Al Hoceima

Al Hoceima (in the Berber language: Eřḥusima or Elḥusima, Taɣzut, Taghzut[2][3] and also Tijdit,[4][5] in Spanish: Alhucemas) is a Riffian city in the north of Morocco, on the northern edge of the Rif Mountains and on the Mediterranean coast. It is the capital city of the Al Hoceima Province. It is situated in the territory of the Ait Ouriaghel and Ibeqquyen tribes of the Rif region, who speak a Riffian variety of the Berber language locally called Tmaziɣt (Tmazight). The city is a known tourists' destination despite its small size. It has a population of about 60,000 to 90,000. The inhabitants of the city speak Berber (Tarifit).

Al Hoceima

ⵍⵃⵓⵙⵉⵎⴰ (Lḥusima)
ⴱⵉⵢⴰ (Biya)
ⵜⴰⵖⵣⵓⵜ (Taɣzut)
ⵜⵉⵊⴷⵉⵜ (Tijdit)
Villa, Pearl Of The Mediterranean.
Al Hoceima
Al Hoceima
Coordinates: 35°14′50″N 3°55′56″W
Country Morocco
RegionTanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima
ProvinceAl Hoceïma Province
First settled1925
  rulerMohammed VI
  mayorMohammed Boudra
112 m (367 ft)
  Total56 716

Al Hoceima is cited among the cleanest and safest Moroccan cities. It is characterized by its sandy and shingly beaches like Cala Iris, Bades, Torres, Quemado and Tala Yussef, and its mountainous rocky areas. Parts of Al Hoceima are currently being integrated into the municipality through the construction of new roads to ease transportation.


The name Al Hoceima is paradoxically an arabization of what was already an Arabic derived word introduced by the Spaniards since it comes from a Spanish word (Alhucemas – literally meaning "Lavenders") which is itself Andalusi in Arabic origin (Al Khazama). After independence, the Moroccan government established an Arabized name for Alhucemas coming up with Al Hoceima, following standard French spelling.


Early and colonial history

The Berber tribe of the Ait Ouriaghel (also "Beni Urriaguel") dominated the area around Al Hoceima,[6] where Abd el-Krim, whose father was a qadi of the Aith Yusuf clan of the Ait Ouriaghel tribe,[7] organized a guerilla force to fight against the Spanish during the Rif War and, in 1921, established the Republic of the Rif. In September 1925 Spanish General Sanjurjo landed with his troops on the beach of Al Hoceima and claimed the territory for Spain.[8]

The Spanish developed the town and named it Villa Sanjurjo, for general Sanjurjo. It was later renamed Al Hoceima.[9] The first mayor was Florian Gómez Aroca.

Since Moroccan independence

demonstration at Al Hoceima, 2017.

After Morocco gained its independence in 1955, Al Hoceima developed quickly, and the Moroccan government changed its name from the Spanish Villa Alhucemas to Al Hoceima.

The years from 1956 to 1959 were dark years for the Riffians. Morocco's Hassan II, then crown-prince, became the military-commander and under his ruling a large number of people were killed in the Rif in the years 1956 to 1959. The Beni Urriaguel rose up against the central administration in October 1958, and 2/3 of the army of Morocco, led by Hassan, landed at Al Hoceima.[9]

In the early 1950s and 1960s, when many of the city's inhabitants were poor, the small houses were all painted white and blue. These colors, representing the sea and sky, were considered the city's official colors. Later, when there was financial growth, people began painting their houses in other colors.

The city and surrounding villages were hit by two large earthquakes within ten years. The first (Mw 6.0 event occurred on May 26, 1994, and the second event (Mw 6.4) occurred on February 24, 2004,[10] killing more than 560 people (see 2004 Morocco earthquake). In 2007, Al Hoceima's mayor stated that all new houses would be painted white and blue in an effort to restore the city's traditional appearance.

Al Hoceima is now a moderate-size city with a population of 90,000 recorded in the 2014 Moroccan census.[1] It has the second-largest port of the Rif Region (Nador being the largest). The first schools built by the Spanish colonials, (a college and an elementary school) and a Spanish catholic church, still exist today.

Playa Quemado, where General Sanjurjo and his troops landed in 1925, is Al Hoceima's most popular beach. It is located just below the luxurious Mohammed V hotel, which includes a tennis court, restaurant, cocktail bar and nightclub.

Al Hoceima has been the center of repression by and political protest against the Moroccan government in the 21st century. Five young protesters were murdered, and their burned bodies found in Al Hoceima, in 2011.[11] On October 28, 2016, a fish-seller, Mouhcine Fikri, was crushed to death in a garbage truck while trying to retrieve fish confiscated by the authorities,[12] which led to large anti-government protests in November 2016 known as Hirak Rif.[13] Protests in Al Hoceima were continues after the start of Ramadan, 26 May, and culminated on 26 June with "bloody clashes",[11] then spreading to other parts of northern Morocco and the country.[12]


The city's income is based on fishing and tourism. Many of its former inhabitants migrated to Europe during the 1960s through 1980s; large numbers of Moroccans in the Netherlands, France and Belgium were Al Hoceima natives, many of whom return to Al Hoceima during the summer, when the town is also frequented by tourists from Germany and France.[9]

The town beach is Plage Quemado, which is also where fishers bring in their catch. A quieter beach is in nearby Asfiha. The Torres de Alcala and Kalah Iris beaches are also considered Al Hoceima beaches, though they are 60 km from town.[9]


The city is served by the Cherif Al Idrissi Airport.


There is a Spanish international school, Instituto Español Melchor de Jovellanos.

AbdelMalek Essaadi University - Campus of Al Hoceima contains:

Faculty of Science and Technology - FST

National School of Applied Sciences - ENSA'H

Multidisciplinary Faculty - FPH ( Under construction )

National School of Commerce and Management - ENCG ( Under Construction)

Twin towns – sister cities

See also


  1. "POPULATION LÉGALE DES RÉGIONS, PROVINCES, PRÉFECTURES, MUNICIPALITÉS, ARRONDISSEMENTS ET COMMUNES DU ROYAUME D'APRÈS LES RÉSULTATS DU RGPH 2014" (in Arabic and French). High Commission for Planning, Morocco. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  2. Historique d'Al Hoceima (History of Alhoceima)
  3. Documents sur Al Hoceima, Taghzout
  4. GPR Survey at the Archaeological Site of Almazamma, Al Hoceima, Morocco, retrieved on 2016-03-07
  5. "Al-Hoceima: Une Faune Et Une Flore Très Riches" (PDF). Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb (in French). 19 January 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. Kohlbach, Edith (2006). Reisehandbuch Marokko: alles rund ums Selbst-Fahren. Edith-Kohlbach-Reisebücher. p. 51. ISBN 9783981086829.
  7. Hart, David M. (1976). The Aith Waryaghar of the Moroccan Rif: An Ethnography and History. Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. pp. 370–71. ISBN 9780816504527.
  8. Porch, Douglas (2006). "Spain's African Nightmare". Quarterly Journal of Military History. 18 (2): 28–37.
  9. Ellingham, Mark (2001). The Rough Guide to Morocco. Rough Guides. pp. 138–39, 150–53. ISBN 9781858286013.
  10. Oliveira, Carlos Sousa; Roca, Antoni; Goula, Xavier, eds. (2007). Assessing and Managing Earthquake Risk: Geo-scientific and Engineering Knowledge for Earthquake Risk Mitigation: developments, tools, techniques. Geotechnical, Geological and Earthquake Engineering. 2. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 51. ISBN 9781402036088.
  11. Aidi, Hisham (13 July 2017). "Is Morocco Headed Toward Insurrection?". The Nation. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  12. "Morocco's unrest is worsening". The Economist. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  13. "Morocco arrests 11 over fish-seller's death in Al-Hoceima". BBC. November 1, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
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