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Lawrence of Morocco

Renovating Meknes

With the International Agricultural Fair starting here in Meknes this week, it has been one long race to get the city ready. Judging by the photo above it would seem the traditional is losing ground to the modern. I may be a little pessimistic but there has been some pretty hasty renovating going on these last few weeks.

Renovations of the Christian prison have been going on for many months. The entire surface above the underground prison has been replaced and this vast yard has still to be finished. There is also a lowered part in the right-hand corner which seems to be dedicated to some form of garden. I hope the secret passage from the prison to El hedim square will be restored and opened to the public.

The Golf Course of Meknes has also been the center of much attention lately. It seems a new side door is in construction. This however is but a wild guess and it may simply be the construction of some kind of hall just next to the golf course. The renovations there are very interesting as they have constructed great archways using traditional building techniques with clay bricks.

Our own little derb near Riad Felloussia has also received a major face lift. Unfortunately they were a little pressed for time and opted for painted cement instead of limewash so the result is a little too modern. The problem with this is also that the little clay bricks are now permanently covered with cement and will never be uncovovered again. A positive point is the very attractive forged metal street lamps that have been installed.

A new museum was also opened up last year. It is just across the road from Bab Aissi and 150 meters to the right of Bab Mansour. Though it is nowhere as sumptuous as Museum Dar Jamai, it has been decorated with taste and it is interesting a museum dedicated to the history of Meknes.

The center of activity has of course been the SIAM that has been set up as for the four previous editions just next to Hri Souani. These were the granaries during the times of Moulay Ismail so the spot couldn't be more suited to an agricultural fair. This 4th edition should be even more succesful with professionals coming from over 20 countries to set up more than 600 stands. 750 000 visitors are expected to come to Meknes especially for the fair this year.

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