Fez is considered to be the spiritual, intellectual, cultural, crafts and food centre of traditional Morocco. Its Medina has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1971 and it is considered as one of the most extensive and best conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world. It has a population of 200,000 and contains about 60% of the city's craftsmen and businesses within its 350 hectares.
The mutually-defined cooperation agreement was drawn up between the Urban Community of Fez and the City and Urban Community of Strasbourg in 2008, and covers three main development areas:
- Supporting cultural cooperation with regard to architecture and heritage and also the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, which provided the inspiration for the Sacrées journées de Strasbourg, the city's festival of world sacred music.
- Providing access to drinking water for all the population and improved sanitation facilities, through cooperation with the Régie Autonome de Distribution d’Eau et d’Électricité de Fez (RADEEF). The creation of a local investment fund has led to the installation of "social" water connections, which now serve 90% of the population. Fez's first water purification plant, a project for which Strasbourg has provided support, is due to start operations in the near future. A partnership has also been signed between ENGEES, the French National School for Water and Environmental Engineering, and RADEEF for Fez trainees to come to Strasbourg as part of their studies.
- Improving Fez Central Hospital emergency medical care, by providing training for healthcare professionals, doctors, ambulance drivers and nurses in emergency medical assistance. This training is intended to pave the way for an emergency service for the general public.
Two cities with many things in common
Strasbourg and Fez share many features, including a long university tradition, a thriving cultural scene, listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a rich history of religious diversity, and this was the common ground that brought the two cities together within a decentralised cooperation agreement.
Since the partnership began in 1999, there has been a considerable variety of exchanges between Strasbourg and Fez, including culture (the European Med’Act cultural project), economic and tourist development, public transport, sanitation and associations, some of which also received funding from the French Embassy in Morocco.
In 2009, Fez and Strasbourg celebrated the 10th anniversary of the cooperation, quoted by the European commission as an exemplary partnership, with a concert featuring Arab-Judeo-Andalusian music. The anniversary underlined the mutual commitment to sustainable development and to encouraging active citizenship, a driving force for tolerance and solidarity
A new cooperation agreement is due to be signed for 2012-2015.
Partners in France
- City of Strasbourg
- Urban Community of Strasbourg
- Strasbourg Teaching Hospital
- National School of Water and Environmental Engineering (ENGEES)
Partners in Morocco
- Urban Community of Fez
- Fez Teaching Hospital
- Régie Autonome de Distribution d’Eau et d’Électricité de Fez (RADEEF)