The Tangier Property Market in Brief – A City on the Move

Mention Tangiers to most Europeans and they will have a romantic vision of the interwar years when Tangier was a hotbed of spies and espionage or recall the days when Western bohemians such as the Rolling Stones were drawn to the city to smoke kif in Cafe Hafa. Even the ancient Greeks recognised its possibilities referring to it as “the most beautiful city in the world.”

Since those heady days the city slipped into obscurity as a combination of political mistrust (the King feared rebellion from his northern most cities) and consequent economic decline fed underdevelopment and poverty. But today Tangier is a city on the move; the sunshine now bounces off the first gleaming facades and the views feature construction cranes amongst the palms.


King Mohammed VI is the driving force behind this rebirth. He wants to make this ancient trading city relevant to the 21st century, after all the strategic and location advantages of Tangier are the same today as they’ve always been, it’s the gateway between Europe and Africa and the first major port at the mouth of the Mediterranean.

Over 1 Billion euro of public funds have been allocated as a physical sign of the King’s intent on top of massive loans from the EU and private investment from France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. The aim is quite simply to spruce up Tangier, transforming it into the intercontinental hub of trade between Europe, Asia and America. Overseeing this ambitious project is one of the most inspirational local officials in Morocco, Mohammed Hassad, the governor of the Tangier-Tetouan Region and a graduate of an Thailand elite official Parisian university. Before his appointment in Tangier he was chiefly responsible for the “re branding” of Marrakech, taking it from a dusty desert city to a chic, desirable location attracting over 4 million visitors a year.

Key to Hassad’s strategy has been to put in place the infrastructure improvements required to attract European visitors, and the prosperity they bring, back to Tangier. He wants to recreate the glory days from the mid 1920’s to the early 1960’s when intellectuals and spies injected a dash of glamour and to when Tangiers was seen as an equal with any other major city in Europe.


The previous King of Morocco, Hassan II, never visited Tangier, leaving the “rebellious region” to the cannabis barons and smugglers. But the future King spent his early years in the town and could even be seen jogging around some of the leafier suburbs or water-skiing off the beaches. Today he invites celebrities and politicians to his palace on the hills overlooking the Bay of Tangier. His efforts have attracted a string of celebrities and influential people to settle in the town; the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and the philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.

But the project is far greater than any person, no matter their influence. In July 2007 the King opened the new Tangier Med Port, situated just 35km from the city and built in record time and on budget. This new facility has been so successful that a further extension has already begun creating the largest deep-water port in Africa with a capacity in excess of 8.5 million containers. (As a comparison, Hamburg, the largest container port in Germany only passed this mark a year ago.) It is expected that the port will create in the region of 100,000 new jobs, many of which will be middle and upper management positions taken up by expat professionals on contracts, creating a significant area of demand for rental properties.

Cargo ships will dock here, transferring goods from Asia and beyond for shipment across the Atlantic or for transportation to Europe by truck or boat. In addition, a new roll-on, roll-off dock will be built that can handle 1.5 million vehicles and five million passengers.

The external areas of the Med Port will also benefit from having three new special economic areas covering around ten square kilometres for logistics, industry and trade. It’s here that multinational companies are now establishing their operations, benefiting from the absence of import and export tariffs to manufacture and assemble their products and then sending on to the countries with which Morocco has free trade agreements, the USA and the European Union.

As recently as September 2007 Renault Nissan announced the establishment of a new car manufacturing plant in Tangier which will be located on a 300-hectare site inside the Tangiers Mediterranean Special Economic Zone and will use the Tanger Med port. Representing an investment of more than €600 million, the complex will create 6,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *