On my trip winter break, I have spent around 3.5 hours flight from Manchester, the UK to Marrakech, Morocco. I plan to visit five beautiful cities in Morocco: Marrakech, Fez, Chefchaouen, Tangier, and Casablanca. During land travel, I spent a night camping in the Sahara desert, but I don’t want to tell this fantastic experience right now. Within a few days, my curiosity was address in question: Why Morocco looks like Arab countries, even though it located in North Africa?
Morocco has a long history since Arab conquest at around the 7th century, so that it might be a strong argument why Arabic culture is influencing in this country.
Morocco landscape is dominated by rock mountainous, with slopes that gradually transition into plateaus and valleys. The highest point of Morocco is Jebel Toubkal (4,165 m) at the Atlas mountain. It is also a similar characteristic with Arabic landscape in the middle east region. According to this circumstance, it makes Morocco has some uniqueness of urban morphology. One of predominate is about the density in around 83/km2; it seen in the housing area is that it is so crowded.
At this vacation, I have been stayed in several Airbnbs, that mostly are private property and manage by personal. This accommodation service is prevalent in this country, and the tourist is interested in staying there it is because of affordable price, commonly located in the old city that bit slump, near the main tourist attractions and feels like a native. The last one that I mentioned is the most valuable experience. It is far from five-stars hotel, but it’s worth than that, trust me! Besides, the architectural property details are wonderful and specific with popular Islamic colour and geometry pattern. The detailing came from a legacy of acculturation between Arabic and African art culture. At this point, honestly, is my reason why I’m travelling to Morocco to see it and touching directly.
Their natural interaction happens in narrow alleys that created by un-organized blocks housing. However, local people who are living in density are commonly in hereditary, but recently it is interesting for tourist and become part of tourism attraction.
In every city that I have visited, it has different experiences in identity and role. In the 16th century, Marrakech is the capital city before it was moving to Rabat. Recently, Marrakech becomes the fourth largest city in Morocco, as tourism destination because of much historical building still exists, trading, and also a business city.
Staying in local society, I have been felt a natural life there, from how and what they eat every day, also how they bargaining in the traditional market to buy some goods. Everything is natural activity scenario. They are speaking in French, Spain, and Arabic, just some of them can speak in English.
The traditional market, they called souk, is the most exciting place to visit. I tough the traditional market only sells souvenir for tourist, yet they are also providing daily supplies for local people. In particular relics, it is easy to recognize the specific Morocco gifts. There are many kinds of goods likes carpet, cup, plate, tabletop, painting, cloth, beanie, and so on. The souvenir has identic geometric art pattern and colourful, part of the unity in architecture decoration details that I have mentioned before. It is the interesting point that those specific art patterns will have founded in entire building in Morocco, and it makes Morocco have a particular identity that different than other countries, even though with Middle East country. Morocco has a Moroccan style it is self.
Secondly, it is the city of Fez. This city is home to leathercraft, such as jacket, bag, belt, wallet, and so on. It has an interesting attraction that we can be visiting and watching the traditional leather colouring process. Unfortunately, I had scammed by local people around 5 euro to take me there. According to this main city feature, the provincial government taking seriously to improve this area.
Place Lalla Yeddouna is one of project revitalization in Fez to support local craftsmanship to tourism and business economy, and also part of urban environment improvement according to the waste of leather production disposal. The proposal is an action implementation from the result of competition in 2015.
Next is a unique city and my favourite one, Chefchaouen. This city is well known as the blue city because all the buildings painted in blue colour. Why this city become blue, it is because there is a history in around 1930, the Jewish community has lived here, and it is their belief of sky and peaceful. In the other hand, blue is identic as water, insect especially mosquito does not like it. Overall, the blue colour is the primary city identity that it is proven could successfully promote the tourism sector, which is it is the majority of the city’s revenue.
My last destination city is Tangier. It is the closest city to Spain, that only separate by Gibraltar strait. Tangier is a port city with beautiful corniche that is citizen favourite open space to interaction during waiting sunset. My flight back to the UK will be taking off from Marrakech, so I have to go back to the first city using Hi-speed bullet train called “Bouraq” via Casablanca, and I have to change the train to Marrakech.
In conclusion, Morocco has a strong identity that can provide advantages to increase urban competitiveness in many ways. In my experience, it works for tourism promotion; they are real as seen in any photos (including my photos). Their identity is a real valuable legacy from the past, cannot be copied, and sustainable. However, Morocco is part of the world heritage destination. Yet, Morocco still has to improve its citizen educational sector that it might be affected prejudice to the visitor, even it is tourist or investor because of under level of their attitude.
en.wikipedia.org. (2020). [online] available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Morocco [accessed on 1 December 2020].
en.wikipedia.org (2020). [online] available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangier [accessed on 1 December 2020].
en.wikipedia.org (2020). [online] available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moroccan_architecture [accessed on 1 December 2020].
Dalzel, Rebecca. (2019). How Fez Is Keeping Traditional Architecture and Craftsmanship Alive. [online] https://www.afar.com/ . Available at: https://www.afar.com/magazine/at-place-lalla-yeddouna-in-fez-traditional-moroccan-crafts-come-alive [accessed on 1 December 2020].
Arch2o.com. (2020). [online] available at: https://www.arch2o.com/why-city-chefchaouen-morocco-entirely-blue/ [accessed on 1 December 2020].
Worldatlas.com. (2020). [online] available at https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/morocco/maland.htm [accessed on 1 December 2020].