Rabat notes

by on December 23, 2017 at 5:18 pm in Political Science, Travel | Permalink

Is Rabat the nicest city in the Arab world?  It sure seems to come close, but as a capital and major recipient of government largesse its recipe probably is not scalable.  They are building a new concert hall and also a high-speed rail line up to Tangier.  So many vistas are pleasant, the touts are absent, and the food never quite hits Morocco’s peaks, nor is there much in the way of crafts.

The city emits the vibe of not being especially religious.  The medina and kasbah are relatively empty of economic activity, having not yet reinvented themselves as yuppie or millennial shopping districts.  Other than public works projects, it doesn’t feel as if anything transformative will happen here anytime soon, economically or otherwise.  Morocco, of course, did not have an “Arab spring” in 2011, and the monarchy has proven remarkably stable, beyond many people’s expectations.  That is perhaps the #1 social science question about Morocco.

The citizens seem to compare themselves more to Spain and France than to say Egypt or Iran; I am not sure that is good for their happiness.

Nace en Rabat el primer hipopótamo concebido en cautividad en Marruecos.”

The Chellah ruins exhibit traces of Phoenician, Roman, and medieval Arabic pasts, the surrounding landscape design creates a perfect integration.  Winter temperatures are in the low to mid 60s.  If you have never been to Morocco before, doing the whole flight for a mere two days in Rabat is worth it, but neither is it the country’s leading highlight…

1 Art Deco December 23, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Morocco, of course, did not have an “Arab spring” in 2011, and the monarchy has proven remarkably stable, beyond many people’s expectations.

The country has had a power-sharing arrangement between the King and the civilian elected officials for 40 years, and its Islamists are by all appearances reconciled to electoral institutions. (Of course, there were people who thought that of M. Erdogan too). Unlike Bahrain, the country’s political conflicts aren’t exacerbated by confessional distinctions. Unlike Kuwait, the country doesn’t have a six-digit population of guest workers. Unlike Jordan, the country’s political life isn’t damaged by settler-revanchists. It’s big problem is slow growth and lagging educational indicators.

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2 Catholic German December 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Morocco is berber-arab

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3 Vox clamantis in deserto December 23, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Actually, there is good reason to believe Btaaboura, President Temer’s family’s home town, is the nicest city in the Arab world.

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4 rayward December 23, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Morocco is a Sunni majority Muslim nation that has stayed neutral in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, going so far as providing humanitarian relief to Qatar. Moreover, Morocco restored diplomatic relations with Iran last year. Is that why the Trump administration has mostly ignored Morocco, taking almost a year to nominate an ambassador? The speculation is that Morocco chose neutrality in the Saudi Arabia power play in order to appeal to potential investors who might prefer Morocco’s neutrality over the sectarian gamesmanship of the Saudis. Of course, one would hope that Trump has a grand strategic plan for the middle east. Unfortunately, it’s more likely Santa Claus will visit my house tomorrow night.

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5 Ray Lopez December 23, 2017 at 8:37 pm

If you are a world traveler like me, TC’s post reminds me of any post relating to anywhere in the world that is off the beaten path. I actually got vibes about this even in such a cosmopolitan city as Sydney, Australia. I felt like it was too remote to matter, that they tried to ape California but failed, that it was a derivative culture. Do the Harbour Bridge climb at dusk however, worth it, and the coastal walks. Nice estuary too.

Long story short: TC is stuck in the middle of nowhere, going nowhere fast. But it’s pleasant because he knows he won’t be there for long.

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6 Da Maus in Gaus Haus December 23, 2017 at 11:12 pm

“If you are a world traveler like me.” Ray Lopez and TC are pretentious dilettantes.

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7 LearnedHand December 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

‘too remote to matter, that they tried to ape California but failed, that it was a derivative culture’

Harsh call on Sydney, despite its remoteness i would judge it one of the world’s most sucessful multicultural international cities. California is far more introspective and its culture more monotonous as a result.

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8 So Much For Subtlety December 24, 2017 at 5:19 am

i would judge it one of the world’s most sucessful multicultural international cities.

I would agree. That is, it is a city created by White Anglo-Saxon Protestants that has let in a reasonable number of people increasingly distant from the original stock – that is, first Greeks and Italians, then Vietnamese, then the Lebanese and now pretty much everyone.

So it is not a successful multicultural city per se. It is an aquarium being turned slowly into Bouillabaisse. You are looking at a man falling past the 36th floor of the Empire state and congratulating him on flying so well.

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9 Jan December 24, 2017 at 8:15 am

Incoherent as usual. Happy Kwanzaa.

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10 Anon December 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

And Jan, contributing nothing meaningful to the comment section of this blog except for snark, as per usual. Merry Christmas!

11 clockwork_prior December 25, 2017 at 1:39 am

‘That is, it is a city created by White Anglo-Saxon Protestants’

You left out the fact that many of those doing the creating originally were convicted criminals (around three quarters of the very first settlers), and as many of the transportees were Irish through the years, those convicted criminal were not only ‘White Anglo-Saxon Protestants’, but white Celtic Catholics too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sydney#Sydney_Town

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12 Chip December 23, 2017 at 10:14 pm

It’s strange that a country can be both a popular holiday destination and a major source of asylum seekers.

More than 5 million Moroccans now live in Europe.

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13 Brian December 23, 2017 at 10:29 pm

Not strange at all. Turkey has a bad rap as of late but it’s quite wonderful to visit and there’s close to no danger for foreigners.

However, as much as I would be delighted to revisit Turkey I would choose most other nationalities over actully being a Turk and thereby forced to stay there, under their legal system, for decades.

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14 MatteoZ December 24, 2017 at 4:45 am

Maroccans in Europe are not asylum seeker, they are immigrant like Mexicans in US.

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15 clockwork_prior December 25, 2017 at 1:40 am

Pretty much.

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16 Ahmed December 24, 2017 at 6:25 am

Those 5 million Moroccans or descendants of Moroccans, were mostly guest workers who were brought mostly in the 60s and early 70s when Europe was reconstructing.
Other migrants followed in the 90s due to the bad economic situation in Morocco and the Ecnomic boom in Spain and Italy…
After all, Europe is just 9 miles or 14 km away from Morocco. I take the ferry often as I live on both sides…

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17 Enrique December 23, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Don’t forget to visit the Roman ruin of Volubilis while you are in Morocco.

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18 Literal Minded December 24, 2017 at 1:49 am

My opinion of that site keeps changing.

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19 Vox clamantis in deserto December 24, 2017 at 9:56 am

+1

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20 liberalarts December 24, 2017 at 1:14 am

Fez and Marrakech are definitley more compelling. But we had the best order of hairira of out two week trip to Morocco while in Rabat. Hairira (very simple) and B’stilla (very elegant) were my favorite dishes in Morocco.

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21 Matt Raft December 25, 2017 at 6:33 am

I visited Casablanca and Rabat a few days ago. Both are wonderful cities. Casablanca may very well be the NYC of Northern Africa. I am not sure if anyone here has mentioned Morocco’s unique trait of an evenly dispersed population. For a country of almost 35 million people, there are few “mega cities” outside Casablanca. Somehow, perhaps because of its above average train/rail system, economic gains and jobs have left few cities behind. Yet, hardly an academic or UN paper exists that discusses how Morocco has managed to outdo the U.S., China, Canada, and Japan in this regard–sustainable population growth. Most commentators discuss religion rather than economics for some reason, as if being Muslim is somehow unique in the world. Just my two cents.

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