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My visit to Rabat, the colouful administrative capital of Morocco

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I made a return to Morocco, four years after my first visit and this time I got to visit Rabat, the administrative capital for the first time. Rabat was a little over two hours from the Casablanca airport.

Rabat is the seventh-largest city in Morocco. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, opposite Salé, the city’s main commuter town. Rabat was founded in the 12th century by Almoravids.

In Rabat, we kicked off activities with a visit to the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI). AMCI acts in close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the implementation of actions carried out in partnership with the various Moroccan ministerial departments and the partner countries concerned.

Watch highlights from Rabat below:

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AMCI offers scholarships/grants to foreign students. These AMCI grants are awarded annually within the framework of cooperation agreements between the Government of Morocco and the Governments of brotherly and friendly countries. We got to experience  some of the facilities that students enjoy at AMCI. These include a state-of-the-art gym, sports arena, and free hospital facility for students at the Cité Universitaire Internationale.

Inaugurated in 1993, the Cité Universitaire Internationale de Rabat welcomes students of various nationalities every year. The main mission of the Cité Universitaire Internationale de Rabat is to accommodate foreign students and trainees, selected by  AMCI.

We met with a group of Ghanaian students who shared their experience of studying on scholarship in Morocco.

After my trip to AMCI, I had lunch and later hopped onto a canoe for a short cruise along the Rabat Marina. Rabat has the Bou Regreg marina located between the Atlantic and the Bou Regreg Valley, on the shore of Salé. This river marina is paved with famous historical sites like the esplanade of the Hassan Tower and the picturesque Chellah necropolis.

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The following day, we hit the city for a tour starting off at The Kasbah of the Udayas. It has scenic views of the waterfront of Rabat, the Bou Regreg River, neighbouring Salé, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is mostly occupied as a residential neighbourhood, known for its distinct blue and white walls.  It is listed, along with other sites in Rabat, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The monumental gate of the kasbah is considered one of the most beautiful gates of Almohad and Moroccan architecture. It goes by the name Bab Oudaia (“Udaya Gate”) or Bab al-Kabir (“Great Gate”). It was built by the Almohad caliph Ya’qub al-Mansur between 1195 and 1199, inserted into the previous walls of the kasbah built by Abd al-Mu’min around 1150.

I concluded my city tour of Rabat, with a visit to Dar-al-Makhzen (the king’s palace), which is the primary and official residence of the king of Morocco. The current building was built in 1864 by Mohammed IV to replace the older palace.  The palace sits at the end of the mechouar, a large parade ground also containing a small mosque. The mechouar is used for large public assemblies, such as the return from exile of Mohammed V in 1955.

In addition to being the living space for the king and the royal family, there is accommodation for the Moroccan Royal Guard. The palace complex also contains the Collège Royal, a school for senior members of the royal family, a cookery school, and a ground floor library built to contain the manuscript collection of Hassan II. There are extensive gardens and grounds surrounding the palace.

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Stay tuned for highlights from Casablanca!

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