An insider’s guide to Fez: Ceramics, courtyards and Macbook decals
What sound defines your city?
‘Issawa is a traditional Moroccan Sufi genre of music, heard during familial celebrations: engagements, weddings and baby showers. This recording was done during an engagement celebration at a local family’s riad. In the background are the trance tunes of ‘Issawa from Fez with some Moroccan celebratory chants known as “Sla wa slam.”
Everyone’s tuning into …
There are a number of series, both drama and comedy, that run exclusively during Ramadan. One of this year’s newest series is Al-Khawassir, which satirises a popular Syrian historical melodrama soap opera. Even though it is set in an undated historical period, the characters are seen using modern technological devices, adding another layer to the satire. The series comes on about an hour after families break their fast at sunset, while still gathered around dinner tables.
The Best current venue
Riad Belghazi is a quaint museum meets restaurant meets hotel. Perched on the upper part of the old medina, this traditional riad boasts a spacious courtyard complete with citrus trees and centuries-old mosaic tiles. With a complete panorama view of the city, the trek up the 50+ stairs to the rooftop is well worth the cardio.
The look on the street
Fez is known for being a hub of traditional Moroccan fashion, especially during the summer – the height of wedding season. Fatma Chraibi is a local of Fez and has a unique way of fusing traditional Moroccan designs with everyday comfort and style, like this jumpsuit meets caftan.
What’s the big talking point?
On the evening of 29 June, a mob of young Moroccan men hounded and violently assaulted a man presumed to be gay in downtown Fez. Aside from the passive passersby, footage of the assault surfaced, and created a major buzz in Moroccan media. State officials announced that they would pursue those behind the mob assault, while the victim has made several public pleas for asylum. The assault is just one of many major talking points dealing with sexuality and morality in the public sphere.
The Best local artist
Omar Fakhari is the founder of Fakhari Ceramics and the fourth in a generation of ceramic craftsmen from Fez. His work is not limited to just pottery, mosaics and utensils, but also includes a modern twist, with Macbook decals showcasing unique patterns.
What your city does better than anyone …
Fez has, for centuries, been a regional hub for artisanal craft production – leather, brass and ceramics. To this day, many parts of the old medina are divided into quarters by area of craft production. The leather tanneries are especially notorious in Fez, mostly because of the pungent odour. Visitors are often given pieces of mint to cover up the smell.
The Best cultural Instagram
Salah Ghrissi, a native of Fez, describes himself as an “amateur photographer”. His Instagram account features a plethora of images from the designs of local fashion designers to the city’s architecture. Ghrissi’s artistic eye offers a unique perspective into the city of Fez that departs from the usual, touristy representations.
Dounia Boutazout is a female comedian who has sprung to fame within the past couple of years to become a household name after her role on L’Couple (The Couple).
L’Couple is a mini-series that focuses on the relationship between an older couple – the daily ups and downs of their relationship (mostly comedic downs). Boutazout often plays the role of middle-class women in families, contending with the daily issues many Moroccan women encounter.
Moment in history?
In 2008, Fez celebrated its 1,200th birthday, making it one of the oldest cities in the region. The celebrations were a national affair, including concerts, performances, and cultural expositions. A special postcard and stamp were also printed for the occasion.
The Best recent street art
The above image is, like most graffiti in Fez, reflective of the local ultras group, the Fatal Tigers. The Fatal Tigers is a committed fan base for the local football team, Maghreb Association Sportive de Fez.