Madonna celebrates 60th birthday in Marrakech

American pop superstar turns into 'berber queen' for 60th birthday as her pictures in Morocco's former imperial city turn viral.

MARRAKECH - Madonna on Thursday took on the mantle of a "berber queen" to celebrate her 60th birthday, touring Morocco's former imperial city of Marrakech under the radar of the paparazzi.

Hashtagged #birthday #magic #Marakesh, pictures of the American pop superstar have gone viral on social media since she posted a portrait bedecked in berber jewellery and brandishing a sign that reads "The Queen".

Venturing in and out of the luxury El Fenn hotel, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson's sister, Vanessa, Madonna has been wearing an Islamic niqab veil that covers the hair and face but for the eyes, a local photographer said.

The former palace has been redecorated and staff have had their smart phones confiscated to protect the privacy of Madonna and her celebrity guests.

The birthday guest list has also been kept secret.

Local media said she and around 15 friends had already dined out at a restaurant in the ancient alleys of the city in western Morocco, escorted by bodyguards and under police surveillance.

On Wednesday night, she was spotted with her face uncovered and wearing a straw hat.

"I was walking through Jemaa el-Fna square when I passed right next to her," said Adam El Moussati, visiting from Amsterdam.

"She was with a whole bunch of people, family I think. Her guards said it was a private visit," the young taxi driver said.

On her Facebook and Instagram accounts, the singer has posted a "birthday, magic, adventure" video shot at night in the medina, wandering around the ancient market, as well as a portrait of herself wearing a red fez.

To mark the birthday, Madonna has launched a collection for the charity "Raising Malawi" which supports orphans and vulnerable children.

"For my birthday, I can think of no better gift than connecting my global family with this beautiful country and the children who need our help most," Madonna, who has adopted four Malawian children, wrote on Facebook.