Located in the northwest of the country on the Akreuch plain, bordered in the North by the Bouregreg River and in the West by the Atlantic Ocean, Rabat is the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco and the administrative center of the Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaër region.
It spreads over 15 km of length and a 117.51 km² surface. The Rabat-Salé urban conglomeration has more than 1,545,000 inhabitants.
Rabat is in the center of the main economic axis of the country (Casablanca-Kenitra):
- 15 minutes away from the Rabat-Salé airport;
- One hour away from the Mohamed V airport of Casablanca, the economic capital;
- Two and a half hours from the Tangier Med port;
- Three hours away from several European capitals.
3,200 years ago, the Phoenicians were the first to build in Rabat a counter and to create a city. But it was the Romans who made of Sala Colonia, current site of Chellah, an active and prosperous city.
In the 12th century, the Almohade Sultan Yacoub El Mansour, gave the city all its importance. He started the construction of a grand mosque. The Hassan tower, which is the symbol of Rabat today, was its minaret.
The modern city developed after 1912, when Rabat became the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. It was at that time that the main avenue of the city center was drawn. It is named today Avenue Mohamed V today.
To face its growth, Rabat had to build new districts. Hay Ryad is the business district of the capital since the 1990s.
Rabat, economic engine
Classified as a region with diversified economy, the Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer region is the second region in Morocco in terms of creation of national wealth (12.6 %), after the region of the great Casablanca (19.2 %). In this region, the regional GDP per capita was of 37,256 dirhams in 2010. It is the tertiary sector (business, trade and not trade services) which largely dominates the economy of the Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer region (77.2 %).
- Healthcare sector: Rabat has 8 hospitals, 6 are specialty and 2 are general hospitals. It also has 26 health centers and 25 private hospitals;
- Business sector: the number of merchants exceeds 23,000;
- Finance sector: Rabat is the headquarter of the main financial institutions of Morocco;
- Handicraft sector: Although Rabat is oriented towards the future by its promotion of new technologies; it still knows how to protect the diversity of its craft trades, among which weaving carpets, pottery, jewelry, etc. The handicraft production represents a good part of the commercial activity of the Rabat Medina.
Rabat, political and administrative capital
Ministries and large institutions
Rabat is at the heart of the national political activity with ministerial office, political parties and the Parliament.
As capital, Rabat is at the center of the diplomatic activity of Morocco. It hosts embassies and large international institutions. It also hosts the UCLGA office, symbol of the unification of the African continent, which makes of Rabat the capital of local African diplomacy.
Rabat, knowledge capital
First university town of the country through its universities, its Grandes Ecoles and its institutes of higher education:
- 2 public universities;
- 1 private international university;
- 50 schools and higher institutes;
- 240 high schools and middle schools;
- 43,000 university students (among which 8,000 African students);
- 24,000 vocational training interns.
Knowledge capital due to:
- The Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture, the IRCAM;
- The new National library of the Kingdom of Morocco, opened in 2008 and offering 300,000 books and a media library;
- Archives of Morocco;
- Numerous foreign cultural institutes;
- Technopolis: a center of excellence dedicated to new industries which aim at creating synergies between higher education, research and companies.
Rabat, patrimonial treasure
Rabat is the result of a fruitful dialogue between the Arab-Muslim past and western modernism. Its "new town", designed and built under the French Protectorate from 1912 to 1930s, comrpises the Royal residence, colonial administrations, residential and commercial complexes, the trial garden for botany and leisure.
The old parts of the city sometimes go back to the 12th century, such as the Hassan Mosque (start of construction in 1184); they also include the Almohade ramparts and gates, only remains of a great project of capital city of the Almohade Caliphate. We find also remains of the Moor or Andalusian principality from the 17th century.
RABAT BECOMES WORLD HERITAGE OF HUMANITY
"The Rabat site, modern capital and historic city: a shared heritage"
The World Heritage Committee, who met in Saint-Petersburg, decided unanimously, on Friday, July 2nd, 2012, to register the Rabat site on the list of world heritage, sponsored by UNESCO.
Rabat, cultural capital
- An archaeological museum which allows exploring the memory of Morocco since Antiquity, through objects discovered throughout the country;
- The Villa of Arts presents gems from the contemporary artistic heritage. More than a gallery, it is a place of creation, shows and exhibitions. The Villa of Arts is home to the first virtual museum in Africa;
- The National Mohamed V Theater presents numerous shows of drama, opera, dance, music, etc. A new big theater will be built on the Bouregreg River in 2013;
- Numerous foreign cultural institutes;
Rabat hosts several internationally renowned cultural events:
- The Mawazine festival of rhythms of the world;
- The Chellah theater festival;
- The Mediterranean festival for women's literature;
- The Sufi poetry festival;
- The Morocco Hit parade festival (Music of youth) ;
- The Chellah Jazz festival;
- The international film festival of Rabat;
- The international nautical festival of Rabat;
- Numerous private art galleries.
Rabat, tourist city
The city of Rabat benefits from a significant historical and cultural heritage in particular the Chellah Necropolis, the Hassan Tower, the Mohammed V Mausoleum, the street of Consuls, the Kasbah des Oudayas, the Dar Essalam Royal Golf, the zoo, as well as natural sites such as the Bouregreg valley, the Marmora forest, the beaches, etc. All these sites make of Rabat a tourist destination of choice, that’s appreciated by foreign as well as national visitors.
Rabat, green city
While the ratio of green spaces per capita recommended by the WHO is of 10 m2 per capita, this ratio is more than 20 m2 per capita in Rabat. In addition to its green belt, which extends over 1,063 ha, Rabat has a large number of gardens, parks and green spaces that were developed on a total surface of 240 ha. In recognition of the efforts of local authorities in environmental matters, Rabat was chosen in 2010 with four other cities in the world to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. During that celebration, Morocco signed the National Charter of the Environment as an act of commitment between the Moroccan people and their land.