In April, the largest opposition party FNDU announced its intention to participate in the elections, unlike in the previous election. In the first round of elections, UPR switches the grip on victory by winning 67 of the 157 seats. Islamist Tewassoul, which boycotted the 2013 elections, gets the second most votes and 14 seats. A second round of elections will be conducted on September 15 in relevant cases.


The border crossing to Algeria opens

August 19th

A border crossing is inaugurated between Mauritania and Algeria, the first to be set up in just over half a century which has passed since the two countries became independent from France. The transition is near the Algerian city of Tindouf and is said to have cost Algeria $ 10 million to build. In the desert area along the border, smuggling of weapons, oil and migrants is common, as are clashes between various armed groups. On the Mauritanian side, the area constitutes a military zone. The decision to open the border was made in November 2017.


Jail sentences for slavery

March 30

A court in Nouadhibou in the northwest sentenced three people to long prison sentences after being found guilty of slavery. A man and his son are sentenced to 20 years in prison for forcing a family, including two children, to live as slaves. However, the older man dies before the verdict has fallen. A woman is sentenced to 10 years in prison for enslaving three sisters. The judges are the most severely awarded for slavery in Mauritania (see Population and Languages).

Free Trade Agreement in Africa

21 March

Mauritania is one of 44 Member States of the African Union (AU) that signs an agreement to set up an African Free Trade Area, AFCFTA.


The currency is devalued

January 1st

As of year-end, banknotes are exchanged at the same time as the currency is written down so that ten ouguiya becomes one ouguiya. Banknote exchange takes place gradually over six months. As a result, many Mauritanian people buy dollars and euros for their old Ouguiya banknotes.

Mauritania Culture

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