May be you did not hear until now about Nouakchott. I can forgive, there is no matter, I can understand that. But please don’t let it happen again, as you are a profesional traveler, aren’t you?
But Sahara must be well known to you, even if it is one of the toughest places on Earth. There are no many cities in Sahara, and Nouakchott is the biggest of them. I would say, Nouakchott is the capital of Sahara, if you understand what I mean. Fact is that Mauritania desperately needed a capital after gaining independence from France in the 60’s, and thus Nouakchott became the capital of Mauritania. Unfortunately, it was designed first for 15000 people only, but today counts 1 Million, and the explosive development continues. Meanwhile, the big infrastructure problems have been partially solved. The city has some wealthy citizens in the neighborhood of Las Palmas, but also counts unending slums wit poor hygienic conditions (e.g. Kosovo). But even the poor citizens are very happy here in Nouakchott, as they are mostly Sahara refugees due to the dramatic droughts from the last decades.
Very surprising, Nouakchott has a port on the Atlantic Ocean, but the city is not ocean or harbor orientated, but rather Sahara orientated. The local authorities even let a generous shore strip to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing it to flood free. Much more important for the city life seems to be the airport, with regular flights and charters to other cities of Mauretania and all world. Nouakchott main street is named Abdel Nasir and leads from the airport to the Northeast.
There are a few interesting places in Nouakchot. Visit the beaches of Nouakchott; one of them is special for fishing boats and you can buy there cheap fresh fishes of many species. Another interesting point would also be the National Museum.
Nouakchott likes partying, and does it mainly at night, and even after midnight when is cooler. Unlike other Islamic cities, you can see many women walking on the streets, and they seem to be free and happy. Free doesn’t mean ready for adventures, I am warning you. It could end dangerous for you dragging one of the local beauties!
Nouakchott is unexpected expensive for a poor country, and I would compare it with Paris or Geneve. There are not hostels, and I was not able to find a room under 30 $. The food is mostly international, nothing specific, and is also expensive. If you wanna spare something, go yourself to the fish market and cook. The handicrafts are of high quality, but also very expensive.
A Nouakchott vacations is very instructive and educative. A city of these dimensions in Sahara is doubtless dificult to imagine until you visit it.
if not, come back tomorrow on journeyetc.com and see what's new :)