An intriguing article with the above illustration came across our desk at The View from Fez today. The article from a Spanish source suggested that there may soon be official announcements of a proposed cable car and tourist development on Mount Zalagh. Ibn Warraq went to investigate.
"Madrid - Sources close to the BSMF Spanish consortium say that CEO M J Martinez will soon announce a deal between BSMF and German group Deutsche AL-SA, to construct a tourist cable car or incline railway and reception / restaurant area on a proposed viewing platform at the top of Mount Zalagh (900m) adjacent to the Moroocan city of Fes."
To say I was bemused would be mild. Why is it that every mountain and landmark needs to be exploited? I was reminded of the Sufi master Abu Madyan: "At the beginning of my spiritual journey, I attended the lectures of several spiritual masters. When I heard the explanation of a Koranic verse or a saying of the Prophet, I used to immerse myself in it completely. I would flee to an uninhabited place on Jebel Zalagh and apply myself to the exercises to which God had inspired me ..." I wonder what the great Abu Madyan would have to say. However, many other people I spoke to thought it was a good idea if the proper safeguards were put in place.
According to Dr Hans Huppel, a design engineer with Deutsche AL-SA "A preliminary feasibility study has gathered information about rock types, wind velocities and suitable areas for the viewing platform. There is also the issue of earthquakes. Tectonic data on the Quaternary stress fields derived from our fieldwork and from literature, consistently with the revised focal mechanisms in the region, indicate active shortening oriented NNW–SSE to N–S in northern Morocco. The data collected seem therefore to indicate the thrusts of the Rides Prérifaines". He went on to say that an environmental impact study would be undertaken in the coming months. "This will be an exciting project linking Spanish investment and German know-how," Dr Huppel enthused.
When pressed about the route the cable car would take, Dr Huppel declined to comment other than to say, "All options are being considered. For example, if an aerial cable system is too wind-effected then an incline railway is possible". Observers suggest that the present road route would not be feasible, nor provide the optimum cost effectivness if an incline model was adopted.
Other sources suggest that any development could be expanded to include a small hotel, but stressed that both the German/Spanish initiative and any accommodation construction would not be allowed to impact on the mountain's skyline profile.
A Fassi tourism consultant, who declined to be named, said that he favoured the project but added a cautionary note. "All the strict planning codes would need to be adhered to and local authorities fully informed on every stage of the project."
Mount Zalagh is popular with mountain bikers and Professor Pat Dangar of Johannesburg, SA (pictured above), said he would welcome a viewing platform and restrooms, as long as the sky-cable option was chosen as an incline railway would probably cut across the mountain's many trails. "Sky would be my pick," he said. "Heck, the last thing I want to do is have to stop on a good ride to let a train go past! But, the view from Mount Zalagh is extraordinary and sadly most visitors are unable to avail themselves of the time or transport needed to enjoy it."
For those interested in further technical information and photographs of the project, please follow this link: Technical Info