Algeria's second city Oran is set to host the Mediterranean Games from June 25th. This multisports event will see more than 6000 athletes from 26 countries from across the Mediterranean region participate. Sailing will be among the 24 sports and 244 individual events.
The perfect spot
The nautical base of “Les Andalouses” is the venue for the game's sailing competitions, located some 30 km from the centre of Oran.
Blessed with magnificent white sands, the beach is one of the most popular in the region. Its name originates from the 15th Century after refugees fleeing Spain, following the fall of Andalusia, landed there.
Nazim Addou - President of the Oran Sailing League and Director of the sailing competition at the Games told Euronews why the beach was an easy choice for this year's competitions.
"The Andalouses site was chosen for its waters and its perfect conditions, as we can see, especially the west wind which is dominant during this time of year. We hope that we will have the same conditions throughout the Mediterranean Games," he said.
170 athletes are due to take part in the sailing competitions which will take place from June 27th until July 3rd.
The competition’s sailing events include some classics, such as the women's Laser Radial and men's Laser standard, but also the brand new iQFOiL for both men and women, which sees the board fly over the water and reach top speeds of 30 knots. This will become an Olympic discipline in Paris 2024, so the Oran Games are seen as a good test for the windsurfers.
"The big challenge we are facing is the new Olympic board, the iQFOiL”, says Fatima Abid, African windsurfing champion 2016. “We used to ride the RS:X board, which you stay on the water with. But with the iQFOiL, you have to go above the water."
While the competition is expected to be fierce, there are high hopes Algeria’s own athletes can excel during this year’s sailing events. And, as 2019 African Windsurfing Champion, Amina Berrichi explains, they’ll be doing everything they can to make the home nation proud.
"The Ministry of Youth and Sport and all the people in charge are really counting on sailing and have made it a priority. As athletes, we’ll do our best to fly the flag, inchallah (God willing), we all hope for the best.”
The Oranese coastline
With its crystal clear waters and stunning cliff-top views, the Oranese coastline’s long sandy beaches make this area especially popular during the summer.
Some 50 km from Oran is Madagh beach, a little piece of paradise situated in front of the wonderful Habibas Islands, an exceptional marine protected area.
"We have a variety, a variety of landscapes, in terms of beaches, compared to other areas in Algeria,” one local man told Euronews.
"It's a place to relax, there's everything you need to rest your mind here. It's perfect!” another woman said.
Other spots for locals and tourists to enjoy along Oran's eastern Meditteranean coastline are the fishing village of Kristel and the wild Aïn Franine, with its small creeks and beautiful coves.
Protecting the environment
Protecting the environment is a top priority for organisers during the Games. At the end of April the Wilaya (state) office of the National Observatory of Civil Society and the organising committee of the Mediterranean Games (COJM), held a meeting aimed at enriching the programme for activities connected to the event. Workshops included youth and sport, tourism, culture and arts, volunteering and citizenship, and the environment and sustainable development.
One of the initiatives that came out of these workshops was the organisation of volunteer days to help clean up the Oranese coastline.
Aïn el Turk Souad Rechoum is a member of CAP Environment, a local group that regularly organises “cleaning days” on the Oran coastline.
"The role of the association is to remove all the plastic - bottles, bags. We’re cleaning in the sea and we’re also cleaning the entire coastline, for a better environment.”