Rabat was founded in the 12th century by the Almohad
ruler Abd al-Mu'min
as a military town. The city steadily grew but went into an extended period of decline following the collapse of the Almohads. In the 17th century Rabat became a haven for Barbary pirates
. The French established a protectorate over Morocco
in 1912 and made Rabat its administrative center. Morocco achieved independence in 1955 and Rabat became its capital.
The name Rabat comes from the Arabic
) meaning the ribat
, an Islamic base or fortification. This name is short for رِبَاط الفَتْح
) meaning the ribat of conquest
or stronghold of victory—
a title given by the Almohads
when they established the city as a naval base
12th to 17th century
Rabat has a relatively modern history compared to the nearby ancient city of Salé
. In 1146, the Almohad
ruler Abd al-Mu'min
turned Rabat's ribat
into a full-scale fortress to use as a launching point for attacks on Iberia
(known as Moulay Yacoub in Morocco), another Almohad Caliph, moved the capital of his empire to Rabat.
He built Rabat's city walls, the Kasbah of the Udayas
and began construction on what would have been the world's largest mosque. However, Yaqub died and construction stopped. The ruins of the unfinished mosque, along with the Hassan Tower
, still stand today.
Yaqub's death initiated a period of decline. The Almohad empire lost control of its possessions in Spain and much of its African territory, eventually leading to its total collapse. In the 13th century, much of Rabat's economic power shifted to Fez
. In 1515 a Moorish
explorer, El Wassan, reported that Rabat had declined so much that only 100 inhabited houses remained. An influx of Moriscos
, who had been expelled from Spain, in the early 17th century helped boost Rabat's growth.
Rabat and neighboring Salé united to form the Republic of Bou Regreg
The republic was run by Barbary pirates
who used the two cities as base ports for launching attacks on shipping. The pirates did not have to contend with any central authority until the Alaouite Dynasty
united Morocco in 1666. The latter attempted to establish control over the pirates, but failed. European and Muslim authorities continued to attempt to control the pirates over many years, but the Republic of Bou Regreg did not collapse until 1818. Even after the republic's collapse, pirates continued to use the port of Rabat, which led to the shelling of the city by Austria
in 1829 after an Austrian ship had been lost to a pirate attack.
The French invasion of Morocco began in the east with General Hubert Lyautey
's occupation of Oujda
March 1907 and in the west with the Bombardment of Casablanca
The Treaty of Fes
established the protectorate
Acting as French administrator of Morocco, Lyautey
decided to relocate the country's capital from Fes
to Rabat. Among other factors, rebellious citizens had made Fes an unstable place. Sultan Moulay Youssef
followed the decision of the French and moved his residence to Rabat. In 1913, Lyautey hired Henri Prost
who designed the Ville Nouvelle
(Rabat's modern quarter) as an administrative sector. When Morocco achieved independence in 1955, Mohammed V
, the then King of Morocco
, chose to have the capital remain at Rabat.
Post World War II
With the USAF withdrawal from Rabat-Salé in the 1960s, the facility became a primary facility for the Royal Moroccan Air Force
known as Air Base Nº 1, a status it continues to hold.
Rabat is an administrative city. It has many shopping districts and residential neighbourhoods. The geographically spread out neighbourhoods are as follows:
The heart of the city consists of three parts: the Medina (old town); the Oudayas and Hassan both located to meet the Bou Regreg
; and the Atlantic Ocean.
To the west, and along the waterfront, there is a succession of neighbourhoods.
First, around the ramparts, there is the old neighbourhoods, Quartier l'Océan and Quartier les Orangers. Beyond that, a succession of mostly working-class districts: Diour Jamaa, Akkari, Yacoub El Mansour, Massira and Hay el Fath are the main parts of this axis. Hay el Fath, which ends this sequence, evolves into a middle-class neighbourhood.
To the east, along the Bouregreg, the Youssoufia region (working and middle class) : Mabella; Taqaddoum; Hay Nahda (mostly middle class); Aviation (middle and upper middle class); and Rommani.
Between the two axes, from north to south, there are three main neighbourhoods (middle class to affluent): Agdal
(Ward Building; a lively mix of residential and commercial buildings. The residents are predominantly upper middle class); Hay Riad
(affluent villas; this neighbourhood has experienced a surge of momentum since the 2000s); and Souissi (residential neighborhood).
On the outskirts of Souissi, are a number of less-dense regions mainly comprising large private houses to areas that seem out of the city.
Avenue Mohammed V
Located between the Atlantic and the Bouregreg Valley, on the shore of Salé. This river marina is paved with famous historical sites like the esplanade of the Hassan Tower and the picturesque Chellah necropolis, which has witnessed many Mediterranean civilizations pass by.
Outfitted with the most modern equipment to host up to 240 boats,
the Bouregreg Marina aims to become an essential destination for recreational boaters seeking long stays or just a stopover on their way to West Africa, the Caribbean or the shores of North America.
The prefecture is divided administratively into the following:
Rabat features a Mediterranean climate
) with warm to hot dry summers and mild damp winters. Located along the Atlantic Ocean, Rabat has a mild, temperate climate, shifting from cool in winter to warm days in the summer months. The nights are always cool (or cold in winter, it can reach sub 0 °C (32 °F) sometimes), with daytime temperatures generally rising about 7–8 °C (13–14 °F). The winter highs typically reach only 17.2 °C (63.0 °F) in December–February. Summer daytime highs usually hover around 25 °C (77.0 °F), but may occasionally exceed 30 °C (86.0 °F), especially during heat waves. Summer nights are usually pleasant and cool, ranging between 11 °C (51.8 °F) and 19 °C (66.2 °F) and rarely exceeding 20 °C (68.0 °F). Rabat belongs to the sub-humid bioclimatic zone with an average annual precipitation of 560 mm (22 in).
The biggest place for theatre is the Theatre Mohammed V in the centre of the town.
Many organizations are active in cultural and social issues. Orient-Occident Foundation and ONA Foundation are the biggest of these. An independent art scene is active in the city. L'appartement 22
, which is the first independent space for visual arts created by Abdellah Karroum, opened in 2002 and introduced international and local artists. Other independent spaces opened few years after, such as Le Cube, also set up in a private space.
Mawazine is a music festival in Rabat welcomed by Mohammed VI
King of Morocco, that started in 2001 where music groups, fans and spectators come together in a week-long celebration of culture and music both locally and internationally. Musicians such as Scorpions
, Elton John
and many others have performed at the festival.
Mawazine was host to more than 2,500,000 in 2013. Workshops are available for teaching dances and other arts. The festival is free. However, while most areas are free, there are those that require payment, specifically the smaller stages being the historical site of Chellah, the Mohammed V National Theater, and the Renaissance Cultural Center.
Places of worship
Scientists, writers and philosophers:
- Abdellah Taïa, writer
- Mehdi Elmanjra, scholar
- Robert Assaraf, historian
- Alain Badiou, French philosopher
- Mohammed Suerte Bennani, Moroccan novelist
- Mohammed Berrada, Moroccan novelist, literary critic, and translator
- Helene Hagan, Franco-American writer anthropologist
- Abdelfattah Kilito, Moroccan writer
- Bahaa Trabelsi, Moroccan novelist
- Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director for the Arab States and Asia Pacific for the UN Women
- Samira Said, Moroccan singer
- Saad Lamjarred, Moroccan singer
- Hajib, Moroccan Chaabi singer
- Shlomo Bar, Israeli musician
- Fabienne Égal, French announcer and television host
- Roland Giraud, French actor
- Macha Méril, French actress and writer
- Daniel Siboni, French photographer
- French Montana, American Hip-Hop Artist
- Bryce Hudson, American painter and photographer
Rabat is served by two principal railway stations run by the national rail service, the ONCF
ONCF operates the Le Bouregreg
urban rail for Rabat-Salé agglomeration.Rabat is well served by train and you can get frequent connections to most places. Marrakesh is a pleasant 4 hr journey, Fez 2½ hr (if you take one of the new express trains, and 3½ hr on other trains) and Casablanca 1 hr.
The Rabat-Salé tramway
is a tram system which was put into service on May 23, 2011 in the Moroccan cities of Rabat and Salé. The network has two lines for a total length of 19 km (12 miles) and 31 stops. It is operated by Veolia Transdev
with Alstom Citadis
After some years of neglect as investment was directed at the tramway, the existing operator, STAREO, was displaced in 2019. A contract was awarded to Alsa-City Bus, a joint venture between Moroccan company City Bus and Spanish company Alsa s.a
, a subsidiary of the UK's National Express
Group. The new operator took over in July 2019 with a commitment to three hundred and fifty new buses. These will comprise 102 Mercedes-Benz
and 248 Scania
-Higer vehicles. The contract covers a 15-year period, renewable for seven years, and promises approximately 10 billion dinars investment into the bus transport system in the region. 
Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium
(Arabic: مركب الأمير مولاي عبد لله) is a multi-purpose stadium in Rabat, Morocco. It is named after Prince Moulay Abdellah. It was built in 1983 and is the home ground of ASFAR (football club)
. It is used mostly for football matches, and it can also stage athletics. The stadium holds 52,000. Since 2008 it is host of the Meeting International Mohammed VI d'Athlétisme de Rabat.
The local football teams are:
- FUS de Rabat
- Le Stade Marocain
The local basketball teams are:
- FUS de Rabat
- Moghreb de Rabat
- FUS de Rabat
- Crédit agricole Rabat
Twin towns – sister cities
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Last edited on 20 April 2021, at 15:57
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