Music festival with royal approval
Mawazine is organised by Maroc Cultures. Chair Mounir Majidi is also the personal secretary of Moroccan King Mohammed VI, who is keen on showcasing a modern side of Morocco. Mawazine offers plenty of opportunity for this, but is not without its controversies. In 2013, religious groups were offended by the ‘immoral’ performance by British singer Jessie J, who took to the stage in nothing more than a see-through top, a large pair of knickers and running shoes. The following year, Ricky Martin issued a subtle protest against the Moroccan prohibition of homosexuality. Even in Morocco, politicians differ in opinion. Some state that the 60 million dirham (approximately 5.7 million euro) invested in the festival would be better spent on healthcare and education. All of this does little to diminish the popularity of Mawazine. 2 years ago, 185,000 people watched the show by David Guetta, an absolute record.
Mawazine is more than just pop music
Placebo, J.Lo, Pharrell: all for free!
The secret to Mawazine’s success is that it is totally free. Nobody pays to watch the big names that perform in the OLM Souissi, one of the 4 large arenas. The other 3 large stages are reserved for Moroccan, African and Oriental music. There are also 3 smaller stages that
do charge admission. Upcoming talent performs in a culture centre, while a theatre offers an intimate setting for the bossa nova of Flavia Coelho and the blues of Barbara Hendricks. Listen to jazz by Carmen Souza, fado by Maria Berasarte and tango by Débora Russ among the ruins of old Roman city Sala.
The Mawazine Festival (Rythmes du Monde) runs from 29 May through 6 June. You can fly to Rabat with AIR FRANCE KLM, with a transfer in Paris. Or fly through Casablanca and take a one-hour train ride to Rabat. For more information and tickets see: www.festivalmawazine.ma (French).