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U.S. and Morocco launch partnership to preserve the Kingdom’s diverse cultural heritage

Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, Chief of Party of the Religious and Ethnic Minorities Activity (REMA) and President of the High Atlas Foundation, introduces the REMA program at Bayt Dakira on October 5, 2021. Photo by: Jennan Al-Hamdouni/HAF

By Fatima Zahra Laarbi

Essaouira – U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires David Greene joined H.E. André Azoulay, Senior Advisor to H.M. King Mohamed VI, at Bayt Dakira in the Mellah of Essaouira to launch a three-year USAID program aimed at recording and sharing hundreds of stories that capture the Kingdom’s rich multicultural history.

This $3 million program, called the Religious and Ethnic Minorities Activity (REMA), will involve multiple communities in five cities, namely Fes, Azrou, Marrakech, Essaouira, and Tangier.

“Religious tolerance is a hallmark of Morocco’s history — from its welcoming of refugees fleeing the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century to late King Mohammed V’s efforts to protect Jews during World War II. It is also a critical part of the U.S.-Morocco partnership, built and nurtured over two hundred years,” Chargé Greene said. “We learn from each other, including best practices on how to celebrate and preserve the heritage of peaceful coexistence.”

Also participating in the launch were Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, President of the High Atlas Foundation, which is implementing the REMA program; Mr. Tarik Ottmani, the newly elected Mayor of Essaouira and President of Association Essaouira Mogador; H.E. Lamia Radi, Ambassador of Morocco to Norway and Iceland and President of the Foundation Memories for the Future; Mr. El Mehdi Boudra, President of Association Mimouna; and Ms. Cherifa Lalla Badr Alaoui, President of Association Miftah Essaâd pour la Préservation du Patrimoine Marocain.

“Morocco’s stories of its multicultural history are rich and unique,” expressed Dr. Ben-Meir. “The REMA program’s dedication to recording, preserving, and sharing those stories with the world are invaluable for both our generation and those to come.”

The High Atlas Foundation will work closely with 70 civil society organizations in select communities, helping them record their oral histories and ensuring that those stories can be shared with future generations through unique educational programs. The program will allow these communities to build broader relationships across the Kingdom and connect to the tourism industry, creating new economic opportunities. The program engages local communities to capture, preserve, and transmit their collective experience and narratives, allowing them to preserve their collective memories.

Father Jean-Claude Gons, Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Essaouira discusses the importance of preserving religious and cultural heritage in Morocco. Photo by: Errachid Montassir/HAF

Father Jean-Claude Gons, Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Essaouira discusses the importance of preserving religious and cultural heritage in Morocco.
Photo by: Errachid Montassir/HAF


Contacts
: Fatima Zahra Laarbi, High Atlas Foundation: FatimaZahra@highatlasfoundation.org, 0662 43 35 50
Alex Novelli, USAID: anovelli@usaid.gov, 0666 98 82 20

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