Overlooked by flocks of Morocco-bound tourists who generally prefer the glamor of cities like Marrakech, Fez has been notably absent in Morocco’s booming tourism industry.
Rabat – Morocco’s tourism minister Mohamed Sajid has announced plans to rebuild Fez’s image for coming tourism seasons.
Known as the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco, Fez is one of the oldest cities in the Muslim world. The city’s 1,200-year-old medina (walled city), home to the world’s first modern university, one of the world’s first hospitals for mental illness, and scores of old madrasas (Islamic high schools), is a warehouse of Islamic and Amazigh (Berber) history, culture, and civilization.
In recent decades, however, Fez has been the forgotten city in Moroccan authorities’ urbanization plans. The medina bears signs of neglect and dilapidation, while other tourist attractions around its old and new towns only attract a handful of history, art, and religion enthusiasts.
Sajid’s plan is to change that and “give back to the city its old attractiveness,” according to an official statement quoted by “Aujourd’hui le Maroc” on March 3.
The goal of the plan is to reclaim its medieval beauty and attractiveness, making it possible for the country’s spiritual capital to be recognized and cited among the best tourist destinations that Morocco has to offer.
As part of the plan, the ministry hosted an awareness-raising event it called “Media Influence Day” over the weekend in Fez. The objective was to exhibit the city’s rich cultural and artistic history participants, most of whom were media workers.
One downside of “Media Influence Day,” however, Aujourd’hui le Maroc reported, was that the city’s municipal authorities did not think much of the event, not even bothering to attend.
One reason, the newspaper speculated, is that the city’s authorities, having seen Fez cast away in years of sustained disinterest in Fez and lack of national policy to promote Fez as a tourist destination, may have lost confidence in projects like Sajid’s. It will take more than a three-day public relations event to convince them.
But “Media Influence Day” has not been the only move in the direction of the tourism ministry’s plans to rehabilitate Fez.
Since the first half of 2018, the city has seen a resurgence of government-funded reconstruction projects. Under King Mohammed VI, an initial MAD 583 million urbanization project was launched in 2018 to give the city a new and attractive look.
The project included the renovation of dozens of historical monuments, street maintenance, improved or modernized urban planning, the construction of new parking spots with extended capacity, and reconstruction work in and around the medina.