December 23, 2018
A recent article in Morocco on the Move caught my eye and inspired me to respond. The article reviewed the Legatum Prosperity Index for 2018 in which Morocco was placed at #103 in the entire index of 149 countries. Are there really 102 countries better than Morocco? As part of Kerr-McGee’s oil exploration program in Morocco during the early 2000s, I find this statistic hard to believe.
I had the great pleasure to negotiate oil and gas agreements with countries on all continents except Antarctica. This included negotiations with Western governments, the Far East, and Africa, as well as with people of all faiths and beliefs. When deciding where my company should evaluate and negotiate potential agreements, I always found that the best standard was an on-the-ground analysis of the government and its people. When making a recommendation, I always asked myself if I was willing to live in that country or send someone to live there. This was always the best determinant in whether my company could prosper in a venture.
When reviewing the Index, I did it from a perspective of whether I would want to live there. Is there an open and transparent business environment? Are private enterprises encouraged to do business in the country with a stable fiscal and tax regime? Is there a greater concern for personal safety as compared to other countries and their cities?
So ask yourself: Where in the world would you want to live if you had no family or business reasons for being somewhere else. I would want somewhere with a temperate climate. Not too hot or too cold. I want a place with available transportation for travel both outside and inside the country. I want a place that allows me to practice my faith without discrimination. I want a place with tremendous culture and history. And a place where I can walk the streets in safety.
That place would be Morocco. In “my” Index, Morocco would be in the very top tier of places to live. I love the United States and I am proud to be an American. There are other places that meet all of the above criteria as well and I enjoy visiting them, but my home base would be Morocco.
Why Morocco? It is rich in history, going back to the Roman Empire. The city of Volubilis, a Roman city ruin, is a must see for anyone visiting. Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States. The history of the American Legation in Tangier, the only site on the National Registry of Historic Sites outside of the US, is impressive. Also, one can take a short ferry ride to Europe from Tangier, making Morocco the gateway to Europe.
One could also decide that Marrakech is the place to live. I could go to the Jemaa el Fna every night. The sights, sounds and smells of the entertainers and food stalls never get old. You have the Atlas mountains nearby for hiking and skiing, while the climate in Marrakech is exactly like in Palm Springs.
Or you might decide to live in Fez, founded in the 8thcentury, and one of the oldest existing cities in the world. It has the largest and most exciting medina (market area). My goal, if I lived there, would be to eventually walk through the medina without getting lost. The mystical feeling, essential aura of and allure to Morocco are found in one walk through the medina.
I am just mentioning these cities as examples. Rabat, Casablanca, Ouarzazate, Essaouira and Dakhla are all worth spending time touring as well. Dakhla may be one of the remotest cities in the world, at the southwest corner of the Sahara desert, just north of Mauritania and not far from Timbuktu.
Back to my question of where would you live. Regrettably, my family and business interests prevent me from living in Morocco full time. Nevertheless, since I am now mostly retired, I have returned on visits and have taken my wife Karen with me. She agrees that Morocco would be a great place to live.
In summary, lists are good but only as good as their data and purpose. Gut feeling and impressions are just as important. Your brain is the ultimate computer for analyzing the important stuff.