Traditional studies of contemporary migration tend mainly to focus on the flow of people from sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb to Europe. Few pay attention to migration in the opposite direction, from Europe to countries that can present challenges to those who go there. However, given the post-2008 economic crisis, and the changing balance of local economies, more and more Europeans are deciding to embark on this adventure, searching for a new promised land—to escape unemployment, or simply to give a new start to their careers. In a reversal of the historic South-North migration current, many young people—from Spain and France in particular—are seeking their fortunes in Morocco.
Morocco is a country often seen by its immigrants as a transit point. And then there are those who choose to stay. The stories of Enrique, Julie, Sébastien and Henri for me offer a glimpse into the nature of this new North-South migration.
Enrique, a young graduate in industrial design, left Spain to escape the economic crisis and the consumer society he condemns. An idealist, he at first tried to live in a Spanish community that embraced nature, in which he was responsible for raising goats. Later, he joined his father, a teacher at Tangier. Enrique’s father had to leave Morocco in 2012, when his employment contract expired, but Enrique stayed on, and has now been in the city for over a year. He lives in a small student room, and teaches Spanish and drawing, while completing a master’s degree with a view to becoming a high-school teacher. But Enrique does not want to settle in Morocco for very long. For him it is only a step, and one day he hopes to return to Spain or try his luck in a Latin-American country.
Julie teaches English at a French school in Casablanca. She came to live in the city with her partner Sébastien and their daughter Nina four years ago. The happy new parents of little Marceau, did not at first think of Morocco as their new home. It was Sébastien, who, as an architect attracted by the economic emergence of the country and the creative freedom that was becoming increasingly rare in France, decided to settle there. Julie, a dynamic woman who came without the prospect of work, quickly found a job in a private school, switching from a career in the printing industry she had begun in France.
Henri, an entrepreneur who has lived in Marrakesh for over six years, chose to follow his parents, who were attracted from France to Morocco by its different way of life, and milder climate. He works with local hotels and riads (houses with courtyards), and his next project is to open his own family guesthouse. But, despite the attachment he feels to Morocco, he does not think he will settle there permanently.