This article accompanies the fable
Over three days in September, in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, some of the local Berber communities (the Ait Haddidou) come together at Imilchil to let their young people find a marriage partner or get a divorce before the snows close in again. This marriage moussem (“pilgrimage”) was devised to make it easier for young people to meet and pick out a spouse or arrange a quick divorce. Nowadays this has a lot to recommend it to today’s picky and unromantic Westerners – why couldn’t we have one of these in Las Vegas?
The bride market seems to have an irresistible appeal to male tourists, mostly White Westerners and Arabs. They don’t really see much, since access is restricted, but the idea that there are these beautiful young women choosing husbands in there has them rolling in on their motorbikes and jeeps. For years the government of Morocco has made it into a tourist attraction and this has had a mixed effect, eroding the event’s authenticity while pumping money into the local economy. It’s a devil’s bargain with the Western and Arab tourists and film crews, who chase after any young woman who looks exotic and who inevitably perpetuate the idea that women here are bought and sold.