8,000 foreigners, for the most part Europeans, have moved to Marrakech over the past few years. Their very presence and purchasing power are changing the face of the age-old Moroccan city.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
Five years ago, Bernard Pasqualini wanted to leave Corsica. He had a restaurant on the French island and enjoyed sculpting in marble there in his free time, but he could no longer stand paying such high taxes and salaries. “Workaholism is on the wane in Europe, the only thing that counts now is money,” he says. He wanted to find a sunny spot, outside Europe, to start from scratch again. The first country he stopped in was Morocco, the first city Marrakech. And after three days there he made up his mind to stay.
In the modern city centre he created Le chat qui rit, a restaurant that now draws celebrities from overseas. “A nonchalance and joie de vivre reigns here that many Europeans no longer know. The people here are kind and calm.” Pasqualini, a cheerful quinquagenarian, is one of 8,000-odd foreigners who’ve put down roots in Marrakech over the past few years. Most of them are entrepreneurs or pensioners who come for the beauty of the city and the laid-back mindset. Down in Morocco, desk diaries and wristwatches are rarities. Taxes and payroll costs are low, the minimum wage is €200 a month.
As a result, what’s happening in Marrakech is precisely the reverse of the prevailing trend in European cities: Moroccans are waking up to find themselves surrounded by foreign communities, chiefly French, but also Italian, Spanish, German and English. And a new sociogeographic distribution is taking shape: Europeans are settling down in the centre, in the Moroccan houses they fancy, while the Moroccans are taking to the suburbs, where new blocks of flats are being built all over the place.
Many Moroccans put a different spin on the phenomenon: “The Europeans are buying us out of our city.” Bernard Pasqualini bristles when he hears that. “It’s the Moroccans who are selling their houses. Do you think we’d sell our houses in Corsica? Of course not.”
Source: Presseurop (English)