Mawazine — The binding of cultures, the channeling of acceptance

Posted Jun 5, 2014 by Bill K. Anderson
The Mawazine Music Festival is hosted in Rabat, Morocco by Maroc Cultures and attracts cultures in music and people from around the globe.
Logo for the Mawazine Music Festival
Logo for the Mawazine Music Festival
Festival Mawazine
Competing with events in popularity and size such as Tomorrowland and Summerfest, but less known in the USA, Mawazine – “Rhythms of the World,” is spectacle to millions for nine days in the city of Rabat, Morocco on the last days of May and the first days of June. Mawazine is a music festival that features artists both locally and around the world and had represented over 40 countries and housed nearly 120 events in 2013. The festival not only has music, but also shares the opportunity to the public to participate in workshops thanks to the directing efforts of the non-profit organization, Maroc Cultures, with its president Mounir Majidi, personal secretary to the King Mohammed VI of Morocco, at the helm. There are workshops for the “Drums of Burundi,” learning the techniques of Anasma, as well as “Introduction to Liquid fusion: Oriental Hip Hop with perspective of the Wave Theory
There are certain values and philosophies held at this festival. These include combining tradition with modern expression, tolerance and cooperation between multiple cultures, including broad diversity wherever possible, encouraging the interaction between the artists and the public, having quality and authenticity in all things and making 90 percent of the shows free for anyone and everyone.
The OLM Souissi stage, one of seven areas designated for the event, is used for the performances of the international stars performing and has hosted special guests such as Elton John, Whitney Houston, Evanescence, Mariah Carey and Kanye West. This year, performing at the OLM Souissi stage is Justin Timberlake (May 30), Jason Derülo (May 31), IAM (June 1), Stromae (June 2), Kool & The Gang (June 3), Ne-Yo (June 4), Robert Plant (June 5), Ricky Martin (June 6th), and Alicia Keys (June 7). OLM Souissi, the Nahda Space, the Bouregreg and the Sale are the four larger stages can entertain a number of viewers from 200,000 to 50,000. The four smaller stages are the Historical site of Chellah, the Mohammed V National Theater and the Renaissance Cultural Center. There are also four artery performance areas. The larger stages are always free, with some having a paying option and the smaller are always paying except any of the four artery zones.
Stromae alone attracted more than 180,000 people when he performed his set list of sixteen songs including, "Bâtard, ""Moules Frites," and "Formidable," which topped charts in both France and Belgium in 2013. Compare this to the Rihanna debut where there were 150,000 spectators for the 24 song set list containing tracks such as, “What’s My Name?” “Rockstar 101,” and “Phresh Out the Runway,” in 2013.
2014 is the 13th edition of the Mawazine Music Festival since 2001 in Morocco. In its goal to promote cultural openness through music from all over the world, it promotes the practice of any genre such as Hip Hop, R&B, rock and much more. All of this music is delivered together into a single united display of cultural fusion to more than 2,500,000 guests in 2013 alone. While there has been a significant increase in popularity, only 1.9 percent of the official facebook group’s fans are from the US.
Certain innovations have allowed the country itself to become more recognized and admired thanks to the strong directive understanding of Maroc Cultures in creating and promoting the festival events where it rivals even the largest of cultural manifestations worldwide. Morocco and Rabat have a more well-known presence as within journals covering the festival, it is notable that the country and city and shares attention with the festival itself in journals covering Mawazine.
In 2012, Maroc Cultures took an innovative step in the way that Mawazine is financed and suspended all public and semipublic sponsors who had supported the festival previously. Passes, advertising space and ticketing now represent 68 percent of the variable revenue with the remaining 32 percent coming from private sponsors. The Mawazine Festival generates thousands of jobs and greatly contributes to the Moroccan economy due to the strong tourist presence during these times.
Mounir Majidi  the director of the music festival Mawazine in Rabat Morocco
Mounir Majidi, the director of the music festival Mawazine in Rabat Morocco
Mawazine Festival
In a country where the musical industry struggles, with a market that is plagued with pirating and budgets from the Ministry of Culture are limited, Mawazine is the most awaited cultural calendar day of the year while also being one of the sparse festivals in the world that doesn’t benefit from the public’s money. This economic model has been developed over time and has nearly allowed Mawazine to become completely privately funded. The tradition of this festival will continue to thrive as Mawazine and Morocco move forward in worldwide recognition with its unique workshops and diverse music.
Majidi commented in 2012, “The massive public is among the reasons for the interest of international artists Mawazine. This pleasant symbiosis and popular success remain the greatest satisfaction of this festival that has made its accessibility the largest of its foundations.”