What You Need To Know
Gabès is a city in Tunisia and it is the capital of its province, the Gabès Governorate. Gabès is the 6th biggest city in Tunisia. Historically, Gabès was part of the Roman Empire in their province of Tripolitania. Gabès became a Christian diocese and later in the 7th century it was conquered by Muslims. Starting in 1881, Gabès became a French protectorate until 1940 when it passed to German control for a few years until 1943 when it was returned to France. In 1956 when Tunisia became independent from France, Gabès came under Tunisian control. Today the economy of Gabès is based predominantly on chemicals and industries such as cement, bricks, oil refineries and chemical products. Gabès lies on the Mediterranean and is best known for its nature. Majority of the population belong to the ethnic group Arab-Berber at 97% of the population.
Population:374 300 (2014)
- The Tunisian dinar is the official currency in Tunisia, subdivided into 1,000 milim or millimes.
The dinar was set out as the new currency in Tunisia in 1958, although it did not start to be used until 1960. Until that moment, the official currency had been the franc and the equivalence to the new currency was of 1,000 francs to 1 dinar.
You cannot export Tunisian currency, and for that reason your bank cannot order any for you to take with you.
Most tourists arrive with no currency – it’s easy enough to obtain it.The exchange rate is fixed by the Government, and you will be offered that rate at the airport and at your hotel.
You may find it better to exchange some currency at these locations rather than use ATMs.
Nearly all banks and credit cards place huge surcharges on overseas transactions.
Again, note that it is illegal to take ANY Tunisian currency out of the country.
You must change back ALL currency**, including coins, when you leave.You can still make purchases at the airside shops and cafes, since they take a range of non-Tunisian currencies, notably Euro, GBP and USD.
The Tunisian authorities have the right to search your baggage and spot-searches are common.
They really do mean it – NO currency is to be exported.
Before leaving the country you should contact your bank and let them know where you’re going to and for how long, otherwise you could have your card(s) blocked due to irregular spending patterns.
However, a lot of banks just ignore this, so make sure you’ve got your bank’s telephone number written down – you may need it!
On average, the warmest month(s) are July, August and September.
Gabes has dry periods in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September.
On average, the warmest month is August.
On average, the coolest month is January.
October is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you don’t like too much rain.
August is the driest month.
Arabic is the official language, and most natives speak a dialect of Tunisian Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools. The cultural Arabization of the country was largely completed by the end of the 12th century, and currently only a tiny fraction of the population—most of them in the south—still speak one of the Berber languages. French, introduced during the protectorate (1881–1956), came into wider use only after independence, because of the spread of education. It continues to play an important role in the press, education, and government. To a lesser extent, English and Italian also serve as lingua francas.
There’s no better way to make friends and impress people in Tunisia than to venture even a few words in Arabic, not to mention the advantage it will afford you when it comes to bargaining. A good grasp of French will also make life much easier, though Tunisians are usually friendly enough to persist with smiles and hand gestures when there’s no common language.
Health and security
- Though Tunisia is a thriving, forward-looking society, its health-care system does not yet match that of most western countries. Also, expats from western countries should take note that the vast majority of staff in most public hospitals will not speak fluent English, and so communicating in French or Arabic will be the only option. Public hospitals are often overcrowded and have low quality equipment.As you have to pay for treatment in hospitals, it is strongly advised that anybody living in Tunisia takes out some solid private health insurance. At private clinics, it is much easier to find English speaking physicians and the quality of specialized facilities will be much higher.If you are staying outside of Tunisia’s resorts and tourist hotspots, it is advisable to be cautious. For foreigners that live in Tunisia, the main risks are theft-related — i.e. pick pocketing and mugging. Female expats should be careful with their handbags and purses, while men should be careful with where they flash their wallets.
- Unfortunately, street harassment of females is a problem in Tunisia. Though there are no religious restrictions on how women dress, clothing that shows a lot of skin can attract negative attention. Another problem is kidnapping, a crime that targets both natives and expats. The best advice is to stick to the busy areas, where there is generally a noticeably high police presence.
- Being a progressive Muslim country, alcohol availability is restricted (but not greatly) to certain licensed (and invariably more expensive) restaurants, resort areas and Magasin General shops. Large department stores and some supermarkets sell beer and wine, and some local and imported hard liquors, except during Muslim holidays. Some bars will refuse to admit women, others may ask for a passport to check nationality.
- Be aware that the export of Tunisian currency is forbidden and searches of wallets and purses can, and do, occur at airports.
- Gabes is the only coastal oasis in the Mediterranean, surrounded by fine sand beaches. Its vast palm grove is truly enchanting, and its old city is distinguished by its authentic atmosphere. But Gabes is above all the entrance to the Sahara; the start of a journey between ridges and arid hills, Bedouin tents and old Berber villages. Here you’ll find still-living traditions and an ancestral way of life, such as the stunning underground village of mount Matmata.
- Its museum of art and folk traditions will introduce you to the multiple costumes, weavings, carpets and jewellery typical of the region. In the surrounding villages, you will get to know the troglodyte dwellings and the agricultural methods used in arid locations. You will see women create magnificent fabrics on rudimentary looms. You will be introduced to the Berber culture: the little museum in Tamezret will tell you of the symbols, the traditions and the history of the Berber queen Kahena. The region, full of valleys, is well suited to hiking. Fans of the Star Wars saga should be aware that certain scenes were shot in Matmata. Those who are passionate about the history of the Second World War should know that the museum in Mareth preserves the memory of the line of fortifications built by the French, then occupied by the marshal Rommel. Amateur birdwatchers, the Gulf of Gabes is one of the largest wintering grounds for waterbirds in the Mediterranean.