Last minute gift hunting at Mohammed V airport ….
Mohammed V international airport started out its working life as nothing more than a desert airstrip used by the US air force during World War II. Today, Casablanca airport as it is also known is one of the busiest in all Africa, handling some 7.25 million passengers in 2010, and host to some 45 airlines, including Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc.The airport serves Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city with some 4 million inhabitants. Situated some 30 kilometres south of the sprawling city, the airport has good train and bus links downtown, and in terms of flights, an extensive route network to Europe, the Middle East and the rest of Africa.
Mohammed V international boasts no fewer than three terminals. However, at present overseas visitors are only likely to use the relatively modern Terminal 2. Terminal 3 is reserved for Royal Air Maroc’s internal flights, while Terminal 1 is open only for check-in as it is being extensively refurbished.
The new-look Terminal 1 should be a great place to fly from when finished. The remodelled building will feature 28 gates, 44 check-in counters, a first-class lounge and a brand new duty-free shopping mall. The only problem is that no completion date for the project has been set so for the moment at least travellers will have to make do with Terminal 2.
Happily, however, we can report that the shopping and dining offer at Mohammed V’s recently renovated Terminal 2 is pretty good by regional standards. International travel-retailer Dufry and local outfit International Duty Free Stores (IDFS) run rival duty-free stores in the terminal, stocking a good range of spirits, cigarettes, fragrances, cosmetics, fashion accessories and cosmetics.
Whisky is very popular in this part of the world and Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal are the top-selling brands. Marlboro, Winston and Camel are favourite cigarette brands, and tobacco prices are very cheap by Western standards. The relatively high proportion of Southern European passengers passing through the airport means there’s also a relatively decent selection of French and Italian wines on offer too.Moroccan leather has been known for centuries throughout the world for its excellent quality and good value. A visit to one of the country’s traditional tanneries in cities such as Fez and Marrakech with all its sights and sounds is an experience no one will ever forget. Leather belts, jackets, shoes, bags, clothes, furniture and babouches (Moroccan slippers) are a highlight of many a Moroccan souk stall, and Mohammed V has its own leather goods store called Fantasia Cuir.
You will also find leather goods at Terminal 2’s more general Moroccan crafts and souvenir store Trésors el Mamoune, where you will also find beautifully decorated handmade ceramics, pottery, lamps, jewellery, rugs, carpets and clothing. Take a look at the company’s website at http://boutique.tresorselmamoun.com/epages/289392.sf/fr_FR/?ObjectPath=/Shops/289392/Categories to get a better look at the company’s full product range.
Casablanca has a youthful population and many of the city’s young have a keen eye for fashion. So perhaps it’s not a surprise then that international designer brands get a decent showing at Mohammed V airport with brands such as Lacoste, Mango, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger and Massimo Dutti boasting their own boutiques within Terminal 2. Travellers will also find pricey, but stylish jewellery from Parisian jeweller Chaumet which was founded way back in 1760.
To complete our whistle-stop shopping tour look out for Dahmani and Aéropress kiosks if you need to buy a newspaper or magazine to read on your flight. If you fancy buying a CD of traditional Moroccan music or buying a new computer game, head to Virgin Maroc, which sells a wide range of CD’s and consumer electronics.
We are happy to say that there are plenty of restaurants, bars and cafés in Terminal 2 (something which can’t be said of the domestic Terminal 3). Fill up on a tasty pizza at Pizzeria Box or load up those carbs with pasta at La Pausa. Alternatively, try some of the country’s fantastic local cuisine at Aladdin. If you are on a morning flight, grab a French patisserie from Brioche Dorée and a strong cup of coffee from Café Sky.
See our guide to your arrival allowances: Morocco Duty Free Allowances