Sunday, November 26, 2006

Travel writing about Morocco - part eleven


95 per cent of the prospective buyers are British. Yes, prices have doubled in the last year. Yes, you can still pick up a small, crumbling dar (a house which, unlike a riad, doesn't have a courtyard) for under £20,000. And, no, hardly any of the buyers speak French, let alone Arabic. Every Brit in town is looking to buy. And they'll buy any old crap. Brian didn't quite say that, but then, he was having problems finishing his sentences. GB Airways started direct flights to Fez just under two years ago, Channel Five film crews followed, and now it's in the throes of full-blown Ryanisation.

Is this the end of 'abroad'? is a really interesting article by Carole Cadwalladr in The Observer. The start of no-frills flights to Morocco has sparked a property boom but at what cost? As Ryanair launches into the ancient city of Fez, Carole Cadwalladr asks: is this a cheap flight too far? Here is an extract:

For Fez el Bali, Fez the old city, a warren of alleyways, blind corners, hidden courtyards, dead ends. There are the tourist shops selling carpets and pots, but hundreds upon hundreds of other shops selling toothbrushes and hammers and saucepans and sheeps' heads. It's still a living city, where the locals sleep and shop and play football in the alleyways and pray in the mosques. But for how much longer? In Marrakesh, 90 per cent of the medina is now owned by foreigners and although Fez is bigger - it has 12,000 Unesco-classified houses, according to Brian and Robert, two Americans running an estate agency by the walls of the old city - they're pretty much all for sale.

It takes me a while to get this out of them, though. They can barely be bothered to speak to me when I walk into their office. Yes, they say wearily, 95 per cent of the prospective buyers are British. Yes, prices have doubled in the last year. Yes, you can still pick up a small, crumbling dar (a house which, unlike a riad, doesn't have a courtyard) for under £20,000. And, no, hardly any of the buyers speak French, let alone Arabic.

Every Brit in town is looking to buy. And they'll buy any old crap. Brian didn't quite say that, but then, he was having problems finishing his sentences. GB Airways started direct flights to Fez just under two years ago, Channel Five film crews followed, and now it's in the throes of full-blown Ryanisation.


The full article is here: Is this the end of 'abroad'?

Earlier Travel Writing stories:


Travel ten.
Travel nine
Travel writing eight
Travel writing Seven
Travel Writing Six
Travel Writing Five
Travel Writing Four
Travel Writing Three
Travel Writing Two
Travel Writing One



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3 comments:

E said...

In the past century, Fez has faced colonialism, poverty, decay, and countless misguided and mismanaged infrastructure projects. However, I don't think anything has been or will be so destructive to the city as all the efforts of well-meaning foreigners determined to 'safeguard', 'rehabilitate', or 'preserve' it.

Interesting series on travel writing, although it does fill me with grinding despair.

Anonymous said...

Hi what a great article, I look forward to reading more of your articles on this topic and who knows, maybe one day I'll write some myself, I've book marked your site and will be checking back soon. Thanks Angela - Links Dragon - Gemini Hosting

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Like anything tourists and foreign-led preservation efforts are a mixed bag. But I am maintaining a glass half full outlook:-)