Not only is Casablanca the most populous city in Morocco, with over three and a half million residents, it complements Rabat (the political capital) as the commercial centre of the country. Leading global corporations and banks typically locate their business headquarters and industrial facilities in Casablanca. Singapore businesses looking to move into the city will find Casablanca to be a practical and convenient location, with many opportunities to find local or foreign partners for business tie-ups.
The city is also an ideal entry point for new businesses due to its connectivity. The Mohammed V International Airport located in Casablanca, is the busiest in Morocco and is only a three-hour flight from most of Western Europe.
Boasting world-class infrastructure compliant to international standards, the city has a total of nine industrial zones, and one of the world’s largest artificial ports – Port of Casablanca. Casablanca alone accounts for about 40% of all port tonnage handled. The city is ranked 155 under IESE Cities in Motion Index in 2018, and is the highest ranking African city1.
Casablanca is also a major exporter of phosphate, with other key industries being aerospace, automotive, building materials, electronics, fishing and canning, furniture production, sawmills and textile manufacturing.
1 IESE Cities in Motion Index, 2019
Casablanca draws a fair amount of tourism, due to its unique blend of French and Arab architectural styles. It is home to the Hassan II Mosque, the third-largest in the world, and the Nortre-Dame de Lourdes church.
Beyond the historical sites, Casablanca is also known as an entertainment and lifestyle hub. The famed waterfront i.e. Anfa area is home to luxury tourist resorts, high-end apartments and leading fashion brands. Major shopping and entertainment complex Morocco Mall is located here, while Parc Sindibad has been redeveloped with rides and games. La Corniche, a famed walking road along the Atlantic Ocean, features a stretch of exclusive clubs and hotels. The fast-growing entertainment sector in Casablanca provides a foot-in-the-door for Singapore businesses; and can also serve as a prestigious gateway to the rest of North Africa. Singapore hospitality and retail companies can also find ample opportunities to invest and increase the attractiveness of Morocco as a tourism destination.
(The city’s name also has a long-standing presence in film history, due to the World War II classic Casablanca; but the movie was not filmed in the actual city).
With an estimated population of 900,000, Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco. Notably, the city is a prime tourist destination – having been deemed to be the most important of Morocco’s four former imperial cities with a great cultural and historical significance.
Dubbed the “Red City”, attributed to its terracotta-coloured mudbrick walls and architecture, the medina of Marrakesh has been bestowed UNESCO World Heritage status since 1985. Home to several monuments, including the Koutoubia Mosque, the Ali ben Youssef Medersa and the Bahia Palace, Marrakech attracted three million tourists in 2019. Singapore businesses involved in retail, marketing, and hospitality can look forward to tapping Marrakesh’s tourism boom.
Perhaps the best-known centre of tourism in Marrakesh is Jemaa el-Fnaa square. The famed outdoor market features everything from spices and fabrics to snake charmers and jugglers. It has been in existence – albeit in different forms – since the 11th century. Hospitality and retail businesses around the square see a thriving tourism trade.
Due to Marrakesh’s tourism industry, primary forms of business are in crafts, service and trade industry. Marrakesh employs over 40,000 people in copperware, leather, pottery, and other crafts. Fabrics and tailoring, using Moroccan materials, is also a major source of revenue.
Industrial manufacturing in Marrakesh is centred in Sidii Ghanem Al Massar, where most major factories are sited. Major Italian cement supplier Ciments Morocco has a factory here, as do many manufacturing businesses in the European Union. Singapore retail businesses can find many quality suppliers or producers within the city.
The Marrakech Airshow is also held in the city biennially. This major air show is Morocco’s most important and is a prime attraction for those in the aeronautics and related services industry.