Though now essentially a suburb of Rabat, SALÉ was the pre-eminent of the two right through the Middle Ages, from the decline of the Almohads to the pirate republic of Bou Regreg. Under the Merenids, as a port of some stature, it was endowed with monuments such as its superb Medersa Bou Inan.

In the twentieth century, after the French made Rabat their capital and Casablanca their main port, Salé became a bit of a backwater. The original Ville Nouvelle was just a small area around the bus station and the northern gates, but recent developments have changed this, with a major project, Bou Regreg Marina, now taking shape on the riverbank. For the most part, Salé still looks and feels very different from Rabat, particularly within its medieval walls, where the souks and life remain surprisingly traditional.