Festival Mawazine, Rabat
Located at the mouth of Bou Regreg River on the Atlantic Coast, Rabat is a laidback, easy going city by Moroccan standard. Although the seventh largest city in the country, Rabat (literarily “Fortified City”) is the national capital and one of the four imperial cities. Rabat is also the host city of Festival Mawazine one of Morocco’s famous music festivals.
Festival Mawazine is organized by Maroc Cultures, a cultural foundation initiated on October 23, 2001 by Yasmina Filali, while the first edition of the festival kicked off on May 18, 2002. Since that first event, the festival has grown steadily, recording an estimated 2.5million audience in attendance in 2013, which makes it the biggest festival in the world after Vienna’s Donauinselfest.
Targeted mainly at the youths, the aim of Festival Mawazine is to educate on the values of tolerance, while creating a friendly dialogue between peoples of diverse cultures. The festival has witnessed two eras since its inception. In its first period, Festival Mawazine was dedicated to World Music genre, but it had financial challenges and struggled to find sponsors.
Rhythm of the World…
However, the second period of Festival Mawazine began at the 2008 edition. After the 2007 event, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI of Morocco appointed his personal secretary, Mounir El-Majidi as president of Maroc Cultures and saddled him with the responsibility of presiding over the festival. From then on, the festival has featured more mainstream music, attracting various international music talents from across the globe.
At the 2008 Festival Mawazine, the 9-day event ran from 16th to 24th of May and took place on stages in 9 venues across Rabat and environs. It featured a lineup of international stars, such as Whitney Houston, Jazz legend George Benson, renowned Afro beat drummer Tony Allen, among several others, while an estimated 1.2million audience in attendance.
Festival Mawazine continues to expand and the event has been graced by such notable celebrities and international stars from the Arab world and around the world. Some of those to have graced Mawazine over the years include: Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Cesaria Evora, Magic System, Freshly Ground, Cheikh Lo, Youssou N’dour, Juan Marcos, Al Di Meola, Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Cliff, Goran Bregovic, Shakira, etc.
At the 14th edition which took place from May 29th to June 6th 2015, international stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Pharell Williams, P-Square, Usher, Sean Paul, Maroon 5, Sting, and Akon were among those who lit up the venues along with stars from the Arab world.
The 15th edition of Festival Mawazine held between 20th and 28th of May 2016 and was full of fun and excitement. Artists who headlined that edition included Chris Brown, Diana Haddad and Kadhim Al-Sahir among others.
The 2019’s Festival Mawazine is the 18th edition of the event and it features international artists such as Spain’s Rosalía, Franch superstar, David Guetta, Dadju among other Moroccan and international artists. The festival, as always, holds in Rabat, Morroco, on different stages between 21-29 June 2019.
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