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Beyond Marrakech

27th February 2009 Print
Mention Morocco to the property investor and Marrakech is the first (and perhaps only) destination that springs to mind. The imperial capital of Morocco with its world famous medina has been top of investment locations in Morocco for several years. However, Morocco is a large country – about the same size as France – and offers numerous investment opportunities beyond Marrakech.

When planning property development, Morocco has looked across the water to the Algarve and the Costa del Sol and officials liked what they saw. The government ‘Plan Azur’ mirrors the 5 star resorts found in Quinta do Lago and Marbella in everything except the prices. Like Spain and Portugal, Morocco can offer miles of sandy beaches, world class golf courses and luxury marinas but with one important difference – property prices in the Moroccan resorts are around half those found across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Moroccan 5 star resorts include Mazagan, south of Casablanca; Mediterranea Saïdia near the Algerian border in an area already popular with Spanish buyers who have invested in the nearby Port Marina Smir; and Mogador near Essaouira, located on the coast to the west of Marrakech.

When it comes to aspirations in tourism and foreign investment in property, Morocco can only be described as ambitious. The country’s ‘Vision 2010’ strategy has several impressive objectives. First and foremost is the target of 10 million visitors annually by 2010 – the 7.9 million tourists in 2008 was an increase of 6% on the previous year.

The strategy also includes massive investment in infrastructure. Between €8 and €9 billion has been allocated to infrastructure improvements. Airports are a main recipient and most Moroccan airports are set to experience upgrades or expansion. Morocco’s ‘open skies’ policy has already reaped rewards – international arrivals increased by 8% last year.

The worldwide economic slowdown will undoubtedly affect the Moroccan property market, but Morocco has an ace up its sleeve – a strong domestic market. Although foreigners generally perceive Morocco as a poor country, there are many wealthy Moroccans keen to invest at home. Rich Algerians and Libyans are also interested in their bigger neighbour where the beaches are considerably better.

“At Obelisk, we firmly believe in Morocco’s potential,” says James Gonzalez, Market Analyst at Obelisk Investment Property. “Our star rating for Morocco in our recent AGS was 3.5, one of the highest we awarded because of the opportunities opening up there in tourism and infrastructure.” While Marrakech is a perennial favourite, now may be the time to check out what is on offer further afield.

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