The region of Rissani, also known as Tafilalt, is made up of a cluster of villages along the last stretch of the Ziz valley, with the town of Rissani as the penultimate point as well as centre. From the 8th until the 14th century this was a kingdom by itself, known as Sijilmassa, thriving from the caravan routes that passed through. The religion of Sijilmassa was Shi'i Islam, a direction of the religion which today is extinct in Morocco.
Even earlier than that, it was from here that the Alouites came and conquered the whole of Morocco through the 17th century.
The setting of Rissani is very much like what you find in villages near the Nile in Egypt, in terms of building styles, livestyles, heat and nature.
There are small canals running between densely populated villages which all seem to be at least 50 years behind the development of the rest of Morocco. Even the centre of the area, the fairly developed city of Rissani, brought my mind to my visits to Egypt.