Opinion: there are increasing political, diplomatic and academic connections between the two counties

By Asmae OurkiyaMary Immaculate College

Morocco and Ireland have been working on a bilateral relationship in quite a remarkable way during the past years and are very committed to further strengthening their partnerships to cover multiples sectors. Sharing the same universal values, the two countries are very committed to the multilateralism system and to the international cooperation.

The presence of an active Moroccan embassy in Dublin since 1992 has resulted in series of actions and events that promoted the country's successful model of stability and prosperity in its region. This includes the country's democratic consolidation as well as human and economic development, culture and cultural diversity. Given the role of Morocco as a strategic partner, Ireland has plans to open an embassy in Rabat in late 2020, which will certainly contribute to consolidating the existing good relations.

This year is significantly important in Morocco as it marks the celebration of the 20th anniversary of King Mohammed VI coming to power. It is also an appropriate stage to ponder on the country’s past, present, and future.

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A National Day Reception will be held in the Embassy of Morocco today (July 30th). This event aims to promote the image of Morocco to a broader audience, foster relations between Morocco and Ireland and connect the Moroccan diaspora in Ireland. This gathering will be a chance to highlight Morocco’s recent cultural, social, and economic endeavours, as well as to bring the Irish and Moroccans closer. Many ministers, ambassadors, politicians, academics, businessmen, NGOs and Moroccans residing in Ireland have been invited.

In the run-up to today, two cultural events were held over the weekend in Wexford and Dublin to promote the richness of the Moroccan culture. These featured performances from the AZA band, an American-based Moroccan band, a Henna tattooing booth for those who wanted to experience Henna tattoos and some gastronomic delicacies.  

In addition to this, there are many Moroccans who reside in Ireland who can testify to the relationship between the two countries. Most of the migration to Ireland since the late 1990s was thanks to work contracts offered by Ireland. They appreciate their working conditions, as well as their integration and social life. "The Irish people are very kind and hospitable, they have no room for discrimination, which made our life and integration in Ireland very smooth" says Ali Salim, president of the Moroccan Irish Friendship Association in Co. Clare who migrated to Ireland in 1999. The creation of the Moroccan Irish Connection is another initiative based in Dublin that works on re-enforcing the cultural link between the two countries.

The 20th anniversary of King Mohammed VI coming to power is an appropriate stage to ponder on the country's past, present, and future

The past two and a half years have witnessed significant events that mark the history of the Moroccan Irish collaborations after the appointment of Lahcen Mahraoui as Ambassador of Morocco to Ireland. Passionate about sharing Moroccan values, history, and culture, he is focusing on organising events in Ireland every year to promote Morocco and to work on the integration of the Moroccans residing in Ireland.

Mahraoui also worked on creating several opportunities for Moroccan and Irish students by initiating new agreements and exchange programs between Moroccan and Irish universities. Academic agreements include the University Cadi Ayyad in Marrakech with Dublin City University (July 2019), the University Mohammed V of Rabat and Trinity College Dublin (April 2018), the University of Ibn Zohr of Agadir and NUI Galway (March 2018) and the National School of Architecture of Marrakech and the University of Limerick (July 2017). These academic exchanges will enable students from both countries to study abroad and experience a different culture, learning setting, and gain a deeper understanding of what the other county is like.

Asmae Ourkiya is a PhD student in Ecofeminism at Mary Immaculate College

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ