Interview with the Director of the Maison du Maroc

Tell us about your background and your arrival at the Cité internationale.

Equipped with a Ph.D in civil engineering from Purdue University in the US (1989), I came back to Morocco as a lecturer and then University Professor at the Mohammadia School of Engineers, Mohammed V-Rabat University, where several years ago I earned a degree in civil engineering.

Alongside my teaching and research activities, I pursued my career within the Ministry of Higher Education, Management Training and Scientific Research in Rabat in 1996 as the Head of university teaching for the department of higher education. I was then appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Skills at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech from 2005 until 2013 then I joined my supervisory ministry as the Director of Higher Education and Educational Development from 2013 until 2015. In 2015 I became the Secretary General for the Ministry of Higher Education, Management Training and Scientific Research. I held this position for 5 years. In January 2020, I took over the management of the Fondation Maison du Maroc in Paris. This new role was the consecration of an academic and administrative career. My management experience and academic skills are a great contribution to the Fondation Maison du Maroc.

What do you think makes the Cité internationale a unique campus in the world?

The Cité internationale universitaire de Paris’s campus is a unique place and is a pleasant living space where residents from more than 150 different nationalities get together and pursue their studies in renowned establishments in Île-de-France. At the Fondation Maison du Maroc there are more than 20 nationalities thanks to the interbuilding mixing at the Cité internationale. The house makes the cultural influence of the Kingdom of Morocco one of its main goals. The cultural, academic and scientific activities that it organises are part of this dynamic of conviviality, sharing of culture and civilisation and the diffusion of the ancestral values of the Kingdom of Morocco. With the whole of the Fondation Maison du Maroc’s team we want to boost a dynamic of access to the culture for everyone, with the implementation of new modes of sharing and diffusion thanks in particular to multiple possibilities offered by new technologies. We want to reach and include a large number of people in order to continue to promote our ancestral values, such as peace, dialogue, tolerance, humanism, sharing, openness, multiculturalism, solidarity and respect for others.

How does living in your house  allow residents to have a different outlook on the world and how is it a spring board for their futures?

The Fondation Maison du Maroc has been a part of the welcome tradition at the Cité internationale for 67 years and its job is to provide its residents with a friendly living space and space for exchange thanks to the interbuilding mixing. It participates in training the Moroccan elite with its large accommodation infrastructure as well as pleasant and well-equipped work and communal areas. It also provides its residents with all of the benefits that they can gain from their stay at an international campus. Additionally, the Fondation Maison du Maroc plays an important role in the cooperation between Morocco and France in the sense that it strengthens the academic relations between the Moroccan and French institutions. In effect, it allows for the continuation of academic and research activities in good conditions and benefits Moroccan students in France.

If you had to sum up the Cité internationale in one word, what would it be and why?

A unique place in the world where, for more than a century, students from all over the world have come together in an environment of peace, tolerance, sharing and respect.

Mohamed BENCHAÂBOUN, Moroccan Ambassador to France and President of the Foundation

Mohamed Benchaaboun is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Morocco in France since October 17, 2021. He is also accredited to the Principality of Monaco and the Principality of Andorra. Minister of Economy, Finance and Administration Reform from 2018 to 2021, he was Chairman and CEO of the Central People’s Bank from 2008 to 2018 and Director General of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency from 2003 to 2008. He was a member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council from 2011 to 2018. Chakib Benchaaboun is involved in the associative sector. He is a member of the board of directors of the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity and the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.

The Cité internationale is a unique space that offers a window on the world. It is a plural city where it is good to live, learn and work

Mohamed Benchaaboun