Jordana Merran, MAC
December 19, 2014
On Friday, December 12, the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) held a celebratory luncheon at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington to honor its 2014 Ambassador of the Year, Moroccan Ambassador to the US Rachad Bouhlal.
It was a natural choice given all that has been accomplished under Ambassador Bouhlal’s tenure to further build US-Morocco relations, and particularly in business. In introductory remarks, NUSACC President David Hamod noted Ambassador Bouhlal’s role in organizing the second Morocco-US Business Development Conference held in Rabat last March, the Morocco Trade and Investment Forum in Dallas earlier this fall, as well as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Marrakech in November.
“This has been a remarkable year for Morocco-US relations,” he said. “Ambassador Bouhlal has been at the forefront of this heightened level of activity, criss-crossing the United States to deliver Morocco’s message of economic opportunity. To date, he has visited half of America’s 50 states, and he’s just hitting his stride.”
Echoing this sentiment was the Honorable Jack Markell, Governor of the State of Delaware, who traveled down to Washington for the event.
“The Ambassador has done an absolutely amazing job of getting out around the country,” he said. “And to see him, [to] be at the National Governor’s Association [with him] is to see somebody who is very comfortable meeting new people.”
He noted, “When I learned that the Ambassador was going to be honored, I very much wanted to come for a very quick trip to let him know and to say in front of all of you how fortunate we feel in Delaware to have developed such a strong relationship with the Ambassador.” The Governor went on to describe the trade agreement between Morocco and the Port of Wilmington that has resulted in many jobs in the state as Morocco exports its famed clementines to the US.
Governor Markell was one of more than 200 government officials, business leaders and other dignitaries who filled the room, among them His Excellency Mehdi Bensaid, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Moroccan Parliament; the Honorable Ken Hyatt, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce, who had just returned last week from a delegation to Morocco; and the Honorable Gerald Feierstein, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. Former US Ambassadors to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel, Marc Ginsberg and Michael Ussery also attended the luncheon.
“What Rachad has done in the last couple of years is truly remarkable, and we would all agree that His Majesty made a good decision in bringing you here,” said Ambassador Gabriel in remarks on behalf of Jacobs Engineering.
Though US Ambassador to Morocco Dwight Bush could not attend in person, remarks were delivered on his behalf.
In his own remarks at the event, Ambassador Bouhlal said, “I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award from the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce. This is recognition of the longstanding relations between our two nations, as well as our growing partnership, consistent with the economic vision of H.M. King Mohammed VI. I want to thank everyone at NUSACC for the wonderful work that they are doing to build stronger commercial and economic bridges between the United States and the Arab world.”