International festival of Ibn Battuta 2nd edition- Tangier, Morocco

‘Travelling; it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller’, -Ibn Battuta. These words by Ibn Battuta sum up his entire life and the sole purpose of this event. This international event is all about celebrating rich culture, mutual tolerance and travelling. Through travelling only can the true essence of foreign cultures be understood and without proper understanding of each other’s cultures mutual tolerance cannot be built. It would be safe to say that with everything going on in the world, such an event comes as a ray of hope. We need knowledge of diverse cultures and traditions now more than ever and the international festival of Ibn Battuta does that in the most beautiful manner. Ibn Battuta, the scholar, in whose name the event is held, is known to be one of the most extensive travelers of the medieval era. This attribute of his is the root of the event’s vision which encourages travelers from all around the world to visit and see for themselves the sweet, warm and welcoming culture of Morocco. The event is being held in Tangier because this is that city of morocco which was the departure and returning point of Ibn Battuta. The city is culturally very significant in terms of tourism attractions and Moroccan traditions.

Ibn Battuta is basically a nonprofit organization that seeks to keep the legacy of the legend alive by holding indulging events so that the essence of his travels and his findings can be kept alive. Their mission is to promote Moroccan traditions through soft power. Hey want tourists from all around the world to gather and see what a rich, colorful and warm cultural heritage the places and people of Morocco possess. There can be no better way to promote a culture than through cultural exchanges ad public portrayal of ones values. This event is unique because it can prove to be an icebreaker between countries who misunderstand each other based on false stereotypes. This event gives everyone a chance to come forward and experience firsthand what the Moroccan traditions and values are. The fact that Ibn Battuta himself left no stone unturned in discovering new things about foreign cultures and that he travelled as far as to countries like China, and other south east Asian countries is proof in itself. It speaks volumes about how enthusiastic he was when it came to learning new things about people and countries he was not familiar also proves that this event is not limited to anyone. It is open to people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, religions, race and ethnicity. Ibn Battuta did not let any of these aspects get in the way of discovering foreign cultures which is why he is the most suitable name to represent this event.

The event is beneficial to everyone involved in it. It benefits the tourists who are attending it because Morocco is a rich country when it comes to culture. Their cuisines, their dressing, their norms and values and most importantly their hospitality is sure to be a delight for all those who travel there for the event. It is also beneficial for the Moroccan people because having people from diverse backgrounds will also help them in understanding their backgrounds as well because so it will be a two streak. This can help reduce differences and eradicate all stereotypical misconceptions. Through increased flow of foreign travelers the organizers of the event aim to help the state socially, economically and most importantly in terms of tourism. The event gives special importance to the practice of traveling. The name of the event indicates this. Ibn Battuta and traveling can be used synonymously and that is at the core of what the event represents.

A lot comes to imagination when one thinks about what the city of Tangier has to offer in the event. The city is a perfect blend of liberal and conservative values. This is evident through its division of old and new towns. The beautiful Palm Springs walk, mesmerizing beeches, busy historical market areas and a lot of historical architecture are some of the start attributes of Tangier. It is a city with strong morocco values but it is also blended with western customs and standards. This is a delight for tourists because they can indulge in rich traditions and enjoy the modern day lifestyle all at the same time.

What the event offers

Having covered all the historical and strategic background and purpose of the event we can now move on to what the event actually has to offer. It consists of a number of different activities. Al equally indulging and exciting for the travelers. The unique feature about all the activities is that each of them offers something to learn. They give knowledge of either the travels and findings of Ibn Battuta, why they are still relevant in the modern era and how they have been incorporated as strong values in the Moroccan culture.

The pioneer of the concept of peace through travelling, Ibn Battuta was born and buried in Tangier hence it makes the city quite significant for the commencement of all the activities of the festival. It is a three day festival with activities that vary from tales of Ibn Battuta, musical show, performances and presentations and most importantly the carnival.

On the first day in the opening ceremony is comprised of opening speeches by the honorary president, the founder and the president. Presentations from the association of Ibn Battuta are also a part of the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony is basically symbol of the formal beginning of the festival. It marks the beginning of an unparalleled journey of three day filled with enrichment through knowledge of history, acknowledgment of various aspects of Moroccan culture and most importantly a joyous time. The second day is spread over the course of conference sessions, theatre and movie time. The conferences hold speeches from highly valued speakers from all walks of life with one shared interest and that it their love and appreciation for the contributions of Ibn Battuta. The theatre then offers plays that depict the struggles and adventures of Ibn Battuta as well as the culture of Morocco through a series of self-involving and beautifully presented tales. Then there are movies shown which are largely related to Ibn Battuta with the Moroccan traditions and values carefully incorporated in them. The third is all about the much anticipated carnival. It is considered to be the highlight of the entire festival.

The carnival is the most exciting part of the event. It celebrates the essence of the festival in the most cheerful way. It is organized by different national and international groups of students. They join hands to represent the adventures of Ibn Battuta through traditional musical instruments and tunes. Folkloric groups gather from around the world to make their contribution. The beauty and strength of the carnival is in its cultural diversity. These various groups represent the strong belief of Ibn Battuta in spreading peace and joy through traveling. It shows how people can be brought together by sharing one common heritage and that it love for peace and prevalence of humanity. The wave of people from all sorts of backgrounds is divided into several groups, each dressed differently and showcasing a different set of skills and tradition. They entire army of people make their way around the central street of Tangier. They showcase their zeal and appreciation through all sorts of musical performances, chants and various different and unique musical instruments. The rally passes through a lot of strategically important landmarks in Tangier but the most significant passage is through the town of Ibn Battuta. The level of excitement while passing this area is at its peak. People dance and show their talents to express their love for Ibn Battuta and their appreciation for the celebration of his contributions. What is notable here is that not all the participants of the rally are Moroccan but they celebrate the legacy of Ibn Battuta despite their cultural backgrounds. This acts as a moment of triumph for all the principles Ibn Battuta stood for. His ideology of creating peace and harmony through erasing lines of cultural differences and breaking the chains of traditions that stop people from bonding together clearly wins and at the time the carnival rally seems like a celebration for the victory of Ibn Battuta and everything he gave importance too. The carnival is not only the celebration of Moroccan culture but it is the celebration of multiculturalism. It is the representation of different cultures traveling from all around the world for one single celebration and that it the celebration of nothing else but themselves. It is proof of the fact that different cultures do not have to be a factor to separate people when they can do the exact opposite. They can be a source to bring people from diverse cultural backgrounds together to celebrate the reality that humanity and civilization is above everything else.

Another key feature of the festival is the sharing of travelling literatures. When Ibn Battuta travelled to all these different countries he did something very important which at that time he might not have realized but has now proven to be a great service to the entire human civilization. This favor was of documenting what he learned through his travels. Wherever he went he noted down what he found interesting or different about that country and its people. These journals later became an important source for tale telling in the Moroccan culture. His writings were so fascinating that people would tell them as stories. These tales took them to a whimsical journey of that country as if they were practically there. This old tradition has been beautifully incorporated in the festival. It is a revival of the old custom of tale telling where the literatures of Ibn Battuta are shared with the tourists from around the world so that they can become aware of what a magnificent man Ibn Battuta was and what a great service he did for humanity. He did not only own his culture but he owned the entire civilization as one single entity and that speaks volumes about him. It is due to his vision and thinking that this festival is able to gather people with such varying backgrounds. His traveling literatures are of high value and are also an extremely important part of the cultural heritage of Morocco. When the natives share these literatures they are not only sharing mere stories but they share a part of their historical belonging. They open up their doors to people with different traditions and that is their way of welcoming these people with an open heart and an open mind into their heritage. This practice is so unique and valuable. It is not very common to see such an ethnically diverse group of people being equally interested in listening to folktales of another land but the International Festival of Ibn Battuta makes it happen which is an achievement in itself. These literatures are shared by renowned scholars who have carefully studied these pieces themselves first in fact they have written extensively about these documentations. So when the tourists hear about them they can be sure of the fact that what they hear is based on true events and actual solid facts. What is more interesting is that these words are not some imagination but the actual experiences of one man who actually went through all these events himself. More than often these tales bring out the traveler in everyone. They make you want to travel and explore the wondrous world just like Ibn Battuta did, they make you want to experience the little things of every country instead of what the media and popular culture always shows. They intrigue a person to have all those experiences for themselves so that everyone can learn about the cultures of others and learn to respect them regardless of all the differences.

It is often said that music is the voice of the soul. Music makes one travel through leaps of time regardless of any physical boundaries. The International Festival of Ibn Battuta also has a music show specially planned out for all the tourists who have travelled miles to reach the magnificent celebration. It is an opportunity for everyone to indulge in soulful tunes and energizing beats and above all to have the time of their lives. Like every other thing at the international festival of Ibn Battuta the music show also has some unique features. The music will not just be classical and contemporary Moroccan music instead there will be a series of performances representing the music of all the countries Ibn Battuta visited. The legacy of this man is entirely based on forgetting the barriers of one’s own culture for a while and becoming a part of a new one even if it is just for a little time. The music show represents that beautifully. There are performers from distant places who have come to showcase the music of their people. They play tunes of love, affection, generosity, care and harmony while the listeners are taken on a mesmerizing journey. The music played by the performers is soothing yet so powerful that it actually takes one through a journey to the homeland of the music being played. One can feel the energy and vibes of the culture of that country. It is as if the music is not just being played to entertain the audience but it is being used as a magical window that opens up to a different country with new people and new customs. Every step of Ibn Battuta’s life was a struggle to familiarize people across nations with each other and their way of living. He tried to achieve this through different means and in this festival music can be counted as a step forward as well. Music, regardless of anything, is always a representative of the happiness and softness of any culture. It shows a mellow side even when it is about pain and suffering. This makes it the most suited medium to introduce people with one’s own culture. When a person listens to a tune they do not differentiate amongst it based on what country it is coming from. Every musical tune of the festival is self-indulging. The performers are so excellent at what they do that it is almost impossible not to enjoy the sweet melodies. Once the soul begins to dance and enjoy the melody the difference of borders disappears and all that is left is happy vibes and positive sentiments. This was what Ibn Battuta believed in and what he ultimately wanted to achieve. Music is always the best ambassador of peace and harmony which is why it is an integral part of the festival. The music show aims to give people some time to relax and enjoy as well as learn something valuable about other countries.

Art is a journey through time and space. It is amazing how a single piece of painting has the ability to take the mind to another zone or another era. The International festival of Ibn Battuta realizes the importance of art which is why an art exhibition has been made a part of the festival. Artists from all sorts of various backgrounds come forward and showcase their work. Each of them represents their hard work and their passion but most importantly, they represent their homeland. The goal of every artist showcasing their work is to portray a soft image of their country. Ibn Battuta believed that there are positive and negative aspects about every culture but one should always bring out the best in them. He believed that it important to explore the beauty that lies in differences and embrace these differences so they become a source of unity and harmony. His ideology is very well present in the art exhibition. As we all know, art knows no boundaries, it is a free soul that does what satisfies the heart this means that art in one for all. The art exhibition allows the people to appreciate these characteristics. In a way it depicts the differences of various cultures cultural art pieces being showcased but at the same time it makes one understand that every piece has a beauty of its own and no single piece is superior to the other just like no single culture is superior to the other. It also gives the artists from all around the world to gather under one roof and exchange their views and expertise. Through these exchanges there is a chance for art in itself to become more diverse and multicultural. The highlight of the art exhibition is the enormous painting that depicts the travels, struggles and findings of Ibn Battuta. It has been made by a Spanish artist over the course of one whole year. In this one year the artist first understood what Ibn Battuta stood for. He explored each and every aspect of his journeys and everything he experienced. This is a remarkable depiction of his dedication towards the legendary character. The attention to detail is definitely visible in the painting. That single painting describes the entire life journey of Ibn Battuta. The artist has done a remarkable job in telling the tale of his travels without even using words. They say a picture speaks a thousand words but in this case a graphical representation tells an entire tale of the travels of one man. This is the actual beauty of art. It can tell stories without using words. Art has the ability to make the mind understand what it otherwise wouldn’t be able to understand. This single painting has the ability to make one travel back in time and feel what Ibn Battuta felt at that time. It is a great achievement on the festival’s part to be able to realize the delicacy and importance of these aspects and to be able to make them an integral part of the festival. In addition to the painting of Ibn Battuta and other paintings, various items such as maps and books are also made a part of the exhibition. Their purpose is to provide more insight and understanding of the medieval era.

Every aspect of the festival is deeply rooted with the journey of Ibn Battuta. His experiences are the reason for celebration in every step of the festival. His ideology is represented with great zeal in every event. All these things create a great anticipation to get know the greatest traveler of all times even more closely. To feed the thoughts and imagination of the tourists about Ibn Battuta the organizers of the festival have made the screening of a special documentary based on Ibn Battuta a part of the activities. This is a great chance for everyone to get to know even more about the travels of Ibn Battuta. ‘A journey to Mecca’, the title of the movie explains that it is about the young scholar’s journey towards the holy city of Mecca. The movie explains the importance Ibn Battuta gave to traveling. At times he even risked his life for the cause which simply shows the weightage of traveling for him. The movie is a depiction of the highs and lows of the man’s journey to Mecca. It gives an insight on how his search for knowledge lead him travel so far east and how he ended up traveling to forty four countries just to turn his dreams into a reality. His dedication was so strong that he even accepted the fact that he might not see his family again. All of this and much more is told about Ibn Battuta in the documentary which according to New York Times is stunning. They say that a graphical representation has a deeper impact on the mind and soul than words. Keeping this in mind the festival finds it very important to have this documentary screening as a part of the activities. The setting of the screening makes it even more special. It is held in an open area with the sky and stars overlooking the large volumes of tourists gathered there to learn how one man gave everything to the purpose of traveling. Having an open screening has its own set of perks. The tourists can enjoy the captivating journey of Ibn Battuta remarkably portrayed in ‘A journey to Mecca’ and at the same time they can enjoy they beauty of the city of Tangier. The beautiful city lights, the cool and soothing breeze from the beeches and nothing but the enchanting sky over the heads is a perfect setting for the movie screening. It creates an environment of relaxation and excitement at the same time. All the people gathered there can enjoy a beautifully told tale in the most natural environment. The movie screening is one of the most exciting part of the festival.

Ibn Battuta not only wanted to explore other countries and culture himself but he wanted to encourage others to do so as well. The festival is incomplete without celebrating other travelers besides Ibn Battuta. There is an activity of street art in the festival. The purpose of this activity is to paint various travelers on different buildings of the city. These buildings have been carefully chosen beforehand. Different artists gather to showcase their skills. The finished paintings of travelers from all around the world are left for the tourists to see and admire. These paintings are not mere work of art. They are symbolic to the city of Tangier. The city was home to one of the most profound travelers of all time hence the culture of traveling and celebrating people who do so is quite strong. This is the driving force behind the idea of painting renowned travelers on strategically chosen buildings based on how prominent and important they are in the city. Once again by doing so the city and the festival itself proves its commitment towards building peace by erasing cultural boundaries and celebrating human civilization above all. The travelers which are painted come from various different ethnic backgrounds and with the help of the organizers of the international festival of Ibn Battuta they are made a part of the culture of city of Tangier. The street art is also celebrated by groups of musicians. Each one of them represents and celebrates the painting of the traveler with the same ethnic background as them. They do so by playing music of their home country. However, the special thing is that while celebrating their own traveler the difference is somehow lost along way and in the end it is just a bog and joyous celebration of all the street paintings regardless of the ethnic background they come from. It is a wave of pure excitement and zeal. The festive atmosphere creates such a happy vibe which makes the entire experience worth it for the tourists. This custom has successfully been practiced previously in the cities of Marrakesh and Rabat. They have already had their streets painted with famous travelers and celebrated it as well. This activity is quite significant for Tangier particularly since it is after all the home of the greatest traveler so to share his legacy with those who followed his footsteps and found their peace and happiness in travelling is more of a necessity for the city. The city of Tangier is a deeply rooted with customs of traveling and exploring the cultures of far off lands so the activity of street paintings is quite vital for it. This particular even also increases the value of the city for the tourists. It is one thing that they come to celebrate and explore the life of Ibn Battuta but when they have more than one great traveler to celebrate and quite possibly some from their own background as well, the incentive automatically increases.

The festival has left no stone unturned in depicting the great voyages of Ibn Battuta. Nearly every medium through with his experiences could be portrayed have been incorporated in the festival as activities for those attending the festival. One last stone in this magnificent amulet is the theatrical representation of the tales of Ibn Battuta. With the depiction of his travels through plays just complete the entire picture. Although the entire theme of the festival is based on how Ibn Battuta spent his life and various other mediums have been used to portray this for example art, music, documentary screening and much more, the theatrical presentation holds its own significance. The energy that can be felt in a play is unparalleled. Viewers are carried along with each passing scene. They feel each and every emotion, the power, pain, joy of success and what not. It gives them a chance to vibe with the story and feel it actually happen scene by scene. The play allows you to be present in the same very setting where the action is being carried out and it somehow makes one feel more connected to the journey and the struggle. They theatrical play in the festival is a detailed one. It is spread over the course of the entire festival which means it will continue in episodes. Some scenes can be experienced in the theatre itself while the other can take place in open cultural settings of the city of Tangier. In movies several takes are given before the perfect shot surfaces so there is a margin for error but the plays are live so they demand each and every move to be perfect. Performers from several different areas and backgrounds gather to embrace and show how the vision of one man grew to be so strong that it become the ideology of an entire nation. The play is all about the glory of Ibn Battuta and the purpose of it is to send his message across to as many people as possible. Like the entire festival the aim, through this play, is to honor the memory and life of Ibn Battuta. A play is one of the oldest ways to practically represent a tale. It fits remarkably well with the medieval setting of the travels of Ibn Battuta. With powerful portrayal of acting skills and emotional yet thought provoking tales, they plays are bound to be an exciting experience for everyone present there.

The International Festival of Ibn Battuta has already successfully complete its first round in February 2017 and it is all set for an even more magnificent second round which is scheduled to be held in November 2017. It won’t be wrong to say that the festival is a roller coaster of emotions. It takes one way back down in the history lane. It is an extremely knowledgeable event which teaches people about the history that they otherwise might not have known about. The entire festival is planned out so beautifully and it is evident that a lot of thought has been put into the entire process.

The entire beauty of the festival lies in the gathering of such a large volume of people from such diverse backgrounds. Through the course of this festival these people live together, spend time together, eat and chat together and also exchange views about hundreds of topics. This shows how easy it is to gather people in the name of art and music but most importantly peace. This effort by Morocco is a proof that the human civilization can learn to live together, they can learn to embrace each other despite all sorts of differences. All that is needed to do so is to help them create an understanding of each other’s backgrounds. Once they learn different aspects of each other’s culture it is not difficult to make out that no culture is violent, no culture is hostile in nature and no culture is unwelcoming to anyone who want to be a part of it even for a little time. Most importantly, to achieve this mutual understanding, it is vital that one travels. As described by Ibn Battuta, traveling is the key to a perfectly harmonious and united world order. If we imagine living in a world where people frequently move back and forth between countries, where people develop affection for these countries they visit then it is hard to imagine that those same people can become violent towards each other cultures and heritage.

This initiative taken by Moroccan people is a torchbearer for other people to follow the same path. However, the first step towards building a united world can be taken through the celebration of this festival. The friendly vibes of the festival, the variety and diversity of knowledge available at this festival is unparalleled. There are scholars from all around the world who are there to share their expert views on culture, ethnicity and traveling. They are thee to provide an insight on comparative studies of cultures, how peace can be achieved through that and much more. Other than that there are artists present there to give a colorful explanation of how there are no boundaries to spread love and care for each other. Through their state of the art paintings and other art works they represent the culture of their nation and become ambassadors of harmony, peace and unity. Moreover the musicians indulge the people in their melodies and make them forget where they’re from and what they believe in and in the end they just all have a good time together. This is something very difficult to achieve but the International festival of Ibn Battuta has done it so effortlessly and are set out to do it yet again. This festival definitely needs to be attended by people who have a vision or even those who just simply love to travel and have new experiences. There is plenty for everyone to enjoy. The food, music, culture and atmosphere is beneficial and enjoyable for everyone. The principle of Ibn Battuta are lived to the fullest in this festival and it is one of the most beautiful sights to watch.