Ambassador's Visit in Essaouira

On 12 June 2014, the day of the opening concert of the 17th edition of Essaouira’s Gnaoua World Music Festival, the High Atlas Foundation was proud to be alongside André Azoulay, Economic Adviser to HE King Mohammed VI, in welcoming US Ambassador Mr. Dwight L. Bush Senior to the sites of our cultural preservation project in the town.

The cemeteries of the three religions in Essaouira – like the world-famous Gnaoua Festival – are testament to the town’s long history of openness and inter-cultural co-existence, as they are examples of the long and diverse cultural heritage of the town.

The cemeteries were the target of a one-year project in 2012-13 by the High Atlas Foundation and local partners, funded by the US Ambassadors’ Cultural Preservation Fund.

Mr Azoulay first welcomed His Excellency to the new Jewish cemetery, where HAF Program Manager for Essaouira Province, Lynn Sheppard, outlined the achievements of the project. Over the course of one year, HAF and local partners worked with over 120 members of local civil society to train caretakers in good practices; to clean and plant in the cemeteries with local community members; to organize awareness-raising events with local people and to integrate over 400 individual students and schoolchildren into educational and practical activities around the cultural knowledge preserved by the cemeteries.

Following a visit to the mausoleum of Rabbi Haim Pinto in the older of the two Jewish cemeteries, the visit progressed to the adjacent Christian cemetery, where Christians of different denominations have been buried side-by-side for centuries.  They include former consuls, priests, soldiers, surgeons and children. In the cemetery, the Ambassador was presented with a brochure, which was compiled during the project by local members of civil society, and which explains some of the key aspects and personalities of the cemeteries.

During the visit, His Excellency and his delegation learned about the heritage and historical value of Essaouira’s cemeteries and the uniquely Moroccan blend of unity and diversity which they represent.

One of the objectives of this project was to make cemeteries welcoming to families and visitors places. This was certainly the case on the day HE the Ambassador came to visit!

Read the original press release for the visit here. To listen to the news report in Arabic visit

Lynn Sheppard, HAF Program Director, Essaouira Province

HAF in Morocco

High Atlas Foundation
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High Atlas Foundation
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