ORAN- The city of Oran, which is preparing to host the 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games, has a rich history, and today aspires to a bright future that is commensurate with its ambitions.
The city has remained, throughout this history, one of the most important scientific and cultural centers of the Maghreb region and a fortress resisting the assaults of invaders from the northern shore of the Mediterranean.
According to a majority of historians, the foundation of the city of Oran dates back to the year 902 of our era when Andalusian travelers settled there to benefit from the port of Mers El-Kébir to develop their trade. IIt became a base for trade with the North African hinterland, and it developed commercially owing to its sea connections with Europe. It became the port for the North African kingdom of Tlemcen in 1437 and also was an entrepôt for trade with the Sudan.
Over time, the inhabitants of the bordering regions joined them, allowing the extension of its urbanization and the increase in the density of its population, thanks to its position overlooking the Mediterranean. Oran had acquired strategic maritime, economic and cultural importance.
However, the core of the city dates back to ancient Berber times when the small village of Ifri was built on the left bank of the “Oued R’hi”, known as “Ras El-Aïn”, according to the historian Yahia Bouâziz, who, in his book entitled “The city of Oran through history”, estimated that migrants from Andalusia made the “second foundation” of the city.
A center of intellectual and cultural influence
Over the centuries, Oran has been subject to the domination of the Fatimids, Almoravids, Almohades, Zianids, Hafsids and Marinids. It has known the foundation of many schools, becoming one of the main cities of the country where science and literature flourished.
The city gave birth to personalities of thought, culture and religion, and attracted scholars from different regions, quoted by Benaouda El-Mazari in his book “Touloue Saâd Souôud fi akhbar wahran wa makhzaniha oussoud”, i.e. more than 75 scholars and “awlia” (protector saints), between the 19th and 20th centuries, who worked for the rebirth of the city and participated in the Arab-Islamic civilization in the Muslim world, according to Yahia Bouâziz.
Among these scholars, Cheikh Abou Ishak Abdallah Mohamed El-Ouahrani (10th century), the faqih and Qadi Abou Abdallah Mohamed El-Ouahrani (13th century), the doctor Abou Mohamed Amroune El-Ouahrani (11th century), the writer Ibn Mahrez El-Ouahrani (12th century), Brahim Tazi (15th century), Cheikh Mohamed Benamar El-Houari (1439-1531), the patron saint of Oran, whose name is linked to the city.
A citadel of resistance against invaders
The city of Oran was subject to Spanish-Portuguese raids and the Portuguese occupied it twice. Firstly from 1415 to 1437, taken over by the Zianids. The second from 1471 to 1477. The Spanish then occupied it in the year 1509 and were driven out in 1708, then reoccupied it in 1732.
Oran has also been the subject of operations to alter its memory, sabotage and deform its civilizational, urban, historical, cultural and religious landmarks, notably Arab and Islamic, by the Spaniards.
The final liberation of the city of Oran took place on February 27, 1792, after the siege imposed by the bey of Mascara Mohamed Ben Othmane El-Kebir on the Spanish military garrison of Oran and Mers El-Kebir, as well as the fighting led by volunteers from all regions of the west of the country who inflicted a heavy defeat on the Spaniards and forced them to evacuate the city, as underlined by the professor of history at the University of Oran 1 “Ahmed Ben Bella “, Professor Mohamed Bendjebbour.
After the second liberation, great efforts were made to restore Oran to its glory and its Arab-Islamic dimension, rebuild and repair what had been destroyed, then the French resumed, after having occupied the city in 1831, the process of obliteration of its cultural and civilization markers.
During the National Liberation War, Oran witnessed the first operations of November 1, 1954, led by the group which included the martyr of the guillotine Ahmed Zabana who was responsible for seizing arms in the barracks in the Eckmühl district, among other operations.
Previously, Oran witnessed the operation of the attack, on Monday April 5, 1949, on the Grande Poste by commandos of the Special Organization (OS), which made it possible to obtain funds to finance the armed action against French colonialism.
Since independence, Oran has continued to link its glorious past to its radiant present through numerous urban expansions, revitalizing the commercial, cultural and tourist movement, and developing specialized industrial centers, such as; petrochemicals, steel industry, the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical sector.
Oran, which has three universities and numerous research centers and which has been strengthened by new sports infrastructure, tourist complexes and health establishments, aims to continue its renaissance in all areas. The next edition of the Mediterranean Games will be an opportunity for this city and its inhabitants to display this ambition to become a metropolis in the Mediterranean basin.