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For centuries the Berber caravans, now using camels, would take two months to cross the Sahara to meet traders in West Africa.  The most precious item they found on offer turned out to be gold dust. Despite their efforts to discover the actual source of the gold, their African partners maintained secrecy but were happy to trade the gold for scarce salt which the Berbers sourced from mines in mid-Sahara.

This contributed to the fabled reputation of Marrakech and to the posting of Moroccan governors and garrisons in far-off Tombouctou overseeing the treasure that helped sustain North Africa for one thousand years. In 1594  Saadian Sultan, Ahmad al-Mansour received a consignment of 30 mules carrying gold and at the close of his reign ten tons had been delivered and the Sultan as well as being titled al-mansour – victorious-  was also called  al-dahhabi – the golden.

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Ahmed al Mansur - Saadian Empire Sultan - 16th Century

Ahmed al Mansur – Saadian Empire Sultan – 16th Century

Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud

In 1600 Ahmad al-Mansur sent his Secretary Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud as ambassador of Morocco to the Court of Queen Elizabeth I of England to negotiate an alliance against Spain