Morocco is known, of course, for its captivating marketplaces, full of twists and turns and treasures. As the country develops, it only makes sense for it to embrace the marketplace of the 21st century—the mega mall. Casablanca’s luxurious mall is a consumers’ paradise for well-to-do travelers and Moroccans looking for global brands.
Inaugurated in 2011 with a Jennifer Lopez performance and the presence of the royal family, the Morocco Mall can be found just outside of Casablanca. Glitz was not spared in its construction. Outside, a musical fountain reminiscent of Las Vegas welcomes visitors with water jets. Though palm trees reach into soaring atriums, and a two-story aquarium ties in with the mall’s coastal location, the mall’s interior would not be out of place in worldwide locations from Vegas to Singapore. With three floors and more than 600 stores, the Morocco Mall aims to be a one-stop shopping destination for North Africa’s elite.
International luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada line its storefronts with aspirational finds, alongside more modest but coveted Western franchises like Lacoste, Banana Republic and American Eagle. In addition to clothing, jewelry, electronics and specialty retailers, shops include the Marjane supermarket, the Galeries Lafayette department store and the FNAC store, which sell the latest in technology and entertainment. The Morocco Mall has also tried to mirror the country’s rich market culture with “souk-style” stores selling the work of artisans and artists.
Many restaurants on the mall’s premises serve local and international fare. Fast-food giants such as Burger King and KFC rub elbows with establishments serving up quick local fare. Naturally, this glitzy mall includes fine-dining restaurants featuring a number of cuisines as well.
As a mega mall, Morocco Mall contains attractions beyond shopping and dining. An IMAX 3D movie theater shows the latest blockbusters, and the kiddie theme park Adventureland offers, among other attractions, the bizarre feeling of ice skating in a balmy climate. Luckily, coffee shops such as Starbucks keep visitors fueled for an entire day of shopping and attractions.
Admittedly, the mall cannot replace the experience of strolling through authentic Moroccan marketplaces, and its embrace of conspicuous consumption might feel jarring in a country with a large income disparity. Its developers, however, see its construction as a sign of Morocco’s continued development. Additionally, the country’s moneyed class and denizens of youth culture welcome a location where they can enjoy a Western shopping experience. The Morocco Mall was partially funded by Saudi corporations, bringing part of the Gulf’s immense wealth to its neighbors in North Africa.
Mall parking is provided by valet service. The mall offers a free shuttle from various Casablanca hotels. The mall’s website, www.moroccomall.net, includes maps and current opening hours.
Written by Brinda Gupta.
Photo by Gregory Bastien.