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Morocco's funduqs are given a makeover to encourage and promote crafts

Restored funduq in Fez   -  
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In Morocco, ancient meeting hubs along commercial routes, known as funduqs, have been restored for tourists.

The City of Fez's $160 million project to reopen them allows craftspeople to move back and show their goods to visitors in the traditional roadside inns used as commercial meeting hubs.

Fouad Serghini, director general of the Agency for the Development and Rehabilitation of the city of Fez said: "There are approximately 10 Funduqs that have been completely restored and we now have 30 Funduqs that are undergoing restoration, and therefore a significant percentage of 120 hotels, that is, everything that belongs to the state is being restored, and this has a very important impact, especially in terms of preserving crafts."

The crafts practised in Funduqs include embroidery, sewing, tapestry, weaving, traditional belts, traditional decoration on wood, wooden buckets and brassware.

Fatima Zahra Khallouki makes carpets and crafts in Funduq Staouniyyin, Fez

"In this Funduq, there are various types of handicrafts," she says. "And in order to attract tourists from inside or outside Morocco, we focus on developing skills, techniques, quality and creativity."

More than 30 craftspeople are currently working full time in just three of the restored Funduqs; none was working there before the renovation as the sites were considered unsafe and closed to the public.

Leather craftsman in Funduq Lahsour, Othmane Fahime, believes the restored funduqs have been good for him. 

"I meet a lot of tourists," he says. "Before [the renovation], I was in a marginal Funduq, and it was not an opportunity to meet any of the tourists or customers, and now we are in a touristic area, and in turn ,we are keen to be creative and innovate."

Today, the Funduqs have one again become a great centre of local skills and culture.

The Funduqs of Fez welcomes between 10 and 30 tourists each day.

A tourist from Holland described how much she liked the funduq.

She said: "I visited this beautiful building, it's beautifully renovated, beautiful shops inside which sell crafts from local people, it's really impressive."

Traditionally, the large buildings around a central courtyard could store goods and accommodate merchants and travellers in rooms upstairs.

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