After years of disregard, indifference and targeted apathy, some officials in Morocco are trying to embrace and “re-adopt” an already established and imposing Dr. Slaoui.
Washington, D.C. – People love winners! Everyone wants to be part of a success story! It is no wonder that an assortment of personalities, nationalities, groups, organizations and professions came out from every corner of the world to jump on Dr. Moncef Slaoui’s bandwagon.
Overnight, Moncef Slaoui, a relatively unknown yet very-successful scientist and self-made millionaire became a national hero in his native land and a sensation in the Arab and Muslim press. After years of disregard, indifference, and targeted apathy, some officials in Morocco are trying to embrace and “re-adopt” an already established and imposing Dr. Slaoui.
Slaoui, who President Trump recently named as his vaccine’s czar in charge of the White House’s initiative to develop a coronavirus vaccine, is one of hundreds if not thousands of Moroccan scientists, doctors, politicians, academics, athletes and artists who were neglected, ignored, discouraged and even mistreated in their homeland just to make it big abroad.
Moncef was born in Morocco but attended Belgian and American universities where he received his Ph.D. and completed postdoctoral studies. According to several Moroccan media outlets, at one point the Moroccan authorities barred a young Dr. Slaoui from presenting his findings to students and faculty at Casablanca universities because of some of his past political associations that Rabat deemed questionable.
It is ironic that the person who could play a role in the re-election of the most controversial President in the history of the United States is a Moroccan born scientist who was denied the right to share his knowledge in his native land.
The man who President Trump trusts was suspect in the eyes of some shortsighted Moroccan officials who feel a certain disdain for Moroccans residing overseas.
While Moroccans should celebrate the monumental scientific achievements of Dr. Slaoui, the focus should be on ways to discover young “mini-Moncefs” before they decide to leave for the West.
Notwithstanding few bureaucratic organisms set up by Rabat to assist its citizens residing overseas, the Moroccan government has failed, maybe by design, to encourage highly educated human capital to come back home.
A venture capitalist and a successful pharmaceutical executive, Mr. Slaoui “could care less” about the blessings and accolades of politicians and “officials” in Morocco.
In fact, he must feel like the many Moroccans who established roots overseas: They are proud of their Moroccan origins, but as significant, they appreciate the welcome, the opportunity, the encouragement and most importantly the respect they encountered in their adoptive countries but has been sorely lacking in Morocco.
The question is not whether Slaoui is Moroccan, Belgian, or American, but rather what country or countries gave him the support, opportunities, and freedoms to learn, grow, flourish, and prosper. Who supported the young scientist when he was starting his career? Who opened doors for him and believed in his ideas?
In fact, two nagging questions seem to always come up when covering the journeys of the many successful émigrés: Why so many Moroccans succeed once they leave their homeland and why Moroccan officials keep politicizing these success stories even tough governmental agencies rarely try to lure emigrants early in their careers.
Numerous foreign-educated, Morocco-born scientists and professionals either considered or tried returning to Morocco to work at one point or another after finishing their studies. These groups of highly sought- after experts have long left the country in search of better career opportunities and chances abroad but never give up on the old country until Moroccan officials turn their back on them or simply ignore them.
Luring emigrants back to help boost the country’s long-term growth has never been a government priority despite the official line calling on expats to return. In fact, there is a feeling that the Moroccan elite running key government agencies and major industries is keeping intentionally young, promising, and much-needed immigrants from coming back.
This amalgamation of Moroccan and French-educated “cream of the crop” governing the nation view the Anglo-Saxon educated and the overseas-based Moroccans as a threat to their nepotism and favoritism rampant system.
The return of the brightest and the most promising foreign-educated scientists, engineers, IT professionals to Morocco early in their careers would be beneficial to the nation as a whole. Nevertheless, the lack of true democratic reforms and the slow implementation of policies to fight corruption and nepotism continues to hamper the return of the well-established expatriate professionals.