While many non-Moroccans are familiar with the popular cities of Marrakech, Casablanca, Fez, and Tangier, most have never heard of Zagora. But in March, Washington, D.C., had an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of Zagora, the first guest of honor of the annual Morocco Day symposium.
The head of the Moroccan American Network, Mohammed El Hajjam, told Morocco World News that, one month on from the D.C. event, he is visiting Morocco with a delegation of businessmen and tourism experts for networking and exploring the potential of Morocco’s regions, including Zagora.
The gateway to the Moroccan Sahara, the Zagora region, 350 kilometers southeast and across the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech, is home to many palaces and fortresses, called ksours and kasbahs, which attract local and international tourists.
The Morocco Day event was the result of a decision from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who announced that every March 29 will be Morocco Day to celebrate the diversity of the North African country.
Surrounded by mountains to the northwest and the dunes of the Sahara desert, Zagora lies alongside the Draa river in southeastern Morocco. The region is known for its epic sand dunes and earthy colors.
The head of the Zagora region, Abderrahim Chahid, said that March 29 was significant for Zagora, because of the participation of a delegation of 15 entrepreneurs. In addition to culture, entrepreneurs and investors also discussed infrastructure and public services in the region.
Chahid recalled that the event will be extended to Alexandria, a Virginia city near Washington, D.C., which will host a festival to celebrate Moroccan culture and music, also with Zagora as guest of honor.
Mayor Justin Wilson of Alexandria proclaimed June 9 an annual day to honor Morocco’s culture and history. The festival will feature Moroccan Gnawa music and dance, in addition to jazz and art shows.
While Morocco Day in Washington, D.C., showed the business potential of Zagora, Alexandria will enjoy the tourism aspects of the region.
Chahid told MWN that Morocco Day in Alexandria will “feature Zagora’s heritage and folklore music, including one of the popular music bands Rokba led by maestro Karfaoui.”
Morocco’s deep regions should be introduced to the world
The festival will also feature youth bands, including Draa Tribes, who mix modern and traditional music of the region, including jazz and Gnawa.
Chahid told MWN there will also be a balance of tangible and intangible heritage in artistic shows.
“The purpose of this project with the Moroccan American Network is to give an opportunity to introduce these regions that lie deep in Morocco as they carry important cultural characteristics,” said Chahid.