'Hasal Khair': UAE resident shares 'dreadful' moments of Morocco quake, community's resilience in tragedy

The villages of the mountainous region of the rural commune of Ighil (150km from Marrakech) took the major brunt

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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

By Delna Anand-Mistry

Published: Fri 15 Sep 2023, 10:40 AM

Last updated: Fri 15 Sep 2023, 10:17 PM

My first day as a tourist in Morocco was packed with quad-biking, zip-lining, and horseback riding. Experiencing a 6.8-magnitude earthquake was not exactly how I thought I'd be wrapping up the trip.

As we felt the dreadful tremors that hit Morocco, we evacuated the hotel along with hundreds of others in shock and disbelief.

News updates started to pour in, and with each notification, our hearts sank further. We were safe and looked after, but sadly, the villages of the mountainous region of the rural commune of Ighil (150km from Marrakech) took the major brunt.

Despite being a small country, Moroccans are fiercely protective of their beautiful landscapes, and this incident felt like a personal attack on each of them.

We were reassured that we were in no danger and after a precautionary wait, we were asked to head back to our rooms.

The death toll rose, and the locals feared the worst. The mood was sombre and quiet the next day. Though I wasn’t personally harmed in any way, it was heartbreaking to watch people around me lose hope.

“Hasal Khair”, someone told me. “In situations like this, we Arabs use the phrase ‘’Hasal Khair” (or Enkasar i' Shar), which means that something terrible has happened but we aren’t harmed so we must focus on the blessing."

I left the country with a heavy heart. Negative news updates kept pouring in, but finally, four days later, my phone pinged incessantly. It was the lovely Khadija, who comes from a highly respected family in Casablanca, and she shared the only video update I’d ever want to see. The entire hotel, city, and country were coming together in solidarity to donate water, food, and home supplies straight to the affected areas.

I learned something valuable that day. Moroccans' innate belief in focusing on their blessing, on preserving and helping their community were overpowering their grief and fears. They were learning to be resilient in the face of tragedy, consolidating their energies for a greater good, and uplifting our hearts too, thousands of miles away.


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