Anybody visiting Morocco over the past four years would have felt the continuous construction that is taking place in Rabat, Tangiers, Casablanca and elsewhere. A visitor would also sense ideological development and an increase in the level of political debate on the challenges that Morocco faces from eliminating unemployment and corruption to developing education and confronting poverty.
A few days ago, King Mohammed VI of Morocco delivered an important and remarkable speech on the 55th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and People. The significance of the speech lies in the fact that the Moroccan ruler himself was the one discussing the need to make education compulsory throughout Morocco in the countryside and remote areas and to provide support for the poor.
Moreover, the speech was important because it spoke about bribery and corruption and mentioned building a new Moroccan generation that can create a solid and active economy to make Morocco strong. This is Morocco’s real challenge today especially that the unemployment rate in the country has reached 20 percent.
A week ago I was in Morocco to attend the Asilah Forum, which held one of its symposiums in partnership with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. I usually prefer to travel around Morocco by car and from Tangiers to Casablanca, we passed by many villages and hamlets and this was not a first for me.
On every visit, I like to travel by car from Fes or Tangier or elsewhere and the villages and the poverty within them always caught my eye as well as the green areas that were not being utilized and this represents a real challenge for Morocco. With King Mohammed’s wish to build a strong Moroccan economic society, there must be a revolution in the field of education and education must reach the villages. There must also be support for small-scale economic projects.
Setting up small and mid-range economic projects contributes to the reduction of unemployment. Small projects cannot launch by themselves without other ventures to support them; this means creating divisions that are linked to one another that will in turn lead to the creation of a practical economic sector and rapid growth.
The easiest way to create this economic growth is through the tourism sector and Morocco can be a year-round tourist destination for westerners, Arabs and others but this cannot be accomplished without education and small and mid-range projects or, before anything else, the creation of an infrastructure for tourism.
A simple example is the elegant and aspiring city of Asilah that is located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean where, regrettably, one is pressed to find suitable hotels to take in the city’s visitors. But this is not an issue related to the Moroccan government; it is for the efforts of economic investment. This is the heart of the matter; there must attraction of foreign capital from the Arab world or elsewhere to invest in Morocco and this will not happen if there is no progress in the field of education and the struggle against corruption and bribery.
This is where the importance of the King of Morocco’s frank speech about education and confronting bribery and corruption comes in. There must be an Arab role and a Gulf role in particular in supporting Morocco through tourism, agricultural, industrial and educational investment.
A Morocco that is stable is much better for us than a Morocco with high levels of unemployment, which attracts extremism and criminal behavior and we will lose a deep-rooted state that is located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean and at the gates of Europe. Morocco is not only for the Moroccans; it is for all Arabs with its history and great contribution to civilization.