Business Brief: More International Events Slated for Morocco; Country has Become Top New Hotel Location in the Region; and International Festival Promotes Pursuit of Peace – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNaderMATIC
August 25, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Several international meetings will be held in Morocco, including a symposium on regenerative medicine, a regional conference on job creation in the Arab world, and the China-Africa Investment Forum. Three new universities will open in the fall, and Morocco continues to be a very popular destination for new hotels to serve increased tourism and business visits.

A symposium on stem cell research. The Global Stem Cells Group, an international network of practitioners, doctors, researchers, and medical advocates working together to advance the study of regenerative medicine and stem cell development will meet in Rabat in September. Organized under the banner of the International Society for Stem Cells Application (ISSCA), the program brings together leading researchers and doctors who will focus on the latest developments in the field.

According to Dr. Benito Novas, founder of Global Stem Cells Group, “We are constantly developing new events, programs, and educational opportunities that provide doctors and students with the ability to learn about regenerative medicine in a live and supportive environment.” This year’s program includes modules on “Biologic and molecular basis for regenerative medicine,” “Therapeutic applications,” and “Regulations, marketing and global overview of the stem cell industry.”

A regional conference highlighting job creation. The spate of recent terrorist attacks by young people underscores the critical importance of job generation throughout the Arab World and Africa. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development (AFESD) and Government of Morocco will co-host a high-level conference in Marrakesh, January 29–30, 2018, on promoting higher economic growth, job creation, and inclusiveness in the Arab world. Titled “Opportunity for All: Promoting Growth, Jobs, and Inclusiveness in the Arab World,” the conference, according to the IMF release, “Will bring together high-level policy makers, corporate executives, academics, youth, media, and civil society representatives from countries in the Arab World and beyond to exchange their experiences, lessons and ideas on how to create millions of jobs by exploiting new sources and sectors of growth.”

Key topics to be discussed will include: how to scale-up opportunities for women and youth by promoting entrepreneurship and innovation; embracing transparency and technology to unlock the region’s potential; and designing government policies that act as enablers of higher and more inclusive growth.

Plans advancing for China-Africa Investment Forum in Morocco. More than 400 high-level Chinese and African business leaders and investment officials will gather for the second China-Africa Investment Forum to be held in Marrakech in late November. The goal of the Forum is to provide a platform for business meetings between trade and investment leaders in Africa and China to develop sustainable partnerships with high added value, particularly in the industrial sector.

In addition to presentations and discussions, there will be practical workshops to provide “insights and keys to understanding Chinese and African economic policies and operational environments.”

The Ibn Battuta Festival explores humanistic themes. This November, hundreds of participants will gather in Tangier to discuss how to promote global peace and mutual tolerance. This second edition of the International Festival of Ibn Battuta, “attempts to find answers to some of the most difficult questions of modern times revolving around intolerance and religion,” according to a blog in the Times of India. Ibn Battuta, regarded as the father of sociology for his commentaries on the societies and cultures he experienced traveling across Africa and Asia in the 14th century, explored the themes of peace and social development in his writings.

The blog notes that although philosophical and conceptual themes will dominate the agenda, economic ties are also part of the conversations, as there is much to be gained from stronger trade and investment ties, particularly between Asia and Africa.

New education and training facilities will open this academic year. Following up on the government’s pledge to do more to accommodate the increased number of university students, Minister of National Education Mohamed Hassad announced that three new university facilities will open this year: the Faculty of Law, Economic, and Social Sciences in Tetouan; the School of Technology (EST) in Kenitra; and the School of Technology in Sidi Bennour.

In addition, the Minister announced that his ministry will add 6,140 additional beds by this September to make up for the shortfall on campuses, and that four university campuses will open, in Nador, Safi, Agadir, and Meknes.

In the vocational/technical training sector, 29 new facilities will be inaugurated during the year, 22 of them to be part of the government-run training centers. This includes 796 new trainers. Vocational training institutions will also increase their capacity with the establishment of three new boarding schools, particularly for trainees from rural or disadvantaged areas.

Hotels, hotels, everywhere you travel. Morocco’s Vision 2020 goal to be in the top 20  destinations worldwide by 2020 is getting a big boost from the international hotel industry.

Hotelier Middle East spoke with Hilton development director, Middle East & North Africa Feras Hasbini, who sees huge potential for both business and leisure tourism in Morocco. “The country, which is poised to become an important African economic hub, benefits from a well-developed infrastructure that links the major cities, tourist destinations, and airports. It is also ideally located close to Europe, making it a popular destination for European tourists,” he told the magazine.

Hilton is a great example of the ongoing trend. “It re-established a presence in Morocco in March 2016 with the successful opening of Hilton Garden Inn Tangier City Center. In June 2017, it opened a second hotel in the country, Hilton Tangier City Center, and earlier this year, signaled its intention to ramp up expansion in North Africa with the establishment of a dedicated development department in Casablanca. According to Hasbini, the hotel giant sees great opportunity to further its presence in Morocco and already has a number of properties in the pipeline including Hilton Garden Inn Casablanca Sidi Maarouf and Hilton Taghazout Bay Resort & Spa.”

Similar investments are being made by Marriott International,  which opened Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace. The hotel represents the chain’s entry into Morocco and Marriott International’s first property in the city of Fes. Marriott International Middle East and Africa president and managing director Alex Kyriakidis said, “We are thrilled to be opening our first Marriott Hotel in Morocco and we believe the property will play a significant role in catering to the desires of business and leisure tourists alike. Marriott is committed to the North African market, and our rapid expansion demonstrates our belief in the continent’s booming economies.”

The article provides extensive details on what US and European firms are targeting in the sector, noting that “while luxury hotels have set their sights on Morocco by focusing on the main cities of Marrakech, Casablanca, Agadir, Rabat, Tangier and El Jadida, there is still a need for branded budget and mid-market hotels.”

One solution is to attract the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) sector during the low tourist season, a strategy that is part of the Vision 2020 plan, which supports efforts to develop the MICE infrastructure in Morocco.

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