Thank you for coming and for your interest in this Royal Visit. It is hugely exciting to have TRH The Duke and Duchess of Sussex here for the next few days, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to showcase the vital roles that that girl’s education and youth empowerment are playing in shaping Modern Morocco.
When we began planning for this visit, I had a very clear view in my mind of the story we wanted this visit to tell. It is the same story that we have been telling consistently at this Embassy about Morocco since my arrival here 20 months ago, and in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, we have found that this story fits with interests close to TRH’s hearts.
British Ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Reilly (pictured), said he was ‘hugely excited’ about the couple’s visit, which is designed to strengthen ties between the UK and Morocco
This official visit by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will highlight Morocco’s focus on women’s empowerment, girls’ education, inclusivity, and the encouragement of social entrepreneurship.
From a girls education project in the High Atlas Mountains, to programmes working with children with disabilities and young people with mental health challenges, to meeting with young social entrepreneurs. TRH will be shown first hand the transformational impact of community based programmes and Morocco’s changing social attitudes towards women.
So what is the story of this country?
Morocco came through the turbulent times of The Arab Spring in better shape than many of its neighbours. The King had already been pursuing a programme of modernisation and reform before 2011, which meant that, under His leadership, the country was well-placed to respond to the popular protests. And its economic and political stability since then is due to that response.
But Morocco continues to modernise fast. It has impressive infrastructure. It is home to Africa’s first TGV. The Tangier-Med Port has seen unparalleled growth in its ten years of existence (and has just tripled its dock-size). The Noor renewable energy centre in the desert by Ouarzazate is the largest of its kind in the world. And Morocco has a strategic vision for development into and with the rest of the African Continent. Casablanca Finance City is designed to attract financial and business service companies to use Morocco as their African hub. OCP is developing fertilisers for use in Sub-Saharan arid and desert conditions.
But Morocco is determined that its modernisation must not be at the expense of its links to its past. So it has used many parts of its traditions as a means of modernisation. Horses have a special significance in Moroccan culture, and, in some places, the mule remains the mainstay of local transport. So as Modern Morocco increasingly integrates disabled people into daily life, it is experimenting with equine-therapy programmes fordisabled children, disadvantaged youths and young adults with mental illnesses.
Women have traditionally played a vital role in Moroccan society. A focus on improving access to secondary education for girls (especially in rural areas) and better vocational training for women is recognition that improved education, releasing a woman’s human growth and developmental potential, is essential for sustainable economic growth. There is much more to do in this arena. But it is clear that attitudes are changing fast – as demonstrated by the influential role that women are increasingly playing in Modern Morocco’s sporting, social, political, commercial and cultural scenes.
After an official arrival tonight, the couple will enjoy a quiet evening before heading up into the Atlas Mountains tomorrow (pictured), where they will tour educational projects and Meghan will receive a traditional henna design on her right hand
Morocco’s traditional artisan crafts and cuisine are recognised internationally. And Modern Morocco is determined to protect and develop those ancient crafts whilst encouraging its young to be more entrepreneurial in making and marketing them. An increase in entrepreneurial spirit will help diversify and increase the dynamism of Modern Morocco’s economy, creating employment and raising living standards.
Lastly, this visit is an important opportunity to promote the strong relationship between the British and Moroccan people. The UK stands with you, Morocco as your equal partner on this journey. We will work with you to help maintain and promote your stability, highlight your success and encourage you as we continue together down the road of this exciting modernising journey
I would like to thank His Majesty The Moroccan King for the incredible generosity and grace he has shown us and for all the help the Moroccan Government and local authorities have given us in preparing for this Visit.
It has been such fun preparing for this visit and there has been such a build-up of excitement over the last couple of weeks. We hope TRH enjoy their visit as much as we have enjoyed preparing it for them. I hope they find it useful, illuminating and educational – Morocco has so much to offer – commercially, culturally and politically.
But beyond that, I hope that this visit will open up new avenues and potential areas of cooperation and partnership between our two countries. And I hope that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will come back to spend longer visiting the other parts of this most intriguing country.