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House price growth continuing strong in Morocco

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Tuesday July 8, 2008

MOROCCO. The VIPs arrived long ago, including Sting, Mick Jagger, Princess Alexandra, David Bowie, Vanessa Branson, Alain Delon. Many occupy luxurious palaces around Marrakech. The tradition of Western interest goes back to Winston Churchill’s famous patronage of Marrakech’s beautiful Mamounia Hotel.


Morocco property: price growth continues

Yet Morocco preserves an exotic and historic charm lost in many other Arab countries, plus a warm, dry, healthy climate, and a beautiful landscape, with its markets and traditional architecture, its car-free medinas and palaces hiding breathtaking gardens.

Morocco is now going mass-market. The coasts are a major destination for French tourists and increasingly for retirees. There is a whole associated infrastructure of guest houses, French-speaking newspapers and doctors, and an increasing number of French settlers.

Morocco’s economy has been doing quite well. King Mohammed, who succeeded in 1999, is a dynamic monarch who has brought substantial reform to Morocco, and some national reconciliation. Unemployment fell in 2006 to 15.5% in towns (9.7% nationally), down from 18.4% in 2005 (11% nationally).

However national GDP is only expected to grow by 2.5% in 2007, according to the Finance Ministry, due to a poor harvest. This follows a spectacular economic performance in 2006, when GDP grew by 8%. Nevertheless indicators suggest an economy which is steaming ahead, with electricity consumption up 22.9% on the year to March, industrial equipment imports up 12.7%. This is combined with an inflation rate of a mere 2.7%.

In 2007, a study published by the Georgetown University-based Center for Strategic and International Studies called ‘Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco’ concluded that Morocco provides a valuable lesson in political and economic reform. It showed that top-down reforms can be highly effective, if skilfully and determinedly carried out, and that aid donors should lean towards countries where evidence of such commitment is to be found.

Morocco received US$3 billion in foreign direct investments in 2007, mostly from the Gulf, according to reports in the leading newspaper Aujourdhui.

The forthcoming mass tourism explosion

A massive tourism and residential development programme ‘Vision 2010’ – of which the coastal section has come to be known as ‘Plan Azur’ – was launched six years ago to bring 10 million visitors a year to Morocco by 2010 and build 250,000 hotel beds, including 180,000 located in or around the cities.

There will be 1,300 weekly flights into Morocco, with 15,6 million passengers per year. Many large international hotel chains have already built developments, including Club Med, Liwa, Accor, and Sol Melia. Tourism almost invariably brings increased interest in buying in the country, and will likely have an enormous impact both on Morocco’s economy, and on Moroccan real estate prices.

Six huge new tourist stations / residential developments in priority coastal resorts are at the heart of Plan Azur, including: Saidia (Oujda), Lixus (Larache), Mazagan (El Jadida), Mogador (Essaouira), Taghazout (Agadir) and Plage Blanche (Guelmim).

Saidia is being developed by Fadesa and will have 30,000 beds and three 18-hole golf courses, the first unit opened in 2007. Lixus is being shared between three developers and will have 12,000 beds, and two golf courses; the first unit opens in 2009. Mazagan is being developed by Resort Co, and it will have 3,700 beds, opening in 2009.

Mogador is being developed by three developers, will have 6,800 beds, and open in 2009
Taghazout is being developed by Taghazout resort and will have 18,000 beds, and open in 2009
Plage Blanche seems likely to be built by Fadesa, will have 19,500 beds and open in 2012.


Outside the mass market

The long Moroccan real estate boom, of course predates the mass market, and concentrates on the ‘authentic’ Morocco, and above all on giving Westerners a stylish life in exotic, traditional surroundings..

At the core of this has been the craze for buying Riads. It is not unusual to see Riads – traditionally-shaped Moroccan houses, with grand salons giving onto a central tiled courtyard, often with a garden at the centre – offered on the Internet for €500,000 or in the case of the most palatial, €1,000,000. Around 7,500-15,000 French residents live around Marrakech in these and other accommodations.

Will Morocco run out of Riads? Well there are 50,000 Riads in Marraketch and only 1,000 are sold to foreigners. The coasts are also a major destination for French and other European tourists and those looking for a second home. After the boom caused by the French, “the English market is beginning,” says Charles El Fassy of the real estate agent Cabinet Charles El Fassy.

“We have had five years of French buyers. We thought: “Things cannot go on like this any more!” says El Fassy. “But they are going on. It is beginning all over again, with the British.” Prices have increased threefold in four years, he says.

Morocco’s climate makes it a perfect destination all year round. It is hard to imagine, but it is possible to ski in Morocco, and mountain trecking is very popular.

The attraction centres of Morocco

The cultural and physical attractions of Morocco centre on its traditional cities – Marrakech, Fes, Meknes, Casablanca, and Essaouira – and on its one coastal resort, Agadir.

Marrakech is an extraordinarily exotic city, with its drama heightened by a location at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. It is expecting 3.5 million tourists by 2010. Marrakech has a complete tourism zone, Aguedal. A public transport system carries tourists from the district into the city centre for its souks and traditional markets selling copperware, wool merchandise, and carpets and kaftans. There are no less than 27 5-star hotels in Marrakech.

In Casablanca the French built a city in a French idiom, heavily influenced by the architecture of the Arab-Andalusian Empire. The city centre has a modernist grandeur, with plenty of space and light. Casabablanca is large, modern, and agreeable, with five golf courses less that an hour away.

Meknes was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1996. Its physical location, on a plateau, made it Morocco’s trade crossroads. Its magnificent architecture was built by the 17th century Ruler, Sultan Moulay Ismail. Over 55 years he built palaces, mosques, gardens, and lakes. At his death the unfinished buildings including the royal palace – the Versailles of Morocco – which fills most of the old city.

Agadir is Morocco’s main seaside destination. Beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels, an ultra-modern airport are all combined with a moderate climate. Agadir’s beach is spectacular. Some 10 kilometres in length, it is clean and wide. Agadir enjoys a continuous breeze from the Atlantic, so that the temperature is pleasant all day.

Tangier has a louche reputation dating from the 1920s, when it was an outpost for British paederasts. Then in the 1950s, beats, dropouts and writers like Burroughs and Bowles, Ginsberg and Kerouac, Leary and Eldridge Cleaver came to Tangier.Now its coastline is being covered with resorts and new developments.

Essaouira is popular with independent travelers. This is partly because of its long beach, and partly because of its laid-back atmosphere. Yhe town has long been magnet for Moroccan poets and creative talent. In the Place de L’Indépendence, which is the main square in the centre of Essaouira, there are dozens of cafés and restaurants. It is a pleasant place to eat, drink, and watch the world go by.

Some make the analogy with Turkey. Morocco appeals to European tourists, holiday-makers and retirees for much the same reasons as Turkey. Like Turkey, but arguably more so, Morocco has large qualities of well-preserved architectural history. It has charm, exoticism, and a historical built environment which elsewhere in the Arab world has been largely obliterated by modern buildings. And it has geographical variety, the Atlas mountains, and wonderful beaches. Source: www.bi-me.com

Tangier Property Show a Big Success

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Tuesday July 8, 2008

On Friday 4th July 2008 several representatives from Morocco property specialists Moroccan Sands attended the high-profile Tangier property show, Immoba Tanger which is an annual event staged in the prestigious Movenpick Hotel on Tangier’s seafront.


Tangier: Enjoying a property boom

This year’s show attracted large numbers of exhibitors and sales companies from the Moroccan property world. Among those showcasing their properties were the developers behind the impressive Port Lixus project taking shape on Morocco’s beautiful Atlantic Coast south of Asilah.

Another notable exhibitor was the Tanger City Center development company; this wide-ranging project is a mixed development consisting of residential, retail, commercial units and luxury hotels.

Leading Morocco property company, Mayfair Developments were exhibiting several projects at the show, including Dream Hills, a magnificent development occupying an enviable hillside position affording far reaching views over Tangier City and the brilliant blue arc of Tangier Bay.

Our company representatives enjoyed a busy and productive day, meeting many of the show’s best exhibitors and selecting several of the choicest projects for further evaluation. It is anticipated that in the coming weeks Moroccan Sands will be launching a number of new Tangier property investment opportunities as a direct result of our day at the Immoba Tanger property show.

Marrakech GP a New Addition to 2009 WTCC Calendar

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Monday July 7, 2008

The FIA World Touring Car Championship will expand to Africa in 2009. With the addition of a race meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, the world championship is now set to visit four continents next year: Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia.


Marrakech property: A galloping success

Morocco’s first international Grand Prix in more than 50 years was launched yesterday during a crowded press conference at Marrakech’s El Saadi Palace. The historical city will host the WTCC on a brand new temporary street circuit in the heart of the red city on May 3rd, 2009.

The Marrakech WTCC event will be the first international car race in Morocco after the 1958 Formula One Grand Prix in Casablanca.

“This will be everybody’s grand prix. We all have to work together to prove the world that Morocco can build a street circuit and organise a motorsport event according to the FIA standards. And to do this we need to mobilize all our resources. This event will have an unprecedented impact on Moroccan economy and tourism,” said the President of the Marrakech Grand Prix Ali Horma.               Source: fiawtcc.com

Comment
This is good news for Morocco and good news for investors in Marrakech property. The fact that the FIA World Touring Car Championship have chosen Marrakech as a venue for one of their prestigious GP meetings is further proof that Morocco is positioning itself as a modern forward looking country with ambitions to be the leading nation for modernisation in the region.

It is expected that the newly announced race meeting will bring many big spending visitors to the city which is already benefitting from record numbers of tourists beguiled by Marrakech’s exotic charms.

Michael Kent, Sales Director of Morocco property specialists Moroccan Sands said: “This event is sure to further raise the city’s profile on the international stage”. He added: “Couple this new interest with the recently reported increase in visitors numbers and you can see why Marrakech property owners who let out their properties, are reaping excellent rental incomes”.

King of Morocco Inaugurates New Terminal at Tangier Airport

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Wednesday July 2, 2008

Update:

In news that will be welcomed by Tangier property investors, the ruler of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, has inaugurated the new $33 million (USD) terminal at Ibn Batouta International Airport which serves the vibrant port city of Tangier.


Attracting tourists in increasing numbers

The new airport terminal has been built to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of tourists who are visiting this fascinating part of Morocco.

The new terminal which occupies a huge plot of some 12000m2 has been built to handle up to one million passengers per year. This striking new addition to Ibn Batouta International Airport is equipped with the most up-to-date technological equipment expected of a modern airport.

Low-cost carrier easyJet already have a limited service to the airport which they are planning to expand within the next year. Past examples have shown that when easyJet and other low-cost carriers become fully operational, Tangier property prices can expect an uplift of at least 20%.

The airport which received more than 365,000 passengers in 2007 is expected to welcome over 1 million passengers by 2012, rising to 2.6 million by 2015.

Airport Road Link to Mediterrania Saidia Now Open

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Monday June 30, 2008

In news that bodes well for Saidia property investors, Moroccan Sands can report that the eagerly awaited direct road link from Oujda International Airport to the spectacular Mediterrania Saidia resort development has now been completed.

Improved transport links for Saidia property owners

The final 10 km section of this impressive dual carriageway is now open to traffic even though the Moroccan authorities have yet to announce the official opening.

The new direct link means that motorists will no longer have to pass through Saidia town to reach the resort area, effectively shaving 15 minutes from the journey time which had previously taken at least 50 minutes.

Work started on the multi-million dollar link road around 2 years ago as part of planned improvement and upgrading of Morocco’s transport infrastructure. The millions of dollars being invested in new road, rail and air links is a direct result of the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI’s “Vision 2010” initiative which aims to boost visitor numbers from 2 million (in 2001), to 10 million a year by 2010, at the same time, creating 600,000 tourist sector jobs.

Meanwhile, building work to construct a new terminal at Oujda International Airport has just commenced and Moroccan state rail operator, (ONCF) have recently announced a new high speed rail link to be built between Oujda and Fez, further opening up eastern Morocco to the rest of the country.

Michael Kent, Managing Director of Morocco property specialists Moroccans Sands commented: “The completion of the final section of road means that journey times from the airport at Oujda to the Saidia resort will be substantially cut.

He added: “This is yet more good news for investors in Saidia property and comes on the back of recent reports of increased building activity within the Saidia development”.

Saidia Property Project in Full Swing

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Friday June 27, 2008

The most senior investment specialist at Moroccan Sands has just returned from one of his frequent trips to Morocco with good news for buyers of Saidia property.


Saidia property picture update, taken – June 2008

After spending several days touring Saidia and surrounding areas, sourcing new developments and checking progress on our existing property projects, he reports that construction work within the massive Saidia property development zone is progressing faster than ever.

Earlier this year, there had been a few concerns that building work was being concentrated on improving Saidia town to the detriment of construction work in nearby Mediterrania Saidia. Moroccan Sands has learned that ruler of Morocco, King Mohamed VI, who is the driving force behind Mediterrania Saidia and the other “Plan Azur” projects, has visited the site regularly over the past few months and this appears to be one of the main reasons for the renewed efforts to finish the project on time.

Meanwhile, as mentioned in an earlier report, the Rezidor Hotel Group has just announced that they are launching the Radisson Resort & Spa Saïdia. The Radisson Resort is a joint initiative between Rezidor and Property Logic, who are the developer behind Le Jardin de Fleur resorts in Morocco.

Another snippet of news that will be welcomed by investors of Saidia property is the continuing interest in Saidia by top English Premiership footballers; in addition to at least two top Manchester United players, Chelsea’s John Terry is reported to have bought a villa, and we have it on good authority that several more high-profile footballers are planning to invest in Saidia properties. We will let you know more as soon as the news becomes official.

Developer of Le Jardin de Fleur Announces Radisson Resort & Spa Saidia

Posted in Property News by Michael Kent Wednesday June 18, 2008

Radisson Hotels & Resorts, part of the Rezidor Hotel Group, with over 330 hotels in operation and under development with more than 68,000 rooms in 53 countries, has selected the beautiful new destination of Saïdia for its first entry into the Moroccan property market.

Villas du Soleil: Great Saidia Properties

In a joint partnership with Property Logic, the developer of Le Jardin de Fleur Resorts Morocco, the Radisson Resort & Spa Saïdia will manage 384 rooms and 97 villas, scheduled to complete in 2010. “With this signing we are adding a new and emerging country to our pipeline and are now present in 53 countries across EMEA”, comments Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor. “In the Middle East and Africa we now have 47 hotels with almost 11,500 rooms in operation and under development – a clear sign for our commitment to this region.”

Located along six kilometers of idyllic beaches on the north-east Mediterranean coast of Morocco, Radisson Resort & Spa Saïdia will comprise pool villas and residences (2 to 3 bedrooms) and luxury sea view suites (1 to 2 bedrooms). In addition, the Radisson resort will offer collectively 4 restaurants, bars, a 1,500 sq m Moroccan themed spa and thalasso centre, 5 outdoor pools, 1 indoor pool, 2 fitness centres, a kid’s club, shops, tennis courts, an amphitheatre, a beach club and 1,500 square metres of meeting and conference facilities – making an ideal year round destination ideal for business and leisure travellers.

Saidia property Investment opportunities are currently on offer in the Radisson Resort & Spa under leaseback agreements managed by Le Jardin de Fleur. Owners benefit from generous usage of the resort in addition to peace of mind as their property works hard for them in generating excellent return on investment through annual rental income and capital appreciation.

Le Jardin de Fleur is the brand name behind the eleven most luxurious developments within the Mediterrania Saïdia property project – the first of six government backed coastal resorts that form part of the Moroccan Government’s Plan Azur tourism strategy to bring 10 million annual visitors to the country by 2010. The 7 million sq m master plan will feature a 6 km beach promenade, a 1000 berth marina, three 18 hole golf courses and numerous restaurants, shops and exclusive beach clubs.

It is expected that Le Jardin de Fleur will announce further hotel partnerships for its other resorts within the Saïdia over the coming months.

“Our objective is to provide a unique and pleasurable experience to owners and guests and our strategy is based on selecting only the best hotel partners to provide the high levels of service and quality that these resorts demand. Radisson, with its international experience and reputation for quality, shares our vision to create a world class tourism destination in Saïdia,” said Sean Cusack, Managing Director of Le Jardin de Fleur Resorts.

Significant investment has been injected into the development of the infrastructure, roads and surroundings of Saïdia, in addition to substantial expansion of nearby Oujda International Airport (40 km) which is expected to provide capacity for numerous chartered and scheduled airline routes over the next two years. Saidia property owners will be able to enjoy the nearby tourist attractions including the Figuig desert oasis and the imperial city of Fez, while Saïdia offers a 17th century Kasbah, traditional Moroccan restaurants and annual summer music festival.

Moroccan Sands feature some magnificent Saidia properties within Le Jardins de Fleur; including Les Grandes Villas from: £463.114,34 (GBP) and Villas du Soleil from: £254.602,32 (GBP)

Morocco Has More Blue Flag Beaches Than Canada!

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Tuesday June 17, 2008

A headline that may be hard to believe, but it is absolutely true. Morocco has 13 beaches whose water quality levels satisfy the exacting standards set by the Blue Flag Programme. Meanwhile, Canada can only manage 12 Blue Flag beaches.

One Of Morocco’s World-Beating Beaches

Coveted Blue Flag awards are given to beaches that meet high water quality standards; to get an award, a beach must also have access for the disabled and various waste management and environmental procedures in place.

Here’s how the programme is explained on the Blue Flag website:

The Blue Flag works towards sustainable development at beaches/marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and other services.”

The run-down of statistics from the Blue Flag website might raise a few more eyebrows:

A snapshot of countries with Blue Flag beaches

Morocco 13

Canada 12

New Zealand 2

Jamaica 3

The Dominican Republic 4

Bulgaria 9

Bahamas 0

There are several Blue Flag beaches in the Casablanca area, Agadir also has a Blue Flag beach and there is a Blue Flag beach in Tangier. Additionally, there are currently two Blue Flag beaches on Morocco’s Mediterranean coastline at Fnideq and M’Diq.

Moroccan Sands has properties for sale in Morocco which are close to some of the award winning beaches. For example, Tangier properties such as Tangier Boulevard, Les Jardins de Malabata and the Emaar Tinja development are within easy reach of Blue Flag beaches.

M’Diq and Fnideq Blue Flag beaches are close to some of Moroccan Sands’ best Med Coast Moroccan properties; Cabo Dream Golf, Colina Smir and The Views are all situated nearby.

Tangier To Benefit From New High Speed Rail Link

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Monday June 9, 2008

In a move that is sure to have a positive effect on future prices of Tangier properties, Morocco’s state railway company are planning to invest millions of Euros in a new high speed rail network. Initially, the massive investment project will link the vibrant port city of Tangier to Casablanca which is a major centre for commerce and industry.


Tangier: Well Connected.

Work is scheduled to start this year on the new rail link. When complete, Moroccan Sands expects prices of Tangier properties to increase due to demand from wealthy citizens of Casablanca looking for second homes in the north of the country. It can be confidently expected that the high speed line will see greater numbers of visitors passing through Tangier’s ferry port, further adding to the local economy.

The company also envisage that the improved transport links to the rest of Morocco will encourage more international corporations to join the growing numbers of businesses locating in Tangiers free zone, thus further fuelling the demand for quality new-build Tangier properties.

This is the first phase of a project costing 100 billion Moroccan Dirhams (10 billion Euros). The project aims to increase rail usage from its present level of 52 million passengers, to 133 million by 2030.

According to Morocco’s state railway company (ONCF) Director Strategy & Development, Azzedine El Amraoui, the new line is required to increase Morocco’s network capacity and tackle congestion on existing routes.

He went on to explain: “Building these lines for high speed operation will improve the network’s competiveness and support the increasing demands for mobility in a sustainable way”. When complete, the 1500 km network would comprise two main corridors: The Atlantic route connecting Tanger, Casablanca and Marrakech with Agadir and Laâyoune, and the Maghreb line from Rabat to Fès, Oujda and potentially Alger. El Amraoui continued: “The new rail lines will improve links between the north and south of the country, encourage economic development and support the tourist industry, as well as facilitating international integration”.

Construction work on the Tangier – Casablanca section of line is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2009, with the first two sections of 320km route totalling 370km to be completed by 2015.
The introduction of a high speed line will cut the Casablanca – Tangier journey time from 5 hours to 2 hours 10 min. The new line is expected to handle 8 million passengers per year.

Are Marrakech Properties A Safer Bet?

Posted in Property News by Colin Timms Wednesday June 4, 2008

Moroccan Sands has learned that online poker operator, chilipoker.com are offering their membership a chance to fly to Marrakech for the (One Million Euro) Marrakesh Open Poker Tournament which takes place later this month.

Marrakech Properties: A Great Deal Better

To qualify for the draw, players need to accumulate enough frequent player points. The lucky winners will get an all expenses paid trip this beguiling city which is regarded by many as the jewel in Morocco’s tourism crown.

For those who like a flutter, where better to indulge their passion for poker… Although it is hoped that those fortunate gamblers travelling to Morocco will find time to leave their smoke-clouded poker tables and explore this magnificent old city. With its sultry courtyard gardens, bustling souks and lively marketplaces, anyone not allowing sufficient time to absorb Marrakech’s heady atmosphere, however much they win, is indeed a loser!

After taking in the delights of Marrakech, the high rollers might want to consider a far surer way to make their money work for them, namely, investing in Marrakech properties! It’s true that international property investing may not have the “glamour” associated with tournament poker, but as many investors in Marrakesh properties have discovered, the rewards can be equally great but without the risks associated with the turn of a playing card.

Tom Browning of Moroccan Sands commented: “Poker might offer a way for a lucky few to get rich quick but investing in Marrakech properties is a far safer way to secure future capital growth”. He added: “Superb centrally located Marrakech apartments such as Les Terraces de Gueliz are where I would place my stake money”.