Greetings from Gibraltar
funded by the University of Michigan International Institute

Project Team:
El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn
John Arnold, Peter Dumbadze, Lyla Feinsod, Phil Gavrilovski, Monica Griffin, Andrew Ko, Yuan Liang, Yunzhi Ou, Jason Park, Austin Tsai, Ya Suo, Adam Wagner

The research was developed in the context of a studio that travelled over four weeks from Madrid through Granada, Seville, Cadiz, Gibraltar/La Linea, Algeciras, Ceuta, Tangier, and Fez.

The Strait of Gibraltar has for long stimulated the spatial imaginary. The Strait is 58 km long and narrows to 13 km in width at the closest point between Europe and Africa. According to Greek mythology, when Hercules had to cross the Atlas Mountain, he used his power to part it and by doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and formed the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Strait is of great strategic importance. Gibraltar itself has been a British military outpost since the early 18th century. On the other side of the strait, Ceuta is a Spanish exclave in North Africa. Of great economic importance, the Strait is a vital shipping route. Second only to the Malacca Straits, the Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world with approximately 300 vessels sailing through daily. The ports in the Strait — Algeciras, Gibraltar and Tangier MED — constitute the second bunker market in Europe with extensive petrochemical installations. Ferries cross between the two continents every day in as little as 35 minutes. Passenger traffic in the strait spikes during the summer months, when nearly three million Moroccan immigrants return by car to their home country on holiday. A prominent headland, the Rock of Gibraltar provides a temporary home for many species of migratory birds that stop to rest and feed before continuing migration for their crossing over the desert and sea.

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