Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and the country's seventh largest city with an urban population of approximately 580,000 and a metropolitan population of over 1.2 million. It is also the capital city of the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra administrative region. Rabat is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, opposite Salé, the city's main commuter town. The history of Rabat is closely connected to that of Salé, the site of which was first occupied by the Roman settlement of Sala . Rabat was founded in the 12th century by the Almohad ruler Abd al-Mu'min as a military town. The city steadily grew but went into an extended period of decline following the collapse of the Almohads. In the 17th century Rabat became a haven for Barbary pirates. The French established a protectorate over Morocco in 1912 and made Rabat its administrative center. Rabat, Temara, and Salé form a conurbation of over 1.8 million people. Silt-related problems have diminished Rabat's role as a port; however, Rabat, and Salé still maintain important textile, food processing and construction industries. In addition, tourism and the presence of all foreign embassies in Morocco serve to make Rabat one of the most important cities in the country. The Moroccan capital was ranked at second place by CNN in its «Top Travel Destinations of 2013».
It is one of four Imperial cities of Morocco, and the medina of Rabat is listed as a World Heritage Site.
Data and Facts
- For a period of the 17th century, Rabat was run by pirates under the Republic of Bou Regreg which lasted untill 1818
- Rabat’s Tour Hassan was intended to have the largest minaret and the largest mosque in the world, but in 1199 the construction stopped
- Rabat received its name from a ribat (similar to a monastery or citadel) that was guarded by Islamic holy warriors known as murabits
- Rabat has only been the capital for a little over 100 years
- Following World War II, the United States established a military presence in Rabat at the former French air base
- Rabat belongs to the sub-humid bioclimatic zone with an average annual precipitation of 560 mm (22 in)
In Morocco, the 75 second-level administrative subdivisions are 13 prefectures and 62 provinces. They are subdivisions of the 12 regions of Morocco.[Each prefecture or province is subdivided into arrondissements (only in prefectures of some metropolitan areas), municipalities (communes, sing. commune) or urban municipalities (communes urbaines, sing. commune urbaine) in other urban areas, and districts (cercles, sing. cercle) in rural areas. The districts are subdivided into rural municipalities (communes rurales, sing. commune rural). One prefecture (Casablanca) is also subdivided into préfectures d'arrondissements (sing. préfecture d'arrondissements), similar to districts (cercles) except they are grouping a few arrondissements instead of rural municipalities.
The economy of Morocco is considered a relatively liberal economy governed by the law of supply and demand. Since 1993, Morocco has followed a policy of privatization of certain economic sectors which used to be in the hands of the government.Morocco has become a major player in African economic affairs, and is the 5th largest African economy by GDP . The World Economic Forum placed Morocco as the 1st most competitive economy in North Africa, in its African Competitiveness Report 2014-2015.
The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP; industry — made up of mining, construction and manufacturing — is an additional quarter. The sectors that recorded the highest growth are the tourism, telecoms, and textile sectors. Morocco, however, still depends to an inordinate degree on agriculture, which accounts for around 14% of GDP but employs 40–45% of the Moroccan population. With a semi-arid climate, it is difficult to assure good rainfall and Morocco's GDP varies depending on the weather. Fiscal prudence has allowed for consolidation, with both the budget deficit and debt falling as a percentage of GDP.
The economic system of the country is characterized by a large opening towards the outside world. From 2018, the country's currency, the dirham, is fully convertible for current account transactions; reforms of the financial sector have been implemented; and state enterprises are being privatized.
The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphate minerals, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphates , and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco's economy. Tourism and workers' remittances have played a critical role since independence. The production of textiles and clothing is part of a growing manufacturing sector that accounted for approximately 34% of total exports in 2002, employing 40% of the industrial workforce. The government wishes to increase 3 exports from $1.27 billion in 2001 to $3.29 billion in 2010.
About 80% of jobs are informal and the income gaps are very high. In 2018, Morocco ranked 121st out of 189 countries in the world on the Human Development Index , behind Algeria and Tunisia . It is the most unequal country in North Africa according to the NGO Oxfam.
Morocco is a fairly stable economy with continuous growth over the past half-a-century. Current GDP per capita grew 47% in the Sixties reaching a peak growth of 274% in the Seventies. However, this proved unsustainable and growth scaled back sharply to just 8.2% in the Eighties and 8.9% in the Nineties.
Real GDP growth is expected to average 5.5% in the 2009–13 period, seen the prospects in the tourism and the non-agricultural industry, as demand growth in the Eurozone — Morocco's key export market and source of tourists is projected to be more subdued. Growth will be well below the 8–10% levels that are widely regarded as necessary to have a major impact on poverty and unemployment.
In June 2019, Morocco signed two agreements to obtain a loan worth $237 million from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. The loan was taken to fund two investment projects.
Agriculture employs about 40% of Morocco's workforce. In the rainy sections of the northeast, barley, wheat, and other cereals can be raised without irrigation. On the Atlantic coast, where there are extensive plains, olives, citrus fruits, and wine grapes are grown, largely with water supplied by artesian wells. Morocco also produces a significant amount of illicit hashish, much of which is shipped to Western Europe. Livestock are raised and forests yield cork, cabinet wood, and building materials. Part of the maritime population fishes for its livelihood. Agadir, Essaouira, El Jadida, and Larache are among the important fishing harbors.
Morocco is endowed with numerous exploitable resources. With approximately 85,000 square kilometres of arable land and its generally temperate Mediterranean climate, Morocco's agricultural potential is matched by few other Arab or African countries. It is one of the few Arab countries that has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. In a normal year, Morocco produces two-thirds of the grains needed for domestic consumption.
Morocco exports citrus fruits and early vegetables to the European market. Its wine industry is developed, and the production of commercial crops is expanding. Newer crops such as tea, tobacco, and soybeans have passed the experimental stage, the fertile Gharb plain being favourable for their cultivation. Morocco is actively developing its irrigation potential that ultimately will irrigate more than 2.5 million acres .
Unreliable rainfall is a chronic problem that produces drought or sudden floods. A UN survey in 2003 estimated cannabis cultivation at about 1340 km2 in Morocco's five northern provinces. This represented 10% of the total area and 23% of the arable lands of the surveyed territory and 1% of Morocco's total arable land.Morocco is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and in 1992 Morocco passed legislation designed to implement it and its new national strategy against drugs formulated by its National Committee on Narcotics was adopted in 2005. That same year, the International Narcotics Control Board commended the Government of Morocco for its efforts to eradicate cannabis plant cultivation on its territory, which has resulted in the total potential production of cannabis resin in the Rif region decreasing by 10 per cent over the previous year. At the same time the board called upon the international community to support its efforts where possible.Since the early 2010s a growing debate is taking place in Morocco about decriminalization of Cannabis.
The Moroccan industrial sector looks set to continue the strong growth it has enjoyed in recent years. Industrial activity recorded a 5.5% increase in 2007, a slight rise over 2006, when the sector grew by 4.7%. Added value in the sector increased by 5.6% in 2007. Overall the contribution of industrial activity to GDP fluctuates between about 25% and 35% every year, depending on the performance of the agriculture sector. The industrial sector accounted for about 21.1% of employment in 2007 and the sector is a key component of the government's effort to curb unemployment. The sector also attracts high levels of FDI and authorities have announced initiatives to improve the investment climate, with particular attention to off-shoring activities, automotive, aeronautics, electronics, food processing activities, products from the sea and textiles. Other important industrial sectors include mining, chemicals, construction materials and pharmaceuticals. The Kingdom’s fast integration into the global economy was also facilitated by numerous free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union. These agreements contributed undoubtedly in a positive way towards the emergence of export activities in the country. Foreign direct investment has been expanding as companies are attracted towards the favorable economic situation of the country, government support through their numerous initiatives, such as tax exemptions for the first 5 years and VAT exemptions, modern infrastructure, and a skilled workforce. Moreover, the automotive sector has the strongest job creation; 85’000 new jobs were created in the sector between 2014 and 2018, bringing the total jobs in the sector to 158’000.
Morocco has two major «traditional» car manufacturers: Renault and PSA.
The Chinese company BYD is a pioneer when it comes to electric cars and Morocco has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese automaker to set up an electric car factory near Tangier, the first of its kind in the country.
Production and exports are expected to continue to rise thanks to the recent launch of a second production line by Renault. The production of the plants reached 402’000 vehicles in 2018.
Other recent investments in Morocco’s automotive sector include PSA Peugeot Citroen’s investment of USD 615 million in setting up their manufacturing facility which is expected to be operational in 2019. Production at the PSA plant projects to be 200’000 vehicles and boasting a total production capacity of 700’000 cars.
Lear Corporation, The American group, with 11 plants in the country is the leading automotive supplier, followed by Yazaki, Sumitomo, and Leoni and many others such as Denso, Kromberg & Schubert, Takata, Furukawa, Fujikura, TE connectivity, Valeo, Faurecia, Daedong System, Hirschmann, Delphi, Magnetti Marelli, COMSAEMTE, Parker, Clarton Horn, Deltrian, Inergy Automotive System, Varroc Lighting System, JTKET, Processos industriales Del Sur… In the medium term, the goal is to attract nearly 50 other industrialists.
Morocco has become an attractive destination for European investors thanks to its relocation sites "Casashore" and "Rabatshore", and to the very rapid cost escalation in Eastern Europe. The offshoring sector in Morocco is of great importance as it creates high-level jobs that are generally accompanied by an influx of Moroccan immigrants. Noting however that human resources remain the major concern for companies seeking to gain a foothold in Morocco. In this regard, it has been deemed an important decision of the Moroccan government to accelerate training in the required disciplines.
In a bid to promote foreign investments, Morocco in 2007 adopted a series of measures and legal provisions to simplify procedures and secure appropriate conditions for projects launching and completing. Foreign trade minister, Abdellatif Maazouz cited that these measures include financial incentives and tax exemptions provided for in the investment code and the regional investment centres established to accompany projects.[
Foreign Direct Investments in Morocco grew to $2.57 billion in 2007 from $2.4 billion a year earlier to position the country in the fourth rank in Africa among FDI recipients, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Although other studies have shown much higher figures. Expectations for 2008 were promising noting that 72 projects were approved for a global amount of $9.28 billion. These were due to open 40,023 direct and stable job opportunities.
Rabat's main airport is Rabat–Salé Airport. Rabat is served by two principal railway stations run by the national rail service, the ONCF. Rabat-Ville is the main inter-city station, from which trains run south to Casablanca, Marrakech and El Jadida, north to Tanger, or east to Meknes, Fes, Taza and Oujda. ONCF operates the Le Bouregreg urban rail for Rabat-Salé agglomeration.
The Rabat-Salé tramway is a tram system which was put into service on May 23, 2011 in the Moroccan cities of Rabat and Salé. The network has two lines for a total length of 19 km (12 miles) and 31 stops. It is operated by Veolia Transdev with Alstom Citadis trams. After some years of neglect as investment was directed at the tramway, the existing operator, STAREO, was displaced in 2019. A contract was awarded to Alsa-City Bus, a joint venture between Moroccan company City Bus and Spanish company Alsa s.a, a subsidiary of the UK's National Express Group. The new operator took over in July 2019 with a commitment to three hundred and fifty new buses. These will comprise 102 Mercedes-Benz and 248 Scania-Higer vehicles. The contract covers a 15-year period, renewable for seven years, and promises approximately 10 billion dinars investment into the bus transport system in the region.
The telecoms sector increased in value from Dh25.6 billion in 2006 to Dh33.3 billion in 2007. With a workforce of some 41,000 employees, the sector contributes 7% to annual GDP and is one of the country's leading recipients of foreign direct investment . Under the development plan, the sector should employ 125,000 people by 2012 and contribute 10% of GDP. With the penetration rates of 69.4% from mobile phones and 8.95% for fixed lines, the Moroccan telecoms industry is set to continue to grow. However, the worldwide call centre industry is highly competitive and education is the key to success if Morocco truly intends to become a leading international player in this industry.
The national system of scientific and technical research is guided by different elements, such as the pronouncements of the king, reports of special commissions, five-year plans, and the creation of a special programme for the support of research. The Moroccan government's Five-Year Plan for 2000–2004 articulated the priority lines for research. The REMINEX Corporation is the most prominent research performer in the private sector,[and is a subsidiary of Omnium Nord Africain, the largest privately owned mining group in Morocco. The most recent figures available on the number of research staff in Morocco are those provided by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Professional Training and Scientific Research in its 2002–2003 annual report. According to this report, Morocco had 17 390 research staff in 2002–2003.The majority were employed in the university sector. Research institutions include the Scientific Institute, founded in 1920 in Rabat, which does fundamental research in the natural sciences, and the Scientific Institute of Maritime Fishing, founded in 1947, in Casablanca, which studies oceanography, marine biology, and topics related to development of the fishing industry.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
The biggest place for theatre is the Theatre Mohammed V in the centre of the town. The city has the Rabat Archaeological Museum and the Musée Mohamed VI d'Art Moderne et Contemporain.
Many organizations are active in cultural and social issues. Orient-Occident Foundation and ONA Foundation are the biggest of these. An independent art scene is active in the city. L'appartement 22, which is the first independent space for visual arts created by Abdellah Karroum, opened in 2002 and introduced international and local artists. Other independent spaces opened a few years after, such as Le Cube, also set up in a private space.
Mawazine is a music festival in Rabat welcomed by Mohammed VI King of Morocco, that started in 2001 where music groups, fans and spectators come together in a week-long celebration of culture and music both locally and internationally. Musicians such as Scorpions, Rihanna, Elton John, Stromae and many others have performed at the festival. Mawazine was host to more than 2,500,000 in 2013. Workshops are available for teaching dances and other arts. The festival is free. However, while most areas are free, there are those that require payment, specifically the smaller stages being the historical site of Chellah, the Mohammed V National Theater, and the Renaissance Cultural Center.
Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Rabat, Morocco. It is named after Prince Moulay Abdellah. It was built in 1983 and is the home ground of ASFAR (football club). It is used mostly for football matches, and it can also stage athletics. The stadium holds 52,000. Since 2008 it has hosted the Meeting International Mohammed VI d'Athlétisme de Rabat.
Rabat will host the 2019 African Games after Malabo, Equatorial Guinea stripped out of hosting due to economical matters. It will be the first time in an African Games to be hosted by Morocco. Rabat's 2020 population is now estimated at 1,884,802. In 1950, the population of Rabat was 145,108. Rabat has grown by 89,188 since 2015, which represents a 0.97% annual change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects. These estimates represent the Urban agglomeration of Rabat, which typically includes Rabat's population in addition to adjacent suburban areas.