Famous Expatriates in Morocco

The city of Tangier in northern Morocco is just a stone’s throw from Europe.  The ferry from Tangier to Spain takes only 30 minutes.  This easy access has made Tangier a veritable expatriate melting pot.  Between 1923-1956, Tangier was an international zone, governed separately from the rest of Morocco by a loose coalition of foreign governments.  The cosmopolitan environment and laissez faire attitude attracted many libertine creatives from Europe and America.

Several prolific American writers have famously called Tangier home, including Paul Bowles and William S. Burroughs.  French painters Eugene Delacroix and Henry Matisse also spent significant time there.  Bowles, in fact, spent the last 52 years of his life in Tangier, and wrote three novels set in Morocco.

delacroix Delacroix’s Fanatics at TangiermatisseMatisse’s Window at Tangier

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Yves Saint Laurent bought the beautiful Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech in 1966, and split the remainder of his life between the adjoining estate and another home in France.  John Paul Getty Jr. and his wife, Talitha hired design visionary, Bill Willis, to revive their run-down Marrakech palace .  Many famous friends came to visit, including the Rolling Stones, to record part of their album, Steel Wheels.

592038_525_380_w British journalist, Jonathan Dawson

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Talitha Getty in Marrakech
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The Getty’s home in MarrakechOB-UR197_mag101_J_20120920214953 Yves Sant Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens

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The Rolling Stones in Morocco in 1964

Morocco’s rich culture of craft and long history of acceptance has fostered a diverse expatriate community.  Countless artists, musicians, designers, and travelers have explored this special land, and many have decided to call it home.

Want to read more about interesting expats in Morocco?

Wall Street Journal – The Magician from Memphis

New York Times – The Last Casbah

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Lebanese Architecture

Lebanese architecture has one of the longest histories in the world, dating over 7,000 years, to the Phoenician period.  The Phoenicians were a seafaring people, based in Lebanon.  Due to their advanced construction techniques, they were able to build boats that allowed them to trade throughout the Mediterranean.  They also developed ingenious architectural techniques that are still evident in Lebanon today.

In fact, there are a variety of styles of architecture in Lebanon, resulting from the many different types of people who have resided there throughout history.  The beautiful old mansions in Beirut are my favorite.  They feature traditional Lebanese elements and borrow from Ottoman, Damascene, and Venetian styles.  These houses are characterized by mandaluns, or  triple arcade windows, a style brought to Lebanon from Italy in the 17th century.

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Many of them also have musharrabiehs, windows that allowed inhabitants (usually women) to view people outside without being noticed themselves.  One of my favorite activities in Beirut was to walk around the city, going a different route each time, to discover and admire hidden architectural gems.

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If you want to learn more about Lebanese houses or a variety of other aspects of Lebanese culture, I highly recommend these books: Lebanese Heritage Books.  They are created by a mother-daughter team, and published in 3 languages (English, French, Arabic).  I had the pleasure of meeting them at the farmer’s market in downtown Beirut.  They are really nice people and their books are awesome (I have 3 of them).