Driss Alaoui (Cultural Counselor, Embassy of Morocco in Germany)

25.11.2010 - Interview conducted by James Hood

Q1. As the Moroccan Cultural Counselor to Germany, you are tasked with facilitating exchange between the two countries. What are some of the major challenges facing Morocco regarding its image abroad, and how do you go about improving an deepening the understanding of Morocco?

I think the answer is simple, we endeavor to make Morocco known in Germany and the best means is through cultural events and exhibitions. Secondly, this promotion is made through German and national artists; the idea is to show different points of view about Morocco. Moroccans living in Germany and Germans who traveled and perhaps are living in Morocco, bringing two facets and realities about the country together to complete a very balanced view. Our main challenge is in keeping our cultural activities running, alive and interesting. We have to think of new things to bring and show to the German public, our greatest enemy is to become repetitive in our activities. This year 2010, we held nine art exhibitions, and overall we hosted fourteen cultural events. The frequency is good but the most important factor is the quality of our events.

Q2. Morocco's geographical position means it draws influences from a range of different places, including Spain, France, and Africa. How do you see how this has impacted on Morocco's culture, and also how Morocco's culture has impacted on other areas, for instance Spain.

The most visible impact we have is the presence of different languages spoken in the country. In the North Morocco, close to Spain, people speak Spanish fluently, and also Spanish is also spoken in the south. French is widely spoken as well as English, Italian and even German. We should also mention that Arabic is the official language of the country. Morocco therefore has always been the ‘carrefour’, a meeting place of different civilizations and cultures. This diversity is reflected in the way of living, eating, clothing. We have preserved ancestral traditions all over the different regions of Morocco. Every place and city differs in the colours of its walls. For example in the North, the predominant colours are the white and blue, reflecting mountains and sea; in the South, red is predominant, and Marrakech is the best example. These are only few cases in point, yet what is astonishing about Morocco besides the prominence of colours is the light you feel in the outer places. It gives you a sense of happiness and fulfillment. The people are generous like the nature of the country; they share with you their food and tea, the national drink; they open their homes and welcome foreigners for a meal or a drink.

Q3. This exhibition is called “Colour Bridges” and aims to connect the Occident and Orient through art. What role can this and other types of cultural exchange play in opening new channels of inter-cultural communication?

Let me just explain few elements of the exhibition: let me start with the term “bridge” which stands for openness and reaching out to the others, to convey a notion of friendship and coexistence, because as the saying goes, “people who don't build bridges, build walls”. To speak about colours, as I said before, it is that impression of richness, coming from the beauty of the colours. Moroccan colours represent happiness, and that is what we want to bring here to Berlin, at the beginning of this grey and white winter, to generate a friendly atmosphere and for people to be joyful and happy.

Thank you for your time.