Jean R. AbiNader
February 11, 2019
It was recently announced that Germany will make $375 million available in loans and grants to Morocco for projects in renewable energy, electric power, water supply & storage in rural areas and desalination of seawater, according to an article in The North Africa Post. The funds are being made available under the initiative Compact with Africa (CWA) which seeks to promote private investment in Africa and increase attractiveness of private investment through substantial improvements of the macro, business and financing frameworks.” The program brings together international organizations, bilateral partners from the G20 and others, targeting African countries that have undertaken reform measures including investor protection and efforts to promote opportunities to private investors.
Another article in the Post focused on the recent inauguration of two medical facilities in Marrakech under the patronage of the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity. The facilities are important additions to local health centers serving the underprivileged, and are also part of the King’s efforts to refurbish and upgrade the El Mellah quarter in Marrakech. Included are a primary healthcare facility and an addiction treatment center. El Mellah has been the site of other projects highlighted this past year as part of the restoration of historic Jewish neighborhoods in various Moroccan cities.
“The primary healthcare center will facilitate underprivileged citizens’ access to medical care, speed up interventions in emergency rooms, and combat medical monitoring irregularities particularly for patients with chronic diseases,” according to the story, and it will also increase accessibility for those in the area who currently only have one clinic to serve a large neighborhood.
The addiction treatment center is the second in Marrakech sponsored by the Foundation, as part of a national program to combat drug dependence. It aims to provide counseling to young people on the dangers of psychotropic substances, improve the quality of care provided to addicts, particularly drug users, ease accessibility to care facilities, and encourage the involvement of civil society and social departments in combating addiction. The center was built at a cost of some $420 million and is a joint project with the Ministries of Health and Interior.
This national program also supports the social reintegration of addicts and provides capacity building training to local organizations on drug abuse prevention. On the occasion of the inauguration, King Mohammed VI presented ambulances to both facilities that will both enable better access to the centers and be used for community education programming.
Interest in the business aviation industry continues to grow and Morocco will once again host the MEBAA Show at the Menara Airport in Marrakech in the fall. Coming off of last year’s successful show in Dubai, companies are keen to show their latest technology and designs to potential private sector customers. As Kadri Muhiddin, Group Executive Chairman and CEO of AMAC Aerospace, explained when announcing his company’s decision to be part of the MEBAA Show Morocco this year. “The global business aviation market is a growing trend. Aircraft manufacturers are always updating their products making them bigger, faster, more comfortable, more economical, and safer.”
Selecting Marrakech underscores the growth for private aviation in Africa and Morocco is a natural site for accessing that market. An article in Arabian Aerospace points out that “Due to its strategic location between Europe, the Middle East, and the rest of Africa, Morocco is seeing an increasing amount of movements which also include flights servicing the South American market. A new business airport will open in the country within the next few years which will complement the new FBOs by Jetex and Swissport Executive Aviation opening later in 2019.”
The market is expected to reach some 175,000 aircraft by 2020 and the number of companies to reach 1200. “This sharp increase is attributable to the region’s thriving economies, notably Morocco and an expanding wealthy elite using business aircraft in increasing numbers.” This has been complemented by the government’s efforts to promote the aerospace industry as a preferred employer by creating an attractive investment environment for the industry including tax incentives, subsidized land and utilities costs, and shared training programs to ensure a qualified workforce.
Business Insider ran a feature that highlighted the benefits of staying in riads rather than hotels or Airbnb while traveling in Morocco. Complete with handsome photos that really make the case, the author touted the many reasons to take advantage of literally staying in what were once great family residences. He writes, “The best way to see the Morocco of old is to stay in the numerous riads that lay hidden in the winding labyrinths of the country’s old medinas. Once the townhomes of wealthy Moroccan citizens, riads are traditional Moroccan houses that often date back hundreds of years and are characterized by an inner courtyard and fountains, with rooms arranged around the center. The name “riad” comes from the Arabic word for “garden.”
As tourism has exploded, with more than 11 million visitors last year, “hundreds of riads have been restored and converted into small guesthouses or bed-and-breakfasts.” The author spent a month staying in various riads and noted that “Each riad is unique, from the interior design to the architecture to the style. Some are homey, some are chic, others look like an Islamic palace, and some areformer Islamic palaces. Some are owned by Moroccan families, while others have been snatched up by Europeans looking to mesh modern hospitality with a taste of the past.”
Aside from the beauty of the surrounds while visiting Marrakech, Essaouira, Fez, and the Atlas Mountains, he also commented on how staying in the riads gave him the opportunity to meet Moroccans, enjoy their hospitality, and learn a bit about the history and culture of the country.