Rabat - Kissariat Al Kifah, Fez’s famous hanidcrafts shopping district, is finally re-opening after nearly a year of renovation.
Rabat – Kissariat Al Kifah, Fez’s famous hanidcrafts shopping district, is finally re-opening after nearly a year of renovation.
The King Mohammed VI is due to inaugurate the restored bazaar by the end of May, to relief of shopkeepers who have been worried the project would not be completed by Ramadan, the most prosperous crafts season.
Shop owners are upbeat and hopeful that the new face of the Kissariat will help revive their business activities. In the past decade, business in the shopping district have plummeted to a worrying level. Many blame the situation on former Fez mayor Hamid Chabat’s to transfer the parking lot adjacent to area from the Rcif quarter to Babjdid.
As the majority of its customers would come to the district by car, this decision dealt a fatal blow to the business center. Shop owners say number of buyers coming from long distances to buy Fez’s handicrafts has dropped dramatically.
“The former mayor has done a lot of harm to our activities, and we are hopeful the renovation of the Kissariat under the auspices of His Majesty will bring things to normal and breathe new life into our activities,” a shop owner who has been working in the Kissariat for 39 years told Morocco World News.
The initial period of rehabilitation and renovation kicked off in September 2016 intended to last five months, but was extended till the end of May.
The renovation period itself was not without hiccups. One retailer complained to MWN of a lack of proper funds. “We received only MAD 3,500 from the authorities to renovate our shops.”
In recent months, many former craftsmen complained as well about not receiving indemnities from local authorities promised to compensate for temporarily losing their jobs. The mall is considered the cornerstone of Moroccan handicrafts, and thousands of workers depend on its 500 shops.
Kissariat workers have been worried by the delay, which has negatively impacted their livelihood, especially if they miss the holy month of Ramadan where their businesses flourish.
Their fears grew even more as their expenditures are due to increase following Ramadan, during the summer holidays, which will in turn be followed by the new school season.
In addition to its economic importance for the old city of Fez, the district is a historical monument. It was named Al Kifah (“The resistance”) after its residents who resisted French colonization. In 1954 French authorities set fire in district from where calls for strikes and resistance used to spread all over Morocco.
With the re-opening of the “Kissariat Al Kifah”, the past will once again meet the present, as the crafts shopping market never lost its importance for the city’s residents.
Its renovation is part of a larger rehabilitation program of the city of Fez launched by the King Mohammed VI. Despite criticism of the delay, its completion will hopefully give the legendary city a needed makeover.