Santana, Sting and Mika in the Moroccan capital to celebrate the "Rhythms of the World"

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For the 9th year, Morocco’s capital hosts one of the biggest world music festivals this May. The 2010 event will host international headliners such as Mika, Elton John, BB King, Carlos Santana and Sting and African legends like Ismael Lo and Alpha Blondy and Lebanese diva Majda Roumi. After the 2009 festival witnessed a record attendance of 2 million concert-goers marred by a deadly stampede in a Rabat stadium, organizers are pledging that more security measures and CCTV cameras will prevent such incidents from occurring this year.

"Mawazine" festival, meaning Rhythms of the World in Arabic, has grown from a local Rabat event, to one of the biggest world music festivals, offering this year more than 90 concerts with 1,700 artists from 40 countries. "In terms of organization, we benchmark ourselves with Montreux, Montreal and New Orleans festivals (...) no other music festival is as big in Africa," said Hind Lfal, a spokeswoman for the Mawazine festival in a phone interview to Relaxnews.

In 2009, the festival's eclectic lineup featured Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue and French-Algerian legend Warda El Djazairia for a mix of international and world music talents on several stages around the Moroccan capital.

"Our festival gains in recognition every year. For instance, certain artists refused to come in 2009 and will come this year, seduced by our facilities, last year's big names, and by Morocco's quality of life," said Lfal.

Organizers are aware that security needs to be rethought after 11 people were killed by a rush of departing concertgoers last year even though "police investigations concluded that there were no breaches in the security system." According to Lfal, they will resort to CCTV cameras to prevent mass movements.

Most concerts are free of cost so that everyone in the region can take part in the festivities, however VIP seats and passes can be purchased online. For instance, the Gold Pass, giving access to every concert during the nine days costs 2,000 dirhams (200 euros).

Mawazine Festival
Rabat, Morocco
May 21-29
With Mika, Elton John, BB King, Santana, Sting, Ismael Lo, Alpha Blondy, Majda Roumi, Julio Iglesias, Seun Kuti, Richad Bona, Angélique Kidjo, Omar Sosa and Don Bigg, Harry Connick Jr, and many others.