The northern region of Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer covers an area of 9,580 square kilometres. Its capital is Rabat, which is also the national capital. Close to the capital city are Roman ruins and a number of Islamic tombs in a beautiful green area. Apart from the major cities of Rabat and Salé, another interesting town is Bouknadel, with its lush Jardins Exotiques. There are also some beach resorts here. Especially attractive are those south of Rabat.
Besides Rabat, the region has two other prefectures: Salé and Skhirat-Témara. Also part of this region’s territory is the province of Khemisset.
Rabat is the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco and the seat of the Moroccan government. It is home to more than a million residents and is smaller, quieter and less economically significant than Casablanca. There are plenty of good restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs in this fairly tranquil city, which is known for its traditional cuisine. Storekeepers are friendly. The goods the city is known for include sumptuous carpets and lavishly embroidered items.
Rabat’s architecture is also famous. The Ville Nouvelle has beautiful modern built hotels designed by the French. The medina has some interesting sites, especially the Oudaias Casbah, which is on a hilltop with amazing ocean views. In the heart of the city is the glorious Royal Palace complex with its wonderful gardens. There is also an archaeological museum with an impressive collection of artefacts.
Souissi is a prominent residential area where a number of embassies can be found, along with the Mohammad V University.
Agdal is the location of the National Library of Morocco as well as the Mohammad V University.
Rabat’s sister city of Salé is just across the river from the capital. Its name originates from the Berber word asla, meaning “rock.” Once an independent republic, it was the site of the first Moroccan rallies for independence against the French.
The city is a highly polluted, disorganized urban sprawl with poorly preserved historic sites. Most of its population of 800,000 consists of poor factory workers, many of its upper-class residents having moved to Rabat.
Lately the government and some private firms have taken an interest in Salé by adding a new bridge and tram system connecting it to Rabat and developing its coast and marina. It is still somewhat troubled by water scarcity, especially in poorer homes, though the situation is improving. A technological park has also been constructed recently to provide more employment options to locals besides work in textile manufacture.
The province of Khemisset lies along the A2 motorway between Rabat and Meknès. This was the site of a railway begun by the French built in 1912 – 1914. The project was never finished and finally the line was removed entirely in 1942. But the old railway track to Tiflet was later connected to Rabat Khemissed main road.