Minister for Environment, Education and Culture John Cortes on Monday officially opened the Gibraltar Morocco Business Association’s (GMBA) office in the centre of Tangier.
The ceremony, introduced in true Moroccan tradition with traditional musicians, included speeches by the Minister as well as by Joshua Lhote, GMBA President, Steven Marin, Managing Director of Gibraltar Morocco Business Exchange SARL in Tangier, and secretary of GMBA and Brahim Krikaz President of Strait of Gibraltar Association in Tangier and board member of GMBA.
In his speech, Minister Cortes highlighted the close historical ties between Gibraltar and Morocco, and stressed the gratitude of the people of Gibraltar towards our southern neighbours for their support following the 1969 frontier closure. He stressed the importance of nurturing and furthering links, socially, culturally and economically.
Monday’s opening ceremony also saw the Minister present the five first ever Duke of Edinburgh International Award certificates in the Kingdom of Morocco. The first ever recipients of the Award were Salim Akhchich, Louay Jeloul, Soukaina Chahbar, Oualid El Haddad and Aroua Benmessaoud who were trained by a number of volunteers including the Tetouan Scouts.
Also at the event was the presentation of a cheque of £2,500 for the school of the deaf of Tangier out of the £17,000 that was raised by the recent charity trek for the benefit of Gibraltarian as well as Moroccan charities.
The GMBA was co-founded by Mr Clive Reed over a decade ago with a view to enhance commercial relations between the business communities of Gibraltar and Morocco. This was not an easy task at a time when business between Gibraltar and Morocco seemed to be unnecessary since goods and workforce could be sourced from Spain and the UK. Furthermore Morocco, although geographically extremely close to Gibraltar, had no direct l commercial links with Gibraltar which also posed an impediment for local entrepreneurs.
Following the result of the Brexit referendum the need to look for commercial links outside the EU encouraged GMBA member Steven Marin to propose the opening of an office in Morocco. This was achieved with the support of Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia.
The GMBA office in Tangier first opened for business in November 2019 on 29 Youssef Ibn Tachfine Street, a central location in Tangier both close to the port of Tanger Ville and to the city centre. The proposed date for the official opening in March 2020 had to be postponed due to the outbreak of Covid and the closure of the Moroccan frontier. However, the Tangier office did not stop working despite Covid and among many services given to the population of Gibraltar, a plane was chartered as well as maritime transportation arranged especially for the Gibraltarians stranded in Morocco.
Joshua Lhote, President of the Gibraltar Morocco Business Association, said: “We are very thrilled and pleased will finally held the official opening ceremony of the GMBA office in Tangier on Monday the 12th of June in the presence of the Honourable John Cortes”.
Minister Cortes commented: “It was a very proud moment for me to open these offices, as I have been working closely with Moroccan colleagues in many different field over the decades. The office will provide an important focal point for Gibraltarians in or visiting Morocco and for Moroccans with links to or interested in Gibraltar. It also aspires to working hard with the relevant communities to maximise opportunities, be they economic and commercial, social, academic or cultural. I was very impressed with the number of Moroccan dignitaries who attended the opening and I am very confident that the various initiatives will be met with success.”