Mixed Feelings about Real Estate Development in Morocco

By Sarah

sheep next to hotel Oued Laou
more pics of oued laou on flickr

On a recent trip to Oued Laou, a city on the Mediterranean north of Chefchaouen, I saw the opportunity fueling Morocco’s real estate and tourism development efforts. Sheep grazed in an empty lot next to the town’s hotel, enjoying a water front view along with me and my traveling companion. The hotel staff said business had picked-up since they had been featured in the most recent Lonely Planet guide. They seemed nervous about the increased attention, but we were the hotel’s only visitors.

Mediterranean waterfront
Waterfront in Oued Laou. View of Hotel
Oued Laou terrace on left.

In Morocco, rumors are flying that investors from places like Kuwait and Qatar are buying up costal land for major tourist developments. The rumors are certainly based in truth. In 2001, King Mohammad VI launched his Vision 2010 plan which aims to improve Morocco’s economy through tourism. Real estate developments are already under way along costal areas on the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The King’s plan mainly targets Europeans, particularly those in the UK, Germany, and Switzerland, who are in the market for a vacation home.

View of Ouidia in from the now-gone Yacht Club in Rabat.

rabat-cote maison 025
Same view last year during the Mawazine Festival on the Bou Regreg waterfront in Rabat

Attracting tourists means more than building new hotels. It requires additional capacity and attractions. It requires safer roads and more consistent services. In other words, it requires a lot of change and some loss. For example, the new water front by Oudaia in Rabat required removing the old Yacht Club where a friend of mine was married.

The real estate boom in Morocco gives me mixed feelings. Certainly, Morocco has a lot of room to change for the better. Human rights abuses, education, poverty, and a national identity crisis caused by the pull between Muslim faith and Western ideas are just some of the challenges facing Morocco. On the other hand, Moroccan design has developed without regard to maximizing capacity or efficiency. I would hate to lose artistic traditions and places for the sake of economic progress. I hope tourism leads to prosperity for Moroccans. I hope it fuels restoration efforts. But, I, like the staff at Hotel Oued Laou, am nervous about the increased attention.

4 Responses to “Mixed Feelings about Real Estate Development in Morocco”

  1. Eric Hundin Says:

    I found your blog on MSN Search. Nice writing. I will check back to read more.

    Eric Hundin

  2. Toronto realtor Says:

    I can feel your mixed feelings about investing in Marocco. You claim that: “Human rights abuses, education, poverty, and a national identity crisis” is present in the country. We could be controversing about your statement but the point is – country’s ready for investments. Nowdays the country’s politicaly stabilized more than ever before, it is a safe country too which isn’t case of Algeria for exemple. They have a huge potential, population is well educated in languages, easy accessibility via europe and of course beautiful sceneries and nice climate. These are the factors that I think should be considered. Anyway thanks for pointing attention to this region, good work.

  3. MoroccanDesign.com Says:

    I love Morocco and would buy a property there if I had the capital available to do so. I certainly don’t mean to imply it is a unstable country. But it is one going through a transition, hopefully a very prosperous one for all people involved.

    The human rights abuses that occured under the reign of Hassan II should probably be addressed. And there is a pull by radical Islam on Moroccan hearts and minds. Morocco is a moderate but still a very Muslim country and Moroccans are very emotionally connected to events affecting Muslims world-wide, especially through the filter of satelite TV, which makes emotional appeals on behalf of Islamic Brotherhood. Moroccans have a strong and old tradition of tolerance, which is what makes the country such a wonderful place and is the real hope for the country’s future.

    Really, my point is that all of these subjects should be talked about at least as much as the countries beautiful design, landscapes, food, and weather.

    Thanks for reading and for taking the time to leave such thoughtful comments.

  4. Mohammad Sadik Says:

    I am architect and interior designer with projects managing skills
    This is my website
    I hope to work in any project in Morocco
    Thank you
    Mohammad Sadik

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    Sarah Tricha

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