“Finding Joy in a World Full of Suffering Is Attainable”

Abdellah El Bouchikhi was born and raised in Fes, home of one of the oldest medieval cities in the world that is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, located in Morocco. Majoring in civil engineering, he’s currently pursuing a master degree in Transportation planning and mobility. He believes that mainstreaming resilience is instrumental in achieving lasting progress. Consequently, as a professional priority, he hopes to induce a paradigm shift in how PPPs internationally incorporate long-term resilience in infrastructure investments by leveraging global climate finance sources. Thereby developing climate-smart infrastructure that preserves environmental sustainability and ensures availability and continuity of infrastructure services. Abdellah El Bouchikhi's mentor is Souad Talsi MBE.

 Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!

 A: Home to 10 UNESCO world heritage sites, The Kingdom of Morocco is the most westerly of the North African countries. It has Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, a rugged mountain interior and a lively history of ancestral craftsmanship. It’s a country of dizzying diversity, epic mountain ranges, ancient cities, eclectic heritage, sweeping deserts, charming history and warm hospitality.

Morocco’s exceptionalism resides in the peaceful co-existence of its different religions and cultures and the magnanimity of its people. I was born and raised in the city of Fez, a city in northern inland Morocco, where I became a votary of classical Andalusian music from a very young age and where I learned the history of the different dynasties that chose this city to be the capital of Morocco during their rule.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: Our world is fraught with peril, nevertheless finding joy in a world full of suffering is attainable and shows a judicious sense of responsibility toward mankind. We must not lose faith in humanity, because our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves. Rational beings are bonded through similar needs and goals and, therefore, should live for the well-being of all and expand their affection for one another until there is no one who is "other."

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: Morocco's biggest and potentially most destabilizing problems are unemployment, regional disparities and growing social inequality. On the other hand, Morocco’s most pressing problems are perhaps gender inequality, lack of education, loss of biodiversity, the depletion of natural resources and dearth of quality social infrastructure.

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: Young leaders nowadays are being asked to take on significant leadership roles that come with an inordinate amount of responsibility. With that on mind, I felt the need to define success correctly, I had to find out constructive means to make up for my limited experience and to sustainably develop myself, and most importantly I recognized that self-effacement and a fierce resolve are a powerful mix to keep one’s self-interest in check.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: Having a mentor is more than an opportunity. A true mentorship is one filled with emotional investment--a desire in the mentor to see their knowledge manifest in another, and an ambition from the mentee to take each lesson to heart. A true mentorship allows the mentee to learn and grow at a rapid rate, and the mentor to review themselves and reflect upon some of their earliest lessons and challenges, which is fulfilling for both of them. A true mentorship is symbiotic. It’s a jolt of wisdom for mentees and an emphatic hindsight for mentors. And that is why it is so rare.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: Life has taught me that empathy is a journey to a higher level of consciousness, a quintessential human instinct that needs to be empowered in order to build a better world together. Global education is just the start of it and sharing this lesson is a way of exhorting humanity to embrace the human condition’s complexity and cherish the diversity.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: I reckon that there are a lot of small and big scale NGOs in Morocco, each from different heights, that are contributing actively and collectively to the betterment of people’s life. One of those that has drawn my attention in the COP 22 climate change conference, held in Marrakech 2016, was Dar Si Hmad foundation. A remarkably innovative structure that creates sustainable initiatives to empower the vulnerable communities of Southwest Morocco through environmental education, capacity building and exchange and cooperation. While all of their projects are well-grounded and carry a strategic value, their Water School program is simply a work of art and their fog harvesting project captures the essence of what this NGO stands for. I invite all readers to check their inspiring work and to support their various initiatives.

Q: What are some of the challenges that women in your country face and what efforts are made towards gender equality?

A: Moroccan women, like all women in the Arab world still suffer from the remnants of their countries’ long history of a dominating patriarchal social system that utilized religion and culture to consolidate its influence. This reality is translated into a low female participation rate in decision-making and leadership spheres like politics and executive among others. Morocco is gradually coming to
grips with the fact that the key to closing its gender gap is putting more women in charge, but that could only be achieved through sustainable empowerment efforts.

Q: Athena40 is the first ever global selection of the top 40 women forward thinkers, commentators, activists, authors, academics, entrepreneurs, executives, innovators. Can you think of a truly innovative and forward-thinking woman from your country that you wish to nominate for the Athena40 global list?

A: I recommend Khadija Hamouchi for the Athena40 global ranking. A strong advocate of education for all. Her life mission is leveraging education for the uncountable Arab talented youth. For more information on her profile, you can check the following link: https://generation-t.be/en/profiles/khadija-hamouchi

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
― William Shakespeare

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.

A: One of the most perspective-changing lessons I was blessed to learn at the hand of my mentor is the fact that creativity without actionoriented follow-through is a uniquely barren form of individual behaviour. A creative vision requires action and uncertainty is no excuse for inaction. Most great ideas remain dormant because people don’t have the courage and resources to take action. In my case, I used to believe that creativity was superior to conformity, that coming up with ingenious ideas gave me the right to pass off on others the responsibility for getting down to brass tacks. Nowadays, I highly value creative individuals who take added responsibility for implementation and I aspire to be one of them.