Foreign Brands in Morocco
Lets be honest. As a visitor, this is probably not the brand you are craving to see arrive in Marrakech. However, Starbucks is alive and well in Casablanca and the word is that they are on their way to Agadir and Marrakech.
Casablanca, being cosmopolitan and modern has a large presence of foreign brands (we even spotted a Marks and Spencer on the coast) but the imperial cities of Fez, Marrakech and Rabat have a different architectural style and a great history that needs preserving. But don't panic. Morocco has a history of fusing the old and the new and is well aware of the need to preserve the UNESCO heritage sites.
Tourists may be surprised to know that many brands such as Virgin Megastore, Pizza Hut, Benetton and Zara have had a presence in Marrakech for a number of years. But they are located away from the Medina area and in the case of Virgin are located some distance out of town at the Almazar mall. There is a rumour that Starbucks will be in a similar location but we have so far been unable to find out exactly where they plan to open.
On the one hand it could be described as a great shame. On the other hand the residents clearly deserve the same choices as visitors do within their own countries (except some of the prices make them a difficult choice for local residents). Also, of course the foreign brands have the opportunity to incorporate local culture within their range of goods and they bring good employment to the city.
Whatever happens we all watch with a mix of caution, excitement, suspicion and interest. For visitors to Riad Al-Bushra you may be pleased to know that the Mouassine area is still a local area dependent upon souks and local Moroccan stores.
Riad Al-Bushra Home Page www.riadalbushra.com