Moroccan artist

Yasmina Alaoui


Morocco is awash with artistic talent. At home – and abroad – there are hundreds of excellent Moroccan artists working in various fields. One such artist that we’ve been keeping an eye on for some time now is the French Moroccan artist Yasmina Alaoui who works with her Chilean photographer partner Marco Guerra. Together, they combine their artistic talents to craft haunting and mesmerising works of art.

Born in 1977, Alaoui spent her childhood in France and Morocco, eventually studying at the Ecole Du Louvre in Paris. Guerra, was born in Chile in 1965, is a fashion photographer, whose work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Conde Nast Traveller, as well as famous fashion brands such as Levi’s and Ralph Lauren. Their work is like nothing we’ve ever seen, although we can certainly see the Moroccan influences and colours.

Their work can be viewed here (warning contains some nudity!):


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Berber jewellery – exhibition in Marrakesh


berber_jewelry_yves st laurent_exhibition_Marrakech

Our blog post this week comes from Paris and specifically from the Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent where until July 20, the exhibition Berber Women of Morocco will be showing. The exhibition is divided into three spaces focusing on the following topics: Portrait of the Berber Women of Morocco, Skills and Craftsmanship and Traditional Clothing and Adornment.

Within these three spaces, amongst other beautiful things, are: headdresses of Berber brides, multiple silver chains, fertility beads and Tagmout enamelled silver balls.

There are no formal clothes on display – the Berbers wear large pieces of cloth held together by jewellery – but instead the curator Bjorn Dahlstrom has projected images of these onto flat screens.

The accompanying book, published by Artlys (192 pages), explains how these ornate pieces not only symbolise Berber identity but how they also reveal the strength of the women within her community.

This travelling exhibition will next travel to Bahrain before moving closer to home to Rabat.

You can see some of the displays, online here:


Splendour behind white walls – in Marrakech old city

Sultan Moulay Ismail Marrakesh

This week we bring news of a unique restoration project, just completed. If you wander along the rue de l’ Hammam and through the archway between the Mouassine Mosque and the Mouassine Fountain you will find yourself in the proximity of the newly opened Douiria Apartment.

The ‘Douiria Apartment’ may sound like a modern housing development, but it is a much more exciting concept than that. It is in fact a restoration project which has preserved a ‘Douiria’ (reception apartment) that was built during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail (1646 – 1727) in the 17th century.

Patrick Man’ach – who opened La Maison de la Photographie and the Berber Eco museum in Ourika – is the brains behind the project. Having seen the space, he suspected that its white-washed walls might conceal an older, more fascinating décor. He brought in a team of experts, including Xavier Salmon – of the Louvre museum in Paris – and together they worked to remove the plaster.

What was discovered behind these plain walls must be seen to be believed. Underneath lay floral patterns, wooden beams and a sun motif – all perfectly preserved.

Next, a team of 10 skilled Moroccan craftsmen were brought in – expert Moroccan potters from Ourika – who carefully restored the original colours and wooden beams. All the phases of the complex restoration were photographed and are also on display.

Now open, The Douiria provides not only a unique place for hosting VIP gatherings and high-end exhibitions but also a rare insight into the Arab art of courtly entertainment during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail.

The website promises to be up and running shortly.


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Moroccan Women with a Future

Naima Benazzouz, Marrakech, Moroccan chef

This week’s blog post looks further afield, to Paris, where celebrity chef Alain Ducasse made headlines recently.

Ducasse, who has a collection of upmarket restaurants in Paris, London, New York, Doha, Hong Kong and Monaco, is one of the most famous chefs in the world.

Recently the multi-starred Michelin chef employed Naima Benazzouz, originally from Marrakech, and trained her to cook to an extremely high standard.

Benazzouz was chosen to be part of Ducasse’s Women with a Future project which annually enrols 15 women – immigrants or ethnic minorities born in France – into a year-long specialised cooking course.

It operates in union with public authorities and provides a basic income. The aim is to lift women out of poverty by training and to remove obstacles faced by the women, whether financial or childcare obligations.

After 12 years of struggle, raising three children in a Parisian suburb, Benazzouz’s life changed dramatically with the help of this big-hearted gesture from the celebrity chef Ducasse.

Nowadays, Benazzouz leaves her home in Sarcelles, in the south of the capital, and travels daily to the Matignon, in the chic seventh arrondissement of Paris. From there, she cooks for dignitaries and sometimes at private venues such as the official residence of the French Prime Minister.

Ducasse describes his noble project as a way of helping women suffering ‘social and professional exclusion.’ Positive stories like this one need to be celebrated. We are sure that Benazzouz’s family at home in Marrakech must be extremely proud and that her cooking will be much in demand whenever she visits her home city.

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