The King decided last year to end the tradition of his official birthday ceremonies, consolidating his focus on the Moroccan people’s wellbeing.
Rabat – In an era of uncertainty, Morocco maintains patriotic tradition and community in celebrating Friday, August 21, King Mohammed VI’s 57th birthday.
Despite particularly challenging circumstances this year, Moroccans can come together in spirit to honor their King and his dedication to the people’s prosperity.
The Moroccan monarch, who last year put an end to his official birthday ceremonies to prioritize the country’s needs, was born on August 21, 1963 in Rabat. As the son of the late King Hassan II and a member of the Alaouite dynasty, he is a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad.
King Mohammed VI assumed Morocco’s leadership when he ascended the throne on July 23, 1999. In 2001, he added “husband” to his central roles, marrying Princess Lalla Salma. In 2003, the royal couple welcomed their first child, Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan. Their second child, Princess Lalla Khadija, joined their family in 2007.
With a focus on advancing the country forward, King Mohammed VI has made human and economic development his priority. In a nod to his effective approach, the international community has warmly acknowledged Morocco’s positive transformations during the King’s 21 years on the throne.
International and domestic observers have celebrated the monarch’s “enlightened royal vision,” noting social reforms and infrastructure projects that have boosted Morocco’s global positioning.
A focus on development
A key aspect of King Mohammed VI’s vision for Morocco is investing in human development.
The country has taken great strides in improving employment, literacy, access to education, and healthcare under King Mohammed VI.
However, the King often acknowledges areas where Morocco is still lacking, urging government decentralization and reforms for the country’s sustainable prosperity. In October 2017, the King lamented in a speech to Parliament that Morocco’s development plan was unable to “reduce social and inter-regional disparities … and could not ensure social justice.”
Highlighting the ongoing challenge of socio-economic inequality, King Mohammed VI demonstrated his aim to hold the country’s decision-makers accountable while reiterating his commitment to the Moroccan people.
He has since moved to renew Morocco’s development model, establishing the Special Commission on the Development Model (CSMD) in 2019. CSMD was initially set to deliver a new development model this year, but the King granted the commission a six-month extension to account for the new issues that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The King is committed to improving living conditions and reducing social and spatial inequalities. In particular, he has emphasized rural and urban periphery communities, calling for improved access to basic services and social welfare, stronger education and vocational training programs, agricultural investment, and gender equality.
In his most recent Throne Day speech on July 29, the King called for the generalization of social security programs for the benefit of all Moroccans within five years.
As part of his forward-looking vision for Morocco, King Mohammed VI has also overseen significant economic and urban development projects that have had tangible impacts on the country.
Some of these projects include the Agadir Urban Development Program, the Fez Medina Development Program, and various projects in Tetouan. Perhaps most notable has been the transformation of the southern provinces, particularly the cities of Dakhla and Laayoune.
A commitment to pan-Africanism and regional stability
In his 2019 Green March speech, the Moroccan monarch emphasized that relations with African nations have always been at the heart of Morocco’s foreign policy. He recalled his numerous diplomatic visits to African countries and the signing of over 1,000 cooperation agreements.
By maintaining strong ties with African states, the King aims to consolidate Morocco’s position as a beacon of security in North and West Africa, an advocate for stability in areas such as Libya and the Sahel, as well as a continental economic hub.
King Mohammed VI has stressed that the southern provinces are Morocco’s gateway to sub-Saharan Africa. He emphasizes the importance of African recognition of Morocco’s territorial integrity, as support for Morocco’s sovereignty is essential to preserving peace in Western Sahara.
The COVID-19 crisis has presented a unique opportunity for King Mohammed VI to illustrate his commitment to pan-Africanism. On June 14, he gave high instructions for Morocco to deliver medical aid to 15 African countries to aid them in their efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. African leaders and international observers celebrated the display of continental solidarity and humanitarianism.
In addition to being a leader in Africa, Morocco is also an important player in the Middle East and the Arab world as an Arabic-speaking country and member of the Arab League.
Morocco has long maintained an unwavering position on the most pressing cause of the Arab world: Palestine. Despite rumors of brewing normalization with Israel, King Mohammed VI has made it abundantly clear that Morocco will not back down from its support for the Palestinian cause.
A keen awareness of the threats and nuances of climate change
King Mohammed VI has long been vocal about the threats of climate change, demanding action on the most pressing issue the global community is facing.
In his message to the Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the King called for more concrete action to tackle climate change, especially in Africa. “Africa, a continent which is suffering from the impact of climate change, must be a priority in our collective action,” the monarch said.
Morocco has taken significant steps to respond to the threat of climate change, aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 42% and secure 52% of its electricity production from renewable energy sources by 2030.
The country has evolved into a global leader in the field under King Mohammed VI’s leadership. Notably, it is one of only two countries worldwide on track to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming cap the Paris Agreement urges.
Although the King’s vision has positioned Morocco as a leader in climate action, the monarch is also a consistent champion of minimizing North-South differentiation. He frequently calls on historic polluters to meet their responsibilities toward the Global South, where the consequences of their actions hit local populations hard.
A proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The global COVID-19 pandemic saw King Mohammed VI tangibly demonstrate his concern for the well-being of the Moroccan people at a time of unprecedented need.
Morocco closed its borders on March 15, having confirmed only a handful of cases, and entered lockdown on March 20. The country prioritized self-sufficiency, revealing its capacity for industry and production. Morocco also moved forward with mass testing campaigns, economic recovery strategies, and far-reaching repatriation operations.
King Mohammed VI established a $1 billion fund to help Morocco mitigate the negative economic impacts of the pandemic. The fund’s value has since increased to more than $3.6 billion and financed stipends for Moroccans out of work due to strict lockdown measures.
The King also authorized a $13 billion stimulus package to rescue the Moroccan economy, announcing the decision in his Throne Day speech last month.
Morocco’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the homegrown innovation that presented itself amid the adaption to the crisis earned the country international recognition. Moroccan decision-makers attribute the country’s proactive strategies to King Mohammed VI’s “insightful vision.”
Looking towards a prosperous future
The COVID-19 pandemic and global recession have undoubtedly interrupted King Mohammed VI’s plans for Moroccan development.
The unprecedented nature of the crisis leaves the majority of countries around the world with dismal economic outlooks for the near future. However, if Morocco can harness the same strength it did when consolidating the country’s self-sufficiency, it will recover stronger than ever and King Mohammed VI will continue to move forward with his vision for an inclusive, prosperous, and resilient Morocco.