The camels stare as we pass by. Gathered on the dusty shoulder of the road, they form lanky silhouettes against the sun setting pink and heavy on the outskirts of Marrakech. Through the window of the packed shuttle bus, I can see makeshift stalls selling produce and meat, horses pulling carts of soil, women in burkas pushing strollers and men in long robes playing hand drums and smoking hookahs.
We stop at a sign written in Arabic, then take a left up a dirt road, where a very different picture unfolds: a sprawling resort complex of pools and palm trees called The Fellah. Meandering pathways illuminated with twinkle lights lead to tucked-away stages blasting house and techno music. Lanterns and hammocks hang from trees as visitors lounge on Moroccan rugs, sipping tea and eating tagine.
This is no ordinary group of tourists. We’re dance music fans from around the world who have come here for Oasis Festival — an event just as cool, posh and trendsetting as those we’ve attended in Ibiza or Miami or New York, but which feels, and truly is, a world away from them all. In its five years of existence, Oasis has made Morocco one of the newest and most exciting destinations on the international dance festival circuit. Its founder, too, is a refreshing presence in this corner of the music industry: Marjana Jaidi, a Moroccan-Filipino, first-time event producer driven by a vision of bringing a new type of music and audience to her ancestral home while giving artists there a meaningful spotlight.