Babeul city is the center of ceramic production in Tunisia and its masters are the best in decoration of architectural structures. It is said that the local ceramic artists decorated almost all religious and most of public buildings in Tunisia. Ceramics is highly appreciated decorative element throughout Tunisia and many good standing Tunisians will proudly show their status by decorating facades of their homes by vivid ceramic elements.
This interesting and very attractive monument is located in Avenue Habib Thameur, but our "brilliant" tourist guide has never mentioned its significance and importance for the local community. After coming back home I made my own research and found out that the region of Cap Bon is one of the world's largest producers of "neroli oil" which is produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. In fact, the "zhar" sector plays a crucial economic role for most of the families in Nabeul. Extracted from the bitter orange, the orange blossom flower "Zhar", is a speciality of Cap Bon. The orange blossom flower is picked between the end of March and early May. Locals attribute many healing properties to this flower, for conditions involving heart, asthma, headaches, sunburn and stomach aches. They also use it for cakes and drinks and for the couscous, splashing a glass of zhar water onto grains before mixing them with vegetables and meat sauces.
The bitter orange flower is rich in "neroli", a product used in the production of famous and finest perfumes. Neroli from Nabeul is highly demand in Grasse/France, which is the world's capital of perfumes. It is a nontoxic, non irritant, non sensitizing, non photo toxic substance.
The city of Nabeul holds the festival of zhar and is celebrating spring with a "Festival of Orange Blossom", in the second half of March .
When strolling around, you'll see a lot of men with jasmine flower behind their left ear. If you ask for an explanation you'll get different answers. First what I was told is that it is used by young guy who is ready to get married and searching for a wife, he usually wears it on his left ear when going out. But then I saw, as shown on my picture, that even elderly men wearing it but this man has put jasmine on his right ear. This old man is wearing "jebba", a traditional dress which is a wide coat covering the whole body.
Jebba is considering a ceremonial garment, used mostly by the rural population, it is white in summer and grey in winter. It is a sleeveless tunic that a man wears over a shirt, vest and baggy trousers, called "seroual". The headdress is called "chechia" a red felt hat, which is different in color for elderly men and is usually white.
The truth is, fresh jasmine flower has a very intensive aroma which can be feel for quite a long time and that is what men are doing when strolling around, smelling the flower.
- Family Travel
Many Asian and African countries, including Tunisia, are predominantly Muslim, so the religious sites you are most likely to encounter, are, predictably, mosques. This is a brief tip of advice, written from the point of view of a non-Muslim, female traveler (yours truly!!!):
- Do dress modestly, covering arms, legs, shoulders and the like, no frivolous dressing will be allowed. Hire the modest dress if needed;
- Check whether you are allowed into the mosque at all, since most of them admit you only into the courtyard, and some do not admit non-Muslims at all. However, in several countries you may be able to visit the interiors of many mosques;
- Respect the boundaries laid and do not attempt to enter further (I saw such a thing once, and it did arouse ill-feeling);
- If possible try to avoid going even to the courtyard on Friday afternoon, since I remember this is the most important praying time of the week;
- If you are curious, feel free to ask questions (though not of people hurrying to pray) and most likely you will be answered: I’ve always found people proud of their culture and heritage and ready to explain it;
- Do not criticize things we in Europe and in the West might (such as separate praying space for men and women), for such are the customs of the land and mosques are the least appropriate places for such topics.
This advice is based only on common sense, but it allowed me to see something of the mosques and learn loads of interesting info on Muslim countries, their religion, and culture. Really helped me when we had a general education class on religions at University:))