Bearing participated in a conference about regional development and marketing in the north of Morocco on January 17th 2013. The seminar was organized by APDN: Agence pour la Promotion et le Développement du Nord. This is the Moroccan agency in charge of the development of the north of Morocco, directly depending on the Prime minister.
The North area consists of 11 provinces with 400 kilometers of coastline on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and with 5 million inhabitants. The APDN writes:
“the North with its strategic position, its economic, natural and human potential, is one of Morocco’s strongest advantages to deal with the dynamics of globalization. »
Among the projects undertaken is a projected high speed train link between Casablanca and Tangiers and a Renault factory opened in 2012 generating over 6 000 jobs.
The Danish company A .P. Moller – Maersk Group, manages the new and important Tanger-Med port.
The conference was very well organized. The historic city of Tangiers was a perfect setting. Situated less than 15 kilometers south of Gibraltar, and a meeting point for cultures and people since the 5th century BC when Carthaginian colonists first arrived. The Romans naturally saw the importance of the city and its geographic position for its empire. More recently, in 1923, the city was declared an international zone. This lasted until national independence in 1956. Today the city has around 700 000 inhabitants.
Tangiers is facing both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It is called the gateway to Morocco and to Africa. It is also a famous city of art. Eugène Delacroix painted many scenes from Tangiers. Matisse found inspiration there as well.
The meeting was held in the Hotel El Minzeh – founded in the 1930s and with an old world charm and impeccable service. The walls had photos of famous guest such as Winston Churchill and Rita Hayworth. (Not together, however.)
Invited to the conference were regional and national public agencies as well as representatives of the Moroccan Chambers of Commerce. As the objective was to have a first exchange between operational specialists, the number of people taking part was restricted to 50 participants.
The very dynamic APDN team headed by its charismatic Directeur Général Fouad Brini had assured the organization. He made the introductory presentation and the summing up of the day at the end – attentively following the whole day’s speeches and discussions. Mr. Brini has an important experience from both the public and private sector.
Mr. Rachid El Harchi who is the responsible for International Cooperation and Private Investments in APDN has assisted him in the work and been an invaluable contact person.
Among the three speakers were two French representatives of the Regional development agency of Paris and the region Ile-de-France (ARD Paris Ile-de-France.).
Mr. Vincent Gollain, who is Chief Economic Development Officer in the strategic unit for Major Projects and Global Attractiveness (SUMPGA), was the first speaker. Mr. Gollain a renowned specialist on Territorial marketing– and manages a very interesting blog on the subject. Mr. Gollain is also a coordinator for the project of the “Hubstart Paris” – the creation of a strategic business region around the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The second speaker was Mrs. Anne-Sophie Robinot, who is a project manager in SUMPGA, especially handling the annual IT – digital festival “Futur en Seine” (a world play on the French expression “mettre en scène”).
The APDN in Morocco and ARD Paris Ile de France signed a cooperation agreement in February 2012.
I represented Bearing and started my presentation with these words:
“This morning at five o’clock when I looked out from my window I could scent the Mediterranean and see the dimmed lights of the coastline bay. The roosters were crowing, the seagulls screaming, the wild dogs barking. The wind was suddenly moving the palm trees. The soft Arabic voices gradually came from the muezzin in a variety of tonalities and rhythms.
This was an encounter for all my senses – another history, geography and culture than my own. Other sounds and sights. The differences between the cultures makes the experience rewarding. You see the world in a different light. And as in a mirror you can see your own culture more clear.
And as I was looking out over the medina I had my mobile phone in my hand. The hotel’s Wi-Fi system gave me instant accesses to libraries more complete than ever the historic library in Alexandria. I was interconnected to the world. And this is something completely new. Wherever I am I have access to all information and all communication. The notion of being close or far away is suddenly loosing meaning. This creates new opportunities for a revival of all the regions around the Mediterranean. And Morocco grabs these historic possibilities now. “
After this introduction I presented the Place Excellence model and put emphasis on the importance of dynamic and strong-headed individuals to get a development process started. Below is the presentation I gave (in French).
The need for coordination of all diverse stakeholders was a subject, which interested many participants. I underlined the importance to base place promotion on the true identity and emotional values of a place. Otherwise it turns into a modern but completely anonymous region, which has no attractive values. And last but not least I talked about the necessity to integrate all groups of the population in place development.
The attentive audience asked many questions and were especially interested in the questions of coordination and unity in the messages. All agreed that communication and promotion, however good, were not efficient if they were not parts of a strategic and coherent place management.
This very successful seminar will be the start of future cooperation and important projects.