A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Casablanca as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in Casablanca.
History & Geography
Casablanca is one of the most famous cities in the world, its name evoking a sense of romance and adventure that few others can. Morocco’s largest city lies to the west of the country bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Chawiya Plain, Morocco’s breadbasket, on the other. The area was settled by the Berbers, a nomadic North African tribe, in the seventh century BCE and was later used as a port by both the Phoenicians and the Romans. It was the Romans who first built a sizable settlement in the area, dubbing the city Anfa. After the fall of the Roman Empire Anfa became the capital of a small kingdom which was conquered by the Almoravids, a Berber dynasty, in 1068. It subsequently fell under the rule of the Merinids, another Berber dynasty, in the 14th century. The port at that time was a known safe harbour for local pirates and privateers, and for this reason was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1468. In 1515 the Portuguese built a fortress on the ruins of the city, dubbing it Casablanca – white house. During the next few centuries Casablanca changed hands between Spain and Portugal several times, but was eventually abandoned in the 18th century after a devastating earthquake. The city was rebuilt by Sultan Mohammed bin Abdallah and by the 19th century had become an important port, supplying wool to Britain’s massive textile industry. In 1910 the French colonized Casablanca, which by then had grown into one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with half its population made up of itinerant Europeans. During WWII Casablanca was the site of a large American airbase and also hosted the famous Casablanca Conference, a summit between Roosevelt and Churchill to discuss the war. In 1956 Morocco gained independence from France and since then Casablanca has become the economic and business capital of Morocco and has also cultivated a thriving tourist industry.
Casablanca is the economic centre of Morocco and is one of the key trading centres of the region, taking full advantage of its location at the border between Africa and Europe. Casablanca attracts 32 percent of Morocco’s production units and a full 56 percent of its industrial labor. The city also accounts for 30 percent of national electricity production. The Port of Casablanca is one of the largest artificial harbours in the world and sees traffic of more than 20 million tonnes per year. One of the main staples of the economy in Casablanca is the exportation of phosphate, in which it is a world leader and the administrative centre of the trade. Other important industries in Casablanca are glass, textiles, electronics, fishing, fish canning, sawmilling, leatherwork, processed food, beer and tobacco. Per capita income is on average up to three times higher than in most other cities and regions in the country. Currently the waterfront of Casablanca is being completely redeveloped with several large entertainment centres being built as well as shopping malls and walkways.
Tourism is a major industry in Casablanca, which has made a concerted effort to appeal to visitors. Many tourists come to Casablanca for its romantic setting and air of exoticism. Among the most popular sites are Ville Nouvelle, designed by French architect Henri Prost and featuring an attractive mix of Art Deco and Hispano-Mauresque architecture. Another famous architectural site is the Hassan II Mosque, located on a promontory in the Atlantic Ocean. The mosque has the world’s tallest minaret and its dramatic setting has made it one of the most famous in the world. The Old Medina in the city is also popular among visitors, more so since its recent restoration, and while it isn’t as famous as its counterparts in Fez or Marrakech its reputation is growing. One of Morocco’s strengths is its idyllic climate, with the weather never becoming too hot or too cold. Such weather is perfect for the nearby beaches which are popular with sunbathers, surfers and swimmers. Strolling along the waterfront of the city is a favoured activity, as is sampling the local cuisine, with its distinctive dishes of couscous and tajine. The city is also known for its mint tea.
Casablanca is served by the Mohammed V International Airport, the busiest in the country. The airport serves flights to all the major cities in the country as well as Europe and the Middle East. The main mode of transportation in the city itself is the automobile, and Casablanca is notorious for its gridlock and poor air quality. Currently a metro is being constructed to allay these problems, however a completion date has not been set. A new tram system is also under construction and is due to be finished in December 2012l. The city has two kinds of taxis, petits taxis and grand taxis. Petits taxis provide metered service while grand taxis serve predetermined fixed routes and are shared.
Casablanca significantly lacks Grade A office space. There are many projects in the pipeline, however these will mostly be yielding Grade B space, which is what is mostly required by local businesses. While the situation is forecast to improve slightly in the future, significant change is unlikely. The Sidi Maarouf area is becoming increasingly popular among foreign businesses to set up offices, as is Anfa Place. Currently average rents in core areas are at approximately MAD 210 per square metre per month.