Bye-bye Al-mamlakah al-maghribiyyah- Ahmed Salat

Moroccan Flag along a street in Tangier

With this blogpost, my time in the Kingdom of Morocco has come to an end. It’s been an awesome six weeks filled with adventures, intellectual and academic development. I can proudly say that this was one of the best trips of my life, if not the best. The proper organization of the Duke in the Arab World program made it possible for us to cover so much in such a short period of time. We visited all the major cities, learnt adequate Darija- the Moroccan Arabic dialect- visited several governmental, civil society and religious institutions, not forgetting the immense knowledge of the Middle East we have garnered in the Religion, Citizenship and Governance in the Modern Arab World class .

However, the trip didn’t end on the best note for me. On Friday morning, I took the train from Rabat to Casablanca with three other friends from the program and when we got to the airport, we all managed to check-in apart from one whose flight was said to have been cancelled. We chilled at the airport until 1 pm when the other two friends had to go boarding gate for their flight. When my time to leave came, I went to gate B13 where I was  to board Air Maroc flight AT263 at 3:10 pm, an hour before the takeoff time. We waited there until past the boarding time but there was no sign and the staff told us to just wait. Almost two hours later, people were becoming impatient  and started confronting the airline staff, some even resorted to physical confrontation and the police had to intervene. After promising that we’d be leaving in the next hour, severally (6:30, then 9, then 10) people were starting to lose hope and  demanded to be told the truth, if there was a flight or they were just stalling.

Commotion at the boarding gate as passengers confront staff at the boarding desk

Royal Air Maroc has been having issues for the past month as a result of pilots’ strikes that has forced them to cancel close to a hundred flights since July 18th. The strike has been organized by Morocco’s Airline Pilots Association and the pilots are demanding higher wages and improved working conditions. I had an equally frustrating experience with the airline when I was leaving Nairobi in late June though it wasn’t as bad as the events of the last two days.

Twitter reaction of frustrated clients

At midnight, they told us that our flight has been rescheduled for 2 pm the following day and that they’d take us to a hotel where we would spend the night. One and a half hour later (we just sat there waiting for one of the staff to take us to the hotel) we arrived at Golden Tulip Farah Hotel, a five start hotel in Casablanca and one of the best in the economic capital city of Morocco. It felt so nice taking a shower and sleeping after a long and hectic day.

Golden Tulip Farah Hotel 

At 10, we took the bus back to the airport and when the clock turned 2 pm, after a long wait, we got word that the flight has been cancelled, AGAIN. Second fight. Police intervention. Calm. One of the passengers, an Italian, showed the middle finger to a staff who was trying to calm people down, then proceeded to a make a throat-slit gesture leading to further confrontations, with some passengers siding with the now enraged Air Maroc staff, forcing him to apologize but the staff member wouldn’t accept his apology even when the guy finally agreed to. He threatened to have him arrested (he actually called the head of the airport police who took the passenger away). When the gate was finally opened a little before 4 pm, we all rejoiced. I imagined the captain in the cockpit also rejoicing for the promise of a higher pay and better working conditions. It was time for Salat to leave. He  had seen everything. People applauded  when the plane engines started running and so was when we touched down at N’Djamena and one last time in Nairobi. Thank you Morocco, not you Royal Air Maroc, for the amazing summer!

14 comments to Bye-bye Al-mamlakah al-maghribiyyah- Ahmed Salat

  • Ernes

    This post is just brilliant! I really felt like I was part of the whole experience.

  • Faith John

    Wow!This post is really funny. Would definitely love to read more in the future. We felt like part of your trip.

  • Fabian Mkocheko

    The airport incidence is so funny. The universe would often let us taste the bitter side of things even in our best moments. Your stay in Morocco sounds great with full of lessons. Travel a lot and write again for us to see, experience your travels…and learn from your experiences…all the best.

  • Kevin Koech

    Very well, good for you and anyone you’ll have a conversation with about Morocco in the future.

  • Can’t wait for your next travel adventure!

  • Douglas

    Wow Salat!
    The experience is really amazing!
    You got to experience both the positive and negative sides of the kingdom!
    Congratulations for completing the summer study abroad program successfully.
    You are an inspiration to us!

  • It’s a shame this is your last. I really enjoyed reading the great details of your interestingly active yet very educative trip to the beautiful and historical country of Morocco.

  • Hi Ahmed.

    What an amazing experience. It is my hope that you will write a book about your stay in Morocco.

    Think about it.

  • Thanks a lot Ahmed for the continuous update. I really learnt a lot about Morocco while at home.

    Cobsiser the experience at the airport as part of daily life challenges.

    Thanks again

  • Christine Ashimwe

    This is brilliant! As much as I understand your frustration, I am glad that the Arline staff are fighting for their rights. Sometimes Corporations need to be pushed all the way to their limits to do the right thing…And the Golden Tulip? Wow! It’s sad to see your incredible trip has come to an end, I hope you keep all the lessons you learned during your time in Morocco!

  • Bethwel Kiplimo

    Thanks a lot for keeping us updated Salat. I’ve personally learnt a lot more than I’d have ever hoped to learn about Morocco thanks to you. Sorry about your misfortunes but I’m glad you finally got a flight. Best wishes!

  • Farzeen Najam

    Omg amazing! Very captivating to read your flight details. I am glad you were able to make it!
    Loved all your blogs. Felt like i am there as third eye witnessing everything you narrated. Best wishes.

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