This is part two of a four-part series on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Class of 2016’s international trip to Morocco and Spain from February 27 to March 8, 2016.
Hate to tell you, but there never was a Rick’s Café in Casablanca until after the movie. No Rick, no Sam, no Ilsa or Victor – never existed – except on a Warner Brothers’ back lot in Hollywood. And, yet we just passed Rick’s Café on Boulevard Sour Jdid on our way to our next company visit.
“It was actually an American (Kathy Kriger) who upon visiting Morocco decided to bring the famous gin joint to life in 2004,” this according to our tour guide. The University of Alabama Executive MBA students took note and many made plans at that moment to dine at Rick’s and to hear Sam play that song “As Time Goes By.”
It’s Tuesday, March 1, 2016, and we are on our second leg of a three-part journey for the EMBA Class of 2016 international trip to Morocco and Spain. Our time in Casablanca will be brief, less than 36 hours. Our first visit was to Marsa Maroc, the national leader in the management of port terminals. Mr. Rachid Hadi, Executive Board Member and Operations Director of the Casablanca Port, and Ms. Nawal Taji, Head of Communication Services spoke to us on lean manufacturing and quality improvement, union negotiations and international trade challenges. In addition, students toured one of their nine ports including the terminal for processing and storing cars.
“Global traffic has increased for 2016, including the exporting of cars, which increased 25% since January,” according to Taji. Well connected in trade lines throughout the world they see continued growth for their company. Marsa Maroc also hosted the students at their company’s Club Resort where employees can relax, swim and play tennis.
The afternoon focused on Morocco’s thriving automotive industry with a visit to Toyota Morocco and a meeting with Country Manager Adil Bennani. Toyota Morocco is a subsidiary of group ALI (Abdul Latif Jameel), one of the biggest Toyota distributors in the world. Established in 1996 with the main aim to import, distribute and sell vehicles, spare parts and accessories and provide quality service. According to Bennani, “ALI operates in 17 countries and three continents.”
When asked about differences in the market place, Bennani pointed out “in the U.S. the average age of a car is 11 years, in Europe 10 years and in Morocco it is 17 years.” The average consumer in Morocco is not loyal to a make or model of car. They look for value. Taxes are very high on gas, which explains why 90% use diesel as opposed to 3% in U.S. who drive diesel cars.
Following our visits everyone spent their last evening in Casablanca visiting the Hassan II Mosque, last minute shopping in the Medina, dining at Rick’s or strolling along the Corniche (beachfront district) or downtown. Tomorrow we fly to Madrid, but for tonight here’s looking at you … Casablanca.
Read more articles in our four-part series on the UA EMBA Class of 2016 international trip to Morocco and Spain.