Friday, March 19, 2010

Morocco's Oxford Chair

Here's a little-known fact: the close ties between Britain and Morocco were strengthened by the establishment of The HM King Mohammed VI Chair in St Antony's College at the University of Oxford a few years ago.

St Antony's College, Oxford

The Chair is dedicated to studies on Morocco and the Mediterranean region, particularly in the fields of political science and international relations and the political economy of contemporary Morocco and the Mediterranean. "The objective that guided the establishment of the Chair is to promote research on Morocco," said Michael Willis, a professor at the college, noting that this initiative fills the gap in studies found at this level before the creation of the Chair in 2004.

An initiative of the Moroccan British Society and headed by Morocco's Ambassador to Britain, HH Princess Joumala Lalla Alaoui, the Chair has been working to promote understanding and exchange of knowledge between Morocco and the United Kingdom.

Morocco's Ambassador to London, HH Princess Joumala Lalla Alaoui

“Studies and meetings held since 2004 have helped raise awareness of Morocco and the reforms it has undertaken in all areas,” said Willis, stressing the important role played by academic studies for enhancing understanding.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, hailed the initiative of the MBS, saying it "will serve as a bridge for effective promotion of dialogue and understanding between the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Morocco and the entire region."

"Morocco and Great Britain are two countries linked by long-standing friendly relations," Willis said, noting that the Chair is strengthens these relationships by giving them an important academic and cultural dimension.

More research is being undertaken as part of the Chair, which demonstrates the growing interest enjoyed by Morocco, he said.

A series of high level meetings were held during the last three years at St Antony's College, on the reforms undertaken by Morocco in the political, economic and cultural fields.

These meetings have been attended by eminent Moroccan and British intellectuals, giving them the opportunity to highlight the Moroccan model and its significance as pioneer experience in the region.

St Antony's College is the most cosmopolitan of the seven graduate colleges of the University of Oxford and specialises in international relations, economics, politics and history of particular parts of the world.

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