The venue of the conference is the fascinating city of Tangier. A city that was made famous by the movie, Casablanca, Tangier is a hot spot for celebrities and tourists looking to relax. The city is lively all through the year, with beautiful beaches all over.
The history of the city goes back to the Phoenician times founded by Carthaginian colonists in the 5th century BC. It is considered an important city by the Berbers and it name was probably derived from the Berber Goddess (Tinjis). It is a Berber mythology that it was built by son of Tinjis. It came under the Roman rule in the 1st century BC and was later conquered in the 5th century AD by the Vandals. It came under Arab control in 702. During the expansion of the Portuguese rule over Morocco it was conquered by them in 1471 and ruled till 1661. It was later given to the Charles II of England as dowry in 1661. In 1679, Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco made an attempt to seize it. After a crippling blockade by him, the English departed in 1684. The city was reconstructed but declined again by 1810. Its strategic location brought it at the centre of European diplomatic and commercial rivalry and almost led to a war. It was under the Spanish control from 1940 to 1945 during the World War II and reunited with Morocco in 1956.
Tangier can be described as a city with excessive elegance, but little snobbery. It is the opposite of snobby: gritty, but elegant at the same time. For this reason, many people seeking peace and inspiration have flocked here over the years. A lot ended up staying. In 1947 Paul Bowles, a famous American composer, author and translator, settled in Tangier, and his wife followed in 1948. Bowles fell under the charm and mystery of the city that never left for the remainder of his life. He came to symbolize American expatriates in the city. Yves Saint Laurent spent his final years residing in Tangier.
You experience the feeling every time you visit. For example, you spend a fair amount of the time sitting at cafes, overlooking Europe from Africa. It is not at an exclusive country club, but a simple cafe on the street. There will be a man from Europe, a man with no money, and the table next to him will be a millionaire. You all share the same space in Tangier. Nobody is too important, or acts like they are always busy. You all take time to absorb the peacefulness.
Tangier is a fascinating Moroccan city. It has a sense of exotic mystery, interesting history, beautiful sights and unspoiled beaches. Tangier is an uncontrolled mix of north Africa, Spain, Portugal and France. It was under joint international control until 1956. Tangier is separated from Spain by the 20 miles of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Frequent ferries make the short crossing from Europe each day, and many cruise ships sailing between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic often include Tangier as a port of call. Tangier has an international Airport (TNG) located 12 km (7.5 miles) from the city (travel time about 20 minutes). Taxi costs 100 Dh (10 Dollars), 150 Dh (15 Dollars) at night, from the airport to down town Tangier. At present Royal Air Maroc, easyJet, Ryanair, Iberia (Air Nostrum), Jetairfly, germanwings, Corendon Dutch Airlines, Transavia and Air Arabia Maroc fly to Tangier.
What to see?
-The tomb of Ibn Battouta, a 14th century famous traveller who was born in Tangier.
-Teatro Cervantes. Closed and falling to pieces but take a photo from outside the gates as you pass by.
-The Tangier American Legation Museum, a thriving cultural center, museum, conference center and library in the heart of the old medina in Tangier, is housed in the only historic landmark of the United States located abroad. The museum exhibits a large collection of art and historical items. It also has a Paul Bowles Wing dedicated to the writer and composer who lived most of his adult life in Tangier.
-Museum of Contemporary Art of the City of Tangier.
-The Kasbah Museum, the former Sultan palace deserves to be seen not only for its collection of artefacts from the Phoenician to modern times, but also for the building and garden.
What to do?
-Drink a mint tea at the Cafe Hafa and enjoy the view of the ocean.
-Get happily lost in the medina, which is most active in evening and night.
-Visit the American Legation Museum in the walled city. (Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States, in December 1777 with the hope of promoting commerce with the new republic. This act by the Moroccan sultan was the first public recognition of the U.S. by a head of state.)
-Go to the souk on Thursday or Sunday mornings to see the Rif mountain women in their colorful costumes selling their produce and dairy products all along the wall of the St. Andrew Church (English Church).
-Visit Hercules Cave located just 14kms west of Tangiers, are a place of stunning natural beauty and great archeological significance. Apparently, this is where the mythical figure, Hercules, used to rest after finishing his 12 labours. The cave also bears a mirror image resemblance to the continent of Africa. Get there by taxi costing about 160-200 dirham and takes about 15 minutes. It costs 10 dirham to get into the cave, do not bother with a tour guide. The cave is within a kilometer of a beautiful sandy beach, great for sunbathing or swimming.
-Trip Boat from Port Tanger ville. Trip Boat is a company that proposes boat trips from the port of Tangier, half day or full day, as well as fishing trips aboard an Italian boat.