Morocco/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.6 Other relevant issues

In addition to the aforementioned government sectors, there exist independent public cultural institutions, some of which work under the authority of the MoC and some under direct governmental control:


  • Mohammed the Fifth National Theatre is under the authority of the MoC; it takes any task that may help revive and develop Moroccan theatre, including artistic and technological capacity-building (Decision 1/72/293 dated 22 February, 1973, published in the official gazette, issue 3151, 21 March, 1973 amended by virtue of Decree 1/74/326, published in the official gazette, issue 3283, 1 October, 1975).

  • The National Library of Kingdom of Morocco is under state control and has many tasks, among which are collecting, processing and publishing the national documentary stock and receiving and managing legal deposits (Law 67/99 published in the official gazette, Issue 5171, 22 December, 2003).

  • The National Institute for Archaeology and Heritage is affiliated with the MoC and is in charge of developing executives in the fields of archaeology, heritage, museology and all other areas related to historical monuments and sites (Decree 2/83/705 dated 31 January, 1985, published in the official gazette, Issue 3677, 13 March, 1985).

  • L'Institut Supérieur d'Art Dramatique et d 'Animation Culturelle is affiliated with the MoC and is in charge of developing theatre executives, organising cultural and artistic activities, and conducting scientific research in these fields (Decree 2/83/706 dated 18 January, 1985, published in the official gazette, Issue 3773, 20 February, 1985).

  • The National Institute for Fine Arts is also affiliated with the MoC and is charged with developing executives in the fields of plastic and applied arts (Decree 2/93/135 dated 29 April, 1993, published in the official gazette, Issue 4203, 19 May, 1993).

  • Music and dance institutes are affiliated with the MoC and are tasked with qualifying the fields of international music, traditional music and all types of dance (Decree 2/82/416 dated 18 January, 1985, published in the official gazette, Issue 3810, November, 1985, amended by virtue of Decree 2/92/609 dated 26 May, 1993, published in the official gazette, Issue 18 August, 1993).



The most important development in the independent cultural movement recently was the eighteenth national conference for the Moroccan Writers Union, held in Rabat on 7 and 8 September, 2012, and the election of the critic Abdel Rahim Al-Alaam as its president. Among the conference’s most important events was the approval for the first time of the performance of “Kota” for women by 30% of the members within the regulatory authorities, which enabled 4 out of 11 women to be present in the executive office of the organisation.

The Moroccan Writers Union, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, has always been known as an independent leftist stronghold. Its previous conferences always drew authorities’ attention due to the sharpness of their statements and the dissection of the political and cultural situation. These statements were often poignantly critical of the regime, as demonstrated by the fierce battles fought by the union to undo the cancellation of cultural magazines and banned books.

Today, many fear for the future of this stronghold after Al-Alaam, known for his closeness with the regime and the Arab Gulf, was elected as its president. This poses the essential question once again of whether or not this institution is capable of playing its role with complete independence from directives and instructions from the authorities, which has kept the voices of writers and intellectuals far from the social and political mobility seen in Morocco that continues to this day.

Recently, two new groups have emerged to back the independent cultural frameworks. They are:

The Centre for Studies of the Modern Times magazine – prepares coming works for the magazine and disseminates a spirit of discussion among intellectuals. The new Modern Times magazine, which counts free and critical thinking among its goals, has published five issues dealing with the status of culture in Morocco. The magazine is quarterly and looks at issues of thought and culture. The centre’s interests are embodied in the study of the status of culture in Morocco and in showing interest in issues related to thought and openness to humanitarian gains.

The director of the centre is Mr Abdullah El Aloui El Balghithi, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. The new institution aims to publish all the research and studies related to the fields of Arab Islamic philosophy, Western philosophy, and Anglo-Saxon philosophy. It also included new research and translations of the foundations of Western and Arab philosophical thought to other languages.

The centre is comprised of an Arab Islamic philosophy unit headed by Mr Mohamed El Masbahi, a Western philosophy unit headed by the French philosopher Jean Le Pipou, an Anglo-Saxon philosophy unit headed by Mr Seif El Ghazi, a coordinating unit with institutes and universities in North America headed by the American philosopher Samuel Farber, and a translation unit headed by Mr Hassan El Omrani.

The founders of this centre are well-known political, cultural, and intellectual faces in public life. Some of them previously held ministerial positions in the rotating government such as Mr Molai Ismail El Aloui, who was the secretary of the leftist Progress and Socialism Party. The founders’ backgrounds make a great degree of cultural diversity and free democratic thought possible at the centre.

The Women Writers of Morocco Union - founded by a group of Moroccan women artists and writers close to the national democratic cultural movement. The author Aziza Ahdia was elected president of the union, which brought more than 285 application forms for participation. The goal of this union is:

  • To strengthen communication between female Moroccan writers, to get to know their works, follow up with them, and create a bibliography of all of their works.
  • To endeavour to unify all writers from different constituents of Morocco and to celebrate their creativity and writings. The union also endeavours to introduce these writings within a framework that guarantees thoroughness, continuity, and communication.


Some of the important recent meetings organised by independent civil institutions related to culture and the arts:

The Moroccan Theatre Professionals Union for the 20th International Federation of Actors Conference held in Toronto, Canada, 25-30 September, 2012. This weeklong conference deals with a number of issues related to the professional, legal, and social situation for actors and performance artists around the world.

Morocco was elected, through the Moroccan Theatre Professionals Union, to be a member of the executive committee of the International Federation of Actors along with Japan, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Brazil, Uruguay, and Switzerland. Masoud Bou Hussein, President of the Moroccan Theatre Professionals Union, was appointed coordinator of the Francophone African group.

A meeting was held on “Moroccan Culture, Obstacles and Stakes” organised by the Alumni Society of Imam El Asili. It was hosted at the Hassan II International Meeting Centre on 15 September, 2012. During the meeting, the poet Abdul Latif El Laabi (poet, cultural actor, and recipient of le Prix Grand Cours, and former political prisoner) reproached the Moroccan political and cultural scene, stating that a cultural renaissance is not possible without a true democratic transition. He explained that what is being seen in Morocco is none other than a renewal of the mechanisms of power and tyranny, in spite of progress by Moroccan intellectuals who have persisted in the face of marginalisation and exclusion on the one hand, and pressure to conform to the status quo on the other. 

2.7 Cultural Policies in the Private Sector

Discussing cultural policy within the private sector inevitably leads to the issue of sponsorship. Sponsorship in Moroccan legislation is subject to the same tax laws that govern investment funds. The term “sponsorship” instead of “mécénat” is a publicity tool.

The sponsorship system in Morocco is a product of previous centuries, during the so-called system of “habsous” (see Chapter 1). Cultural sponsorship was limited to private individuals’ donations to religious institutions. With time this shifted into real institutions financing the maintenance of public fountains or water supplies, working to reduce poverty and increase literacy.

In the 14th century, Sultan Abou Inan Marini built a hall containing hundreds of manuscripts taken from his palace. At the beginning of the 15th century, Abu Al Hassan Al Ashaari Wahab financed a library of rare books in the town of Septa, located on the northern Mediterranean coast. In 1630, Sheikh Mohamed Ibn Nasser built a library famous for its 4,200 manuscripts in the village of Tamgrout near Zagora in southern Morocco.

Cultural sponsorship is technically included in the functions of the MoC’s Department of Cooperation, as stipulated by Ministerial Decision No. 1522, dated 11 November, 2006. Sponsorship constitutes an important tool for financing cultural activities. It simultaneously offers the financing foundation a chance to solidify its outreach policy. Fine Arts has benefitted most from private sponsorship, followed by music (mostly from festivals). Books rarely benefit from sponsorship. 

Although sponsorship benefits Moroccan cultural development, the system suffers from the kind of legal organisation that might protect Moroccan culture from the abuse of some sponsors that use their commissions exclusively for profiteering.

Beyond sponsorship there are many other potential sources of private sector funding for cultural development: banks, industrial institutions or persons, museums, galleries, libraries and private operators in the audio-visual sector (see chapter 6, paragraph 6.6 and 6.7).

For the first time, there were two events regarding the relationship of state institutions and governmental sectors with independent civil cultural institutions:

The National Traffic Accident Prevention Committee (a governmental committee of the Ministry of Transport) received a delegation from the Moroccan Writers Union on Tuesday, 9 October, 2012, in the committee’s headquarters in Rabat. The meeting was marked by agreement between the two sides on a group of preliminary projects that would entrust the Moroccan Writers Union with supervision and implementation. The projects aims were to include the Moroccan Writers Union, represented by its creators, writers and artists, in creating a street safety file to which the union would contribute by motivating writers and creators to be interested in the open-minded, expressive forms of societal issues and human rights. Foremost among these is the right to travel freely travel in safety. This would be achieved through the encouragement and support of children’s literature and the fields of education, abstract art, painting, theatrical expression, direct communication with students of educational institutions, creating motivational awards, and supporting union publications according to a precise work plan. The second part of this plan would be clarified through an agreement of association between the two sides that would be signed in an official ceremony on National Road Safety Day.

The Director of the National Railways Office (a state institution) would receive a delegation from the Moroccan Writers Union to present a cultural plan to encourage reading in public spaces in Morocco through the “Reading Train” initiative. The initiative entailed the distribution of free Union publications, printed through funding from the National Railways Office, in train stations.

This meeting produced an agreement to create a national award for Moroccan novels written in Arabic with support from the institution. They also agreed upon the creation of a framework for partnership and cooperation by virtue of which a number of cultural projects proposed by the Moroccan Writers Union’s executive office would be implemented.

Chapter published: 05-05-2016