Rocking the Casbah

Rocking the Casbah

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Something strange is stirring in the deserts of North Africa. On scrubby ground outside the Moroccan city of Marrakech, plots are being fenced off and hundreds of thousands of dollars are changing hands for non-descript strips of red brown soil.

The property market in Marrakech is about to expand in a big way. Forty years after the city first gained a reputation as a bohemian magnet for rock stars and fashion designers, the traditional apartment market is saturated and property investors are arriving in a big way.

Some of the biggest names in villa development are now preparing to move in, with one of the UK's biggest developers planning the launch of a £25 million, 40 villa complex next month, to be constructed around a hotel and spa on the outskirts of town, from one of the worlds leading hotel chains.

Properties will start at £300,000 for a two-bed property, rising to £1 million for four-bed villas. The hotel will arrange rental tenants through the year while the owner is away. Another UK property investment company is planning its own more modest complex of £100,000 apartments, with use of clubhouse and spa, outside the city walls. Many, many more are planning further developments. "There’s so much construction going on, Morocco feels like a mini Dubai. The city is changing completely," local estate agent Alban Pamart told the Times.

Others, like Scottish property investor Jimmy Boyle, who is constructing two £500,000 villas outside the town and who has just paid £150,000 for enough land to construct nine more, is confident that the holiday home market is now diverse enough, and Marrakech exotic enough, to lure rising numbers of visitors - especially with a UK flight time of three hours.

"There’s nowhere like Marrakesh. The buildings, the market, the mountains, the food - the whole place is one big exotic adventure. Anybody can go to the jolly old seaside but here, drinking beer in the sun while looking at the white peaks of the Atlas Mountains, well, that’s unique."

SOURCE: Assetz Property News March 2006
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