Economic View


On the opportunities presented by Casablanca’s modern transformation

What factors make Casablanca a global city?

JOUAHRI: The identity of Casablanca is that of an open and cosmopolitan city that has been significant for many people across different time periods. With the signing of the Anfa Treaty by Churchill and Roosevelt after the Second World War and the film Casablanca, the city has always positioned itself on the international stage. 

Today, having the status of being the kingdom’s economic capital, Casablanca continues to welcome diversity through foreign investments. In fact, Casablanca’s international visibility has continued to strengthen, and its citizens have been adapting to the increasing cosmopolitanism with great ease. This has occurred despite the fact that Morocco’s signing of free trade agreements with more than 50 countries challenged Casablanca’s industrial and economic fabric. 

The city’s most buoyant sectors, such as aeronautics or information technologies, have developed on an international scale. Indeed, Casablanca has become a regional hub for Africa, with many international companies opening subsidiaries here in Casablanca to serve as their base for the continent. In addition, numerous Moroccan export companies that operate all over the world have chosen to establish their headquarters in Casablanca. It is precisely this strong economic foundation that will facilitate Casablanca’s transformation into a smart city that consistently hosts events and expositions. 

How do you assess the branding and promotional efforts undertaken for Casablanca?

JOUAHRI: Enhancing Casablanca’s attractiveness is key to the WeCasablanca strategy. In order to increase the influx of leisure tourists, the city has to offer more events, cultural hotspots and sports programmes. While a number of new events have already been initiated, we are encouraging event organisations to contribute to raising the magnetism of the area. This will involve setting up a digitalised communications strategy, such as the apps that were specifically developed for the Casablanca Marathon and the “How to spend a day in Casablanca on less than Dh100 (€9.26)” app. 

The communications strategy should also focus on the development of cultural projects, notably its vast selection of museums. For example, Casablanca boasts a museum on Judaism; it is perhaps one of the only Arab cities to have such a museum and further epitomises the sincerity of Moroccans. There are also more traditional elements to Casablanca, such as the Hassan II Mosque, which is a jewel of architecture, or the Habous. These projects and events highlight key elements of Morocco’s national heritage; being both a modern and traditional city, Casablanca has a unique offering.

It is also worth mentioning that Casablanca remains a global brand. That is to say, from the start, the positioning should not only be focused on promoting the city as an economic capital. A central reason that we worked to establish this global brand was to entice Casablanca’s citizens to rediscover their own city. 

Looking to 2018, what are your strategic priorities and expectations?

JOUAHRI: Multiple approaches are working together to promote the city. WeCasablanca, which was a year’s worth of work, is aimed at advertising the city’s attractiveness. It now accompanies the broader Grand Casablanca 2015-20 Development Plan, which acted as a starting point for the strategy

WeCasablanca implements various communication campaigns for noteworthy projects that are soon to be inaugurated as part of efforts to demonstrate the dynamism of the region. Major developments include the big theatre, the Zoo in Ain Sebaa and the 34-ha Arab League Park in the city centre. The fact that 34 ha of land have been cleared in the city’s downtown area also adds to Casablanca’s uniqueness, as there are not many other cities in the world that have done so. Another notable project that is currently under development and will see substantial improvements in 2018 is the Marina promenade. Today, Casablanca is undergoing a full transformation involving a range of new investments. In order to support this growth, we need to give investors the opportunity to take part in changing the face of the city.