My name is Lynn Houmdi and I am a maroc-o-phile!
I have been living and working in and researching about Morocco for the last six years. I began this blog in 2012, on the eve of my move to Morocco, as a means to share my love and observations of the country – and particularly of Essaouira, where I settled. It has served me well as a portfolio for my writing, as a vehicle around which to develop my skills, and as a platform around which to build a number of Morocco-related work, travel and volunteering projects. I am now based most of the year in another festival city, Edinburgh in Scotland. Here, I completed in Summer 2018 a range of Masters-level research on a number of topics related to contemporary Morocco, including political-economy, society, social movements, gender and media. Armed with solid academic research and personal practical experience, I am now ready to take my interest in Morocco to the next level as I develop a consultancy offer to share not only my love of Morocco, but my extensive expertise on the Kingdom, to the benefit of organisations in the public, private, non-profit and educational sectors.
I first visited Morocco in 2001. I found the people incredibly hospitable, the architecture and crafts inspiring and the colours (the blue skies, sunsets in the Sahara, the spices and hand-woven rugs) dazzling. I stayed in a riad (a traditional Moroccan townhouse) in Essaouira over the new year into 2002 and there began my love affair with Essaouira and my dream of having my own place in Morocco. Regrettably, my next visit to Morocco wasn’t until 2009, and I didn’t come back to Essaouira itself until two years after that. However, true love never dies and after 13 years working as a civil servant and diplomat, I moved to Morocco!
Initially with a plan to open a riad guesthouse like the one in which I had stayed in 2001-2, I began my market research in Essaouira. However, many have trodden that path – with varying degrees of success, and I changed tack. Instead, using my blog as a platform, I developed my content management, social media, travel writing and photography skills and soon won freelance work as the go-to expert on all things Swiri (Essaouiran). I became a published travel writer, covering Morocco for brands such as Fodor’s, Journey Beyond Travel, Travel Exploration, Virgin Australia and others, published my own e-guide to Essaouira (now in its 2nd edition), and worked with local expat-owned businesses on business development, marketing and social media. In parallel, I began to better appreciate the precarious position of many Moroccans behind the facade of Essaouira’s tourist resort image, and got involved with a number of local and international non-profit actors including the High Atlas Foundation and Association Bayti Essaouira, both of whom I still support in a voluntary capacity.
In 2014, I married the Swiri man who was the reason I moved to Morocco, and later that year we moved to Scotland together, but not before we were cast in an Al Jazeera documentary about Essaouira. Shortly thereafter, our Scottish-Moroccan son was born. During this time, I kept up my ties to Morocco, working with the English language media partner of the Fez Sacred Music Festival, The View from Fez (with baby in tow) and as an Advisor to the team of the documentary Casablanca Calling on a programme to screen the film to women and youth groups in Morocco to raise awareness of key social and gender issues and develop projects to tackle them. In 2016, when our son turned one, I began a Masters in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Ever the linguist, I also studied Modern Standard Arabic (in Edinburgh and in Fez) to supplement my knowledge of Darija, the Moroccan Arabic dialect, and I continue to do so. With my Masters behind me, I can truly say that I have a through practical and theoretical knowledge of modern Morocco. My studies have enabled me to better understand the Morocco I know and love in a broader context, as well as to hone my deployment of modern research techniques. In March 2019, I was invited to present my Masters research – on contestation during Morocco’s “Arab Spring” – at a workshop of Moroccan Studies academics from around the UK.
If your company or organisation is looking to engage internationally, get in touch! If you need someone with an in-depth knowledge of Morocco (among other countries) and a broad network of in-country contacts, laid over a foundation of solid management skills developed during a previous career as a government official and diplomat, please drop me a line! I would love to explore with you how international engagement – with Morocco and its people or elsewhere -could support your business aims.
For more information on my professional career, check out my profile on LinkedIn or contact me for a copy of my CV.