The Exotic Open-Air Markets of Morocco

A souq or souk (Arabic: سوق‎ sūq) is an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter in an Arab city. A souk entails the concept of a free-market where vendors can command the going market price for their products.

Historically, souks were held outside of cities in the location where a caravan loaded with goods would stop and merchants would display their goods for sale. Later, due to the importance of the marketplace and the growth of cities, the locations of souks shifted to urban centers

In a souk, the final price of an item is reached by bargaining with the shopkeeper. Traders of a given commodity would all sell in the same souk, thus ensuring a competitive market.

Have you ever haggled over the price with a shopkeeper in a souk?  Leave a comment and share your story!

Read more about souks here.

Great Video from Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism

Morocco just developed a new ad campaign with the tagline, “The Country That Travels Within You.”  The video is great, but this marketing slogan must translate better in Spanish and French than it does in English.  “The Country That Travels Within You” makes me think of the stomach problems that are common with traveling.

Here’s what Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism has to say about their new ad slogan:

“One can not mention Morocco without bringing up the wonderful memories of those who have visited the country. The new strap line “The country that Travels within you” of Morocco’s advertising campaign conjures up deeply the experience lived and which last in all memories.  This film promises to take you to a country that will mark you forever.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGmml46_eds&feature=plcp]

Faces of Morocco

The human face is the most personal image that exists.  In fact, paper currency across the world was originally designed using faces because famous faces are so highly recognizable that using them on money decreased the likelihood of forgery.  People can easily notice small mistakes made in a poor copy of a face.  When the United States was designing dollar bills, the U.S. Treasury “determined that portraits of Presidents of the United States have a more permanent familiarity in the minds of the public” than any other image.

As I have been living in Morocco, I’m getting used to the faces of local people here.  Traveling to a foreign country can widen your understanding of other people as you get to look into their faces and hear their unique life stories.  At times I’m surprised at how different their experience is than mine.  And other times I feel like we all are just the same.  If you get to travel, take some time to visit with the unique faces you get to meet.

Check out these pictures and more at Still-Images.net

What is a Moroccan Riad?

 

 
A riad (Arabic: رياض‎) is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”.

The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy for women. Because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space, this layout also supports community within the family.  In the central garden of traditional riads there is often a fountain, which naturally circulates and cools off the air, functioning as a natural air-conditioner.

The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house in cities such as Tangier as riads have been restored to their former glory. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants.

source: wikipedia

 

Tangier is Morocco’s New Hot Spot



As Marrakech booms with construction and open-air markets and the tourists who love them, Tangier, the blue-and-white port on the Strait of Gibraltar, remains calm and cosmopolitan.

Marrakech might have been Morocco’s main magnet for years, but it is Tangier’s turn again. The louche, expat glamour of the mid twentieth century still clings to every café, shop, and souk, and it is being buffed now by a fresh cavalcade of A-listers attracted to the famed city’s laid-back cosmopolitanism.

A relic of the expat glamour of the 1930s through the 1960s, Tangier is home to a curious mix of upper-crust residents, from French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy to American heiresses and English dukes and duchesses. And since such sophisticates have necessitated the arrival of designer riads, urbane art galleries, and chic restaurants serving a sort of Spanish–North African fusion, it’s now the most fashionable place in Morocco to live it up.

Source: Condé Nast 1, Condé Nast 2

 

Controversial Plan for High Speed Train in Morocco


Construction has begun on Morocco’s controversial High Speed Rail system that will connect Tangier (in the north) with Rabat, Casablanca, and eventually Marrakech.

On the positive side, this incredibly ambitious project will significantly enhance the infrastructure of a tourist-oriented country.  With the new high-speed trains traveling at 200 mph (320km/h), Morocco will boast the fastest railways in Africa.  Tourists can cheaply access Tangier in the north by plane or ferry from Europe, and then quickly board the high-speed train to explore the rest of this exotic country in style and speed – cutting travel time from Tangier to Rabat form 4.5 hours to 1.5 hours.  France has committed funds to this project and Sarkozy made a visit to Tangier for the ground breaking ceremony.

But critics say this train is a waste of money when the country struggles with outdated education and health care systems, and millions are in poverty.  The price tag is $4 billion.  But the long-term cost would be even steeper because much of the financing is coming on commercial terms rather than as aid. Morocco would be left with debt service of $100 million a year, according to a study by Cap Democracy Morocco.

What do you think?  Should Morocco embrace potentially transforming technology or should it stick to basics like building schools and hospitals?

sources: New York Times

Tangerine = from Tangier, Morocco

 
The name tangerine comes from Tangier, Morocco, the port from which the first tangerines were shipped to Europe in 1841. The adjective tangerine, from Tangier or Tanger, was already an English word (first recorded in 1710), meaning “of or pertaining to Tangier.” This adjective had been formed with the suffix -ine, as in Florentine. The fruit was first called a tangerine orange, later reduced simply to tangerine. Confusion exists between the name tangerine and the name mandarin, and with good reason. The tangerine is a type of mandarin orange, so the oranges shipped from Tangier could also accurately have been called mandarins.

source: Dictionary

Tunnel to Connect Morocco with Europe


For decades, Morocco and Spain have planned to connect Europe with Africa. Designs for bridges have all been rejected in favor of an underground tunnel, similar to the Channel Tunnel that connects England and France. The current plan includes two rail tunnels that will allow passengers to cross the Straits of Gibraltar in under 30 minutes on an underground train.

There have been years of feasibility studies and geological evaluations, and this project has been furthered postponed by strained international relationships and the global economic crises. But recently (Feb. 2012), the Spanish Ambassador to Morocco met with the Moroccan Transportation Minister and strengthened their commitment to see this ambitious project move forward.

“We’ve already done a tremendous amount of work to make this dream come true, to go from an idea — a concept that is just philosophical — into something we can transform into reality,” said Karim Ghellab, Morocco’s minister of transportation. “It’s not easy to predict a date yet, but it is a project that will happen.”

Experts have predicted that the tunnel may cost approximately 10 billion Euros and could be completed by 2025. So as we say in Morocco, “Insha’Allah” (If it is God’s will).


Read more at
Washington Post, Wikipedia, or Morocco’s Transportation Ministry site.

Cheap Flights: Holidays from London to Tangier


The cheapest way to travel from London, England to Tangier, Morocco is on EasyJet and RyanAir.

LONDON TO MADRID

 

 

 

EasyJet has flights starting at 23 £

 

 

 

MADRID TO TANGIER

 


 

And RyanAir has flights starting at 11 £

 

 

You can take a round trip from London to Tangier for about 60£.  So when you get tired of the cloudy weather in England, take a weekend getaway to the sunshine and beaches of Tangier, Morocco!

Train from Tangier to Marrakech


When traveling between cities in Morocco, the train is an easy way to do it.  And if you plan to to travel from Tangier to Marrakech, there is one night train that departs at 9:05pm from Tangier and you can sleep on the train, which is great because it’s a 10 hour train ride!

You have to make your reservation in person at the train station, and if you’re traveling during the weekend, it would be smart to make your reservation a day or two early to ensure that you can get a spot on the sleeping train or “couchette.

You can check out the ONCF website for more details, but here is the basic info:

Tangier Train Station (you can say ‘La Gare’ to a taxi driver)
Depart Tangier / Arrive Marrakech
Time:  9:05pm (arrives at 7:25am)