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Much has changed since CompuServe introduced its “Electronic Mall” as the first major retail e-commerce platform in 1984. Digital technologies have driven down costs and improved access and opportunities for producers and consumers, manufacturers and farmers, and above all, users. Digital technologies have transformed how a large part of the global economy operates. A broad range of goods are now digital and thereby intangible, being made up of bytes. Likewise, many services that previously required costly face-to-face contact between the firm and consumer are now available remotely.
Technology has opened international trade – in the form of e-commerce – to a broad range of firms and sectors that beforehand would have been the sole domain of larger multinational companies. Most importantly, technology and the Internet reduced the transaction costs and information asymmetries associated with international trade. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter and search engines like Google and Bing give large and small businesses alike easy ways to advertise services to people around the world.
The early modern period was a time of transition for Morocco. Located close to western Europe, Morocco could not avoid being impacted by the changes going on in that continent. The country was significantly affected by the completion of the Christian reconquista of Iberia in 897/1492, along with the ongoing struggles and ultimate expulsion of the Moriscos and ‘New Christians’. Since the Portuguese launched their first colonial enterprise in Morocco, and Spain later established outposts along the North African coastline, Morocco would become one of the first Islamic countries to be confronted with European imperial ambitions.
In addition, Moroccan autonomy was threatened from the east by Ottoman expansion into North Africa during the early tenth/sixteenth century. The Ottomans presented a unique challenge in that, as co-religionists, they appealed to Moroccan leaders in the name of Islamic unity and as defenders of the abode of Islam (dār al-islām) from the Christian Europeans. Nevertheless, Ottoman ‘protection’ would include subsuming Morocco into its system, making Moroccan leaders accountable for directives from Istanbul. Such a situation would grant the Ottomans access to the Atlantic Ocean, and for this reason the Sublime Porte frequently meddled in Moroccan politics leading to periodic open conflicts between the two Islamic states. In the end, the Ottomans were unsuccessful in controlling Morocco and in obtaining their coveted Atlantic port. Nevertheless, the proximity of so many acquisitive world powers profoundly influenced Morocco’s political, intellectual and religious development during this period.