Home Op-Eds Morocco: A Policy for Engaging the Diaspora Remains Elusive

Morocco: A Policy for Engaging the Diaspora Remains Elusive

Abdellah Boussouf

Washington DC –  Since the start of the North African labor migration to Europe in the early 1960s, Moroccan officials have made negligible efforts to leverage this new influential overseas population.  From the early days of embassy sponsored Moroccan associations to today’s social media showoff events, Rabat never had a comprehensive approach to helping, utilizing and developing the MREs and their potentials.

 However, there is a new iteration to Moroccan official’s tactics to outreach Moroccans Residing Abroad (referred to as MRE in French). It is simple, flashy and very misleading. This strategy consists mostly of highly publicized meetings that brings together a few pre-selected members of the diaspora, government representatives and semi-official organizations.

These “get-togethers” are never widely pre-announced and officials rarely canvas MREs for an accurate representation of the diverse groups of Moroccans living all over the world.

In sum, these events neither concern not represent most of the Moroccan immigrants. They remain a waste of taxpayers’ money and nurture deep negative misgivings about Moroccan officials’ true commitments to help and assist the MREs.

In fact, these halfhearted actions have a negative impact on the moral and positions of the millions of Moroccans living abroad vis-à-vis the Kingdom.

These methods remain at the heart of a new campaign aiming to show that the Council of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad (CCME) and other official organizations, including the Ministry in charge of MRE are in fact interacting with the Moroccan diaspora. However, this scheme is far from a real canvass to understand and tackle the concerns, worries and interests of this economically important section of the Moroccan society.

In a recent interview with the most popular Moroccan news website, Hespress, Mr. Boucheib Rami, the president of the Moroccan Diaspora Investments Club, decried the absence of a coherent government policy aimed at attracting and protecting MRE investments in the homeland. Furthermore, he lamented the current strategy that focuses on annual remittances and ignores the benefits of investments on the local and regional economies.

This criticism from an expert in MRE affairs comes on the heels of a July meeting in Rabat where Moroccan officials supposedly hosted dozens of Moroccan business leaders residing overseas to discuss opportunities in the Kingdom. Like during most of previous seminars, organizers never advertised nor announced the event until the last minute.

Therefore, the creation of the so-called” Moroccan Business Bridge” that came out of this “business meeting” is doomed to fail just like past initiatives since it does not have the buying of the vast majority of the stakeholders.

Sadly, Moroccan officials’ long standing habits of subjectively handpicking most of the participants in these type of events have doomed past efforts and will kill future ones, thus driving an even deeper wedge between the best and brightest among the MREs and the homeland.

The results of this lip service approach are visible today with a meek public diplomacy and a faint political and lobbying presence of Moroccan groups in Europe and the United States.  In fact, the absence of Moroccan grassroots campaigns to support the national agenda in Washington and Brussels is a direct outcome of years of negligence and fake efforts to embrace the MREs.

With more than 5 million nationals living outside the country, members of the Moroccan diaspora should have a solid political influence in their host country. However, the lack of a broad and inclusive governmental policy to enthrall different types of MREs makes Morocco’s public lobbying timid and sometimes nonexistent.

Unlike other minorities with sizable diasporas who exercise great influence on public opinion in Europe and the United States, Moroccans, despite their numbers, are hardly equipped and organized to promote their homeland’s interests.

Rabat needs an open and honest approach to succeed in garnering the power of MREs and their children and promote a Moroccan political and economic agenda that would benefit all. The current “make believe” approach based on hosting conferences and meetings where most of the invitees are selected by government organizers and not chosen by the MREs is in fact pushing the hard working immigrants away from any interaction with official organizations.

These gimmicks may give the Moroccan public the impression that an exchange of ideas exists between the government and the Moroccan immigrants, nevertheless the MREs know that such dialogue is fictional. Such disrespect creates an air of mistrust and keep the second and third generations of immigrants apathetic and disillusioned.

A Band-Aid policy built on glossy banners, cheap marketing campaigns, empty rhetoric and pointless meetings antagonizes successful MREs further as they fell ignored and patronized by a lethargic Moroccan leadership.

A straightforward policy promoting and protecting MREs investments, expanding their political involvement in Morocco and ensuring that their voices are heard is the only way to bring around the diaspora.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity. 

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