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Genre Diverse
Location(s) Rabat, Morocco
Years active 2001–present
Founded by Mounir Majidi (Maroc Cultures)

Mawazine ("Rhythms") is a music festival that takes place annually in Rabat, featuring many international and local music artists. The festival is presided by Mounir Majidi, personal secretary of the Moroccan King Mohammed VI. Majidi is also the founder and president of "Maroc culture" the cultural foundation which organizes Mawazine and other events.[1]

The 2013 festival was attended by an estimated 2.5 million people, which makes Mawazine the biggest festival in the world after Donauinselfest in Vienna. With 90 acts on 7 stages it has the highest ratio of attendees per stage in the world.[2]

Mawazine is one of several events which are intended to promote an image of Morocco as a tolerant nation, with a post on the event's website declaring that the festival intends to promote and support Rabat, as a city open to the world.[3][4] However, it is controversial as some of the country's politicians have criticised the event for also "encouraging immoral behaviour" in addition to its dubious financing by Moroccan state-owned companies or private companies whose only client is the Moroccan state.[3][5] Artists such as Mariah Carey, Akon, Whitney Houston, Shakira, Kanye West, Evanescence, Rihanna, Jessie J, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Mika, Sugababes, Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue, LMFAO, Pitbull, P-Square and Alicia Keys have performed at Mawazine.


The Festival has known two eras. The first spanned between 2001 and 2007, where the festival was dedicated to the music of the world genre.[6] During this period the event had some financial difficulties and was struggling to find sponsors.[6] The second era which started in 2008, has seen Mounir Majidi, the personal secretary of the Moroccan King, take over the even.[6] During this period the festival started programming more mainstream music, it has also become much stronger financially with many sponsorships from large Moroccan businesses.[6] The press reported that the list of artists performing in the event is validated by Mohammed VI.[6]

Funding controversy[edit]

Meeting of a campaign calling to cancel Mawazine, organised by the NGO "Morocco without Corruption" (2011)

In Morocco, the funding of the festival has often been the target of much criticism.[7][8] According to critics, the festival has been funded through state-owned companies such as CDG, OCP, ONCF and Royal Air Maroc,[9][10] money which they deem can be better spent in sectors such as health/education/unemployment.[7][8] In 2011, the management of Mawazine declared that budget of the festival is around 62 million Dirhams, of which 27 million is provided by sponsors and 35 million from revenues of the event.[10] They added that only 4 million dirham is given by Rabat's city council.[10]

JLEC (Jorf Lasfar Energy Company), a Morocco-based subsidiary of Taqa, appeared in 2010 as a major sponsor of the event on the festival's official website.[6] In January 2011, Peter Barker-Homek, CEO of Taqa between 2006 and October 2009, declared in a letter sent to the Securities Exchange Commission, that he was instructed to donate $5 million/year to Hassan Bouhemou, CEO of SNI (holding company controlled by the Moroccan royal family), the sum was allegedly going to fund the music festival.[11] In the letter Barker states that he was unconvinced of the utility of such donation, and inquired Taqa's Chairman al-Suwaidi about it, the latter stated that in return for the payment Taqa would get the green light to expand its energy plant in the country.[11] JLEC holds a 30 years contract with Morocco's main electricity distributor ONE,[12] and supplies as much as 50% of the country's electricity needs according to its management.[13]

Hassan Bouhemou, denied being involved in any way in the organisation of the festival or its management[14] and Aziz Daki director of the festival declared that the amounts reported by Barker are incorrect.[15] According to Telquel JLEC donated 10 million Dirhams to Mawazine, replacing Emirati firm Maabar as a major sponsor of the event in 2010.[6]

2009 deadly Stampede[edit]

Main article: Mawazine stampede

Eleven people were killed and forty were injured in a stampede at the "Hay Nahda stadium" during the festival shortly after midnight on 24 May 2009.[3] The incident occurred when spectators attempted to leave in a hurry near the end of a free[4] concert by Moroccan pop star Abdelaziz Stati.[16] A wire fence collapsed during this attempt, endangering the lives of the 70,000 spectators.[3][5][16][17][18] The concert had begun at 23:00, later than billed, and this caused people attending other concerts, including one by Stevie Wonder, to go to the stadium when their concerts were finished.[4]

Eight of the victims were seriously injured.[16] Five of the dead were women, four were men and two were teenagers.[16][17] They were all discovered after the stampede had completed and found to have been crushed by suffocation.[4][17][18][19] Survivors had to be pulled from the wreckage by rescuers.[3] The dead were all Moroccan.[19] Seven people were still in hospital the following day.[17]

Hassan Lamrani, the Governor of Rabat, blamed concert-goers for the stampede, saying that they had "decided to go over the metal barriers to have a quick exit".[3] There were 3,000 police on duty at the event.[4] Maroc Cultures issued a statement to express "its great sorrow", extending "its profound and sincere condolences" to those affected by the tragedy.[4] King Mohammed VI also sent the families of those affected messages of condolence and offered to pay for funeral services and hospital costs.[4] Morocco's interior ministry has announced it will investigate the incident.[4]


Mawazine was attended by 1.2 million people and was located in nine venues across Rabat.[4][19] The festival featured many artists from all around the globe, including Whitney Houston, Juanes, Goran Bregovic, George Benson, Hoba Hoba Spirit, Tony Allen and Issac Delgado.


The 2009 festival, a nine-day event entitled "Rhythms of the World",[3][20] was the eighth edition and began on 15 May,[20] attracting crowds of one million people from cities such as Casablanca, Marrakech, Fez and Tangiers to Rabat.[20][21] Admission cost between 100 and 500 dirhams (15 to 70 USD).[20] 1700 performers performed in 2009.[18]

The opening three days featured acts such as Kylie Minogue, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, K'naan, Hoba Hoba Spirit, Cheb Khaled, Najwa Karam, Warda Al-Jazairia, Ali Campbell (formerly of UB40), and Johnny Clegg of White Zulu.[20] Other musical acts to feature include Mali's Amadou & Mariam,[21] Cuban musician Eliades Ochoa,[22] The Joubran Trio, three brothers from Palestine,[23] and Iranian ensemble Eshtiaq.[24]

The festival opened with a concert by Ennio Morricone, accompanied by a Moroccan choir with ninety members, on the Bouregreg stage.[20] This was followed by a Kylie Minogue performance on the OLM Souissi stage.[20] Khaled's concert was attended by 50,000 people, whilst 40,000 and 30,000 attendance figures were registered for Kylie Minogue and Warda respectively.[20] Stevie Wonder closed the festival on 23 May.[20]

Najwa Karam's performance was the first in Morocco; it attracted about 60,000 spectators. Warda Al Jazairia was granted the "Wissam Royal".[20][21]


The ninth edition of Mawazine took place from 21 May to 29 May 2010. Elton John and B.B. King performed at the OLM Souissi stage on 26 and 27 May respectively. Julio Iglesias performed on 23 May. Sting closed the 10-day festival with a performance on Saturday, 29 May 2010. Other performers at the 10-day festival included Mika, Harry Connick Jr., Thievery Corporation, Al Jarreau, Deolinda, Angélique Kidjo and Carlos Santana.[25]

The festival also brought famous Arab singers such as Najwa Karam, Tamer Hosny, Elissa, Wael Jassar, Majida El Roumi, Myriam Fares, Rami Ayach.

The Generation Mawazine competition launches the music career of promising young talent. This artistic competition, which has been run since 2006 as a fringe activity to the festival, sets out to find the talent of tomorrow and offers them a major springboard into the music business. Open to all styles of music, this competition gives the stage to new young talents and is judged along 3 predefined categories: rap/hip hop, fusion/neo pop and electronic music. This initiative gives unknown bands the opportunity to perform in front of the general public and media in a professional setting. The winning groups see their career launched in Morocco, produce an album and perform at the following year’s festival as established artists.


The tenth edition was held from 20 May to 28 May 2011 at the OLM Souissi. The show was opened on the Friday with traditional and international performers. Notable performances which followed were Kanye West and Spaniard Ivica pica on the 21st and the English pogirls group Sugababes on the 22nd. The following days saw legends like Yusuf Islam, Quincy Jones, Joe Cocker and Lionel Richie take on the big stage. The event was again lightened when it had Shakira alongside Swiss DJ and producer Yves Larock on the last day.[26]


The eleventh edition was held from 18 May to 26 May 2012 at the OLM Souissi as well as other stages on Rabat. The show was opened on the Friday with LMFAO during their Sorry For Party Rocking Tour. Also other following performances by Pitbull (Planet Pit World Tour), Evanescence (Evanescence Tour), Scorpions (Get Your Sting and Blackout World Tour), Jimmy Cliff, Nigel Kennedy, Khaled, Gloria Gaynor (in Mohammed V theatre), Lenny Kravitz who spent his birthday on stage, and without forgetting the epic finale: The historical performance by the American diva Mariah Carey (exclusive concert "doesn't belong to any of her tours").[27]

House DJs were Yolanda Be Cool, and DJ Abdel.


Mawazine took place from the 24 May to 1 June.

International stars in OLM Souissi stage : Rihanna opened the festival as a part of her (Diamonds World Tour), that concert was the most crowded concert of all time with 150.000 people attended, that concert broke records, then Jessie J (Nice to Meet You Tour), MIKA, Sexion d'Assaut, The Jacksons (Unity Tour), David Guetta, Deep Purple (Now What? World Tour), Enrique Iglesias during his (Enrique Iglesias India Tour) featuring the Moroccan-Swedish pop star Loreen, the international R&B icon Cee-Lo Green is the opening act for the last night of the festival and finally Taio Cruz for the finale.

Arab (oriental) stars in Nahda stage : Day 1) Walid Taoufic. Day 2) Mouhcine Salahdine, Sherine Abdel Wahab, Farid Ghennam. Day 3) Bouchra Khalid, Mohamed Mounir. Day 4) Rabab, Cheb Mami. Day 5) Abed, Najwa Karam. Day 6) Zakaria Ghafouli, Assi El Hellani, Mourad Bouriki. Day 7) Shada Hassoun, Ahlam. Day 8) Hatim Ammor, Hoda Saad. Day 8) Leila Al Maghribiya, Ahmed Chawki, Tamer Hosni.

Moroccan scene in Salé stage : Siham, Jil Ghiwan Jalal, Ghiwane Salwan, LooNope, Jbara, Mjid Bekkas, Aouatif, Mohamed Anbari, Fatim Zahra Laaroussi, Atika Ammar, Numedia et Mallal, Izenzaren Abdelhadi, M.boy, Barry, Casa Crew, Hamid Kasri, Chaht Man, H-Kayne, Don Bigg, Ben Moussa, Hajib, Rachid Lamrini, Mohammed Iskandar, Najat Atabou, Tarik Laamirat,Said Mouskir, Hamid Hadri.

Other stars in so many other stages : Haj Youness, Amir Ali, Leila Lamrini, Tinariwen, African United, Gnawa Diffusion, Amadou & Meriem, Blitz The Ambassador, George Benson, Bond Girls, Sandra Nkaké, Lotfi Bouchnak, Abdelwahab Doukkali, Patrizia Laquidara, Ensemble Dragon.


Mawazine was held this year from May 30 until June 7. Many artists performed starting with Justin Timberlake, for the opening (The 20/20 Experience World Tour) on 30 May which marked his first performance in Morocco, Jason Derülo as part of Tattoos World Tour on 31 May, the mythic French hip-hop group IAM on 1 June, the Belgian house producer and singer Stromae promoting his new album Racine Carrée on 2 June, Kool & the Gang on 3 June, the R&B sensation Ne-Yo on 4 June.Robert Plant the former vocalist of one of the best rock bands ever Led Zeppelin with his new founded band The Sensational Space Shifters on 5 June, the Latino icon Ricky Martin on 6 June, and the finale of this season the strong-voiced R&B diva Alicia Keys on 7 June.


Stages OLM Souissi Nahda Bouragrag Salé La Renaissance Chellah Théatre Mohammed V
Friday 29 May Jennifer Lopez Khalid Hajar / Ghazi El Amir / Saad Sattar Temenik Electric Bawss & Soultana / Khawla El Moujahed / Khansa Batma / Oum TBA TBA TBA
Saturday 30 May Pharrell Williams Assala Yuri Buenaventura Nidal Ibourk / Moataz Abou Zouz / Aziz Al Maghribi / Mohamed Adly / Orchestre Ashjan Al Awetar TBA Srishti – Nina Rajarani / Dance Creations Nihad Fathi / Orchestre Hafni
Sunday 31 May Sean Paul Amal Maher P-Square Najat Al Houceimiya / Imghrane / Mustapha Oumguil TBA Débora Russ Magida El Roumi
Monday 1 June Avicii Maher Zain Daara J Family Melimane / Ibham Band / Issam & Abidate Rma / Essiham Malek Carmen Souza Flavia Coelho
Tuesday 2 June Placebo Elissa Black M Gnawa Stone / Gnawa Click / Lamaalam Mahmoud Guinea Les Frères & Les Fils Akkaf Maria Berasarte Barbara Hendricks
Wednesday 3 June Akon Melhem Zein Yannick Noah Babel / Rwapa Crew / Hassan Al Maghribi / Farid Ghannam / Mazagan & Hamid El Hadri Haim Botbol Lo Cor De La Plana Mesut Kurtis
Thursday 4 June Sting Nabil Shuail Les Ambassadeurs Draganov / AZ Flow / Shayfeen / Chouft'Chouf / Fnaire TBA Luis De La Carrasca : Lo Esencial TBA
Friday 5 June Usher Dounia Batma / Ibtissam Tiskat / Fadwa Al Malki Aziz Sahmaoui & Mamani Keita Africa United / The Basement / Cheb Simo Batoul Marouani Katerina Fotinaki Dorsaf Hamdani
Saturday 6 June Maroon 5 Wael Kfoury Metá Metá Daoudi / Tahour TBA Özlem özdil Bajeddoub / Abderrahim Souiri / Orchestre Debbi


  1. ^ Nick Vivarelli. "Justin Timberlake to Open Morocco's Mawazine Music Fest". Variety. 
  2. ^ "The 10 biggest music festivals in the world". MTVIGGY. 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Deadly stampede at Rabat festival". BBC News. 2009-05-24. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "11 killed in stampede at Rabat world music festival". France 24. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  5. ^ a b "11 killed in Rabat stampede". Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-05-25. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Aïcha Akalay; Mehdi Michbal; Hassan Hamdani (22 May 2013). "Mawazine. Un miracle royal". TelQuel. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Hassan Benmehdi (14 April 2011). "Calls mount for cancelling Mawazine". Magharebia. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Naoufel Cherkaoui (25 May 2011). "Mawazine marks decennial amid controversy". Magahrebia. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Aïcha Akalay; Mehdi Michbal; Hassan Hamdani (22 May 2010). "Mawazine. Un miracle royal" (PDF). Telquel. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c "Les organisateurs de Mawazine : le festival n’est pas financé par l’argent du contribuable". Lakome. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Peter Barker-Homek à la SEC". Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "Affaire. Comme un parfum de scandale". TelQuel. 2 October 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  13. ^ Saad Souleymane BOUHMADI (11 August 2008). "Jlec: La centrale qui produit 50% de l'électricité nationale". L'Economiste. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  14. ^ "Diffamé, Hassan Bouhemou porte plainte". LNT. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Youssef Ziraoui; Hassan Hamdani (9 April 2011). "Exclusif. Les secrets d’un festival royal". TelQuel. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Eleven killed in Moroccan stampede". The Irish Times. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Stampede during Moroccan music festival kills 11". CBC. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  18. ^ a b c "11 killed in Morocco festival stampede". RTÉ. 2009-05-24. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  19. ^ a b c Booth, Jenny (2009-05-25). "Stampede kills 11 people at world music festival in Morocco". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cheb Khaled, Kylie Minogue kick off star-studded Mawazine festival". Magharebia. 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  21. ^ a b c "Mawazine draw a million people". Euronews. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  22. ^ "Just a Minute With: Cuban musician Eliades Ochoa". Reuters. 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  23. ^ "Mawazine rocks on". Euronews. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  24. ^ "Art news in brief". Tehran Times. 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  25. ^ "Festival Mawazine Rythmes du Monde - 14ème édition - du 29 Mai au 06 Juin 2015". 
  26. ^ "MAWAZINE 2011 - FESTIVAL DE MUSIQUES ET RYTHMES DU MONDE, A RABAT CAPITALE DU MAROC - Liste des artistes". 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  27. ^ "Festival Mawazine Rythmes du Monde - 14ème édition - du 29 Mai au 06 Juin 2015". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°01′31″N 6°50′10″W / 34.02528°N 6.83611°W / 34.02528; -6.83611