Considering coming to Marrakech but worried about the political unrest in Middle East and North Africa?
I was at the demo on Sunday 20 February morning in Marrakech and it was very peaceful. I was also out in Gueliz, the new town, in the afternoon, and my impression was that it was a different crowd, mostly bored, perhaps poorer disaffected young men out to take advantage and cause some damage.
None of the guests that we had staying at the Riad at the time were disturbed by what went on and none felt under any threat. All had been out during the day. One was in Jeema el Fna at midday and saw the demo protestors, all was calm. Again it seemed to be a different group that was rioting later on.
By Monday morning there was nothing to see, except a lot of police standing by. The souks were all open again. Some shops in Gueliz stayed closed. Most Moroccans are shocked by what happened in the afternoon.
The courts have been quick to deal with the rioters. The demonstrators have been allowed to continue. There are daily demonstrations in Rabat and that has been the case for a long time. They are unemployed graduates who just want the government to find them jobs. They are no cause for alarm. There are further demos talked of, and we can expect the same approval for the demonstrators but speedy action for rioters.
Some of the Western media has been alarmist of their analysis, particularly regards Morocco. However there is now a lot of informed analysis, both by Western and Arabic experts as well as a wealth of blogs from ordinary people. It has given us all a greater understanding of what is going on in North Africa and the Middle East, and in the West’s complicity in maintaining the status quo. People here are very proud that their fellow Arabs have risen up, but also very clear it is not a path for Morocco, at least not yet whilst the King is making moves to reform.
The King is extremely popular here. He has done a lot for poor and the disadvantaged. There are a lot of development projects under way. Most people seem willing to let him try to change things, a few want to push him harder. There is a business and ruling elite which is disliked. There is nowhere near the dislike of the regime as in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. But even the King acknowledges there must be change. Activists are presenting it as a wake-up call, not a demand for regime change.
There is no targeting of tourists nor anger towards them, so don’t be fearful on that part. If you are in Morocco at the time of any disturbances, the Moroccan police are extremely vigilant about the safety of tourists. As you have to fill in a landing card on arrival and at each subsequent accommodation, your whereabouts are always known by the police. We will be ready to support you if there are any difficulties.
Unless your Government Foreign Office advises not to travel then it is OK. As far as I am aware no European or Western governments have advised against travelling. Our position is that any cancellation before FO advice not to travel will be treated as a guest cancellation and subject to our cancellation payment provisions. If governments do advise not to travel then we will offer a postponement to a later time. Please ensure you take out travel insurance, and follow FO travel advice.
Personally I feel privileged to be in a part of the world that is finally waking up and speaking up against their oppression. Of course some other people would have a different perception of being around an uprising ( and as yet we do not have that here), and none of us would want to be caught up in what is going on in Libya.
Hope this re-assures you, and we will keep guests who are coming here informed if the situation changes
Owner/manager and resident in Marrakech