Third Eye

Our lives as diplomats,  travelling, building relations

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 08:06 | By
Ambassador Aberrazzak Laassel and his wife Lubna Laasel PD/Harriet James

When Amb Aberrazzak Laassel was appointed director of the African Union in 2017, the opportunity gave him a chance to travel the length and breadth of the continent. He, however, didn’t get a chance to visit Kenya, until Decemmber 2021 when he was named the new ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Kenya. 

He had just read books and watched films such as Out of Africa, which has over the years made the Kenyan safari famous, yet it, he says, only gave him a glimpse of what the country looks like. 

“When I got the news that I was posted here, I was excited. My diplomatic work had given me an opportunity to interact with Kenyan diplomats, which too added to my knowledge of the country,” he narrates. 

His wife, Loubna Laasel, was also excited and desired to learn more about the country and her people. “I’m looking forward to my stay in Kenya. One of the places I like to visit is the Masai Mara during wildebeest migration or Naivasha and catch a glimpse of the lake or go to Mombasa and enjoy the beach. I believe that if I talk about these trips to my friends and family back in Morocco, it would probably inspire them to come and visit in future,” she narrates. 

Cousin turn wife

Travelling around the world is the one thing that she loves about being a diplomat’s wife. 

“I enjoy the lifestyle of being a diplomat’s wife; it has allowed me to travel around the world and learn about different cultures. However, whenever I start to feel at home in a new country, I find myself having to leave,” she says. 

The two lovebirds have known each other their whole lives since they are cousins — their fathers are brothers. They got married in a colourful ceremony in year 2000 and since then, Loubna has been her husband’s pillar taking care of family while her husband works. She ensures that her daughters, one aged 17 and the other 13, are well grounded. They are enrolled in a French educational system and even as they travel, their studies are not interrupted since the curriculum is fairly the same.

“I also try to be patriotic as much as possible by preparing Moroccan food, speaking Arabic, among others,” says Loubna. 

One thing that the ambassador is proud of is that their eldest daughter is set on walking in his footsteps as a future diplomat. 

“I’m glad she has shown interest in this field and I’m mentoring her. She will be joining Fordham University, New York, USA to pursue Political Science with a major in International Relations,” says the ambassador. 

Born and raised in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, Amb Laassel began the diplomatic life after graduating from the national school for public administration in 1986, in the diplomatic section.  

“I began my career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Morocco and spent six years in Switzerland as the First Secretary. I returned to Rabat and was appointed to deal with the cooperation between Morocco and Central and Northern Europe. I was then appointed as first secretary in Vienna where I was dealing with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and (The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT),” he says.

All in ambassador’s work

In 2005, the ambassador was appointed as Minister of General Assembly affairs based in New York where he spent two years before being appointed as the deputy permanent representative in Geneva in 2007 where he dealt with disarmament and humanitarian affairs and human rights. 

 “I then went back to New York as a deputy permanent representative till 2017 when Morocco joined African Union. I was appointed as the director for the African Union affairs where I worked for almost four years before being appointed, in December 2021 to be the Moroccan ambassador to Kenya,” he says. 

Part of his work is to ensure a greater cooperation and learning between Morocco and Kenya. He has observed that the two countries share a lot— for instance, the history of Ibn Battutah, an 18th century medieval Muslim traveller who wrote one of the world’s most famous travel blogs, the Rihlah. “This great work describes the people, places, and cultures he encountered in his journeys along some 75,000 miles (120,000 kilometres) across and beyond the Islamic world and Mombasa was one of the places where he wrote extensively of. We want to establish an institute in honour of him in Mombasa,” explains the ambassador. 

Another area where Kenya can learn from Morocco is in tourism, which is one of the chief earners. In 2019, Morocco hit over 20 million international visitors. 

“In Morocco, places frequented by tourists such as Marrakesh, Tangier, Agadir and Essouira, have residents who speak German, Spanish, English, and French, hence easing communication. Geographically, the country is located in the north of Africa and at cross roads between our continent and Europe, hence attracting tourists. We also have good infrastructure,” he shares. 

Tourists also visit for historical factors —the country has six imperial and ancient cities, such as Rabat and Marrakesh. Additionally, the country boasts of the first university in the world that issued a medical degree, Al Qarawiyyin University in Fez, which was started in 1200 AD. 

While he plans for Morocco to learn from Kenya on information technology and wildlife conservation, he plans to share Morocco’s expertise in agriculture. 

“We can also assist in port management since we have Tangier Port, the largest port in the Mediterranean Sea and the continent. We plan on training the counties on culture, tourism, industrial cooperation and has started this in Baringo, Mombasa and Kisumu,” he says.

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