Kenitra - Just moved to Kenitra? No worries at all. It is a magic place where you will start feeling at home day by day. Ambiance is a matter of environment and it affects new comers! You develop your own style and you “melt in.”
Kenitra – Just moved to Kenitra? No worries at all. It is a magic place where you will start feeling at home day by day. Ambiance is a matter of environment and it affects new comers! You develop your own style and you “melt in.”
Everything is conveniently near: shopping, hospitals, colleges. The hospitals and colleges are not the best, but they’re not the worst in the nation. It has a high crime rate and lots of beggars for a city of its size, but you can still find nice neighborhoods with good places to see and great hospitality of people. Indeed, the social makeup of the entire city is captivating to those who dare interact with its denizens.
Kenitra has much to offer. There are many good restaurants, and retail stores with somewhat reasonable prices. There is a gorgeous beach and an awesome lake. It has four seasons with hot summers and cold winters. It is surrounded by farms with organic and local vegetables and fruits. It has beautiful fountains along Mohamed V Avenue, the principal road, and some parks, but still lacks open spaces for children to play. Except for rush hour traffic, which is just as bad as other areas, you can get from point A to point B within a reasonable amount of time.
Even with all its faults, its weaknesses, its malodorous days, Kenitra is [still a wonderful city to live in]. The real estate market in tKenitra is strong, with affordable housing. If you were to buy, you can own a home cheaply. Renting is also an option and the cost varies from one neighborhood to another. In almost every neighborhood, you can find newly constructed apartments really worth renting and living in. Unfortunately, there is a lack of local recreation and park services available to the community for free that would help to keep children off the streets, occupied, and give them some enjoyment. There is a need also for recreational places to go for adults, such as an affordable place for exercise, fitness and conditioning, as an alterntive to sitting in cafés and chatting for hours.
Still with children in mind, a question pops up in my mind: Why are families with very limited income opting for private schools and struggling hard to devote a large part of their budget to paying the tuition? This may be driven by the fact that the public school system in Kenitra, as in the rest of Morocco, is sinking deeper into crisis. Why? Teacher absenteeism, lack of infrastructure, drug abuse and crime are singled out as causes of the failure of the public schools. Only the poorest parents still send their children to public schools,not only in Kenitra, but everywhere in Morocco. This reality contributes significantly to widening the social gap and increasing the exclusion of the lower socio-economic segment of society and deprives children of low-income families of opportunities for social development. The educational system in Morocco does not just need restructuring, but rather a profound change.
Certainly, Kenitra is in need of free libraries to engage children in reading and give them access to a wide range of books. While there is one library in the La City neighborhood and another one in Saknia neighborhood, they are not enough. The two libraries are in fact empty most of the time because they do not offer any extra activities or programs in which children can engage in exploring their country and their culture through books and discovering new skills.
With respect to higher education, Kenitra still does not have any private university. Ibn Tufail University is the only one in this city, founded in 1989, consists of the following institutions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences, National School of Business and Management, and National School of Applied Sciences. it’s the university campus consists of University City and the Maâmora university residence. The harsh reality is that Ibn Tufail University, like others in the country, is also in deep crisis. It has become frozen in time, producing nothing but unemployable and ignorant graduates. In fact, for many, going to the university is simply a waste of time! Others have sought a more successful alternative, opting for vocational and professional training appropriate to the labor market.
“What a society deems important is enshrined in its art,” Harry Broudy, prominent American philosopher and educator,stated. Art is such a large part of our everyday lives, and “art is something that makes us more thoughtful and well-rounded humans.” It is really sad to see people in Kenitra so engaged in everyday activities and completely ignore so many aspects of art in their lives. What I mean is that this city has great minds and talented youth, but unfortunately lacks the resources and guidance to allow them develop their skills and ideas. There are two youth centers in the city. One is in Saknia, the other in Ouled Oujih. Though they contribute to many youth learning experiences, they still both lack design, structure and organization. While there is a school for music in Kenitra, I know of no school that offers art classes, drawing or craft courses for kids.
Theaters, cinemas, and movies are special places for families to go and have a good time. Kenitra used to have three cinemas, however, two of them have gone dark and are now closed. The significance of the arts to a community and to the individual cannot be underestimated. Everybody knows that music, dramatic and literary exposure help children grow and develop into interesting adults. But Kenitra lacks such programs. Most of Kenitra’s children have never seen a theater or been to the movies in their lives.
Yet, still on the subject of art, the region surrounding Kenitra has a rich and varied popular folklore that has been passed down orally from generation to generation. Over time, it is being lost little by little, as it is reduced to folklore exhibitions which lose the context and original meaning reflecting all aspects of traditional local culture: the beliefs, customs, crafts and traditions of the people. Folklore, dance and music were associated with family celebrations, social or religious, but over time they are replaced by other kinds of modern music. Currently, in major celebrations such as engagements or weddings, there is traditional music mixed with modern music from other parts of the Arab world. Kenitra’s traditional music or popular music has been influenced by music from other regions of the country, including Berber-style music and Andalusian music.
Now what about sport in Kenitra? There are many famous names in sports who have come from Kenitra. There is Said Aouita,.a former world record holder and the only athlete in history to combine medals at both 800m and 5000m sprints. Youssef Chippo, the international soccer player, is also from Kenitra. Amina Ait Hammou, famous as an olympic athlete, was also from this city. The Kenitra Athletic Club (KAC) has been prominent. Kenitrians love it and are proud of it. The club is popular for earning the fifth best record in winning the Moroccan Soccer League, four times, as well as for players like Mohamed Boussati who holds the record scorer in the Moroccan Soccer League, after he scored 25 goals during the season 1981/1982. Again, Kenitra, and the region as a whole, have produced youth with good potential, but they are not equipped or organized to motivate them and move forward. The Municipal Stadium, the only one in this region, is also too tiny compared to the size of this region.
Kenitra is indeed a small town, with great history, culture, and an active, young population. There are so many things that are unique and special in this city. That is the reason why I want to go deeper in talking about it. So, let’s dig further into its profile.
The city is located on the south bank of one of the largest Moroccan Rivers, “Oued Sebou,” 12 km (or roughly 7 miles) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, at the level of Mehdya beach. This is a newer city, unlike the imperial cities of the Kingdom, since its creation dates back only 120 years. However, many historians relate it to the Kasbah of Mehdya, a temple built by Hanoun in the sixth century and was used by the Phoenicians.
It was founded by the French General Louis Hubert Lyautey in 1912, named Port Lyautey after him. It opened for trade and became the best river port in Morocco. In 1956, with the independence of Morocco, the name changed to Kenitra. In 1970, a major US Naval Air Station was established and shared by the Moroccan military till 1991.
Kenitra is now the capital of the Gharb–Chrarda–Beni Hssen region, one of the richest in Morocco, situated in the Northwest of the Morocco, on the Sebou River. Its population is approximately 400 thousand inhabitants, and its surface area is 103,55 km 2 (approximately 39 square miles). Its climate is mild and humid during winter and hot and dry in the summer.
It has a diversified transportation network connecting it to other cities of Morocco. This network is boosted by the motorway linking Kenitra to Tangier, Casablanca and Fes. It is half an hour far from Rabat: the administrative capital of Morocco, and one hour from Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco. It is two hours from Fez: the spiritual capital of Morocco, and four hours from Marrakech: the touristic capital of Morocco. The TGV (High-Speed Train) line now connects Kenitra to Tangier in just 1 hour. Rabat Airport is located in just 25 km (about 15 miles) from Kenitra. The Kenitra port on the Sebou River is the first and only river port of Morocco.
This city has natural resources that add to its assets. Maamora forest, the largest in Morocco, extends over 125,000 ha (482.63 mi²), with the dominant species of Cork oak and eucalyptus. The lake at Sidi Boughaba, 10 km away from the city, constitutes a very important biological and natural reserve.
This city represents an area of dominant influence over markets in different sectors. This influence varies from one industry to another, but also from one period of time to another.
Agriculture is the most active sector in the region, employing half of the population, though still not totally developed and mainly depending on irrigation. It supplies the Moroccan market with not only the agricultural produce (especially citrus fruits, vegetables, and cereals, primarily wheat), but also a significant amount of livestock composed of cattle, sheep and goat.
Fisheries: Kenitra has a very important potential in this sector, though still in need of improvement in its whole structure. It employs just about 2,377 people and the quantity of seafood caught is not yet enough to satisfy the market.
Industry: The food industry is the dominant industry in this region, mainly in transformation and conditioning of seafood and agricultural produce. Other sectors that play a significant role as well in the economy of this region are the chemical and para-chemical industry, the metal and mechanical industry, the textile and leather industry, and the electric and electronic industry.
Tourism: This region has all the potential of a beautiful tourist site, with 140 Km (86.992 miles) of coastline with beautiful beaches of Mehdia, Moulay Bouselham, Bikmeur, large dunes and plains of cork oak, the biological sites(nature reserves) of Merja Zerga and Sidi Boughaba as well as the historic sites built by the Romans of Thamusida and Banasa. The Kasbah of Mehdia, which looks like a big square one hundred meters wide, marked by towers at the four corners and in the middle of each side, looking up to the sea and the river, is a big attraction to all visitors of Mehdia. Khabbazat in the old medina, as well as all the neighborhoods around the city (Ville Haute, Ouled Oujih, Fewarat, Maghrib Arabi, Berrami, Ismailia, Seyad, La Cigogne, Saknia, Assam, La City), are also a point of interest for visitors, especially after the creation of many big shopping malls and centers like Asswak Assalam, Marjane, and others.
Kenitra has also a good hotel infrastructure, Maamora Hotel (3 stars), Safir Hotel, and Assam Hotel, as well as several other smaller hotels, welcoming every year more and more tourists.
During this decade, additional attention is given to Kenitra and the region as a whole. Many projects have been launched recently and will make Kenitra a major hub of economic and social development, which could have a positive effect on other communities in the region.
The Municipal Council, its local team, headed by the Secretary-General and under the supervision of the Mayor, are all aware of the importance of an effective infrastructure that will contribute to economic prosperity and improve quality of lives. They all know that Kenitrians need clean air, potable water, as well as security. They need efficient buildings, a reliable power grid and capable mobility solutions.
Kenitra’s urban landscape had seen significant expansion in the last decade. The city’s boom has spurred a need for housing. Many real estate projects have been created by the property developers in collaboration with the banks and other financial institutions, benefiting from tax incentives, such as eliminating capital gains and inheritance tax on real property, designed to stimulate the sector. It is a push by the government to improve accommodation options for lower-income segments of the population and to encourage social housing which has dramatically increased. As a result, Kenitra has recently witnessed the highest increase in real estate prices as well as the most sales. Large industrial projects as well as commercial places and metropolitan facilities have been established and gradually changed the city’s way of life.
Now there is the challenging need to keep the balance of the character of neighborhoods, the preservation of open space and the capacity of an area’s transportation networks to absorb more people. It is also high time to reform education, develop better school designs and accommodations, add recreation and community centers and entertainment facilities.
With all its faults and weaknesses, as John Ed Pearce once said about “home,” Kenitra is “a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”
Photos by Moroccan Photographer Mouloud Zoubir for Morocco World News
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