Mohammed VI of Morocco

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For the Sultan of Granada, see Muhammed VI, Sultan of Granada.
Mohammed VI
محمد السادس
ⵎⵓⵃⵎⵎⴷ ⵡⵉⵙ ⵚⴹⵉⵚ
Mohammed VI.jpg
King of Morocco
Reign 23 July 1999 – present
Predecessor Hassan II
Heir apparent Moulay Hassan
Prime Ministers
Born 21 August 1963 (age 53)
Rabat, Morocco
Spouse Salma Bennani (m. 2001)
Crown Prince Moulay Hassan
Princess Lalla Khadija
Full name
Sidi Mohammed
House House of Alaouite
Father Hassan II
Mother Lalla Latifa Hammou
Religion Sunni Islam

Mohammed VI (Arabic: محمد السادس‎‎, Amazigh: ⵎⵓⵃⵎⵎⴷ ⵡⵉⵙ ⵚⴹⵉⵚ; born 21 August 1963)[1] is the current king of Morocco. He ascended to the throne on 23 July 1999 upon the death of his father, King Hassan II.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mohammed was the second child and oldest son of Hassan II and his second wife, Lalla Latifa Hammou.[3] On the day of his birth, Mohammed was appointed Heir Apparent and Crown Prince.[4] His father was keen on giving him a religious and political education from an early age— at the age of four, he started attending the Qur’anic school at the Royal Palace.[1]

Mohammed completed his primary and secondary studies at Royal College and attained his Baccalaureate in 1981, before gaining a bachelor’s degree in law at the Mohammed V University at Agdal in 1985.[5] His research paper dealt with “the Arab-African Union and the Strategy of the Kingdom of Morocco in matters of International Relations”.[1] He has also frequented the Imperial College and University of Rabat.[4] He was furthermore appointed President of the Pan Arab Games, and was commissioned a Colonel Major of the Royal Moroccan Army on 26 November 1985. He served as the Coordinator of the Offices and Services of the Royal Armed Forces until 1994.[4]

In 1987, Mohammed obtained his first Certificat d’Études Supérieures (CES) in political sciences, and in July 1988 he obtained a Diplôme d’Études Approfondies (DEA) in public law.[1] In November 1988, he trained in Brusselswith Jacques Delors, then-President of the European Commission.[1]

Mohammed obtained his PhD in law with distinction on 29 October 1993 from the French University of Nice Sophia Antipolis for his thesis on “EECMaghreb Relations”.[1] On 12 July 1994, he was promoted to the military rank of Major General, and that same year he became President of the High Council of Culture and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Moroccan Army.

He speaks Arabic, English, Spanish and French.[6]

King of Morocco[edit]

Moroccan Royal Family
Coat of arms of Morocco.svg

HH Princess Lalla Latifa

HRH Princess Lalla Lamia

HRH Princess Lalla Malika

Mohammed VI (right) talking to US President George W. Bush inWashington on 23 April 2002.

Mohammed VI in 2004.

Mohammed VI (left) with BrazilianPresident Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2004.

On 23 July 1999, Mohammed succeeded his father as king, being enthroned in Rabat on 30 July.[4]

Social reforms and liberalization[edit]

Shortly after he took the throne, Mohammed VI addressed his nation via television, promising to take on poverty and corruption, while creating jobs and improving Morocco’s human rights record. Mohammed’s reformist rhetoric was opposed by Islamist conservatives, and some of his reforms angered fundamentalists. In February 2004, he enacted a new family code, orMudawana, which granted women more power.[7]

Mohammed also created the so-called Instance Equité et Réconciliation (IER), which was tasked with researching human rights violations under Hassan II. This move was welcomed by many as promoting democracy, but was also criticized because reports of human rights violations could not name the perpetrators. According to human rights organisations, widespread abuses still exist in Morocco.[8][9][10] The 2011 Moroccan protests were motivated by corruption and general political discontentment, as well as by the hardships of the global economic crisis.

In December 2010, the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published diplomatic cables which alleged high-level corruption involving the King himself.[11]

In a speech delivered on 9 March 2011, the King said that parliament would receive “new powers that enable it to discharge its representative, legislative, and regulatory mission”. In addition, the powers of the judiciary were granted greater independence from the King, who announced that he was impaneling a committee of legal scholars to produce a draft constitution by June 2011.[12] On 1 July, voters approved a set of political reforms proposed by Mohammed.

The reforms consisted of the following:[13]

  • The Berber language[14] is an official state language along with Arabic.[15]
  • The state preserves and protects the Hassānīya language and all the linguistic components of the Moroccan culture as a heritage of the nation[15]
  • The King has now the obligation to appoint the prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections, but it could be any member of the winning party and not necessarily the party’s leader. Previously, the king could nominate anybody he wanted for this position regardless of the election results. That was usually the case when no party had a big advantage over the other parties, in terms of the number of seats in the parliament.[13][16][17]
  • The King is no longer “sacred or holy” but the “integrity of his person” is “inviolable”[18]
  • High administrative and diplomatic posts (including ambassadors, CEOs of state-owned companies, provincial and regional governors), are now appointed by the prime minister and the ministerial council which is presided by the king; previously the latter exclusively held this power.[19][20]
  • The prime minister is the head of government and president of the council of government, he has the power to dissolve the parliament.[21]
  • The prime minister will preside over the Council of Government, which prepares the general policy of the state. Previously the king held this position.[21]
  • The parliament has the power of granting amnesty. Previously this was exclusively held by the king[22]
  • The judiciary system is independent from the legislative and executive branch, the king guarantees this independence[21][23]
  • Women are guaranteed “civic and social” equality with men. Previously, only “political equality” was guaranteed, though the 1996 constitution grants all citizens equality in terms of rights before the law[17]
  • The King retains complete control over the armed forces and the judiciary as well as matters pertaining to religion and foreign policy; the king also retains the authority to appoint and dismiss prime ministers[24]
  • All citizens have the freedom of thought, ideas, artistic expression and creation. Previously only free speech and the freedom of circulation and association were guaranteed.[17][25] However, criticizing or directly opposing the king is still punishable with prison.

Business and wealth[edit]

Graphic detailing ownership of the palace-controlled holding[26] the Société National d’investissement as of June 2013.

Mohammed VI is Morocco’s leading businessman and banker.[26] In 2009, he was estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth US$2.5 billion,[27] and the Moroccan Royal Family has one of the largest fortunes in the world.[28] Along with his family, they hold the majority stakes in the Société Nationale d’Investissement (SNI), which was originally state-owned but was merged in 2013 with Omnium Nord Africain (ONA Group), to form a single holding company that was taken off the Casablanca Stock Exchange—resulting in the scrapping of an equivalent of 50 billion Dirhams Marketcap (~US$6 billion).[29] SNI has a diverse portfolio consisting of many important businesses in Morocco and operating in various sectors such as;Attijariwafa Bank (banking), Managem (mining), Onapar, SOMED (Tourism/real-estate and exclusive distributor of Maserati), Wafa Assurance (insurance), Marjane (hypermarket chain), Wana-Inwi (telecommunications), SONASID (Siderurgy), Lafarge Maroc (cement manufacturer), Sopriam (exclusive distributor of PeugeotCitroën in Morocco), Renault Maroc (exclusive distributor of Renault in Morocco) and Nareva (energy).[30][31] SNI also owns many food-processing companies and is currently in the process of disengaging from this sector.[30]Between mid-2012 and 2013 SNI sold; Lessieur, Centrale Laitière, Bimo and Cosumar to foreign groups for a total amount of ~$1.37 billion (11.4 billion Dirhams including 9.7 billion in 2013 and 1.7 in 2012).[30]

SNI and ONA both owned stakes in Brasseries du Maroc, the largest alcohol beverages manufacturer and distributor of brands such as Heineken in the country.[32]

Mohammed VI is also a leading agricultural producer and land owner in Morocco, where agriculture is exempted from taxes.[30] His holding company “Siger” has shares in the large agricultural group “Les domaines agricoles” (originally called “Les domaines royaux”, now commonly known as “Les domaines“), which was founded by Hassan II.[30] In 2008 Telquelestimated that “Les domaines” had a revenue of $157 million (1.5 billion Dirhams), with 170,000 tons of citrus exported in that year.[30] According to the same magazine, the company officially owns 12,000 hectares of agricultural lands.[30] “Chergui”, a manufacturer of dairy products, is the most recognizable brand of the group.[30] Between 1994 and 2004, the group has been managed by Mohammed VI’s brother-in-law Khalid Benharbit, the husband of Princess Lalla Hasna.[30] “Les domaines” also owns the “Royal Golf de Marrakech”, which originally belonged to Thami El Glaoui.[30]

His palace’s daily operating budget is reported by Forbes to be $960,000—which is paid by the Moroccan state as part of a 2.576 billion Dirhams/year budget as of 2014[33]—owing much of it to the expense of personnel, clothes, and car repairs.[28]

Allegations of corruption[edit]

Royal involvement in business is a major topic in Morocco but public discussion of it is sensitive. The US embassy in Rabat reported to Washington in a leaked cable that “corruption is prevalent at all levels of Moroccan society”.[11] Corruption allegedly reaches the highest levels in Morocco, where the business interests of Mohammed VI and some of his advisors influence “every large housing project,” according to WikiLeaks documents quoted by Britain’s Guardian newspaper.[34] The documents released by the whistleblower website also quote the case of a businessman working for a US consortium, whose plans in Morocco were paralysed for months after he refused to join forces with a company linked with the royal palace. Decisions on big investments in the kingdom were taken by only three people, the documents quote a company executive linked to the royal family as saying. The three are the king, his secretary Mounir Majidi, and the monarch’s close friend, adviser and former classmate Fouad Ali Himma, the executive said at a meeting with potential investors in a Gulf country. This corruption especially affects the housing sector, the WikiLeaks documents show.[35]

In April 2016, Mounir Majidi, the personal secretary of Mohammed VI, has been named in the Panama Papers.[36]


20 February Movement[edit]

The legitimacy of the king Mohammed VI was contested in 2011 with 20 February Movement that attempted to undermine the functioning of the monarchic system.

Royal pardon scandal[edit]

Protests broke out in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, on 2 August 2013, after Mohammed VI pardoned 48 jailed Spaniards, including a pedophile who had been serving a 30-year sentence for raping 11 children aged between 4 and 15. He has since revoked the pardon, after popular outrage.[37]


Mohammed VI has one brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, and three sisters: Princess Lalla Meryem, Princess Lalla Asma, and Princess Lalla Hasna. On 21 March 2002,[4] Mohammed married Salma Bennani (now H.R.H. Princess Lalla Salma) in Rabat. Bennani was granted the personal title of Princess with the title of Her Royal Highness on her marriage. They have two children – Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, who was born on 8 May 2003, and Princess Lalla Khadija, who was born on 28 February 2007.[7]

Mohammed’s birthday on 21 August is a public holiday,[38] although festivities were cancelled upon the death of his aunt in 2014.[39]

Titles, honours and styles[edit]

Royal styles of
King Mohammed VI of Morocco
Coat of arms of Morocco.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty

The official style of the King is “His Majesty the King Mohammed the Sixth, Commander of the Faithful, may God grant him victory” (صاحب الجلالة الملك محمد السادس أمير المؤمنين نصره الله Ṣāḥib al-Jalālah al-Malik Muḥammad al-Sādis, ‘Amīr al-Mu’minīn, Naṣṣarahu-Illāh). When he is executing his duty as head of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, he is generally referred to as the “Commander-in-Chief.”

Honours and decorations[edit]

National orders:

Mohammed VI has received numerous honours and decorations from various countries, some of which are listed below.

Foreign orders:

On 22 June 2000, Mohammed received the honorary doctorate from George Washington University.[47]


See also[edit]

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