On the streets of Morocco, an all-female club is defying western stereotypes of oppression and breaking down barriers
Night has just fallen over the busy Moroccan city of Casablanca as a loud swarm of motorbikes rolls up the main street in the central district of Racine. The leather-clad riders come to a stop outside the terrace of a popular cafe and remove their helmets before dismounting from their powerful machines.
Silhouetted against a backdrop of moving traffic, its easy to make out lots of long hair being flicked, shaken and ruffled back into place. None of which would be surprising but for fact that this group is made up entirely of women, something that has also caught the attention of the crowd of tea drinkers, many of whom are now staring at them with astonishment. We call ourselves Les Miss Moto Maroc and were the first all-female motorcycle club in Morocco, says Dalila Mosbah, the leader of the group, sitting down at a table.
The club also hosts an annual international rally, March Moto Madness, held in the same month as International Womens Day, which sees some 1,000 riders take to the streets in support of womens rights.
Mosbah explains: Its a club of women of all ages and from all backgrounds. The youngest among us have recently graduated from university and the oldest are retired, like myself, but we all share a passion for big bikes [more than 500cc]. We regularly meet up to ride out and explore our beautiful country, as well as simply catching up for coffee and a chat, like today.
Large motorbikes remain a luxury few can afford in Morocco, where according to the latest figures more than 4 million people live below the poverty line, but their popularity is on the rise: from 31,353 registered in the kingdom in 2010 to 55,517 in 2016. However, less than 1% are owned by women.
Mosbah owned a moped when she was a teenager but then stopped riding. On her retirement in 2008 she graduated to a full motorbike licence because she was desperate to own a Harley Davidson. Three years later, in 2011, she founded Miss Moto Maroc after riding Route 66 in the United States with her husband, and being impressed by the all-female motorbike groups they met on their travels.