Asilah Moussem, an exuberant platform for artistic events

Northern Morocco’s most dynamic and popular cultural festival had a rich schedule of cultural and artistic activities.

Leading platform. An artist selling his paintings in a street of the old medina. (Saad Guerraoui)


2017/07/23 Issue: 116 Page: 1


The Arab Weekly
Saad Guerraoui



London- Northern Morocco’s most dynamic and popular cultural festi­val took place in Asilah with a rich schedule of cultural and artistic activities. The 39th International Cultural Mous­sem of Asilah transformed the qui­et “city of arts” into an exuberant stage for poetry, music and artistic events.

Asilah experienced an artistic revolution in 1978 thanks to for­mer Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa and Mohamed Melehi, an artist and curator. They were behind the idea of asking local art­ists to paint on the old town’s worn walls. Asilah has since become one of the North African region’s cul­tural hubs and Morocco’s most vis­ited arts festivals.

A mural painting workshop this year brought together 17 Moroc­can and foreign painters eager to leave their mark in the old medina. Tradition dictates that the murals made during the workshop are ex­hibited for a year.

Eleven Moroccan and foreign artists took part in an exhibition at the gallery of the Centre Inter­national Hassan II in Asilah. The exhibition “Rabiîyat” (“Spring”) showcased their art focusing on dif­ferent themes, such as landscape and environment.

Spanish artist Marta De Pablos chose recycled materials for her piece to raise awareness of envi­ronmental protection.

Approximately 200 budding painters, aged 5-15 years, par­ticipated in the “Children of the Moussem” workshop at the Palace of Culture to practise their paint­ing skills and express their ideas freely. The best works are to be exhibited at the Palace of Culture’s gallery throughout the year.

Driss El Maloumi, named the “lute virtuoso,” delivered a bril­liant performance that took the audience back to the tales of “One Thousand and One Nights.”

The female choir Hadra Chefchaounia led by Rhoum El Bakkali at the opening of the 2017 Asilah Forum Foundation (AFF) performed beautiful popular songs depicting poetic texts of an­cient Sufi heritage. This traditional and authentic music is passed on to generations of women of the northern region of Chefchaouen.

The AFF, on the sidelines of the International Cultural Moussem, sponsored colloquiums on politi­cal and religious topics.

The AFF has become a leading regional platform to tackle inter­national issues and build bridges between different civilisations through debate.


Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.


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