To celebrate being crowned Capital of Culture of the Islamic World 2022, Rabat in Morocco has officially launched a host of festivities under the supervision of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO) and the Ministry of Youth.

During his speech at the celebration’s opening ceremony, on Thursday, March 24, Morocco‘s Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication, Mohamed Mehdi Ben said that Rabat’s recognition as the Capital of Culture in the Islamic world 2022 confirms “the special status of this African, Arab, Islamic and international city”.

Rabat is already listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The UN agency for culture describes the city as “the product of a fertile exchange between the Arabo-Muslim past and Western modernism”. UNESCO protection encompasses the ancient city, parts of which date back to the 12th century, as well as the new town developed during the French protectorate between 1912 and 1930. The latter is one of the largest, most ambitious and probably the most complete, modern urban projects built in Africa in the 20th century..

At the opening ceremony the Minister also highlighted that there are a series of major projects and developments in the city which have been completed or are underway as part of the regeneration program “Rabat, City of Light, Moroccan Capital of Culture”.

Dr Salim M. Al-Malik, director general of ICESCO, also delivered a speech at the opening ceremony in which he highlighted the long history of Rabat city, which dates back more than ten centuries, in addition to its ancient monuments, including the Kasbah of Oudayas, the Hassan Tower, Chellah, and the Bouregreg River. He added that Rabat is the city of the past, the present and the future.

Rabat is considered by UNESCO as the best example in Africa of a modern urban settlement next to a medieval town (Photo : Visions of Domino, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Numerous festivals to celebrate Rabat Cultural Capital of the Islamic World

He also indicated that this celebration will see the organisation of several cultural, literary and artistic activities, crowned notably by the hosting of the exhibition and museum of the Sîrah of the Prophet and the Islamic civilisation in Al Madinah Al Munawwarah. Three large festivals which are organised every year are integrated into the celebrations.

In May Rabat will host the international Mawazine festival. Taking place every year Mawazine is a musical event with artists from around 40 countries who will present a variety of rhythms. Festival-goers will have the chance to attend more than a hundred concerts and various dance performances from all over the world.

The annual International Festival of Auteur Cinema in Rabat will take place this year from 24 June to 2 July. The organisers have scheduled a film competition involving 18 films from different countries. Tributes and sections devoted to short films will also be held.

In July, Rabat will celebrate the 3rd edition of Morocco’s national hip hop festival. Organised in favour of social, cultural and sporting development, the theme of this edition is: “Urban music at the service of human development”. Various hip hop performances are planned during the festival which will take place from July 19 to 23.

The Mayor of Rabat, Mrs Asmaa Rhlalou, stressed that the celebration of Rabat, as the capital of African culture, is intended to rediscover the capital of lights under the prism of artistic and cultural cross-views, emphasising African artistic creativity, the aim being to strengthen the image of Morocco as a destination of tolerance, dialogue and diversity, and to consolidate the openness of the Kingdom to the different cultures of the world.

She added that the cultural projects implemented in Rabat will contribute to the cultural influence of this city, and will concretise the will of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to make Rabat a world civilisational and cultural pole.

In addition to Rabat, ICESCO’s list of Capitals of Culture in the Islamic World for the year 2022 includes three other cities: Cairo (Egypt), Yaoundé (Cameroon), Bandung (Indonesia).

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