Field Trip to Morocco
1 to 6 October 2023
From 1 to 6 October 2023, the annual Field Trip of the Körber Network Foreign Policy led the group to the Kingdom of Morocco, visiting Rabat, Casablanca, Ouarzazate and Marrakech.
With an early-bird start at 04:00 AM at BER airport, the Körber Network Foreign Policy landed on time on Sunday afternoon for a kick-off with a city tour and subsequent dinner in Rabat’s Medina. The next morning, the program began with a briefing at the German Embassy: Ambassador Robert Dölger and staff gave an initial overview of Morocco’s history and political system, the situation after the recent earthquake, as well as foreign policy and the country’s role in the region, its economy and energy supply, and migration issues. After an exchange with Moroccan journalists over lunch, the group met with experts from the Policy Center for the New South on the campus of the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. In the evening, at the kind invitation of the ambassador, the members of the network met with representatives from culture, politics, media and academia at a reception.
The next day began with a visit to MASEN and a discussion with CEO Tarik Hamane about energy and transformation in Morocco. MASEN, the Moroccan agency for sustainable energy, operates the Noor Ouarzazate complex – the largest solar thermal power plant in the world and another stop on the itinerary. But first came a key policy area in Morocco as a country of origin, transit and destination: at the Fondation Orient Occident, the group learned about migration and the situation of migrants in the kingdom. The NGO, which works closely with the UN Refugee Agency, supports migrants and refugees and offers them social and cultural services ranging from childcare to education. In the afternoon, a highlight was on the agenda: the network was received by Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over traditional Moroccan tea, the Minister outlined Morocco’s vision for the country’s role in the region and its foreign policy priorities in a conversation with the group. The network then had an informal discussion with members of parliament over dinner before taking the late train from Rabat to the next stop on their journey: Casablanca.
The following morning, the group met with journalists and creatives for a discussion about the legal and social situation of women in the country, followed by a further exchange and lunch with young climate activists on renewables and environmental protection in Morocco. Strengthened by traditional Moroccan tajine, the group then visited the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, and the Beth-El Synagogue. This was followed by a discussion with Serge Berdugo, former Minister of Tourism, Secretary General of the Jewish community in Morocco and President of the Jewish community in Casablanca – one of the largest in the Arab world. In the evening, the group met with representatives of the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad before boarding a propeller plane into the High Atlas desert of Ouarzazate.
After a late landing and an early breakfast, the penultimate day of the journey began with a visit to the Noor Ouarzazate complex. During a guided tour by site director Mustapha Sellam, the group learned all about the construction, operation and output of the world’s largest solar thermal power plant, which covers an area roughly equivalent to the entire city of Rabat. With a stopover at the historic Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou – also known as a film set from Gladiator or Game of Thrones and an important location for the Moroccan film industry – the journey continued through the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, the last stop of the trip. Over dinner at the Amal Women’s Training Center Guéliz, the group learned about the Amal Initiative, which supports economically and socially disadvantaged Moroccan women by providing them with training and job placement in the hospitality industry. The day ended on Jemaa-el-Fna Square in the historic center of Marrakech, full of vendors, street performers and other attractions, offering one last opportunity to buy souvenirs and soak up Morocco’s unique atmosphere.
Before the return journey from sunny Marrakech to rainy Berlin, there was one last appointment: At the Mohammed VI Museum of Moroccan Water Culture – a topic that has been of central importance to the country for centuries in view of the aforementioned, constant sunshine – the group learned everything from the chemical composition of water over different traditional extraction methods and its distribution to ways of reducing water consumption in the face of increasing scarcity. With the ride to the airport in the afternoon, the 2023 Field Trip found its end, and the group arrived safely and full of impressions in Berlin in the evening.
Previous Field Trips
Since 2005, over 15 Field Trips of the Körber Network Foreign Policy have taken place in more than 20 countries.