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Rebuilding of a Neighbour's Riad

During the devastating earthquake which hit Morocco on 8th September 2023, many mud brick ancient houses in the World Heritage listed medina of Marrakech were structurally damaged, and partially or completely collapsed. During the first few months of 2024 the Moroccan government covered the costs of demolishing any houses that could not be repaired, and were dangerously uninhabitable. Marrakech medina is a densely packed, walled, medieval city which dates back to the Berber Empire. Its mazelike alleys are home to over 200,000 people, many of which live in riads - traditional houses built around a central courtyard - usually adjoined to their neighbours but insulated by thick walls on all sides.

Riad Africa comprises four inter-connected riads, each with their own courtyard and unique roof terrace. We have six 'neighbours', which surround the entire property. During the earthquake, only one of our neighbours suffered significant damage to their riad, and this was subsequently demolished during March. Fortunately Riad Africa was not affected by the earthquake, and was quickly certified to be habitable and structurally sound, and safe for guests. Riad Africa has remained open since the earthquake, and many thousands of guests have enjoyed memorable, trouble-free, and very safe stays at one of the leading riads in Marrakech medina. Our staff take great pleasure in providing a home away from home for all our guests.

Our English and Dutch owners are absolutely vigilant with regards to health and safety. Riad Africa is one of only a handful of Marrakech riads that have full fire, health and hygiene standards that match those of the UK and Europe. Managing Director, Nick Anstead, visits the riad frequently (usually daily) to ensure those high standards are consistently maintained. Word-of-mouth marketing, through recommendations from delighted guests, has been key to our successful growth over the years. We would never want to compromise that.

Recently one of our important booking agents, without any consultation with us, has notified our mutual guests of the following: “there is a new family home being built next to Riad Africa, during 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to Friday you might see or hear some of the works taking place even though it will be screened off. Due to narrow streets please take care when walking past.”

Unfortunately, some points on this statement are somewhat misleading and require clarification. Firstly, as at 4th June 2024, the only work that has taken place is the manual digging of foundations (no machines involved, just labourers digging by hand), and laying of concrete over the 200 sq metres of surface area (see photo). This work was not noisy and was completed by the middle of May. Since then no further work has taken place as the property owner does not have enough cash to continue. The site is screened off (as is normal for building projects). Riad Africa guests can only see the building plot from a 4m section of one of our roof terraces by peeking through the side of a pergola (which some curious guests may find interesting to look at). It cannot be seen from anywhere else on any of our four roof terraces, and is therefore absolutely NOT a visual disturbance.

Any new building works have not commenced, and may not start for weeks, months or possibly years! If and when any building work does start, then we will update this blogpost with regular photos and information. If, in the unlikely event, we think there will be any noteworthy / significant impact for guests staying at Riad Africa, then we will mention it.

Because of the narrow streets leading to Riad Africa, access to large, noisy machinery is not possible, so building supplies are usually delivered by donkey-cart (or small honda vans) - neither of which should disturb guests. Bricklaying is of course, by hand, and finishing works involving plasterwork, tiling and painting, should not really disturb anyone! Work may also take place on Saturdays (not just Monday to Friday) - but this shouldn't make any difference to Riad Africa's guests who will most likely be out and about exploring the medina during the daytime - one of the main reasons that guests choose to stay in a traditional riad, rather than a tourist hotel!

It is also worth noting that close to Riad Africa there is a blacksmiths workshop (it is a working medina after all...!), and it is far more likely that this creates more noise than any building works might ever do. One of the rooftop restaurants/bars, several streets from Riad Africa, can often be heard when DJ's play in the evening. Then of course there is the call to prayer - five times a day from several mosques in and around our local area. Dogs may bark in neighbouring riads, cats may fight, neighbours may argue - every day of a stay in the medina is an experience, so don't worry if our neighbour continues to rebuild his riad, you probably won't even notice!

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