Morocco-US Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Preserve Moroccan Cultural Heritage

The Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America signed, yesterday, Thursday 14 January in Rabat, a memorandum of understanding on preserving Moroccan cultural property and protecting it from illegal trade.

The Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America signed, yesterday, Thursday 14 January in Rabat, a memorandum of understanding on preserving Moroccan cultural property and protecting it from illegal trade.

This agreement, which was signed by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Othman Al-Firdous, and the US ambassador to Morocco, David Fischer, intends to set procedural controls to address the smuggling of antiques and ethnographic artifacts from Morocco to the United States, as well as intensifying cooperation between the two countries’ institutions of training and scientific research in legacy.

Al-Firdous explained that this memorandum of understanding falls within the framework of the efforts made by the Kingdom of Morocco under the wise leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to protect the national cultural heritage, considering that it is a practical step to address transnational organized crime (TOC).

The minister further praised the efforts made by the United States Embassy in Rabat, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans residing abroad, to bring this memorandum into existence.

He pointed out that this memorandum of understanding translates the strong desire of the two countries to work side by side, through intensifying cooperation and practical coordination between institutions and interests related to combating illegal trade in cultural property in the two countries, as well as organizing training workshops, lectures and meetings in the field of cultural heritage, in addition to exchanging experiences to face the challenges related to protecting various heritage from illegal import.

Al-Firdous further stressed that international criminal gangs target Morocco because it is rich in this kind of heritage and museum masterpieces, as well as its proximity to the markets that acquire these heritage pieces, highlighting that this “exemplary and strategic” partnership between the two countries will contribute to creating a convergence between public policy in Morocco and the United States, which is the largest market for art and culture in the world.

In this regard, he recorded that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports has prepared a draft law on the protection, preservation and promotion of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which is in the process of ratification.

On his part, Fischer welcomed His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s steadfast support for this kind of important effort in preserving the Kingdom’s cultural wealth for future generations and ensuring that the United States and Morocco work “together in this noble endeavor.”

He further added that this agreement will allow cultural and executive institutions to work together to protect the Moroccan cultural heritage from looting and smuggling, which would enhance the broader cultural exchange between the two countries, noting that the matter relates to the first agreement between the United States and Morocco covering the entire territory of the Kingdom, including the southern provinces.

Fischer affirmed that this agreement aims to increase cooperation between scientific, educational and cultural institutions in the two countries, as well as build capacity among experts and enhance the American public’s appreciation of the rich Moroccan cultural heritage.

On her part, Assistant US Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Mary Royce, who joined virtually from Washington, said, “The United States has a deep respect for the Moroccan heritage,” noting that this agreement constitutes another example of the long-standing history of cooperation between the United States and Morocco.

It is worth noting that the American Ambassadors Fund for Heritage Preservation has invested, since 2002, more than 860 thousand US dollars in 11 projects in order to preserve the Moroccan cultural heritage.

 

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