Essaouira, Tolerant City Where cultures intertwine in harmony

Essaouira, Tolerant City Where cultures intertwine in harmony


The South African newspaper "Daily Maverick" highlighted the many assets of the Moroccan city of Essaouira, which has become over time an example of tolerance and a city where different cultures have always lived together.

Titled "Morocco's Essaouira: The tolerant city where things have always been done differently," the prominent board members of the prestigious Ray Hartley and Greg Mills underlined that "even as the great schism between the Muslim and Jewish religions deepened, Essaouira became the only Muslim city with a majority Jewish population, totaling 16,000 citizens."

In this article, illustrated with photos of the old Medina (Mellah) of Essaouira, the newspaper recalled that the Jewish people of Morocco had always enjoyed the protection of the Kings of Morocco.

"As sub-Saharan Africa struggles to find a formula to better access investment from 88% of the global economy which lies outside the sub-continent, it might do well to look at what has been achieved in the ancient and modern versions of this Atlantic city", the two authors stressed.

The South African paper recalled that the walls and city gates have been recognized by UNESCO as "an exceptional example of a late-18th-century fortified town, built according to the principles of contemporary European architecture in a North African context" and declared a World Heritage Site.

The authors noted that the city of Essaouira is home to the Bayt Dakira, a Jewish heritage house, was built at His Majesty the King's advisor, Mr. André Azoulay's instigation to honor the historical role of Jewish people in Morocco — the only museum of this kind in the Muslim world.

"Among Essaouira’s economic advantages are its fisheries and its unique Argan trees, which produce oil and cosmetics. At the Beni Antar Cooperative outside Essaouira, 200 women are employed extracting the seed from the Argan nut. The industry survived the Covid-19 lockdowns by allowing women to crack the nuts at home," the Daily Maverick added.

The revival of Essaouira and Morocco’s economic resurgences are evidence of how, then as now, policy and leadership matter, it concluded.