Morocco’s ambassador to the United States, Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui, was lauded Dec. 18 by fellow diplomats and U.S. officials at a lunch in Washington, where she received the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador of the Year award.
Scores of diplomats, including the ambassadors of Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Tunisia and the Arab League, attended the ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington. Joumala will be succeeded by Morocco’s former ambassador to South Africa Youssef Amrani.
A cousin of King Mohammed VI, Joumala was hailed as “a diplomat’s diplomat” by NUSACC board member Dwight Bush, one of four former U.S. ambassadors to Morocco who attended.
“She has successfully navigated in Washington, D.C., the nuances of advocating for her country while gaining a concomitant appreciation of American politics and our culture,” Bush said. “She has nurtured a broad range of relationships and interests, as evidenced by the impressive crowd here today.”
NUSACC presents its Ambassador of the Year award annually to a member of the Arab diplomatic corps in recognition of outstanding contributions to Arab-American commercial relations. Established 50 years ago, NUSACC is “widely regarded as the voice of American business in the 22 countries of the Arab world and the premier portal to the United States for Arab commercial enterprises.”
Being chosen to receive the award was “a testament to Joumala’s unwavering dedication, exceptional leadership and outstanding contributions to the U.S.-Morocco bilateral relationship and the diplomatic corps in Washington,” Puneet Talwar, U.S. ambassador to Rabat, said in a message read out at the luncheon.
Six years into her tenure in Washington, which began in 2016, the United States became the largest foreign investor in Morocco, Joumala said.
Bilateral trade volume reached $5.4 billion in 2022, and American investment in the North African kingdom accounted for nearly a third of total foreign investment in her country, she said, touting Morocco as a springboard to the rest of Africa for U.S. businesses.
“Morocco’s deep ties in the continent offer even greater potential for U.S. companies,” the ambassador said.
In addition to having strong trade ties, Morocco has long been a military ally of the United States. It hosts the U.S. Africa Command’s largest exercise on the African continent, “African Lion,” and is a partner in global efforts to promote peace and security, including co-chairing the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Africa Working Group of the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, noted Henry Wooster, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Near East.
Morocco has hosted major gatherings in recent years, including the World Bank Group-IMF annual meetings in October 2023, UNESCO conferences on cultural heritage and education in 2022, and a conference on international migration the same year.
British Robinson, coordinator of the Prosper Africa Initiative, a presidential national security initiative that seeks to catalyze trade and investment between the U.S. and African countries, said Joumala had deepened the “very special” ties between the U.S. and Morocco.
“The U.S. is uniquely lucky to have you in DC,” Robinson said. “You’re an incredible diplomat and accomplished woman that believes in the power of economic and cultural ties to connect people across languages and across borders.”
Ed Gabriel recalled his decades-long friendship with Joumala, which was forged when he was U.S. ambassador to Rabat from 1997 to 2001. During her tenure in Washington, Joumala had represented Morocco with elegance, he said.
“And importantly,” he added, “the U.S.-Morocco relationship is stronger because of the trusted friendships you’ve developed here…”
The luncheon was also a sending-off party for Joumala, who was due to leave Washington after seven years of service as Morocco’s ambassador to the United States. Before coming to DC, she was ambassador to the United Kingdom.