Meet The Single Mum Who Left City Life Behind To Set Up A Surf Camp In Morocco
Shiraz Ksaiba waved goodbye to rainy England for a life surfing in Morocco with her seven year old daughter Matilda
It takes a lot of guts to leave behind your friends and the city that you've built you career in and move to a new country - particularly when you're a single mother. But Shiraz Ksaiba wasn't afraid to do exactly that.
In October, she left London - where she was working as a filmmaker and director of photography - to set up a surf camp in Taghazout, Morocco with her partner Mhand.
The 39 year-old was born in the UK but grew up in Tunisia and then came to live in Bournemouth aged five. She moved to London in 1999 with her three year-old son to attend art school - and never looked back.
"I took up surfing quite late in late in life - about five or six years ago - on a trip to Devon and Cornwall. I hung out with skaters when I was younger."
It was only when she went on a surf trip to Morocco that she met her current partner, surf instructor Mhand - and fell in love with the country.
"I was going back and forward between Morocco and London so much after that. Mhand and I talked about setting up our own surf camp - but I didn't think it would actually happen."
Then in October this year, they took the plunge. Together they launched Amayour Surf, a boutique apartment in the surf town of Taghazout. Her seven year-old daughter Matilda came too.
They refurbished the eight-man apartment themselves - and opened for business just a couple of weeks ago, offering accommodation, surf lessons, yoga workshops and cooking classes.
Shiraz wanted to make sure they gave something back to the local community.
Guests can opt in to donate €5 when they book, which will go towards helping a local surf teacher get their ISA surf instructor qualification (which costs around €1000 per person). "We believe that giving back to the locals is good for everyone."
We believe giving back to the locals is good for everyone
It must have been tough for Shiraz not just relocating her own life from the UK, but her daughter Matilda's as well. But she says Matilda is really thriving in her new home.
"She loves being by the beach and she's learning to surf - so she's doing really good. She now loves fish and tagine, which she wouldn't have touched before, and she really enjoys hanging out with the guests."
"She's started school out here too, so she is much more settled with new friends and kids her age around her."
Shiraz and Matilda now get to wake up to sunshine everyday - with an amazing view of the ocean from their home.
When they aren't at the beach surfing, Shiraz is hanging out with the guests, drinking beer on the terrace and playing lots of games of Monopoly and cards.
"I love being with my boyfriend everyday. When guests come and stay with us for a significant amount of time, it gives us a really good feeling, a real buzz. It reminds us that we are doing the right thing."
What's been the hardest part about moving to Morocco? "Definitely trying to learn the language [Modern Arabic]. I was also homeschooling my daughter when we first arrived but now she is in school, it's better."
Shiraz hasn't left her filmmaking career behind entirely. In fact she's working on a series of short documentaries while living in Morocco.
So what advice would Shiraz give to someone who was looking to set up their own surf camp somewhere like Morocco?
"Make sure you have as much set up beforehand as possible. Think about your unique selling point and what you can do to differentiate yourself from other surf camps in the area."
"It can be hard living and working with your partner, but we really love it. Just make sure you are doing it with the right person!"