The art of development

Last week I attended a cultural festival in the small northern town of Asilah.

 

A mural on the walls of Asilah's medina and a "A vendre" ("For Sale") sign on the right. A mural on the walls of Asilah's medina and a "A vendre" ("For Sale") sign on the right.

 

Morocco has dozens of cultural festivals, most of them dedicated to music. These are often fantastic--I had an unforgettable time at the Gnawa festival in Essaouira three years ago. But as I note in an article that just came out in the National, many of the festivals are sponsored by powerful politicians and seem to be motivated by issue of personal prestige. The idea that a cultural festival is enough to put a town "on the map"--and attract tourism and investment--has become a common-place, but the results aren't always there to back it up.