Scottsdale, Marrakech mayors meet for friendly international summit

From left, Max Rumbaugh; Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane; Wali of Marrakech-Safi; Awatef Berdai, Marrakech vice mayor; and Khalid El Fataoui, Marrakech counsel secretary. (submitted photo)

Scottsdale Mayor Lane recently led a delegation to visit Scottsdale’s sister city, Marrakech, Morocco at the invitation of Marrakech Mayor Mohamed Larbi Belcaid.

The purpose of the trip was for the two mayors to meet and explore opportunities for increased, mutually beneficial exchanges between the two cities.

The delegation included Lisa E White, president of Scottsdale Sister Cities Association, and Max E. Rumbaugh Jr, past president of SSCA.

Concurrent but separate was the fourth student exchange trip by 12 Scottsdale high school area students and two teachers.

As a result of preparatory communications prior to the trip, it was agreed to explore water technology, medical, business, tourism and expanded educational exchanges.

Since signing the sister city agreement in 2011, this is the first opportunity the two mayors have had to meet. A valuable schedule of visits and discussions were organized by the staff of Mayor Belcaid to probe opportunities.

After the visits, the two mayors met in the Marrakech city hall, called the “Hotel de Ville,” to review and endorse the opportunities. They concurred that further discussions should proceed in each area. Examples included the exploration of a relationship between Marakech and ASU for Arabic and English exchanges, medical exchange discussions on a new oncology facility in Marrakech, French language teacher exchanges, and water treatment technology.

As part of the meeting of the two mayors, the student delegation from Scottsdale gave a Powerpoint presentation on Scottsdale, Arizona and the United States. The talk was followed by a presentation by their host siblings on Marrakech and Morocco.

The goal of the Scottsdale Sister City Association has not been to have sister cities as an end, but to have mutually valuable interfaces and activities ongoing with its sister cities.

The primary objective of the trip and its meetings was to open doors for further evaluation of possible beneficial exchanges with Marrakech.

Marrakech provides Scottsdale with friends and opportunities in a stable Muslim country and, as such, an entry into the part of the world not usually explored by the citizens of Arizona.

Exchanging gifts, from left, Max Rumbaugh, Lisa E. White, Mayor Jim Lane, Marrakech Mayor Belcaid.

Since the Marrakech region and Arizona have very similar challenges to assure sufficient water, the discussion on water treatment technology was high on the interest levels during discussions.

There were extensive discussions on management of water resources. Mayor Lane expressed the belief that water in the desert is too valuable to use only once.

At the conclusion of the trip, Mayor Lane and Mr. Rumbaugh met with the Wali of the Marrakech-Safi Region. The Wali is the official representative of King Mohammed VI for the region.

The Wali also expressed special interest in the discussions on water treatment and water management. After reviewing the results of the trip, the Wali gave King Mohammed VI’s approval of the sister city relationship between the two cities.

Mayor Lane invited both the Wali and Marrakech Mayor Belcaid to visit Scottsdale.

For more information on Scottsdale Sister Cities Association and Scottsdale’s sister cities visit www.scottsdalesistercities.com.

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