Muhammad VI

▪ 2000

      Hours after the death of King Hassan II of Morocco on July 23, 1999, his oldest son took the throne as Muhammad VI. The new king thus joined two other young rulers of the Arab world—King Abdullah II of Jordan (q.v.), who was a personal friend, and Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah of Bahrain—who assumed power in 1999 upon the deaths of their fathers.

      Muhammad ibn al-Hassan was born in Rabat on Aug. 21, 1963, and was given the title Crown Prince Sidi Muhammad. He completed primary and secondary schooling at the Royal Palace College. He then entered the Mohammed V University in Rabat, where he received a bachelor's degree in law in 1985 and three years later a master's degree in public law. For a brief period in the late 1980s the crown prince studied at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. He then entered the University of Nice in France, where he received a doctorate in law in 1993. His doctoral thesis dealt with relations between the Maghreb Union and the European Economic Community. He was educated in both Arabic and French, and literature and art were among his interests.

      Although the heir to the throne of Morocco was rumoured to lead an active social life, over time he also took on increasing responsibilities in support of his father. He became known particularly for advancing efforts to help the poor. In 1985 his father gave him the task of coordinating the nation's armed forces. As his father's health declined in the 1990s, the crown prince represented him at a number of political meetings and ceremonial functions, both in Morocco and in other countries. In February 1999 he represented Morocco at the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan.

      Hassan II, who had ruled Morocco for 38 years, was widely held to be a moderating influence among Arab nations and in relations between the Arab world and the West. His death and the assumption of the throne by his son were seen as part of a pattern of the transfer of power between generations that was taking place in a number of Arab and Middle Eastern countries. The transition from the rule of Hassan II to that of Muhammad VI went smoothly and was without incident, and it was expected that the new king would continue in the moderate tradition established by his father.

Robert Rauch

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Universalium. 2010.

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