Old Jewish quarter in Essaouira

Morocco plans to rehabilitate the ancient Jewish quarter of Marrakech in an effort to boost tourism to the city.

Morocco World News, citing the Moroccan French-language newspaper L’Economiste, reported that the conservation plan is part of a jointly financed project by the country’s Housing Ministry and city of Marrakech. The project will cost around $20 million as part of larger $32 million rehabilitation of Marrakech’s old city.

The project in the ancient Jewish quarter—which is known as the “Mellah” and was built in the 16th century by Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition—will include plans to safeguard houses that are threatened with collapse, the rehabilitation of homes, and some demolition of properties.

Morocco was once home to more than 250,000 Jews, many of whom immigrated to Israel in the mid-20th century. The former Jewish quarter in Marrakech is now occupied by Muslims. Recent efforts have been made by Morocco to protect its Jewish history and to encourage Jewish tourism.

In 2013, the Moroccan government finished a two-year restoration project for the Slat al-Fassiyine (Prayer of the Fesians) synagogue in the historic city of Fez.

By: AP