As the Arab Spring continues to rage across the Middle East and North Africa, the gaze of the international media has largely passed over a country that was once known for its restive population, its long and bloody decolonisation struggle and revolutionary zeal.
A failure to focus on small-scale economics could be the most significant obstacle to stability in North Africa in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, economists, diplomats and development workers warned here on Friday.
Untamed stone villages line up over imposing green valleys. In winter they are white with snow. The luckiest have a view to the deep blue sea. "It’s gorgeous, isn’t it," says Amzi from his yellow cab. "Nobody would say we’re living in an open-air prison."
The on-going hunger strike of nine Algerian court clerks, coupled with the government’s indifference to their demands for an independent labour union, have stirred debate about Algeria’s role in the Arab Spring, which many see as an incomplete attempt to overturn a deeply flawed political and economic system.
The road vanishes under the sand just after the border crossing at Tindouf, western Algeria. Another 20 kilometres into the desert, a billboard welcomes us into the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.