Pamphlet: Groundbreaking



The Pavilion of Morocco, Inc. will reflect the culture of the country. Products of Morocco will be exhibited and sold in the pavilion and an outdoor restaurant will serve Moroccan delicacies. Architect for the pavilion is Mr. Charles Koulbanis, Mr. John Olenek is structural engineer, and Mr. Ugur D. Bengisu is the designer.
Artist's Rendering - Pavilion of Morocco

Islamic Design

Islamic Design

SOURCE: Groundbreaking Brochure, The Pavilion of Morocco, Inc.

Excerpts from transcription of remarks made by Moroccan and World's Fair officials at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Pavilion of Morocco, Inc. at the New York World's Fair, Thursday, July 25, 1963.

DR. ROBERTO DE MENDOZA [Deputy Chief of Protocol]: Mr. Sbai, Governor Poletti, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. This groundbreaking ceremony for the Pavilion of Morocco, Inc. is a happy occasion full of golden promise. The pavilion, beautiful in the simplicity of its lines, has been designed by Ugur D. Bengisu in collaboration with New York architects Charles J. Koulbanis and John Olenek. it will have many features to captivate the interest of the millions of visitors to the Fair.

It will depict the agricultural resources of the country and its wealth in mineral deposits, as well as the modern industrialization which has expanded a number of its industries. Shops around the pavilion will feature famous products of Moroccan handicraft - carpets, leather goods, wool and silk stuffs, and many others. I understand that part of the exhibit will portray the tourist attractions of the kingdom which quite apart from its well-known centers like Rabat, Tangier, Marrakech and Casablanca, are many and varied, from skiing on the slopes of its beautiful mountains to swimming and water sports at its magnificent beaches.

At this moment I should like to have the honor of presenting Madame Sbai, wife of the president of the Pavilion of Morocco, Inc., Madame Sbai. I should also like to present the architects who have designed the Pavilion: Mr. Charles J. Koulbanis, Mr. John Olenek and Mr. Ugur D. Bengisu.

Our first speaker on this very auspicious occasion is a prominent New York attorney who has been a justice of the State Supreme Court, trustee of the Power Authority, and governor of the State of New York. He rendered most valuable services during World War II, for which he received many high honors. He visited Morocco in 1961, shortly after the accession to the throne of His Majesty, King Hassan II; and he has traveled widely in his untiring efforts on behalf of the success of this international section. I have the honor to present governor Charles Poletti, vice president for International Affairs and Exhibits of the New York World's Fair Corporation.

GOVERNOR CHARLES POLETTI: Thank you very much. The Ambassador referred to the fact that Mrs. Poletti and I had a very fine visit to Rabat to extend the official invitation to the government for participation in the New York World's Fair. That was in 1961, but my recollection of Morocco goes back a few years before that. In fact it goes back to 1943 when I was a member of the staff of General George Patton, and those days we were roaming around Morocco and Algeria; we saw a bit of Casablanca and Marrakech and Fez and other places, so that I've had a little acquaintance with your country from years back.

As Ambassador De Mendoza said, we at the World's Fair are much delighted that we will have a Pavilion of Morocco, Inc. We believe that Morocco has much to show to the seventy million visitors that will come to the Fair; it's a wonderful country, with a marvelous people. And we trust that the culture and the tradition and the achievements of the Moroccan people will be beautifully presented in this pavilion.

I want to add another word of commendation to Mr. Sbai, Mr. Bengisu, Mr. Koulbanis and his associate Mr. Olenek for the magnificent design that you have. I think it's colorful, attractive, and it ought to be one of the most interesting points in the International Area.

We of the International Division want specially to commend Mr. Sbai for taking the initiative in organizing this pavilion. The Moroccan Government was precluded from official participation, but Mr. Sbai, who is an American citizen of Moroccan extraction, had such confidence in the success of the New York World's Fair and such conviction that the flag of Morocco should be joining the other flags of the world here at the Fair, that he alone took on the organization of this pavilion. We are happy to say that his initiative and his resourcefulness have borne great fruit and we look forward to the collaboration and the cooperation of the Government of Morocco.

Mr. Moktar Sbai and Governor Charles Poletti at the site of the Moroccan Pavilion, Inc., are shown with Mr. Sbai's children, Najia and Ahmed Sbai.

Sbai, Poletti and Sbai Children

We feel that surely the Ministry of Tourism of Morocco will want to give its assistance and its cooperation to Mr. Sbai in connection with this Moroccan Pavilion, Inc. because American people, who love to travel, will surely want to see some of these glorious places of which Morocco can boast. And this pavilion is the vehicle by which that can be done. Apart from showing handicrafts and some good foods and the nice little bar that I see there, I hope that the organizers of the pavilion will also in some way serve to convey to the American people that will come to this World's Fair, the great qualities of the people of Morocco - and, also, something about the King of that splendid country.

Those of us who have followed world events are admirers of what is being done by His Majesty, King Hassan II of Morocco. He is a young man, but he is courageous, is forward-looking, he is stalwart, and he is a firm believer in the values of freedom and justice and liberty. And in today's groundbreaking for the Moroccan Pavilion, Inc., those of us here at the World's Fair with to extend our best wishes to His Majesty, King Hassan II. We are proud to have the Moroccan flag at the World's Fair and delighted that this beautiful pavilion will reflect some of the superb qualities of the people of Morocco.

DR. DE MENDOZA: Thank you, Governor Poletti. I now have the honor of introducing an imaginative, enterprising personality, who has made it possible to have at our New York World's Fair, the Pavilion of Morocco, Inc., which promises to be one of the great attractions of the International Section. He was born in the city of Fez, seat of the Carouine University, the oldest university of the Arabic language. He was raised and educated in Morocco, attended business school in this country and later became an American citizen. Among his activities, he founded in New York, Moroccan Leather Goods, Inc., of which he is president. I have the honor to present Mr. Moktar Sbai, president of the Moroccan Pavilion, Inc.

MR. MOKTAR SBAI: Thank you, Dr. De Mendoza. Governor Poletti, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being with us on this very happy occasion. I also want to express my deep appreciation to the personnel of the New York World's Fair and specially to your Mr. Harris for all the willing and able assistance given to me. I am looking forward with great pleasure to continuing this association for the next two years.

I have every confidence that the New York World's Fair is going to be a tremendous success, and I will do everything I can to see that the Moroccan Pavilion, Inc. helps contribute to this well-deserved success. I felt so very strongly that Morocco should be represented in this great undertaking that I decided to go ahead with this pavilion on my own. However, in the next few weeks, I will be going to Morocco where I will meet and confer with the various government officials.

As a result of this visit I have every expectation that the Moroccan Government will cooperate with me on this enterprise. The Bureau of Tourism has already indicated an interest in the Moroccan Pavilion, Inc., and I look forward to their valuable cooperation.

Mr. Moktar Sbai, president of the Moroccan Pavilion, Inc., and Mrs. Sbai, receiving the Fair medallion from Governor Charles Poletti, vice president of the Fair's International Divison.

Mr. and Mrs. Sbai & Charles Poletti

It is through endeavors such as this great New York World's Fair that the people of the world will come to understand and appreciate one another and enjoy the culture of all countries.

In this Moroccan Pavilion, Inc. many of the products of my native country will be displayed and some will be sold. A sidewalk cafe is planned, similar to one that might be found in Morocco, where light refreshments will be served. There will also be a regular restaurant in which Moroccan foods and beverages will be served, and less exotic cuisine too, for less adventurous diners. Moroccan craftsmen and entertainers will be in various parts of the pavilion. Again, let me thank you, my friends, for being here with us today. Thank you very much.

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