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Morocco: Analysis

Morocco: Analysis

There are various general trends in cultural diplomacy projects and activities initiated by, or in partnership with, the Moroccan government. For example, as a moderate Arab state, Morocco maintains close relations with both Europe and the United States, and remains one of America’s oldest and closest allies. As the MACECE project demonstrates, this is mirrored in Moroccan initiatives for inter-cultural exchange, focused on strengthening the diplomatic and economic ties between Morocco and the United States, or between Morocco and countries of the European Union. These kinds of projects and programmes contribute to the field of cultural diplomacy in, for example the deepening of mutual understanding between Arab and American people and societies, as well as building bridges between Islam and Christianity. It would perhaps be of equal or greater benefit, however, if similar inter-cultural exchange programmes between Morocco and its African neighbours were to take place.

Although it focuses solely on Moroccan-American exchange, the MACECE is one of the more successful cultural diplomacy projects initiated by the Moroccan government. Focusing on the academic sector, the programme has been offering cultural exchange opportunities for scholars for nearly 30 years. The MACECE programme also is a true Moroccan initiative as a greater portion of the funding comes from Morocco and not the United States.

The undertaking of various festivals and cultural events is another cultural diplomacy trend evident in the Moroccan case. These events can be said to contribute to cultural diplomacy, since they gather together artists as well as audiences from all over the world, thus creating a forum for intercultural dialogue. These festivals and events should not solely be regarded as mechanisms for cultural diplomacy, however, as they also play a crucial part in the attraction of tourism to the country and thus act as a mechanism for national income. As cultural tourism has become an increasingly important contributor to the Moroccan economy, it is not surprising to note that these projects are financed by, or in partnership with the Moroccan government. In combining cultural tourism with other aims, the Spirit of Fez Foundation can be regarded as a successful example of the intertwining of these two aspects.

For government-sponsored cultural diplomacy projects to achieve a higher degree of success in Morocco, increased national funding is necessary. Currently, not one of the projects presented in this report is solely funded by the Moroccan government. Projects are more commonly sponsored by foreign countries and/or by private companies. Thus, a crucial aspect for cultural diplomacy in Morocco for coming years is an increase in spending on the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, as well as further developing cultural policy dealing with these matters.

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