Ouarzazate, a small town in southeast Morocco, North Africa, Ouarzazate’s name comes from the Amazigh (Berber language) composed words (war zazat) which means "without noise”. The city used to be a very quiet place, an isolated military outpost during the years of French protectorate (1912 -1956). Ouarzazate is also known as “The gate of the desert” and as “Morocco's Hollywood”. It is situated between the Draa river and the Ziz valley in south of the High Atlas Mountains at an altitude of 1,160 m.
This majestic city has 60,000 inhabitants most of them are Berbers, the first inhabitants of Morocco, who constructed many of the conspicuous Kasbahs and buildings for which the area is known for. Ouarzazate is one of the best travel destinations in Morocco as a nodal point for, mountain trekking, biking tours, camel treks, excursions and tours with 4x4 and quads across the Draa Valley and the Sahara desert.
Ouarzazate, easily reached from Marrakech by bus, taxi or car rental, a 4 hours drive across the High Atlas Mountains via the famous Tizi n’Tichka Pass 2260m – Is the main access point and crossroads of the southern Morocco. East of Ouarzazate stretches the Dades valley and Todgha river along a paved road of 170km that is promoted as the road of 1000 Kasbahs by the professionals of tourism field in Morocco. South, on the other side of a tremendous ridge of the Anti Atlas Mountains, begins the beautiful Draa valley, 180 km of date palm oases, which eventually merge into the Sahara desert close to Zagora and the last village named Mhamid. In Ouarzazate itself, there are a numerous tourism companies acting as: Travel agents, tourism transportation companies, car rental companies, quad and bikes rental agencies that offer different travel services to explore the Ouarzazate suburbs, including Kasbahs & Ksours, museum and cinema studios, oases, valleys, gorges and palmaries and desert of Erg Chebbi, Erg Chegaga and Erg Lihoudi
Other than tourism sector, Ouarzazate is known for cinema industry “Hollywood of Morocco”, or “African Hollywood” is commonly used as alternative names for this city, most of Hollywood celebrities, stars, international movie makers have been in Ouarzazate, in one of it’s 5* hotels, palaces or riads. Cinema and tourism are two linked sectors which makes from Ouarzazate, a growing city while considering the accommodations (Hotels, riads, guesthouses, Inns/hostels, Kasbahs, villas, apartments) and job offer for locals, from translators to handcrafts making Props,
Ouarzazate has achieved: Twinning with Hollywood thanks to the previous Governor of Ouarzazate and the invaluable support of Branko Lustig, the executive producer of the film "Kingdom of Heaven" filmed in 2004 in Ouarzazate, Official twinning has been signed in March 2005. This twinning was decided after a working session with an investigating visit of the field conducted by the American producer who promised to forward formal request to Hollywood responsibles. This has now been acquired by an official correspondence from the direction of Hollywood studios in Los Angeles. Ouarzazate has been selected as a destination by movie makers since 1960s, thanks to several assets: Natural and exceptional luminosity, fabulous landscapes, a particular ethnic diversity, good value for money in terms of production cost and sustained assistance from local authorities and of course tax exemption.
Ouarzazate has several film studios "Atlas Corporation Studio", “CLA Studios” and "Kanzaman" studio. Several movies were shot on this city such as Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Kundun, Gladiator, Alexander the Great, Kingdom of Heaven, Babel, Body of Lies, Prince of Persia and lately The Way Back.