Using ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Mali in 2005 and 2011, this chapter addresses how different “imaginaries” were mobilized and marketed around the Festival in the Desert, a world music festival held outside Timbuktu from 2001 to 2012. Through an investigation of the various front and back stage regions of the festival, the chapter shows how festival participants understand and utilize festival space, revealing a complex interplay of competing global discourses and imaginaries. The analysis shows that Malians, especially in the North, are aware of how they are romanticized by tourists, as well as how they are vilified as Muslims by Western media. In-depth interviews and analysis show how they navigate these various half-truths in an effort to bring much needed development to some of the most economically disadvantaged communities in Africa.