In our last interview on Autogespot, we had a conversation with Patrick from Dubai. We talked about spotting and the car culture in Dubai. The next couple of months, we want to offer you more of these articles with the same kind of interview with a spotter about cities or countries. This time, we’re talking about Morocco. A group of fanatic spotters uploads a lot of beautiful spots from this unknown country. A good reason to have a talk with Oussama, one of the most fanatic car spotters from Morocco. He already made some beautiful reports for Autogespot.
You have been active as a spotter on Autogespot since the end of 2011. How did you find Autogespot? Have you been active as a carspotter before?
I discovered Autogespot when I was searching for more spots spotted in our country. I then truly discovered the world of car spotting, since I just realized how international this shared passion is. I was an active car spotter before discovering Autogespot. This started one summer when I saw a Porsche 997 Carrera S in our neighborhood.
Especially in Europe, Autogespot and car spotting has become a big and well known hobby. What about Morocco? Is the car spotting scene well known?
Car spotting in Morocco is growing rapidly in terms of popularity, to both the owners and the spotters. At first, it was just a couple of friends who would post on a blog exotic cars we saw, then we decided to turn it into a Facebook group, and since then, it is an ever growing group of enthusiast who post daily the sports cars they spot.
In every country privacy and cars is an issue. How is dealed with this in Morocco?
Privacy in Moroccan car spotting is a must. Many owners do not like having their picture of them in their supercar around the Internet. We then decided to both hide the license plate and faces of all owners to guarantee a full privacy, and to make sure we were not disturbing them. However you can find someone who does not have a problem with that and let you enjoy taking the pictures of his car.
Why do you think people don’t like it that they take photos? Is it culture?
Supercar owners do not like the idea of car spotting because they do not understand it yet. They do not believe you take a picture because you like the car, but because you want to take a picture of the licences plate and because you are trying to stalk them. However, this is starting to change, as owners are realizing we are just passionate people.
When we think of Morocco, we tend to think that this is a very poor country. Could you tell us if this is the reality and if there are any big differences?
In Morocco, we have three classes, poor, modest and rich. The modest class is becoming more and more bigger and stronger. This also means we are having more rich people, so we are starting to have more sport cars. This is why Ferrari decided recently to make an official concessionaire.
And what about other brands? Like Porsches of Aston Martin? How is it on the streets?
We are also getting Maserati concessionaire in Morocco, and we also have Porsche, Rolls Royce and Bentley. Porsche is selling many Cayenne's and Panamera's, so those cars are seen a lot.
How is car photography in Morocco? Is car spotting just about making a picture of a car, or does it go way deeper?
At first, car spotting was just about taking pictures that would surprise our friends. Since this was not popular back then, the owners did not trust what we were doing, and even told us not to take any pictures of their cars. Now, thanks to our team of car spotting in Morocco ‘Huntercars’. We managed to make both people and owners much more familiar with the art of car spotting. Although it has changed a lot in the last 5 years, it is not yet fully understood.
Maybe you can tell us something about cool projects you are working on. You did the photoshoot with the SLS AMG and want to do the F-TYPE?
However we met a young supercar owner, who was very understanding on our passion and let us do a shooting of his car, something that is unimaginable in Morocco. Not only did he leave us direct him to locations to take pictures of his car, but also let all of us have a ride we will never forget. Since then, we had more inquiries asking for photo shoots, such as the owner of an Audi RS5 and another with an F Type. We are especially trying to get closer to the owners so we can show that we are really dedicated and passionate about cars. Our biggest hope is to organize a Cars and Coffee, something that was never done in Morocco.
What kind of spots in Morocco are the best to spot at? Could you tell us something more about that?
The best city to spot in Morocco is Marrakesh. It is a very beautiful place, with its traditional red homes and palms littered everywhere. The countryside is very beautiful as well, so there is a great shooting potential. Since Marrakesh is a very touristic place, there are many restaurants, casinos and nightclubs, so you will often find a couple supercars outside of it. Also, in a couple luxury hotels, you will find many supercars as well. Casablanca, the industrial capital is also filled with supercars in the Coastal Boulevard.
Are there special places where they like to come. In a city like Monaco people love to show of during the day. Do you have that in Morocco?
There is a place and time in Casablanca called the “25th Hour” in Ramadan. This is about an hour before we break our fast in Ramadan, some owners like to show off their cars by giving the hundreds of people walking by hard accelerations, revs and occasionaly, drifts. For Marrakech, many supercars cruise in L’Hivernage. This is essentially the most luxurious part of Marrakesh, riddled with 5 star hotels, Casiono’s, night clubs and more.
In every country, certain cars are very popular. Which cars are in Morocco very popular? Do you see many tuned cars?
In Morocco, AMG'’s are extremely popular. There are also many Porsche's and Bentley. There are not many tuned cars in Morocco, but many come visit, especially in the summer. This is when young immigrants come back home, bringing in cars fitted with body kits such as Lumma Design, Mansory, Hamann Motorsports and AC Schitzer.
For one the car is just something to travel in, for another person it reflects their status. How do people in Morocco feel about this?
Unfortunately, for most, it is merely a status symbol. They just buy these cars as a way to show they succeeds in life. So you will often find them in not the best condition.
Does there exist something like an Moroccon petrolhead? How would you describe such a person?
Yes, there are a few petrolheads in Morocco. Some are not the type to show of their cars, but do enjoy to drive their cars on the weekend. However, the cars they own are rarely seen. These petrolheads, as a majority, do enjoy going quickly. One of the most popular one is the owner of multiple FAB-Design cars. He has four FAB-Design cars and ordered one especially made for him, a Cadillac Escalade.
I had the chance to meet a well knowen Arabic petrol head from Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Ben Hamdan Al Nahyan or more commonly known as “The Rainbow Sheikh”, since he has a car in every color possible! He spends the most of the year in his palace here in Rabat. I would describe him as a simple person who loves to customize cars just like a kid would change the appearance of a doll. He would take a couple cars and combine them into one really creative automobile. For instance, he made what he calls ‘The Spider’. He took a Jeep Wrangler, put it onto a Ford F550 cassis, and if that wasn’t enough, extended its front bumper to accommodate the International Trucks front grill! He also has a fleet of Nissan Patrols, some convertible, some with six or eight wheels! His Highness is very enthusiastic about cars, he owns more than 600 cars, and pretty much every single brand you can think of, and even more fascinating, is that he knows everything about his cars, you just need to see it to believe it!
And later our team “HUNTERCARS” met an owner of an Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with which we had a shooting, I am pretty sure he is the youngest owner of an SLS, in our country, and the world! He is a very kind person who loves to share his passion with every one! I asked him what cars mean for him and that was his answer:” At the age of 16 I discovered a passion, the automobile. Cars have become more than a passion but a challenge. I always liked to be the best in everything I do, be the first in all, hold records, I always liked to do things that people does. At the age of 17 I began to dream about a car, I spent whole nights in watching videos on YouTube: Bentley, Bugatti through the Ferrari and Lamborghini. At 17 I started driving a Mercedes-Benz CLS without a license, the license in Morocco start at 18 years, but it was no longer sufficient given all the cars I dreamed. For my 18th birthday I bought a beautiful white Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The dream became reality, driving an AMG and not just any one. First challenge realize such a car for a young man of 18 such beauty, such power, and what about gullwing doors, each stop you feel that the world revolves around you. I like to see nice cars, the Ferrari 458, the Rolls Royce. When I see nice cars I say why not me, why not have another car like the Ferrari 458. I will soon celebrate my 19 years old, and I can tell that records and surprises are my specialty .. "
Do you have some proper roads for driving? Can you tell me something about them?
We fortunately have very nice highways, they are very smooth and very straight, so you could potentially max out most cars. However, some of the driving by other people driving makes it very dangerous, so it is much more difficult than for instance the Autobahn, even though the highways are of the same straightness. We also have many very nice roads in the outskirts of many cities. Again, it is hard to get to, and is not really known by most petrolheads. We currently have no proper circuit, but with all the recent interest in automobiles in Morocco, I will not be surprised if we find one soon.
Back in 2004 the Gumball 3000 passed in Morocco, what kind of experience did you had and what did the event do to the country?
The Gumballers came here after a special invitation from our King, His Highness Mohamed VI. Since I started car spotting from 2008, I wasn’t that much interested about cars so I had not an idea about such events, so unfortunately I missed this edition of Gumball 3000. However, that didn’t let me stop to watch them later, and when I did, I was amazed. The number of super cars in our roads was really incredible, and the speeds they were going! This really impacted our country in many good ways, it caused more people to know what Morocco was, thus improving tourism, and even investments, since many Gumballers fell in love with Morocco and bought homes here. I would also say that many people fell in love with cars because of an event of this magnitude!
Does Morocco has big car-events?
Not a lot, we have the “Rally Maroc Classic”, a rally that travels through Morocco. Many classics and new super cars are present in this event, so we can see many rare cars in a couple minutes. There are also private car events that are only accessible to few people.
Also the WTCC is organized in Marrakech, and every year, many super cars appear in Marrakesh. We always go there so we can see the races and the supercars present.
What do you expect the coming years? Do you think there will change much in comparison with the current situation? Do you expect more exclusive cars?
I can expect a lot in the coming years. Just a few years ago, car spotting in Morocco was inexistent, and no one understood it, but now, almost everyone is aware of it. Since owners are getting more familiar with car spotting, they are more OK with us taking pictures of their cars. Even in terms of cars, in the recent decade there was a super car boom in Morocco. My friends and I can tell you that we expect everything, Morocco is always full of surprises.
Many thanks to Oussama from Huntercars