There is some evidence of a settlement during the Roman occupation, which seems to have been under the control of Berbers rather than Romans. The modern city was founded in 994 by Ziri ibn Atiyya, king of the Zenata tribes. Further additions were made in 1048. The city was rebuilt in the 13th century by sultan Abou Youssef. The French occupied it in 1844 and again in 1859. Also to the west is the site of the 1844 major Franco-Moroccan Battle of Isly. Once Morocco was occupied by the French, Oujda was used as a military base to control eastern Morocco.
The city grew up along the roads that were built and owes much of its present form to the French. The Moroccan border with Algeria is just east of Oujda, on the other side of the border is the Algerian town of Maghnia. The state of the border crossing depends on relations between the two countries which are often strained.
Since 2009, the city has been twinned with Trowbridge in England due to the huge number of diasporans most of whom originate from villages close to Oujda. Trowbridge has the largest Moroccan community in the UK outside London.
Uqba ibn Nafi began the Arab conquest of the region, during the reign of the Umayyad Caliphate, a conquest which was completed in 705 AD by Musa bin Nusair. In the mid 11th century, Oujda acquired prominence through its strategic position on the road east from Sijilmasa. Throughout the history of the dynasties of the Muslim West, Oujda played an important strategic role among the Merinids, settled in Fez, in this case as a rear base in their conflict with the Abdalwadids of Tlemcen. This situation was at the origin of several destructive invasions of Oujda. The city experienced great difficulty in making peace with its neighbours to the east, and sometimes to the west, because of its position in respect to the clashes between the Saadi dynasty and Turks. It was torn between the rulers of Fez and the disputed Tlemcen, and from the 16th century, it was contested by the Alaouite dynasty of Morocco and the Turks in Algiers. In 1692, Sultan Ismail led in the Turks, who established their hegemony on Algeria. Oujda fell again under Turkish rule in the following century.
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