What's New in Morocco
Strides in Transportation
Morocco's transportation infrastructure is growing significantly. New highways connect many major cities, making it easier for travelers to get from one place to another. Traveling by road between Casablanca and Marrakesh, Tangier, or Agadir is now easy, reliable, and quick. Morocco's first tramway is up and running in Rabat, connecting the country's capital to its sister city, Salé, and helping ease congestion between and within the two cities. Casablanca is also constructing a tramway.
In 2004, Morocco made sweeping reforms to its family law code, the Moudawana, creating one of the most progressive family codes in the Arab world. The new Moudawana gives women significantly more rights and protections. The new legislation gives women the right to request a divorce, increases the legal age to marry from 15 to 18, severely restricts polygamy, and gives women rights to shared custody and child support. As with any significant legal reform, the practical and societal changes that accompany legislative change take time, but can already be seen and felt in the day-to-day lives of Moroccan women.
Luxury and Boutique Accommodations
While Morocco has offered travelers luxury accommodation options for many decades—La Mamounia in Marrakesh and Michlifen in Ifrane, for example—in recent years, there has been a significant increase in top-end hotels and spas. The Mazagan Beach Resort, a five-star hotel with 500 rooms just south of Casablanca on the coast, boasts a top-notch golf course, no fewer than 11 restaurants, a casino, a fantastic spa, and spectacular beaches. For those looking for a bit more intimacy, La Sultana, ideally situated on Oulidia's breathtaking lagoon, is an ideal choice. With only 11 rooms, the hotel offers pampering and the tranquillity of one of Morocco's most beautiful beaches. Boutique accommodations in riads (traditional Moroccan houses or palaces with an interior garden) are available in every major city and provide a great alternative to hotel accommodations. Each riad is unique, combining the traditional, original architecture of the building with the individual taste of the owners.
Morocco's music festivals are growing every year in terms of size, quality, and recognition. These events provide travelers with a unique opportunity both to participate along with Moroccans, and to enjoy a rich and diverse musical lineup of musical acts. Several cities now have noteworthy festivals.
Rabat's Mawazine Rhythms of the World Festival (mid-May) attracts many internationally renowned artists, but its lineup also includes talented unknown artists from all five continents.
The Essaouira Gnaoua Festival (late June) focuses on Gnaoua music, which utilizes drums and other instruments and combines African rhythms with Islamic rituals, elevating the performers into a trancelike state.
The breathtaking scenery of Dakhla in the Western Sahara, where the desert meets the ocean, provide the backdrop for the Dakhla Festival (late February), which combines local musical entertainment with the wind and water sports that have made Dakhla famous.
The Fez Festival of Sacred Music (early June) is dedicated to the city's strong connection to knowledge, art, and spirituality.
During the Casablanca Festival (mid-July) the city's streets come alive with concerts, dance, and other events.
For jazz enthusiasts, a few options include Casablanca's Jazzablanca in April, Tangier's TANJAzz festival in September, and the Fez Jazz Festival in October.
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