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Ali Squalli, Author of Moroccan National Anthem Dies at 86

Moroccan author and poet Ali Squalli Houssaini, who wrote the Moroccan national anthem’s Arabic lyrics, died at the age of 86.

Rabat – Squalli died Monday morning from an incurable disease, Moroccan media reported.

Born in Fez in 1932, Squalli wrote the national anthem in 1969 under the reign of King Hassan II. Before 1969, the anthem was used only in melody.

The idea of writing lyrics to the national anthem came after the Moroccan national football team qualified to participate in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico for the first time.

There are two stories behind the writing of the anthem’s lyrics. One story says that King Hassan II launched a competition to compose the anthem’s lyrics, and Squalli’s lyrics gained royal and popular approval.

َAnother version says that King Hassan II ordered Squalli to write the lyrics for the melody.

Leo Morgan, a French captain and chief of music during the French occupation of Morocco, had composed the national anthem’s melody. The Frenchman wrote the anthem’s music during the reign of Sultan Moulay Youssef.

The melody of the national anthem was in use without lyrics before Morocco’s independence in 1956.

Squalli also wrote numerous books, especially children’s books.

Squalli received a BA degree in literature from Al-Quaraouiyine University in 1951 and later became a professor there.

Squalli joined the Royal Cabinet in 1956, where he was appointed as an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then he became an associate professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in Rabat in 1964. The Moroccan author had worked as an inspector general at the Ministry of Education since 1971.

Sakali had also been a member of the Union of Moroccan Writers since 1967.

Throughout his career, Squalli achieved various awards for his literary works, including the Morocco Grand Prize in 1982 and the international prize of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia  for children’s literature in 1992.