Western Desert Oases Feature

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The Curse of Qara

The oasis village of Qara, northeast of Siwa, traditionally had no more than 300 residents. The number was precise because, after being refused the hospitality normally given to travelers, a local sheikh put a curse on the village, vowing that its population would never exceed 300. Qarawis relate that if the population reached 301, someone in the village would die (in an accident or of natural causes) to bring the number down again. Villagers lived in fear of the curse for many years, going so far as to expel a resident every time a baby was born in order to avert the dire consequences. Today the population has well exceeded 300, proof some say that the curse has been lifted. But lessons have been learned, and Qara has earned a reputation for its effusive generosity to travelers.

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