Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking

Sand accounts for 80% of concrete composition

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking: They make their fortunes digging up coasts, islands and rivers. Without their precious booty, essential for making concrete, there would be no real estate projects, no hotels for tourists… Morocco is one of the centers of this worldwide traffic. Click here to see images from MoroccoA slideshow by Véronique de Viguerie (photos) and Manon Querouil (text)Find the full report in issue 420 of GEO magazine (February 2014).Discover the contents hereTo subscribe, go to our online shopPhoto 1/10 – The second most important natural resource after water, sand is used in a wide range of products, from glass to microprocessors, and above all is used for 80% of concrete. With construction booming, especially in emerging countries, demand seems insatiable. Morocco in particular. It takes 200 tonnes to build an average-sized house.Next photo: Larache quarry

In Larache, trucks and excavators have become part of the landscape.

In Larache, on the Atlantic coast, steel monsters dig relentlessly. The men milling about seem miniscule amid the thick cloud of dust that coats the site and grips the throat. The quarry may be perfectly legal on paper, but abuses abound.Next photo : Parade of trucks

700 trucks make up to three round trips to the Ouled Skhar quarry every day.

The truck parade begins just outside Larache. From Monday to Wednesday, some 700 machines make up to three round trips to the Ouled Skhar quarry, opened in 2008 and managed by a cooperative of small truckers. The vehicles fill up with sand and then head off to feed the concrete mixers at local construction sites.Next photo : Stolen sand

In Larache, when trucks are banned, donkeys take over

Officially, since 2013, trucks are only allowed on the Ouled Skhar site on the first three days of the week. But on the shores of the scarred coastline, a curious sight can be seen: dozens of donkeys transporting sand stolen from the Atlantic coastline.Next photo : Exchange of good practices

The Larache quarry operators turn a blind eye to the illegal activities of local residents.

Photo 5/10 – This informal use of coastal sand by residents of Larache is tolerated by the quarry operators. In return, they ask local residents to be discreet about the volumes taken during the first three days of the week.

Eighteen quarries operate in the Benslimane woods.

: The woods of Benslimane, 55 km from Casablanca, are part of Morocco’s forest heritage. However, eighteen quarries are operating there, with their share of informal workers.Next photo : Environmental consequences

Benslimane wood quarries, a contested alternative to beach sand

Crushed sand is extracted from the quarries located in these woods. An alternative to that extracted from the beaches, but whose environmental consequences are denounced by several associations. Next photo: The ravages of looting

A third of Benslimane’s forest area ravaged in ten years

In ten years of exploitation, the cedar and cork oak forest in the province of Benslimane has been ravaged over 4,000 hectares, i.e. a third of its surface area.Next photo : Sand and tourism

Vacation homes on Moroccan beaches are changing the landscape

Tourism and construction go hand in hand, as on this crowded beach near Tetouan in northwest Morocco. But more and more sand is needed to feed the construction sites. 40% of current demand is bought on the black market: To find out more…

Djemáa el-Fna Square: behind the scenes of a Highly Organized Bazaar

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking: Djemáa el-Fna Square, the nerve center of Marrakech, Morocco.

Tourists love this mecca of “Marrakech exoticism”. Little do they know that, to attract them, the authorities have thought of everything. Text by Catherine Graciet – photos by Nadia FerroukhiSee the report on Djemáa el-Fna square To find out more, read our Travel to Morocco feature.  Read the full special report on Marrakech and the High Atlas in GEO magazine n°374 (April 2010) and find out about GEO subscription offers. Photo 1 / 12 – More than one and a half million tourists visit the square every year, just a stone’s throw from the souks. In 2001, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Next photo : The tooth puller

Tooth puller in Djemáa el-Fna square, Marrakech, Morocco

This tooth puller, who proudly displays the fruits of his labor and the dentures he offers his customers, is not a big hit with tourists. The authorities tolerate his presence, albeit at a safe distance from restaurants: Gnaoua musicians

Gnaoua musicians, descendants of Black African slaves, on Djemáa el-Fna square in Marrakech, Morocco.

As night falls, these descendants of African slaves, organized in communities around master musicians known as “maâlems”, take over the square. They are recognizable by their two main musical instruments: the “guembri”, a kind of three-stringed lute, and the “qraqeb”, a variety of metal castanets. Next photo: The snake charmer

Ahmed, a snake charmer, plying his trade in the Djemáa el-Fna square in Marrakech, Morocco.

A snake charmer, Ahmed owns some 30 reptiles, including the magnificent North African cobra with its devastating venom. Like his colleagues, he finds himself in the crosshairs of an association that denounces animal mistreatment.Next photo : The storyteller in the square

Ahmed, one of the last storytellers in the Djemáa el-Fna square in Marrakech, Morocco.

The situation of storytellers is delicate. Competing with television, many, like Ahamed, are forced to take on a second job. These craftsmen, who numbered around twenty in 1970, now number only photo : In the fondouk

A leather cutting and binding workshop in the medina’s fondouk.

Fondouks, ancient caravanserais dating from the Almohad era, are mostly located near the square. They are home to all kinds of traders and craftsmen in textiles, leather goods, carpentry and pottery. Next photo: Leather in the sun

Leather drying in a medina fondouk

For the tanners, whose leathers dry on the roofs of the medina, all is well. The souks sell dozens of leather goods every day.Next photo : Made-in-China slippers

The souk of the medina

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking: There are eighteen souks in Marrakech, home to over forty thousand potters, coppersmiths, leatherworkers and other craftsmen. Today, their traditional products are competing with plastic sandals, synthetic djellabas or fake Palestinian scarves made in India or China. Next photo: Gargotiers

From 4 p.m. onwards, the gargotiers prepare their stalls.

The gargotiers, lords of Djemáa el-Fna, set up their stalls at 4pm. From nine o’clock onwards, teams from the municipal hygiene office carry out health checks. Next photo: Zaouïa of Sidi Bel Abbès

The Sidi Bel Abbès zawiya in Marrakech’s medina.

Located north of the Bab Taghzout gate, the Sidi Bel Abbès zawiya attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. Many of them make donations in the hope of attracting the good graces of the city’s patron saint, Abou-l-Abbès Sebti. This saint, whose tomb is located in the zawiya, dedicated his life to helping those in need. Every month, the zaouïa donates all the money it receives to two thousand handicapped beggars. Next photo: Night-time atmosphere

Chestnut roaster in Djemáa el-Fna square

Itinerant restaurants are sometimes open late into the night. For a fee, they have running water, electricity and gas.Next photo: Orange juice vendor.

Roulotte of an orange juice vendor on Djemáa el-Fna square.

Orange juice vendors are parked in kitschy caravans in numbered spaces in the middle of the square.Find out more about GEO magazine and discover our Travel to Morocco feature.

Morocco: the troubadours of Jemaa el-Fna square

The musicians of Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech, Morocco

Photographer Daniel Fauchon has been exercising his passion for images for over forty years. He went to meet the troubadours of Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fna square, and through his series of portraits, reveals the daily life of the medina’s artisans and acrobats. “If the name of Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s former strike square, literally means “assembly of the dead”, for me it’s Hayy al-Ahyâ, “the gathering of Men”, with a capital letter. So it’s of this city and its outskirts, the Medina, that my photos speak to us in the present, in a double gaze that stops time in its tracks. In this work of building a memory, I’ve in no way sought the spectacular.

On the contrary, I was content with the every day – that of “ordinary” people – who, by their very presence, give this subject its true dimension. It’s as if the energy of yesterday’s souls inhabits today’s men. See photos from Marrakech These photos are taken from Daniel Fauchon’s book, “Jemaa el-Fna, Figures au présent”, published by Ibis Press.a selection of these prints is on show at the Galerie Noir d’Ivoire, Paris, from November 5 to 24, 2009.the exhibition and book are under the patronage of the Moroccan and French National Commissions for UNESCO. Also worth a look, our Travel to Morocco featureFind great deals on Morocco on MonVoyageur Photo 1 / 12 – The lifeblood of the troubadours, music is always present. In the past, for its glory and the reign of festivity, men have known the gates of hell.Next photo : The traditional medicine specialist

The traditional medicine specialist

The sun has burned his skin and that of his ancestors. His sometimes strange remedies can put you, your camel and anyone else back on their feet. In good health, he’ll offer you sperm whale ambergris… almost real.Next photo : The basket merchant

The basket seller in Jemaa el-Fna Square

A silent shadow, the ghost of a woman, waits motionless for a hand to reach for a basket.Next photo : The blacksmith

The blacksmith in Jemaa el-Fna square

Son of Vulcan, himself the son of Juno and Jupiter, whether his name is Mouzoune, Ali or Mustapha, he is the master of fire and iron. From his forge come the tools of the earth: Coachmen

The coachmen of Jemaa el-Fna square

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking: Marrakech without a horse-drawn carriage would no longer be Marrakech. A carriage without a horse would no longer be a carriage. A coachman without a horse would no longer be a coachman. A horse without a coachman would still be a horse. So that the horse doesn’t take over, Marrakech keeps its horse-drawn carriages.Next photo : The breakfast vendor

The breakfast vendor in Jemaa el-Fna square

I almost passed by her without seeing her. It wasn’t a three-star establishment, but she had her clientele. Three men hid her from view. She served them soup, fried fish, tea and a highly prized mixture of oil, honey and roasted, crushed peanuts: The boxer

The boxer in Jemaa el-Fna Square

A dream. An illusion. To be, for a moment, Mohammed Ali. At six o’clock in the evening, all dreams are permitted in the square: Transvestites

Transvestites in Jemaa el-Fna Square

On the other side of the Koutoubia, the sun bows with respect. Khôl and ember glances, violins and tambourines, they, they… They, they… inflame an essentially male audience.Next photo : The hammam driver

The hammam driver in Jemaa el-Fna square

His name is neither Beelzebub nor Satan. He’s not a fallen angel. His kingdom, though discreet, is that of the gates of hell. He is the master of fire, the moul farnatchi. By his doing, in the heart of the hammam, before the new being is reborn in you, all your acquired knowledge will flow from the pores of your skin.Next photo : The greengrocer

The greengrocer in Place Jemaa el-Fna

The moment I photographed him, I realized who he was. Yesterday, famous at the court of Prague, today anonymous and a greengrocer, Arcimboldo had exchanged his canvas for a stall, his palette for the treasures of “Mother Nature”.Next photo : The egg merchant

The egg seller in Jemaa el-Fna square

Two wheels, a handlebar, a saddle, a luggage rack, balanced like a Tower of Babel. One man, straw hat and gandoura, at the end of the road, the Medina. Woe betide the unfortunate person who spills this coveted treasure on the pavement.Next photo: The transporter

The transporter in Jemaa el-Fna Square

Morocco: at the heart of sand trafficking: Indifferent to rain, wind, and sun, the moul karoussa waits. He waits for a look, a gesture, that will make him an important man, perhaps the fastest man in the Medina.

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