Chances are you’re craving a new way of learning—a new way of seeing the world. Consider studying somewhere exotic, somewhere with a melting pot of cultures and influences; somewhere that’s located close to ancient ruins, the beach and the mountains; somewhere with a rich history, but definitely a modern flair, too. You can have all of this and so much more when you study abroad in Rabat.
Located at the mouth of the Bouregreg River on the Atlantic Ocean, Rabat was once a prime port location due to its close proximity to Europe and other parts of Africa. Walking through the quiet streets, it is hard to imagine that the city was controlled by pirates for two centuries. Yet, the city’s history is alive in its architecture, culture, and people whose ancestors from the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of Africa laid claim to the city over the years. Rabat is therefore a complex cosmopolitan mix of European modernism with North African and Islamic tradition. Although open to change and modernity, the city values the preservation of its traditional heritage.
Rabat has been the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco since 1912, and is now home to many foreign embassies and organizations and the Royal Palace. Having gained independence from France in 1956, Morocco is governed by a king and an elected parliament. The government continues to pass legislation and address issues of equality, poverty/unemployment, and human and women’s rights.
Rabat, and the Université Mohammed V in particular, have also been central to Moroccan literature, written both in Arabic and French. Morocco has a long tradition of oral storytelling and has also attracted many great western writers, such as Tennessee Williams and Jack Kerouac. In addition, Rabat has a main theater, art galleries, museums, and a thriving independent art scene. Rabat attracts an international audience by hosting several cultural festivals throughout the year, including the Mawazine world music festival each May.
Kasbahs are barriers that historically were used to shield royalty from attacks. Rabat's clifftop Kasbah of the Udayas was constructed by the Almohads and is over a thousand years old. Later, the Almohads added a palace and mosque and named it al-Mahdiyya after the great Arabic leader, al-Mahdi Ibn Tumart. Today, Rabat's kasbah is filled mostly with residences that are painted half white and half blue. It is a wonderful place to enjoy a cup of tea while overlooking the point where the Bouregreg River meets the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy a stroll through the palace gardens.
This marble mausoleum houses the tombs of King Mohammed V and his sons, King Hassan II and Prince Moulay Abadallah. The palace was completed in 1971 and is beautifully decorated in ornate mosaics. It is located in the Yacoub Al Mansour Square, across from the Hassan Tower. Visitors are required to be dressed appropriately in order to enter the mausoleum.
Students and locals alike enjoy spending their Sunday mornings at Rabat's flea market, the "monti." The market sells many unique souvenirs, and one can never expect what to discover at this fabulous spot. Those who explore the market will find themselves intrigued for hours. Check out the famous Moroccan "babouches," or leather slippers!