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Friday, 15 August 2014 12:00 AM

Mawazine Music Festival 2014 – June in Rabat

The 13th annual Mawazine music festival has now been and gone and was a huge success, and preparations for the14th annual edition are already underway, which will be held on 29th May to 6th June 2015.

Rabat is a wonderful city throughout the year for a holiday, a city full of history and interest (and an international airport) but which, surprisingly, does not attract a large influx of tourists (other than for this fstival).

The Mawazine Festival

The Mawazine festival is organised by the Association of Moroccan Cultures (Maroc-Cultures Association), a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting high-quality and cultural activities in Morocco – of which the Mawazine is a core event, promoting respect to all cultures and transforming the capital of Morocco.

The 2014 Festival

Held from 30 May to 7 June 2014 the largely free festival is reported to have attracted crowds of up to 100,000 in the OLM Souissi arena this year. The OLM Souissi is the main outdoor stage (virtually all stages are outdoors) and focal point for the festival, erected in the chic Agdal district of Rabat, but other stages include the African Stage in the Bouregreg riverside district and the beachfront festival stage in Salé, just across the river. There are also street performers across many other districts of Rabat aimed mainly at children and families.

The festival’s opening night on the Friday featured Justin Timberlake in the OLM Souissi arena, his first performance at the festival, which attracted a diverse group typical of Morocco – from younger trendy boys through to ladies in traditional Islamic dresses, often in family groups.

Justin Timberlake is the latest of big names to grace the festival, and this year Ricky Martin also performed. Previous perfomers include Kylie Minogue, Elton John and Rihanna, but the festival also includes an eclectic mix of world music (many from other Arab and African nations) and Moroccan performers, this year there were performers from more than 30 different countries. In total it is estimated that the festival attracted over 2.5 million in audiences - making it one of the largest music festivals in the world.

Although the festival gets limited international media attention it is a growing tourist attraction, reported to increase tourism by around 30% during the festival, so it is becoming increasingly important to plan ahead is you are interested in visiting – quality riad based accommodation in Rabat is limited.

Although the festival nowadays receives no funding from government and is thought to contribute to the continuing development of Rabat and Salé, it does have its local detractors who believe that spending money on such events is unacceptable when it could be used to address such things as living standards and school improvements.