Photo Credit: Tania Parks
Walking through the medina of the seaside town of Asilah, the first train-stop south of Tangier on the Atlantic coast, one can’t help but marvel at the striking blue and white walls peppered with vibrant murals, which seem to pop out of nowhere.Since its inception in 1978, the Asilah Arts Festival has evolved from a showcase for Moroccan muralists to a platform for international exchange and a celebration of peace and tolerance. Mayor Mohamed Benaissa explains that the festival was started to support the town’s restoration and renovation, using the rationale that “we are a society with limited or no resources…So we said we have to use the only resource we have…our imagination, our creativity, and our vision.”The festival, which expects participation from forty-five countries this year, has helped to provide income for the town’s residents, and has kept the town clean and beautiful, creating a sense of pride amongst those who live there. This year, fifteen walls have been given to visiting painters to decorate in preparation of the festival, which begins on July 10.As mentioned in a previous post (click here), Morocco is moving forward with its unprecedented commitment to sustainability, and this year’s festival is opening under the heading of “Renewable Energy—A Leap Towards Human Development.”
The UAE is the guest of honor at this year’s festival, not only because of its distinguished role in cultural activities, but because Masdar (Arabic for “source”), a leading Abu Dhabi technology company, will hold an international conference on the importance of renewable energy at the festival.
As the southwest of Morocco has used its tradition of argan oil to promote development and cultural exchange, so is this tiny town in the north using its natural resource of artistic creativity to build a more vibrant and sustainable society.