Is Marrakech a safe place to visit right now?

Given the seismic nature of political events in Tunisia and Egypt, not to mention the shockingly violent response to protest demonstrations seen in Libya and Syria, one might be forgiven for questioning the safety of other tourist destinations in the Arab or Islamic world, such as Morocco.

Although it would be foolhardy to predict the final outcome of the movement for change currently sweeping the region, it should be said that Morocco, though by no means wholly immune to the tide of recent events, is in a different position to countries of the Middle East and elsewhere in North Africa from which it is so far removed both geographically and politically.

Despite the concern aroused, understandably, by the unrest in many Arab states it should be remembered that most of them are a very long way indeed from the north-west corner of Africa.

An important fact underlining the difference between Morocco and countries elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa is that Morocco is a sovereign democracy with a parliamentary system. The young king (Mohammed VI) has been doing his best to keep the economy moving and is gaining respect for his attempts at flushing out corruption.

Also, despite the relative poverty of so many, especially in rural areas, average household incomes are much higher than those of, say, Egypt, where so many millions have to survive on £1 a day. This explains why there is much less resentment among the Moroccan population towards its government than is clearly the case in, say, Libya or Syria. That said, a week or so ago there were a number of peaceful and largely good-natured demonstrations in Rabat, the capital, and in Casablanca, by people taking their cue from the wave of popular unrest throughout the Arab world (more than half the Moroccan population is in fact Berber, not Arab) of which news has spread so fast via TV and the internet.

Even relatively affluent Marrakech, which does so well from tourism, saw a couple of small scale demonstrations last week for constitutional reform, although none of the protesters was permitted to enter the Kasbah, location of the royal palace and of our hotel. On 20th February King Mohammed who, unlike most other leaders in the Arabic world, is widely respected by his subjects, went on TV in response to the street demonstrations to appeal for calm and to announce a number of constitutional changes, an initiative which appears to have had the desired effect.

As we write this, no-one involved in demonstrations in Morocco has been injured, let alone killed, by the forces of law and order and the situation is almost universally calm, a marked contrast with what has been happening in other Arab or Muslim countries. Those staying with us at our luxury Marrakech hotel,  Les Borjs de la Kasbah, are continuing to enjoy their holidays telling us that they feel no more threatened in Marrakech than they do in European cities back home where demonstrations are not exactly unknown!

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply