1. Fez is perhaps the place in the world with the clearest continuous connections to the time of late antiquity. Maimonides and Ibn Khaldun worked there, and walking through the medina that is not hard to imagine — you can dine in a small restaurant in the home of Maimonides (recommended, most of all the vegetables). Fez has the world’s oldest university, dating from the 859, and the world’s oldest continuously operating library, from 1359.
2. The country has been remarkably stable relative to the rest of the region, whether you take that to be the Middle East, MENA, or Africa. But the nature of the associated stability lessons remains unclear, read more here.
3 Social capital is higher than it was during my last visit twenty years ago. That said, every transaction is still a potential swindle waiting to happen. And if any English-speaking Moroccan climbs into your train cabin, and claims his brother is the most wonderful guide in town and offers up his phone number…simply decline any further contact. Especially if the guy has a scar on his face.
4. From the OEC:
It could be much worse, but the dangers of premature deindustrialization are real. Their exports are too dependent on Spain and France, two countries with many other trading partners and also relatively slow growth rates. Agriculture still accounts for 40-45% of employment. Tourism continues to grow, but service culture in the country is not top-notch. They export a lot of marijuana too.
5. The country has the (distant) potential to evolve into an Atlantic economy — check the map — and I don’t just mean the history of Rabat/Salé as a pirate state. Nonetheless the actual trade of the nation paints it as a Mediterranean economy, and most Mediterranean economies have not done very well lately.
6. Moroccans do not seem very religious. Counterintuitively, that may be why, when they are living in Europe, they are especially vulnerable to radicalization. They are not already “filled up with belief,” and experience anomie, which is then exploited by terror groups. Arguably the same is true for Uighurs in China, by the way, who are recruited by the thousands for foreign ISIS crusades and the like.
7. More and more of the country’s gdp is concentrating in and near Casablanca, which is underrated as a visit. The famous Grand mosque, as Yana pointed out, in fact resembles a cavernous mosque-clock tower-opera house-French railway station, with even some elements of a medieval cathedral. Not all devout Muslims are happy with it.
8. The best bistillah is in Meknes, where it is moister and less sweet. In Casablanca I recommend the seafood stalls in the Grand Marché, and the roast chicken joints, always with french fries.