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Morocco Week in Review 
March 22 , 2014

Q&A with ‘Returned’ Peace Corps volunteer: Jacob Hamilton
By Kayla Stroner on March 16, 2014

If you’re struggling to find a post-college path that feels right and you enjoy volunteering, helping others and traveling, it might be helpful to consider serving in the Peace Corps. At 5 p.m. on Mar. 19, in room 110P of the Student Services Building, ISU alumni Jacob Hamilton will be giving a talk on his experience working with the Peace Corps in Morocco.

What happened to you in college that led you to work with the Peace Corps?

I wouldn’t say my college age was the time of conception for the Peace Corps. I was much younger, perhaps high school, when I first thought it would be interesting to join. I’ve always had a desire for adventure and to travel. I think the more likely cause was my desire to be a writer as a youth. It never seemed possible to do so without exploring and living life, without finding out what it was like to see another culture, or to watch stories unravel. Most fictional stories are a re-doctoring, re-configuring of real life. You can’t write or talk about life unless you live it.

Can you tell me about the work you are doing in Morocco? What is the goal of your service? 

Work in the Peace Corps is pretty ambiguous, which is what I love about it. I don’t have a boss constantly breathing down my neck, asking what I am doing, telling me to switch gears, goals or direction. When I wake up in the morning I decide the trajectory of my day and the goal for my work.

A majority of the Moroccan population, somewhere around 25 percent, I think, is 25 and younger. Then, factor in that employment is down in Morocco, and you have a lot of youth, 25 and younger, who have a lot of extra time on their hands. I work mostly through the Dar Chebab, which translates to “Youth Development.” However, I do work outside the Dar Chebab for other projects.

Usually, the plan after graduation is to get a job, move out, get married, etc. Why is joining the Peace Corps an alternative post-graduation option that students should consider?

The nature of your question, in my mind, is the answer. If that is what a person really wants then, by all means, they should do these things and be happy about it. However, I think it’s important for any person to think outside of the box when deciding upon the rest of their life. The employment rate in America is low, and I hear all the time about the lack of jobs available. A very expensive college degree does not ensure a job, not like it used to. Even in cases of specialty degrees like pharmaceuticals and speech pathology, there is a lot of job competition where an applicant would largely benefit from “Returned Peace Corps Volunteer” on their application.

On another note, I feel the Peace Corps has made me a better American and made me much more grateful for what I have and given me a deeper understanding of my country and culture. I’m a firm believer that you can’t truly understand something until you have stepped outside of it and looked in or viewed it from another culture.

Morocco: A bridge between US and Africa.
By Edward M. Gabriel March 19, 2014

At a time when many pundits are concerned about the disarray in U.S. policy, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, our country’s oldest ally continues to take steps to build bridges that not only benefit the region, but have very positive consequences for America’s long-term interests in Africa. I’m referring here to recent events that demonstrate how Morocco’s strategic ties to the continent have significant implications for our economic and security interests in the region.

I have just attended the second US-Morocco Business Development Conference in Rabat, Morocco. No ordinary business meeting, it is part of the Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue, and seeks to promote stronger trade and investment ties and greater utilization of the Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA). I was impressed by the more than 100 US and Moroccan companies, agencies, and organizations that participated in the program, which focused on the investment climate in Morocco, the role of Morocco as a gateway to Africa, and sessions on automotive and aeronautic manufacturing and renewable and other energies.

As the meeting got underway, King Mohammed VI had just concluded a trip that highlighted Morocco’s strong relationships in Africa, and how valuable they can be – not only to Morocco and to Africa, but also to potential international investors. The king traveled with a delegation of more than 100 people, to Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Gabon. More than 80 agreements were signed during those visits, covering cooperation in security, environment, commerce, education, agriculture and rural development, mining, gas, and oil initiatives.

There is no doubt that these agreements will open new markets to international partnerships that benefit all the players. The king was very clear in his remarks throughout the tour – that it is time for Africa to work with Africa and take responsibility for the continent’s development. He strongly believes that Africa will gain a great deal by advancing from being perceived as a source of commodities to a more diversified, value-added and substantial economy, in concert with its international partners. Given Morocco’s experience and challenges, King Mohammed VI is keenly aware that the region needs to generate hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs, which can be only achieved if governments and the private sectors seize these opportunities.

And the King’s focus went well beyond the economic benefits of more robust and localized growth. In each of the countries, special attention was given to social housing projects, educational cooperation, and the training of imams (prayer leaders) in the moderate form of Islam practiced in Morocco and throughout the region. Education agreements included expanding the number of university scholarships for African students, working together on improving technical and vocational training, specialized training in service industries such as banking and tourism, and triangular aid agreements that involved the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

These visits do a great deal to consolidate Morocco’s already strong leadership position in Africa, a position buoyed by substantial investments included in the agreements. For example, Morocco pledged to dedicate one of its fertilizer plants specifically for Africa to improve local agricultural practices. In Guinea, the king and President Alpha Condé opened a new flour mill, a joint venture that will create hundreds of jobs. And in Gabon, a $2.3 billion joint-venture for fertilizer factories (two in Morocco, two in Gabon) for African markets, that will take advantage of Morocco’s phosphates and Gabon’s natural gas to increase agricultural output and improve food security across the region.

Morocco has demonstrated time and time again that its focus on regional stability and security is serious and dynamic, providing the kind of leadership and collaboration that can only benefit U.S. interests. As Ambassador Michael Battle, Senior Advisor, U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the Department of State, remarked at a recent Ambassadors Rountable on Africa, “Morocco is showing the way within the framework of an approach that doesn’t recognize artificial differences between North and Sub-Saharan Africa.” It is a model worth following that will reap important dividends for all stakeholders.

As the US and others look to broaden their involvement in Africa, they would do well to rely on the King’s vision – for his own country and for Morocco’s African neighbors – which reflects his strong belief that governments must serve the people and that meeting their needs, generating jobs, encouraging entrepreneurship, and raising the aspirations of Moroccans and Africans is the best antidote to terrorism and militant extremism.

Gabriel is the former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, 1997 to 2001, and currently advises the government of Morocco.
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Mayor Emanuel welcomes Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal from Kingdom of Morocco to Chicago.
March 21, 2014 American Arabs, Bloggers, Commentary, News by: Ray Hanania

“Meeting with Moroccan Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal highlights City’s strong partnership with Sister City Casablanca,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says

Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal from the Kingdom of Morocco to Chicago Thursday, to convey the City’s steadfast commitment towards maintaining strong Chicago- Morocco business relationships and furthering collaboration on innovative water infrastructure projects. “I am pleased to welcome Ambassador Bouhlal to Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Since 1982, Chicago and Morocco have had one of the more active Sister City relationships in the world, working together to strengthen the bonds between the two cities through cultural, educational, humanitarian and economic projects,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Today’s meeting marks yet another step in supporting this important relationship and helping the world view Chicago as a world-class city with world-class people.”

Mayor Emanuel and Ambassador Bouhlal also discussed a possible exchange between Chicago students and Casablanca students in connection with the City of Learning Digital Badging System, as well as the educational work done at the Center for Arabic Language and Culture – housed at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in the South Side’s West Englewood neighborhood. In addition to his meeting with Mayor Emanuel, during his visit to Chicago Ambassador Bouhlal also met with the MacArthur Foundation, toured digital start-up hub 1871, and spoke at a program hosted at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

In 2013, total trade with Morocco totaled over $66 million. Currently, several Chicago-based companies operate in Morocco: Baker & McKenzie, Grant Thornton, Hyatt Regency, JLL, Leo Burnett, and QST industries.

Today’s meeting was another example of frequent exchange between Morocco and Chicago.

Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Emanuel has committed to improving Chicago’s international relationships, meeting with dignitaries from Britain, Germany, Mexico, India, China and Poland among many other nations.

Members of the American Arab community have criticized Mayor Emanuel, however, for gutting the Arab Advisory Commission, and canceling a dozen events with American Arabs that were previously hosted by Mayor Richard M. Daley. The events include the annual Arabesque Festival at the Daley Plaza, which had only begun five years prior, the annual Arab Heritage Month celebration, which had been held in Chicago for two decades, and several entertainment venues hosted by the City of Chicago Office of Special Events featuring American Arab and Arab World poets, writers, entertainers and speakers at the Cultural Center.

The mayor has declined to respond to inquiries from American Arab organizations, this news organization and community leaders. We continue to ask Mayor Emanuel to meet with the American Arab media and discuss these issues but he continues to reject all inquiries from American Arab media. He did give a lengthy interview to Neil Steinberg at the Chicago Sun-Times, and he has met with the Jewish Ethnic media.

Leominster woman fundraises to teach English in Morocco

Literacy is one of the benchmarks by which any culture can thrive and flourish. Unfortunately, however, many societies languish in a situation where many of its citizens can neither read or write to any appreciable level. Consequently, volunteers are needed to encourage these skills in the local populace.

Leominster resident Taylor Smith, a student attending Emerson College in Boston as a journalism and political communication double major, is using online crowd funding as her way of reaching out to the residents of Rabat, Morocco, helping to give them an economic advantage by teaching them how to read and write English. A self-described "international news junkie," she hopes to create positive changes in the world, one step at a time.

"There's definitely a need in that area — not only in Morocco but in North African countries in general," Ms. Smith said. "As a rule, Morocco is pretty progressive, but it's nowhere near where it needs to be in terms of English-speaking literacy. My intention is to go to this developing country, which is really trying to improve itself. The education index, however, is still languishing at .48 percent, so it's not even close to being average."

Rabat, the name of which means "fortified palace" in Arabic, is the capital and third-largest city in Morocco, with a metropolitan population of 1.2 million. Located at the Atlantic Ocean and the Bou Regreg River, it is popularly known as the "Washington of North Africa" because of its opulent public buildings and wide green spaces.

Despite its importance as an urban center, however, Rabat still shares many of the economic woes that are rife in the rest of the county. With an unemployment rate of 10 percent and a high-school dropout rate topping 38 percent, many of its residents are trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair. Learning to speak and write English can make all the difference to these people, as it opens up new economic opportunities.

For the last several years, the international volunteering organization Ubelong has been making strides in enabling volunteers to visit the country, working in women's empowerment, education and care giving. "Ubelong has a pretty big base in Morocco, so I'll have a lot of support," Ms. Smith said. "They've been working a lot with the local school system and other organizations. Things are well-established there, so it wouldn't be like I was starting from scratch. The social infrastructure is already in place, so I'd be working with other volunteers, trying to push their base further."

Although this will be Ms. Smith's first time visiting Morocco, she's not unfamiliar with the area in general. "I've been to Africa several times," she said. "As a matter of fact, I was there just last year, participating in a project with 12 other volunteers. At that point, we were trying to develop a public relations strategy for one particular town."

Even though it's not really possible to teach English in the three weeks allotted by Ubelong, Ms. Smith sees little difficulty in making a difference in that short time, because of the efforts that have already been made by the organization. "I know it's only a brief period, but that's why I chose a situation that already has a base," she said. "This way, I'm not working from the ground up; they already have the foundation in place, and I can build on that."

Ms. Smith sees this experience as an opportunity to launch her future career. "I'm definitely planning on building on this in the future," she said. "I took the Foreign Service Exam with the State Department. I'm seriously considering becoming a foreign service officer, specializing in Africa. So, this is really a long-term commitment."

In all, Ms. Smith says that she needs to raise $2,000 through the crowd-sourcing campaign, which will cover her airfare and lodging. "Anything above that will go straight into helping the schools in Morocco," she said. "I'm really hoping that I can make this work and be a real agent for positive change in that country."

To visit Ms. Smith's fundraising site, visit For more information on Ubelong Morocco, visit
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Korea Grants Morocco $6 Million to Strengthen Statistics
Business Intelligence System. Thursday 20 March 2014

A Moroccan-Korean cooperation program to strengthen the statistical and business intelligence system of the ministry of industry, trade, and investment was signed Wednesday in Rabat, for a total sum of about 50 million dirhams ($ 6.1 million) provided by the Korean government. Under this cooperation program, the statistical and monitoring systems of the ministry, whose role is to monitor the industrial sector, trade and distribution, and ICT, will benefit from the support of Korea, which will provide reliable strategic information.

The support of the Korean side will concern mainly the strengthening of the statistical systems in place, providing them with equipment and software solutions for the implementation of a platform covering the three aforementioned sectors and incorporating a business intelligence tool to meet the needs for sound decision-making.

The program also provides capacity building resources through the transfer of Korean expertise and know-how in the management and organization of survey systems, and data processing and analysis. “This agreement supports the ministry throughout the development of industrial statistics and decision-making,” minister of industry, trade, and investment, Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

For his part, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Morocco, Lee Taeho, noted that much of the funding for this project is dedicated to technical cooperation, namely the training of human resources and capacity building. “The budget dedicated to this 5-year program is the largest among all the projects implemented by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Morocco,” he said.

EIB Grants Morocco MAD 1.65 billion Loan to Finance Road Network Modernization.
Thursday 20 March 2014

The European Investment Bank (EIB ) has granted Morocco a loan of 1.65 billion dirhams to finance the road network modernization program under an agreement signed Wednesday in Rabat.  The loan, granted to La Caisse pour le financement routier (CFR), will help finance the expansion and strengthening of about 1.650 km of roads. The loan agreement was signed by minister of infrastructure, transport, and logistics, Aziz Rabbah, and EIB vice-president, Philippe de Fontaine Vive, in the presence of minister of economy and finance, Mohammed Boussaid.

On this occasion, de Fontaine Vive and Boussaid welcomed cooperation ties between Morocco and EIB, reaffirming their shared commitment to further developing them. The road network modernization program is part of the integrated development policy implemented by the ministry of infrastructure, transport, and logistics to improve the transport sector in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the economy.

Morocco gets 205 mln USD from Europe
Mar 21,2014 RABAT, March 20 (Xinhua)

The European Investment Bank (EIB) granted Morocco a loan of 1.65 billion dirhams, or 205 million U.S. dollars, to finance its road network modernization program, local media reported on Thursday. The loan will help Morocco expand and upgrade about 1,650 km of roads, the country's Ministry of Transport said. The program is part of Morocco's integrated development plan to improve its transport sector and strengthen its economic competitiveness.

The EIB has granted Morocco 1.86 billion dollars in total during the past three years to finance its social and economic projects.

Audiopharmacy Tours Morocco
Wednesday 19 March 2014 By Said Hanin – Tangier

The American band “Audiopharmacy” toured in four cities in Morocco, including Casablaca, Fez, Mohamadia, Salé, and Meknes from March 6-12, 2014. The band is comprised of 5 members hailing from different cultural backgrounds and is based in San Fransciso. They play a mix of eclectic instruments from all over the world. The group is classified within the Hip-Hop genre, but distinguishes themselves in terms of amalgamating different kinds of music in a sonorous and harmonic style.

The Audiopharmacy tour is a part of the “American Music Abroad” program. “American Music Abroad (AMA) is a people-to-people cultural exchange program designed to communicate America’s rich musical contributions and diverse culture to the global music scene.” It consists of several cultural activities organized by The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the “American Voices” association, with a goal of reinforcing and promoting dialogue and mutual understanding between Morocco and the United States.

The Berber Decorative Tradition, an Inspiration to Yves Saint Laurent. Culture, Design, Women's Fashion
By EVIANA HARTMAN March 19, 2014

During the decades they spent holidaying in Morocco, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé became captivated by the culture of the native Berber, or Amazigh, tribe, which has inhabited North Africa for 9,000 years. The extensive collection of Berber art and artifacts the couple acquired from the ’60s until Saint Laurent’s death in 2008 is now housed at the Musée Berbère at the duo’s Jardin Majorelle studio villa in Marrakesh. Beginning Friday, the pieces will appear for the first time in the West — alongside a trove of art and objects from private collectors and the Musée du Quai Branly — in the show “Berber Women of Morocco” at Paris’s Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent. More than 600 intricately detailed decorative objects, including headpieces, jewelry, carpets, textiles, furniture, pottery and one spectacular set of handcarved kohl eyeliner pots, will share space with drawings by the French artist Titouan Lamazou and archival photographs of Berber women sporting the tribe’s traditional dress. Those familiar with YSL’s oeuvre will no doubt spot the influence on the designer’s work. But what’s especially uncanny is how on-point the women’s look — layers, volume, insouciant accessorizing — feels today.

Bergé asked the show’s curators to focus on women because of their pivotal contributions to the community: traditionally “feminine” crafts and adornment, and the female job of harvesting argan oil, have ensured Berber economic survival, while their role as educators has preserved the tribe’s ancient language. But women are also at the heart of the exhibition, said Bergé in a statement, simply “because most of the objects concern them.”

“Berber Women of Morocco” is on view until July 20 at Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, 3 rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116 Paris;

Morocco: One in Every Two Women is illiterate
Wednesday 19 March 2014 Taroudant, Morocco

According to a report of the High Commissioner for Planning released last week, nearly 53% of Moroccan women can neither read nor write. More than half of Moroccans in “working age” (15 years and older) are illiterate, despite the various literacy programs implemented in recent years, according to an AFP report on a study of the High Commission for Planning entitled “Moroccan women and the labor market: characteristics and evolution.”

The same source added that rural women are more affected than their urban peers. More than seven in every ten women (71.8%) are illiterate against four in every ten women in urban areas. Nearly one in every two women (47.6%) has no skills, and less than one in every four women (24.7%) is active.

According to the same report, many rural women have entered the labor market before they were 15 years old, “a reality that has undoubtedly a negative impact on enrollment.” The same source added that that more half of working women (59.5%) work in the agriculture sector.

In an attempt to fight illiteracy, the Moroccan government launched many literacy programs in cooperation with the European Union and various NGOs during the past decade. These efforts have helped reduce the rate of illiteracy in Morocco. More than six million people have benefited from the literacy programs. 80% of the beneficiaries were women from rural areas, according to the same source.

Moroccan students explore job market.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 13/03/2014

Young Moroccans are flocking to "Employment Week", which runs until Saturday (March 15th). At 400 sites in multiple cities, thousands of university students are learning about the labour market and gaining practical advice on how to enhance their appeal to employers.

According to the head of the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills ( ANAPEC), the 5-day programme focuses on business needs. "Technical skills are not enough on their own," Hafid Kamal said Monday about the initiative organised by his agency and the employment ministry. "Businesses require other skills such as communication and languages," the ANAPEC director added.

Also speaking Monday at the Rabat kick-off event, Employment Minister Abdeslam Seddiki said that ANAPEC would become the go-to resource for any Moroccan seeking a job, not just for those with degrees. ANAPEC would assist all young people seeking to enter the labour market, the minister pledged. "We don't need training, which has proven to be a failure, when there are promising and key sectors that already aspire to make use of skills," Seddiki said.

In addition to opening the services of ANAPEC to all jobless young Moroccans, a national monitoring centre will soon be created to examine the Moroccan market, analyse employment opportunities and devise a system that responds to the demands, Deputy Minister of Higher Education Soumia Benkhaldoun said. She pointed to successful programmes already in place, including one for 10,000 primary and secondary school teachers and another for 25,000 graduates in sectors related to Morocco's development programme.

For Karima Chahi, a second-year student of French literature, this week's employment event is proving informative. "It's important to understand what businesses are looking for, so that we can prepare ourselves by acquiring the necessary skills," she told Magharebia. "I speak French, which is in great demand in the labour market. But I've just found out that this skill is not enough on its own. I also need to master the art of communication," she added.

The programme also came at the right time for Zyad Mahidi, an economics student, "It's helpful to learn about your strengths and weaknesses during higher-level education, so that you can fill in any gaps and know how to sell yourself to employers once you've landed a degree," the student said.

Morocco lifts the ban on Amazigh names
Friday 21 March 2014
Taroudant, Morocco

The High Commission of the Civil Registry confirmed on Monday the freedom of Moroccans to choose the names of their children, provided the names do not breach morality or public order, without distinction between Arabic, Amazigh, Hassani, or Hebrew names, and in accordance with the provisions of the law relating to civil status. According to the Maghreb Arab Press, the procedure of choosing names was confirmed at a meeting on January 23, 2014 of the High Commission of the Civil Registry, chaired by Abdelhaq Lamrini, historiographer of the Kingdom, spokesman of the Royal Palace, and President of the High Commission of the Civil Registry.

The meeting also focused on the examination of complaints filed previously against the refusal of some Amazigh names by the offices of civil status, according to the same source. Officers of civil status are also required to demonstrate a “maximum flexibility in the processing of applications submitted to them and ensure to provide all facilities to the citizens, the same source added.”

The High Commission of the Civil Registry called on the officers of the civil status to withdraw the lists of names published under the old law and to comply with the provisions of the circular of the Ministry of the Interior No. D3220, published April 9, 2010, on the choice of names.

Anir, Sifaw, Tifawt, Thiyya, and Bahac are some of the many Amazigh names that had been unauthorized in Morocco. The Amazigh families have been denied the right to name their children some Amazigh names since 1996, when a circular was sent to Moroccan civil status registry offices banning Amazigh names. Since then, activists have led a fierce campaign against what they call a “racist and discriminatory law” targeting Amazighs, and Amazigh associations have been putting pressure on Moroccan authority to recognize Amazigh names.
Edited by Melissa Smyth © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be further published, rewritten or redistributed

Morocco: The Making of New Traditions.
Friday 14 March 21014 Mohamed El Hassan Abou El Fadel is Morocco World News contributor and co-editor

The perception of traditions as such is totally the opposite of the spirit of traditions and may prove to be counter-productive especially in societies that aspire to break away from backwardness and make it into the sphere of enlightened and advanced societies. Traditions should in the first place be based on proven best practices rather than on folkloric assumptions or perceptions. In this manner, the door will always be kept widely open to the ever evolving ‘best practices” in different areas of social interaction.

In this respect, we may come to establish and deeply anchor a new tradition of “respecting time” for instance. If we, as a society, manage to do so we will certainly go one step higher up the ladder of civilized nations. Not only that, but we will certainly be more productive, more positive, more competitive and above all more success oriented.

Another tradition we could think of adopting and keeping in our society is queuing and respecting the queue while seeking services or waiting to get products. Needless to say that in modern and post -modern societies the “Plastic bubble,” an inherent  social notion regulating personal space, has it that a pre-established space interval between people standing in a queue is to be respected and very much observed.

Yet another tradition we may wish to consider and possibly establish in our society is turn-taking while holding a conversation or discussion. As may happen in plenty of instances in some societies, a lot of people wish to voice their opinions, ideas, concerns or what not at the same time. The end result of such behavior is obviously chaotic communication with all what that can entail. Turn taking between speaker and listener can prove to be efficient, more practical and civilized. Agreeing on this principle may not be that easy as a lot of training has to take place before people could become positive listeners and efficient speakers. I started with listeners because listening is the more difficult part of the two. Listeners have to be auto-disciplined and open to others’ messages to perform the art of positive listening before they could switch roles with speakers.

Respecting the environment and the public domain is something to think of as a potentially healthy and rewarding process that could be turned into yet another tradition. Fighting recklessness, carelessness and vandalism and replacing them with caring, sharing and mutual help towards achieving a better protection of the environment and safeguarding public domain property is the way to get that tradition established.

A culmination of these hoped for traditions would be establishing a zero tolerance for cheating and bribery in all spheres of public life and administration in our country. If by any chance our society comes to reach this point or level of awareness, adopts this zero tolerance policy and turns it into a new tradition, I am sure it will become a role model to plenty of other developing or emerging societies.

Skeptics will certainly laugh at this. Resistant to change will fight it with all their might to keep unchallenged their tenure status. Others will tell you they heard this ‘cassette” over and over again, and it is pointless even to bring it back on scene. Can they say the same about successful traditions the Germans and the Japanese managed to establish in their societies? If these two instances seem out-of-reach to some, then they had better make themselves a cup of tea and spend three hours to thoroughly enjoy it. The task is definitely not theirs. If, on the other hand, some others are more inclined to be on the side of the “Yes, it is possible” and the “Yes, we can” spirit then they had better start now, their beneficial impact will surely make a difference on the long run.

This is no ‘pie in the sky” as it may seem, policies that get appropriate enforcement turn into good and orderly habits. Out of the good habit formation process slowly and surely emerge the contours of a new tradition that people will eventually come to cherish, observe, protect and subsequently transmit. That said, there will always be enough room for old traditions. They will always remain as cherished and treasured essential parts of the rich and diverse cultural legacy from our past and common history.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be further published, rewritten or redistributed

Moroccan writer Fatema Mernissi discusses women’s issues in Rabat.
Thursday 20 March 2014

Moroccan writer Fatema Mernissi discussed women’s issues, tackling different points from feminism to globalization’s impact on women, during a lecture on Tuesday, March 18 at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in Rabat. Mernissi said that she rejects the word ‘feminism’. The reason behind her claim is that she was once planning on attending a conference on feminism with a male colleague. However, the organizing committee asked her to enter the room alone, refusing entry to the male journalist with her. She turned down the request.

Mernissi also emphasized the point of globalization and its danger on women’s traditions. She featured her friend’s, Fatema Elourdigui, painting, which reflects the traditional life of Moroccan women. “I was inspired by Fatema’s Elourdigui painted picture since it reflects the real traditional way of rural women,” said Mernissi.

Mernissi also discussed her most successful works, including “Reve de Femmes,” “L’amour dans les Pays Muslmans,” “Le Harim et L’occident,” and “Dreams of Trespass.” One thing that surprised Mernissi the most was when her books were translated into several languages, she said.

Traveling has played a crucial role in Mernissi’s career, she said. She described her experiences as an author traveling to many different countries. “In order to eat, we should travel,” she said.

Mernissi’s attendance was a good opportunity for many students and they enjoyed listening to and discussing issues related to women’s status in Morocco, particularly rural women.

Mourad Echikhi, a student at the University of Mohammed VI in Rabat, said he was thrilled that Mernissi shared her experience and learned many new things about the reality of women in Morocco. “Fatema is a vivid example of a Moroccan woman who tries her uttermost to cast the light on Moroccan rural women, I am personally planning to read her inspiring books,” Echikhi said.
Edited by Saba Nassem

Gender Inequality in Morocco Continues, Despite Amendments to Family Law.

When Zineb lost her father at the age of 15, her grief was compounded when she learned that she had to share his inheritance with an older half-brother unknown to her or her mother and sister. “It felt unfair to split it with him,” said Zineb, 29, a teacher in Rabat who asked that her full name not be used because as a political activist she is concerned about her safety. “Somebody was parachuted into your life and we didn’t know him and after all, my mom worked for half of all of that money.”

A decade ago, Morocco adopted a family code hailed by women’s rights groups as a big step forward. Three years ago, the country passed a new constitution guaranteeing gender equality. Even so, Moroccan women say that equality is still a long way off, and much of the old order remains untouched, including the inheritance law section of the family code. That law, laid down in the Quran, states that male relatives receive double the inheritance of women.

But the pressure for change is building. “Islam allows for reinterpretation, and it is time for radical decisions to protect women,” said Saida Kouzzi, a founding partner at Mobilizing for Rights Associates, a nongovernmental organization based in Morocco. “This law of inheritance was based on the fact that men were the head of the households, which is not the case anymore as many women are the ones who provide for the family or at least contribute in a significant manner.”

In 2004, Morocco rewrote its code of family law, establishing the right to divorce by mutual consent, placing limits on polygamy and raising the minimum marriage age for women to 18 from 15. But no changes were made with respect to inheritance.

At the time, the Moroccan ruler, King Mohammed VI, had to arbitrate between the demands of feminist organizations, who were calling for an expansion of women’s rights, and the Islamic political parties, who were strongly resistant to change. But terrorist bombings in 2003 that killed 45 people in Casablanca weakened the Islamist parties and paved the way for the adoption of the new family code. The king seized that opportunity to make it clear that he was the country’s top religious authority.

“I can’t in my capacity as commander of the faithful, permit what God has forbidden, nor forbid what the Almighty has allowed,” the king said in an October 2003 address to Parliament about the changes to the family code. He also hinted that he would push to loosen religious rules without completely rejecting them.

Analysts said it was a clever strategy. “It was definitely a strong marketing move,” said Abdellah Tourabi, a political science researcher and the editor of the Moroccan monthly magazine Zamane. “It was the fourth year of his reign, and the move gave him the image of a modernist and a reformer. He became a sort of bulwark against conservatism and Islamism and a strategic ally for the secular elites.”

Still, human rights organizations say that, in practice, the changes have not been fully carried out, mainly because some judges have been finding ways around the law or are still unfamiliar with the amendments.

Although the law now states that 18 is the minimum marriage age, judges have granted permission for the marriage of minors in about 90 percent of the cases that have appeared before them, according to 2010 data reported by the Justice Ministry.

“It takes much more time for changes in the law to be translated into practice,” said Ziba Mir-Hosseini, a research associate specializing in women and Islamic law at the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law at the University of London. “Studies show that it takes about one generation or 30 years for legislation to push society in a different direction.” “Many families in rural areas are really eager to have their daughters marry much earlier,” she added. “Judges have to go by the reality on the ground.”

In conservative Morocco, the reality is that even women may be reluctant to challenge Islamic traditions that discriminate against them. “Women are very attached to the book and it is very clear on inheritance,” said Sonia Terrab, a Moroccan novelist, referring to the Quran. “If given the choice, they will reject reform. There needs to be a strong state that imposes it until it becomes a solid gain in two or three generations.”

In December, Driss Lachgar, secretary general of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, an opposition party, demanded the repeal of laws that discriminate against women and called for a national debate on the inheritance law. Although his message stirred some controversy, no national or legislative debate ensued.

Ms. Kouzzi, the human rights worker, said the enforcement of the inheritance law had serious consequences: Many families disintegrate after the death of the father, and sometimes the survivors lose their homes.

Many Moroccans, she said, have discovered ways to work around the law, registering their properties in the name of their daughters, if they do not have a son, to guarantee that the inheritance stays within the nuclear family.

To radically change a traditional law, scholars say, it is necessary to accept that Muslim societies like Morocco are deeply conservative. Feminists and other groups seeking change must work with conservatives and avoid using alienating language.

“This issue cannot be addressed without taking into consideration what Moroccans consider to be their identity: Islam,” said Souad Eddouada, a professor at the University of Kenitra in Morocco who specializes in gender studies. “This is a very tough battle to win for feminists because it touches money and property. Islam is based on the concept of justice, so a new reading of the texts can open the way to reforms even with inheritance.”

Many believe that this kind of change will not be possible in Morocco unless the king provides the impetus.

But Zineb, the teacher who lost her father, said change was bound to happen despite the serious challenge it would pose to the privileges of men. Until then, she is making special provisions for her 8-year-old daughter. “My advice to all women is to make sure they put the stuff in the kids’ names,” she said. “And they have to do it while they’re alive so the law doesn’t take away the girls’ rights.”

Implications of Morocco's Bifurcated Educational System (Part 2/2).
17 March 2014 Yasmine El Baggari

One of Morocco's most pressing national problems is its high illiteracy rate. [Note: Read part one  here.]

Moving on from part one, can we debate that the French system is only benefiting the middle- and upper-class in Morocco? 

The French system generally requires students to be in the classroom approximately 30 hours a week and also demands they dedicate a considerable portion of their time to homework outside of class. The quantity of homework assigned is often difficult given the time constraints the students have, as they are in the classroom on a full-time basis.

In addition, the style of learning in the Moroccan version of the French system is largely based on rote memorization which discourages creativity and independent thinking, as students are solely focused on regurgitating facts and knowledge in order to attain passing exam scores. 

Arabic is the fundamental language of instruction at the primary and secondary level. This author's study proposes the following suggestion: Should it not be natural to utilize Arabic at the university level as a way of providing a sense of continuity and, thereby, security for the students who get thrown off with the sudden change of language?

French will remain to be the dominant language in Moroccan culture as most of society uses it for verbal and written exchange. This article does not argue that the French language should lose its prominence on the societal level, but should potentially be offered as an option at the educational university level, besides other languages, rather than having classes in just the French language.

Bifurcated Education System: A Systemic Hurdle

While the Moroccan government has taken steps to modify education to suit the needs of the people, the bifurcated nature of the educational system has proven a major systemic hurdle to further progress.

In public schools throughout Morocco, Arabic is used as the primary language through the secondary level. From the university level onwards, however, French is used as the dominant language in academia. This practice presents a frustrating dilemma for Moroccan students, and even more so for the poorer women in rural Morocco.

The change in language to which Moroccan students must adjust in order to advance from one educational level to another is an unnecessary and counterproductive hurdle. While the sample size of students interviewed was small, their thoughts appear to represent the frustrations of many Moroccan students toward this divided and ineffective system.

An Akhawayn graduate student indicates that the education system is a complete "mess" and the differences in technical language between French and Arabic make it confusing and challenging for students. Their time is consumed by adjusting to the unnecessary transition from one language to another, when they could otherwise be spending this time focusing on their studies.

Meanwhile, another university student at Akhawayn suggests that Moroccans focus on their own language of Arabic and have the French language as an option as opposed to a requirement in academics. At the University of Rabat, another professor declares that implementing the French system while having only had Arabic schooling before is not effective.

Because students in the more highly educated urban centers struggle to adapt to changing linguistic environments, it is only logical that poorly educated women in rural Morocco will only struggle more. Rural women have less exposure to the French language and also do not have the privileges of urban students.

The lack of continuous streams in language through the Moroccan educational system makes it difficult for Moroccans to attain an education when they must overcome such linguistic hurdles.  

To further complicate matters, the 2011 Constitution of Morocco recognized Tamazight as the second official language of the country. As many of the Tamazight speakers are from rural areas, the introduction of the largely oral Tamazight language into mainstream Moroccan society is still limited. This presents another challenge on how and to what extent Tamazight will be incorporated into the educational system.

The new government reforms help rural women gain better access to education; yet in order for these women to excel in that education and become active citizens in society, the primary language of instruction in the academic world must be continuous throughout the educational system, whether in French, Arabic or English.

Other institutional hurdles must also be eliminated to pave the way for rural women and other Moroccans to have easier access to an education. Moroccan students in their senior year of high school are currently required to take a baccalaureate exam in order to continue at university level in Morocco. Performance on this exam is supposedly meant to dictate to which particular universities a student has access.

However, there is a consensus between interviewed students and professors that this exam is unnecessary, as it does not guarantee admission to the top universities in Morocco, even with competitive scores. Furthermore, the baccalaureate exam does not accurately reflect students' intelligence or their potential to succeed, and thus cannot give universities a reliable metric by which to judge students for admissions. 


It should be recognized that the knowledge of the French language does in fact benefit working Moroccans, at a familial or societal level, given France's colonial influence on Moroccan society. This language is only dominant in select countries across the world.

However, it is an undeniable fact that English has established itself as a universal language. Business, academia, and resources on the Internet are predominantly in English. English is such an important language to know in the professional and academic world, as the current global situation is very "Americentric."

The world is rapidly globalizing, and many countries are trying to emulate things in America. One major factor is the educational system, which is widely recognized as one of the best in the world. In order for Moroccan students to look for higher education and professional attainment, knowing English is important while they absolutely need to be adept problem-solvers and critical thinkers — two skills that are highly valued in an American-like academic and professional world.

These skills can be learned in an American educational system, as they are emphasized in American-system schools from the day a student starts attending school. With a mastery of both the Arabic and English languages as more universities adopt an alternative to study English, Moroccan students will benefit with more opportunities to enter a rapidly globalizing world where characteristics such as freethinking is valued, something the American-based system embraces.

The American system will be less elitist than the French system, mainly because of the number of scholarships and financial aid American universities provide to qualified students who are unable to afford a private university education in Morocco or abroad.

In an economically struggling nation such as Morocco, such a benefit is vital for students who possess the intelligence and work ethic to excel at the higher level but do not enjoy the means to pay for their education. Students are able to get Fulbright scholarships to go to the best universities in the United States, and often come back to Morocco to improve their country economically.

The system instituted is a positive example of how a different educational system can and should be introduced across Morocco to engage all social classes. Thus, the benefits that will come with literacy across all levels can only be favorable. 

Needless to say, however, in spite of the challenges the Moroccan government still faces within the educational system, it is taking promising steps to come to the support of women's rights and empowerment, and is not alone in its efforts. In fact, nonprofit organizations are key allies in the fight for women's empowerment through education.

*[This article was originally published by Jadaliyya.]
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
The Author: Yasmine El Baggari Amherst, United States . Yasmine El Baggari is a Moroccan undergraduate based in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is studying Socio-Political Science and Economics. Her research focuses on women’s empowerment and the concept of identity, morality, and cultural evolution for Arab Muslim students in the West.

Morocco reduces tomato and courgette exports to the EU.

Between 3 and 9 March (week 10), Morocco exported a total of 11,799 tonnes of tomatoes to the European Union at an average price of 0.62 Euro/kilo, according to data provided by Andalusia's Council of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development. The volume exported dropped compared to the previous week by around 6%, while prices have fallen by around 10%.

Courgettes: As for courgettes, Moroccan exports to the EU during the said week reached 889 tonnes, at an average price of 0.38 Euro/kilo. The volumes exported dropped by approximately 27%, while prices increased by around 28%. From 10 February to 4 March, courgette prices stood below the allowed minimum (0.41 Euro/kilo). Between 3 and 9 March prices have continued to increase, oscillating between 0.33 and 0.42 Euro/kilo. Source:

Amine Raghib , Moroccan Winner of YouTube Silver Award
Friday 21 March 2014 Mona Badri Rabat

As social media has proven to be an outlet for creative and innovative people to showcase their interests and activities, Amine Raghib, a Moroccan young man from Marrakesh, stands out from the crowd as the winner of YouTube’s  Silver award for having had more than 365,000 people subscribe to his YouTube channel on Tuesday, March 18,  2014.

Raghib’s four-year-old YouTube channel, Al-Muhtarif “Arabic for the professional,” has exceeded 300,000 followers. The channel’s content is informative and educational, and “geeks” are said to consider it a good resource for information. The simple and clear methodology Amine Raghib uses to explain the tricks of technology makes the channel’s videos enjoyable by everybody, even those who are not into technology.

Amine Raghib is the first Moroccan to receive the YouTube Silver award for excellence. His videos have received more than 23 million views. He has already been awarded the best blogger prize in Morocco. He also participated in several competitions in the Arab world on technology. He took part in international events including a recent one held by the Universal Center for Journalists in Morocco. He has been received on several TV shows aired on 2M TV channel and Medi 1 TV.

In a video published on his YouTube channel, he thanked his fans and followers with these words of inspiration: “I am a very simple person. I started from Zero. What I want to tell you is to hold on to your dreams. Do not make excuses. If you really want to make your dreams come true, you will not make up excuses or blame it on the scarcity of resources.”

While there are many other Moroccans who have channels on YouTube, and some have more than 100,000 subscribers, none of them has so far been nominated to win this Silver award.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
Mona Badri graduated from King Fahd School of Translation with a Master's degree in Translation. She obtained a B.A in English Studies from University Mohamed V in Rabat.

County doctor to climb Mount Toubcal in Morocco.
Thursday 20th March 2014

Dr Dave Quinn, who is walking up Mount Toubcal to raise money for the British Red Cross and the Stroke Association.

Dr Dave Quinn is a consultant neuropsychologist at Wye Valley NHS Trust and helps people who are recovering from brain injuries.

He has already climbed the North Col of Mount Everest, as well as Mount Blanc, to raise money for charity, and he cycled from Lands End to John O'Groat's three years ago. This time he will attempt to scale Mount Toubcal in Morocco and, along with county street pastor Henry Rudge, will start the challenge on Saturday.

"This is the first time that Henry has done anything like this," said Dr Quinn. "Training has gone well and we've been to the Brecon Beacons quite a lot."

Dr Quinn has also responded to international disasters involving British nationals and was an Olympic torchbearer in Hereford in 2012.

You can sponsor the pair by visiting _ Toubcal_in_Morocco /

Morocco on a wing and a prayer: ABOVE the raucous din of a new day in Tangier’s bustling Grand Souk rings a sweet, tinny whistle as unremitting as the call to prayer.
By: Stuart Winter Published: Sun, March 16, 2014

Throughout the morning, the high-pitched notes float on warm, spring zephyrs and go largely unnoticed amid the hubbub of tourists and merchants haggling loudly over a few dirham. Only those with ears tuned into the tinkling song of Morocco’s most welcoming bird will detect its presence high above the city’s claustrophobic alleys and quickly realise they have not only arrived in a new country but a whole, exciting continent.

The house bunting might not be the most glamorous of birds with its subtle plumage of slate greys and brick red, tones that create an appropriate colour scheme for a bird named after a building, but its colonisation of Tangiers is as welcoming in this gateway city as the Arabic script passport stamps for arriving foreign visitors. By rights, the bunting is a bird of North Africa’s arid heartlands, eking a living in and around small desert settlements where it is regarded with not just warm affection but sacred respect.

Such adoration has helped its range extend to the Straits of Gibraltar, making it the first truly African species encountered by devotees arriving on Morocco’s northern coast to begin one of birdwatching’s great historic trails.

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope took the Road to Morocco and Crosby, Stills and Nash rode the Marrakesh Express, but during the latter decades of the last century it was the pilgrimage to Merdja Zerga that inspired a generation of birders to head to North Africa.

Only those with ears tuned into the tinkling song of Morocco’s most welcoming bird will detect its presence

This sweeping wetland 100 miles south of Tangiers was the last known winter haunts of the legendary slender-billed curlew before it headed inexorably towards extinction. None have been seen here since 1998 but the beautiful drawings of those who journeyed here in the Seventies and Eighties are still on show in the bird log they left behind at a lakeside café.

Breakfasting on fruit juice, crusty bread and jam and studying the atmospheric field sketches of a bird destined for oblivion, I was transported back to those halcyon days when travelling to Morocco was only for true adventurers.

Last spring I was privileged to take part in a mini-expedition to Merdja Zerga and a handful of other brilliant birding sites dotted along the Atlantic coastline. Our journey took us from the migration hotspots in and around Gibraltar and Spain’s Tarifa headland on the European shoreline before taking the ferry across to Africa and the throbbing heartbeat that is Tangiers.

The aromas of spicy street food and the song of the house bunting soon gave way as we headed southwards to a series of wetland areas that host an enticing mix of wintering European species and North African gems.

Merjad Zerga may have lost its slender-billed curlews but shorebirds still coat the shallow lagoon in their tens of thousands, with greenshanks, spotted redshanks, avocets and whimbrels competing with the local shellfish collectors for the lake’s rich pickings.

Along the coast at Lac de Sidi Bourhaba, red-knobbed coots along with white-headed, ferruginous and marbled ducks, all extremely scarce sights north of the Mediterranean, were highly confiding, the coot in particular showing off its distinctive head markings that help separate from the more frequently encountered Eurasian coot.

Soon attentions turned to the unusual bird song rippling through the lakeside trees. A troupe of common bulbuls danced noisily through low-lying branches, each bird taking time to perform its rich-song. Bulbul, in fact, is Arabic for nightingale, and although their warblings lack the quality of the ultimate songster, they do share one similarity: a dowdy brown plumage.

As the bulbuls disappeared, another song flickered through the trees. It sounded vaguely familiar; a rolling trill, not quite coal tit, certainly not a great tit...

Much searching in the leaf canopy produced the culprit, a delightfully cheeky African blue tit. Although its blue and yellow plumage was in keeping with its European relative, like its song there were contrasting differences, particularly the way its ultramarine blue head markings and striking white cheeks gave it the appearance of a miniature great tit.

Here, even the magpies seem to have taken on something of traditions of the indigenous Berber population’s obsession with the colour blue. Take a close look at the localised Mauritanica race and one can make out distinctive sapphire blue eye markings that give the bird are far more appealing look than its sinister European relation. That’s seems to be the Moroccan effect. Take something commonplace, add the colours of the landscape and the immaculate blue sky and you are left with something special, very special.

Travel arrangements by Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco specialists Blands Travel. Visit

Morocco’s Economic Policy Focuses On Renewable Energy.
By Ghana News Tue, Mar 18th, 2014

Morocco has made renewable energy a major part of its economic policy. This policy is reflected in the ambitious solar energy whose implementation is provided by The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) is a leaf and road to the kingdom a global leader in the field in 2020.

Today King Mohammed VI presided over  a working session to examine the progress of the implementation of the Moroccan solar plan NOOR, as well as means to enhance it in the future, said a statement by the Royal Office. The session is part of the regular follow-up by HM the King of the plan’s different stages since its launch on November 2, 2009 in Ouarzazate and the setting up of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN). During this meeting, HM the King reiterated Morocco’s will to ensure the durability of its economic and social development through an efficient, environment-friendly energy policy to shield future generations from economic and ecological threats.

Chairman of MASEN board of directors Mustapha Bakkoury gave a presentation on the progress of the first plant NOOR Ouarzazate 1 which is following its schedule after finishing the tender and funding stages. The first kilowatt-hours of NOOR Ouarzazate 1, which is a leading plant worldwide, will be injected in the national electric network as of August 2015. Bakkoury also presented the program of carrying out the three power stations  NOOR Ouarzazate 2, NOOR Ouarzazate 3 and NOOR Ouarzazate 4, which will enable the finalization of the Ouarzazate solar complex with a capacity of 500 megawatts. The presentation also touched on the selection of new sites for the future projects, to maintain goals set for the Moroccan solar plan, namely 2000 megawatts by 2020, that is 14% of Morocco’s energy needs, given that the renewable energy share will be 42% of the overall electric consumption.

The selection of the new sites is carried out by virtue of the Solar Atlas of the Moroccan territory which was recently finalized and completed by a multidimensional analysis of the different regions. The chosen sites for the upcoming projects by the Moroccan solar plan are Midelt and Tata.

The sovereign gave on this occasion his instructions to make the Moroccan solar plan a real lever for south-north and south-south cooperation through sharing green energy with European countries and institutional and operational cooperation with sub-Saharan African countries with solar potential.

In an age of dwindling non-renewable resources, the race for what’s left is intensifying and could possibly lead to more wars and devastation. Switching to alternative forms of renewable energy is the way forward and those who get there first will most likely be the leaders of the future.

Apparently, Morocco grasped the message quickly and started thinking seriously over the last decade of developing new energies that could put Morocco as a world leader in clean energies.

Many think of Morocco as an exceptional nation in the Arab and Muslim worlds; they do so because the country has its own unique history and charts its own political path, away from the turbulence that is engulfing other nations. It’s almost as if the laws governing the region do not apply to it.

But there is another way in which Morocco is rather exceptional. It is one of the few countries in the region without oil or gas. This has meant a more enterprising and creative population, but it also saddles the nation with colossal bills for energy. There are now hints that a different future is in the offing.

This major project is part of Morocco’s energy strategy drawn in accordance with the directives of King Mohammed VI and aims in particular to its establishment, in 2020, with a capacity of 2,000 megawatts (MW) from five sites identified, located respectively in Ouarzazate, Ain Bni Mathar, Foum Al Oued, Boujdour and Sebkhat Tah.

In order to complete the implementation of the Moroccan Solar Plan, Masen is responsible for the design of integrated solar development projects in areas of the country able to house plants generating electricity from solar energy , projects including a solar power generation plant, as well as achievements and related activities contributing to the development of the settlement area and more generally in the country.

The agency’s objectives is also the development of technical, economic and financial resources for the qualification of sites, design the construction and operation of solar projects, contributing to the research and the mobilization of funds needed to implementation and operation of solar projects, the proposal in the administration of industrial integration methods for each solar project and its implementation. It also works for the construction of infrastructure for connecting the main central to the transmission of electricity, as well as the infrastructure to supply water to the subject matter duties devolved by legislation to any other body of law public or private, to promote the program to national and foreign investors, the contribution to the development of applied research and the promotion of technological innovation in filièrees solar electricity production, and the creation of networks specialized training in solar energy in partnership with engineering schools, universities and vocational training centers.

Thanks to its many strengths and its commitment to move forward in this area, Morocco puts itself as a major player in the global renewable energy required to form the one of the fundamental means for achieving the objectives of sustainable development.
from Temsamani said

Morocco receives 37.4 mln USD to fight AIDS.
Mar 15,2014
RABAT, March 14 (Xinhua)

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria extended Morocco 37.4 million U.S. dollars to boost its efforts to control these diseases, the Moroccan ministry of health said on Friday. The money increases by 74 percent compared to the grant of 2011- 2013. It will help Morocco implement its national strategies to fight AIDS and tuberculosis from 2014 to 2016, and consolidate the country's health system, the ministry said. It added that the global fund has helped 58 percent of HIV- affected Moroccans with antiretroviral treatment, of which 6,464 patients received free treatment from the health ministry. Meanwhile, the rate of HIV infection in Morocco has remained at 0.1 percent, while therapeutic success of tuberculosis has risen to 85 percent.

Implications of Morocco’s Bifurcated Edcuational System (Part1/2).
14 March 2014 Yasmine El Baggari

One of Morocco’s most pressing national problems is its high illiteracy rate.

In Morocco, policymakers have implemented several groundbreaking initiatives aiming to create educational programs to empower rural women. Despite progress in this realm, there are still ongoing tensions within the Moroccan educational system. As a Moroccan who was educated in a multilingual system, the author has experienced its flaws firsthand and recognizes the need for its analysis.

This study, therefore, assesses the quality of the Moroccan educational sector and the implications of a bifurcated educational system. The educational system is conducted in Fus-ha Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic) in public schools throughout secondary education and in French predominantly at the university level. It is important to understand how this acts as an obstacle to significant educational attainment.

The author bases the analysis on data collected in fieldwork, which was completed in seven Moroccan cities: Fez, Rabat, Casablanca, Ifrane, Meknes, Tetouan and Tangier. Research methods incorporated both qualitative and quantitative approaches. This involved structured interviews with government officials and professors, focus groups with students, directors, as well as data collected from various ministries and organizations.

These interviews were conducted with multiple nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), women’s rights groups, and grassroots organizations to assess ongoing initiatives aimed at women’s socioeconomic empowerment. Policies regarding rural women's empowerment were also examined. In addition, government officials were interviewed to investigate any potential disconnect between policies and performance. 

Illiteracy in Morocco

Currently, one of Morocco’s most pressing national problems is its high illiteracy rate, particularly amongst women in the rural regions of the country. However, in the past several decades, the country has made progress in improving the literacy rate of the general population.

In 1960, the estimated illiteracy rate among the Moroccan population was 87%. Today, that number has, encouragingly, decreased to approximately* 56%. However, these numbers can be deceptive in the case of Moroccan women. According to the Director of the General Secretariat of Morocco, unofficial sources show that 65-70% of all Moroccan women are illiterate. As women comprise 56% of the total population of Morocco, this is not a negligible statistic.

Furthermore, the illiteracy rate is reported to be much higher amongst the female population in rural Morocco, with government officials and all interviewees estimating an astronomical 90%. These extremely high illiteracy rates hinder the empowerment of these women. 

Without an adequate education, rural women cannot fully comprehend their own rights or engage actively socially, politically or economically. From reforms and policies passed through legislation within the national government to the regional and local efforts made by NGOs and other small organizations, women’s empowerment has seen unprecedented progress in Morocco.

By collaborating with some NGOs, building schools, adding teachers, requiring girls to attend schools and enforcing a mandatory education for illiterate adults, the government of Morocco has recognized the crippling problem of illiteracy within the country, and various reforms, policies and objectives have been implemented to combat this issue. 

Government Reforms

King Mohammed VI adopted the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) in 2005 with the objective of improving the living conditions of citizens. He also implemented a new reform to complement existing programs; known as the National Education and Training Charter (CNEF), which declared 2000-2009 the decade for education and training. The charter was passed as a reform act in order to create positive changes that could improve education quality and adapt the educational system to the needs of the Moroccan economy.

Furthermore, this new reform reviewed educational methods in order to represent women as equal citizens. The charter officially requires men and women in both urban and rural areas to attend school through the sixth grade. 

The CNEF aimed at establishing practical strategies to promote positive social attitudes and policies toward women through media and outreach. In addition, the Bold Education Emergency Plan reform was assessed in January 2009 to bridge the gap between the acceleration of educational reform and the effective use of resources, covering the period 2009-2012; it also represented a vital shift in policy.

Previously, Morocco followed the French educational system but failed to adapt it to Moroccan cultural and social standards. For any educational system in Morocco to be effective, it must be in accordance with the cultural and social standards of the country, while addressing the needs of the Moroccan people.

In 1957, the Ministry of Education, led by Mohamed el-Fassi, decided to Arabize primary and secondary education. The Istiqlal Party supported this process of Arabization as a necessary step to preserve the cultural identity of Morocco. Since 1956, cultural and linguistic conflicts have impeded the educational system.

The Importance of French

While the presence and use of the French language is an understandable linguistic and cultural condition created by France’s colonial influence on Moroccan history, the fundamental problem of having multiple languages of instruction in the educational system is a result of a divide between different socioeconomic and cultural groups in Moroccan society. It is the privileged and more well-to-do section of society who are given the opportunity to the foreign languages, while the lesser privileged do not receive this advantage.

French at the university level is mostly benefiting students in the middle and upper socioeconomic levels. If students of a lower socioeconomic status manage to work hard enough to get into a Moroccan university, are they on even ground with other "privileged" students who may have had private French language instruction prior to university?

Is this approach not establishing a greater socioeconomic divide by benefiting upper-class students at university level and making it more difficult for lower-classes to attain socioeconomic mobility?

In order to explain the existing systems, from middle school, private school-educated students are taught in French and transition to Arabic in high school. Public schools teach Arabic throughout. At university level, classes are taught only in French. Therefore, most students experience difficulty with this abrupt transition. 

The Moroccan government has sought to take a positive step with the CNEF in answering the issue of a misplaced French educational system in a predominantly Arab nation. However, the majority of students still graduate from high school with fluency and academic experience in Arabic only, especially in public schools. 

Currently in Morocco, most universities follow the French educational model, with only one exception opting for an American-based English system. Neither arrangement is specifically linguistically accessible to students, particularly rural, publicly-educated students.

It is argued that schools modeled on the French system have proven ineffective in Morocco in creating an environment that only favors a privileged social class, the European community, and middle- and upper-class Moroccans.  

The privileged class does not have to pursue academics out of a desperation to make financial ends meet as they come from a position of economic security. This allows them the luxuries of intellectualism academia, which gives them an opportunity to shape their learning into a career of their preference and choice.

On the other hand, the lower classes can struggle in such a system because a large proportion of the students who manage to enter universities also have additional responsibilities outside of school, which they cannot discard as their outside work is mostly done to support their families' struggling financial situation. These students complain of having too many responsibilities and cannot focus solely on advancing their education.
*[Note: *This statistic is based on the author's field research in Morocco. This article was originally published by Jadaliyya.]
Yasmine El Baggari / Amherst, United States . Yasmine El Baggari is a Moroccan undergraduate based in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is studying Socio-Political Science and Economics. Her research focuses on women’s empowerment and the concept of identity, morality, and cultural evolution for Arab Muslim students in the West

Moroccan Nights
by Young Ladies About Town on Friday, 14 March 2014

This weekend Belazu are set to host a charity supper club event at The Dolls House on Hoxton Square. We popped along to the preview. The pop up event will see 50% of the ticket price go towards The Belazu Foundation, a charity which supports the education of children both in Moroccan and the UK.

The evening was perfect from start to finish. Welcomed with an Orange blossom, vodka and mint cocktail (served in delightful Arabic inspired glasses) we went on to enjoy a starter of Moroccan mezze which included Cumin and pickled cauliflower, Skinless tomato salad, Carrot, cumin and mustard salad, Hummus with green harissa, Zesty maroc olives, Spiced yoghurt with pomegranate, Lemon, chickpeas and parsley accompanied with bread and olive oil.

In keeping with Moroccan tradition, all the dishes were served as sharing platters.

For the main we had Rose harissa marinated Dorset lamb shanks braised in Moroccan red wine and mint - served with barley cous cous, kamut, fried millet, green freekah and roasted leeks and carrots. The veggitarean option, which looked equally as delicious was Moroccan roasted aubergine with lemon yoghurt, pistachio nuts and pomegranate molasses.

And to finish, Amlou ice cream with fresh orange, orange and cardamom syrup salad.

An evening of fabulous food and drink, and all in the name of a good course - we can't think of a better pop up to visit this weekend!

Moroccan Government Overhauls Decades Old Agriculture Policies – But At What Cost?
By Kathleen Caulderwood March 20 2014

A few times a week, Mimoun Boutarrite makes the drive from Meknes to Ain Leuh, in Morocco’s Ifrane provice. The drive takes him through the Atlas moutains and lush green fields that now support colorful fruit trees on land that was once empty or filled with wheat fields.  

An electrical engineer by trade, he’s now retired and spends much of his time checking in on hundreds of cherry trees. Boutarrite is the founder and president of the Anarouz Association, a co-op for local cherry farmers that started in 2010.

Walking through rows of young cherry trees, he explains that he grew up on a farm, but he now only has the time to get back to his roots -- the government subsidies don’t hurt either. In recent years, the Moroccan government has been overhauling the country’s agriculture system through massive subsidies.

The "Green Morocco Plan" was initiated in 2010. Farmers are paid to clear land and plant fruit trees on land that was either empty or used for growing wheat, a crop that requires more water and makes less money.

It seems simple enough, but Morocco is under pressure from international organizations to cut its current spending amid dwindling reserves and the need to attract foreign investment.

The Green Morocco plan targets two types of operations. The first target is state intervention for smaller farms by forming co-ops, financing equipment and switching to high-value fruits that grow more efficiently in Morocco to produce "modernization with a social impact," for 840,000 farmers at a price of $2.5 billion.  

A second initiative targets large-scale projects and subsidizing equipment upgrades. For example, a new watering system called "gout-a-gout" (drop-by-drop) that distributes water more efficiently. The government set aside $9 billion for the project, which will cover up to 80 percent of costs for more modern farms. 

For decades Moroccan agriculture reflected policies reminiscent of French influence from as far back as the 1920s. But the current minister is changing the focus from wheat to fruits, which grow better in the region. 

“It’s better for Moroccan farmers to grow fruit like apples, peaches, plums, pears and cherries rather than wheat,” said Laila Louddi, an engineer from the Moroccan Chamber of Agriculture. “It’s more efficient because the yield for cereal crops like wheat is very low, and requires more water.”

For example, in 2012 Morocco produced 3,878,000 metric tons of wheat, and just 1,315,794 metric tons of olives, but the olives are more than three times as valuable, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Association. 

Government statistics show that cereals occupy roughly 75 percent of all farmland but account for just 10–15 percent of sales and less than 10 percent of all jobs.

This is what the government hopes to change. But it isn’t so simple.  

"On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense to incentivize farmers to grow crops that require less water," said Matthew Spivack, practice leader for the MENA region at Frontier Strategy Group. "In the past, subsidies spent on the local population make them feel like they benefit," he said. 

But it also increases the country's dependence on wheat imports. Government reserves are at a 10-year low, and could likely cover just a few months' worth if local crops fail. 

Like many North African countries, food, energy and other products are heavily subsidized by the Moroccan government.  Major subsidies were one of many moves made by the Moroccan government that help maintain order and unrest in a post-Arab Spring society. Most countries in North Africa provide large subsidies at great expense. While larger oil-producing countries can handle the strain for a short time, it's still a very unsustainable practice. 

"They've done it to maintain stability but they're not well-positioned to keep it up," Spivack said. 

The IMF and the World Bank have been putting pressure on Morocco to cut this kind of spending, as a condition for a $6 billion loan made in 2012. And in some ways, they're moving forward. “Gasoline and fuel oil are no longer among the products subsidized by the government,” said the Ministry of General Affairs on Friday, according to MAP, the state news agency.

The move was scheduled to happen months ago, but officials fear unrest if anything happens too drastically.

Thousands of rural families depend on these programs, and Boutarrite isn’t the only one whose life has changed because of this intervention.


8 Moroccan dishes to tantalize your taste buds
By Nisrine Merzouki, Special to CNN February 28, 2014

This week, CNN's Inside Africa explores the culture and cuisine of Marrakech. Here, food blogger Nisrine Merzouki, of Dinners and Dreams, gives a guide to classic Moroccan food.

Watch the video here:

What makes life a love story.
Thursday 20 March 2014 - Adnane Bennis

The day comes as a reminder to human beings of the crucial effects of happiness on the well-being of peoples around the world. This is an opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on the noble and deep meanings enshrined in happiness and love, values that the multitude of everyday concerns tend to make us overlook.

This universal goal, the ultimate dream of each of us cannot be achieved without recognizing the principal duty of governments around the globe to disseminate access to education, facilitate social interaction and enhance the quality and standards of living of their citizens.

Positive attitudes and warm emotions can change lives

The feeling of happiness is the fairest blessing endowed on human beings. It is the same feeling of a man who wins a mega million lottery ticket, or a man who marries the girl of his dreams or a poor child who is offered a sweet candy.

Fortunately, happiness cannot be counted, nor can it be sold or bought, for it comes from within our hearts as a reaction to simple gestures we do or we receive.

Love, respect, appreciate. 

When we write about love, we do it not necessarily to express how we feel towards a sweetheart. We can do it to support a cause, to follow a dream, to praise a country, or to share an idea …etc.

When we think of love, we think of appreciation, generosity, solidarity and respect.

We appreciate our difference with the other, because appreciation awakens our senses from inertia to maturity.

We put our heart and soul at the disposal of a loved one in a magnificent gesture of generosity, devoting time and energy to see a warm reaction, a smile … or a hug.

We care for the other to show support, fuel the engines of courage, to loosen up the day to day stress and feel moments of joy, share memories of happiness and/or sadness, and feel that we exist, that we are alive.

Through respect we show love and feel loved. Because respect is the horizon where love can fly high. It is the ink that can make a pen writes master pieces. Respect is the soul of human relations.

The greatest feeling of happiness is to feel appreciated. And a simple smile is the best gesture of appreciation. It won’t cost us a dime, but it can change one’s world. A pat on someone’s back won’t take much energy, but can encourage one to stand in front of a storm.

A hug is hospitality, a warm feeling shared among friends, family, strangers… It means I respect you, I support you, I stand by you and care for you. It simply means I love you.

Let us rekindle our spirit with hope, like a candle in the wind, fighting to cope with the breeze, allowing itself the chance to sustain its flames alive in the midst of thunder. let us enlighten our world with humility and accept one another’s difference, like a candle in the wind, trying to light up the sky, to overcome the powers of darkness.

The candle of love nurtures our heart with optimism and faith in the future, that tomorrow will be a new day, that tomorrow will bring new opportunities, and that tomorrow the candle will rejuvenate with the spirit of hope.

Keep the love and share the feeling. This is what makes life a love story.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be further published, rewritten or redistributed

Case shows hurdles in fighting Morocco corruption.
By SMAIL BELLAOUALLI Associated Press -- March 21, 2014 RABAT, Morocco

When tens of thousands of Moroccans poured into the streets demanding change in 2011, they were particularly angry about the corruption pervasive at all levels of business and government.The Islamist party that dominated elections that year ran on an anti-corruption campaign and after taking office in June 2012, announced an investigation into leaked documents that allegedly showed that the former finance minister and the national treasurer authorized salary bonuses for each other. Two years later, however, the only case to come out of the whole affair is against two civil servants for leaking the documents. The original inquiry announced by Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid has never seen the light of day.

Despite the new government's rhetoric, it has been business as usual for corruption in Morocco."It is typical of the impunity that characterizes corruption cases in our country," said Abdessamd Saddouq, the secretary general of Transparency Maroc, which backs the two accused. "Not just because the justice system refuses to investigate the affair, but also that it then targets potential whistleblowers."In Friday's verdict on the case of the two former Finance Ministry employees, Abdelmajid Alouiz was found guilty and fined $250 with a two month suspended sentence while Mohammed Reda was acquitted on the charge of leaking government documents. "We reject this trial and are still demanding an inquiry into the affair of the bonuses," said Abdelilah Benabdessalam, a member of the support committee for the two whistleblowers. The original scandal over the bonuses involved the treasurer, Nourredine Bensouda, a former classmate of Morocco's king, and Salaheddine Mezouar, the former finance minister who is now foreign minister in the coalition government.

Corruption is a serious problem in Morocco. It exists on a grand scale, with ministers accused of illegally buying apartments in Paris or an estimated $25 billion embezzlement scandal in the social security office that has been dragging through the courts for the past decade with no convictions. It is also a day-to-day reality for Moroccans, whether it's traffic cops shaking down drivers for imagined offenses, or the bribes paid at hospitals or in the halls of government offices to ensure prompt service. Said Chekrouni, a contractor demonstrating outside the courthouse of the trial in support of the whistleblowers said he was hit up by bureaucrats for bribes so that he could get paid for the three marketplaces he built on a government contract."I filed complaints and there is an ongoing trial but now I've come under pressure to drop the matter," he said.

According to Transparency International, more than two-thirds of Moroccans polled called the judiciary, media, police, parliament and public officials corrupt or very corrupt. Sixty-four percent said at least one person in their household had to bribe a policeman in last year.

Abdelaziz Aftati, a leading member of the ruling Islamist Party for Justice and Development, said the justice minister did try to open an inquiry into the bonuses scandal, but was frustrated by national institutions loyal to the "makhzen," the officials and families linked to the king's court who many say truly run the country. "The deep state resisted the fight against corruption and intervened to change the course of events and launch this unjust trial," he told The Associated Press. Yet it was a fellow member of the government, Finance Minister Nizar Baraka, who filed the case against the whistleblowers. Ramid, the justice minister, told AP that following his instructions, "the prosecution opened an investigation into the matter and then decide to close it and I have no further comment on the matter.

Reform of justice in the Arab World – the Moroccan case “Why I am sharing this information? Because I think it is important to support Morocco’s reforms”
March 21, 2014

The Arab awakening was a claim for justice above all. Although, there are many other social issues, the young Arabs were asking first for a justice reform. They wanted to be able to talk freely, to be treated in a fair way when dealing with their governments before starting to engage in more complex reforms such as education and unemployment. 

One example of a country that weathered through the so called “Arab Spring” is Morocco. The main reason is a steady process of reform undergone by King Mohammed VI since the ascension to the throne in 1999 – ranging from the establishment of an Equity and Reconciliation Commission, which acknowledged the suffering of victims of brutality in the past and compensated the families for their losses, to a new Family Law that greatly expanded women's rights in 2004.

Last week, Morocco's government approved a law ending the trial of civilians in military courts, a practice heavily criticized by human rights groups. The draft law states that "Civilians, regardless of who they are or the nature of the offence they committed in times of peace, can in no circumstances be referred to military courts or tried by them". It was endorsed on Friday at a cabinet meeting chaired by King Mohammed VI, and must now be voted on in parliament before becoming law.

Last March, the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) published a report that discussed the reform of the military court and presented the Council’s proposals regarding the compliance of the legislation in force with the provisions of the new Constitution and the international commitments of the Kingdom. In a statement, the CNDH “welcomed the adoption of a bill that is in full compliance with the Constitution of July 2011, the main international human rights law instruments and the relevant international jurisprudence.” adding that “the adoption of this bill is a major step towards the consolidation of the rule of law, judicial reform and the protection of human rights.”

Edward M. Gabriel, a former US Ambassador to Morocco (editors note: today a consultant to the Government of Morocco)  said that "this is a significant milestone for Morocco in furthering the judicial reforms promised by the Constitution. I am encouraged that Morocco's progress in these reforms and human rights has been steady and deliberate, signaling a strong culture of respect for democratic values and human rights."

Last November, in a meeting with President Barack Obama, King Mohammed VI pledged to end the practice of trying civilians in military courts.

One year ago, the Middle East Specialist Joseph Braude published a piece in the Huffington Post saying that he feels encouraged and that “confining military courts to military affairs would send a message that systemic reform remains possible in the Arab world – even at a time of turmoil across the region”.

Why I am sharing this information? Because I think it is important to support Morocco’s reforms and efforts to become a model for the region. Because democracy can only be achieved through a process where civil society, medias, government and the king in this situation are all engaged and certainly not without the support of the international community especially the United Nations and the United States.

Reaching the unreached.
March 20, 2014 By Joseph Hamrick The Commerce Journal

Most students use their summer break to unwind and relax. Others see it as an opportunity to do something more. From May 18 through July 17 of 2013, Texas A&M University-Commerce student Colt Moore traveled to Morocco with three other missionaries to aid a missionary team in the area.

Moore was able to go through funds raised from his church’s Commerce Community Church (C3) Run for the Nations 5K fundraiser.

Although Moore trained for the long trip, nothing could really prepare him for the culture shock, which challenged his views on the region. “It was one that I really wasn’t expecting,” he  said, adding that his perceptions of the people of Morocco changed during his trip. “The idea in my head was that every Muslim was going to be hostile; kind of this stereotypical view I had of Muslims.”

Moore said it was a stark juxtoposition with the government, which did not allow the distribution of Bibles or sharing of the Christian faith. “It was one that I really wasn’t expecting,” he  said, adding that his perceptions of the people of Morocco changed during his trip. “The idea in my head was that every Muslim was going to be hostile; kind of this stereotypical view I had of Muslims.”

“Everybody was friendly and everybody was wanting to talk about religion,” he said, adding that although it was outlawed by the government, the openness of many of the citizens “made it easier to me to share the gospel.”

Moore said some of the traditions were much different than in America. “You didn’t talk one-on-one with a woman,” he said. “And if you were caught trying to convert in public, passing out Bibles, it was illegal.”

Moore spent his two months assisting the long-term missionaries in Morocco.

Moore said although the people are friendly, at times tensions began to run high when sharing his faith. Moore was with one of his friends in a cafe reading a dual English and Arabic Bible, when his friend began reading aloud. When Moore’s friend read that “Jesus is the Son of God,” patrons of the cafe began to take notice. Soon the crowd surrounded the two at their table. “My adrenaline is rushing because I’m in a foreign city and this man is yelling at me,” he said. Moore said he was able to keep his composure and leave the cafe peacefully.

There were other confrontations, but Moore said that was the most intense one before leaving for home.  

Since Moore has returned, he is helping another member of his church prepare for her trip to Morocco. “Colt had already been on the trip so he’s been preparing me for it,” Sarah Miller, a member of C3 and student at A&M-Commerce said. “I’ll be working with the same missionaries.” Miller went to Canada and Romania on mission trips last year, but this will be traveling from May 17 through July 7 in Morocco. “I really wanted to work with people of the Islamic faith,” she said.

Funds raised from this year’s 5K are going toward Miller’s trip to Morocco.

Miller said she hopes to gain as much as Moore did from his trip. “I would hope that when I left I would be more dependent on God and that it shapes my walk with Christ,” she said.

Moore said he looks back fondly on the trip, and still keeps in touch with the three missionaries who went with him. “The whole trip of four young men going into a completely unkown country who love the Lord and love people, who want to see the Lord work in people’s lives and are burdened, we grew together and grew to love the people of north Africa,” he said.

According to Moore, there are many differences among cultures, and although American culture is vastly different than Moroccan, he does not like to use American culture as the standard to live by. “We’re just as weird to them as they are to us. They’re just different,” he said. “Don’t make this culture we live in the standard for the world. The only standard is the Bible.”

For more information on the 5K, which is on April 5 at 8 a.m., visit

Souks, sea and surf: Riding giants in Morocco
By Daisy Carrington and Dianne McCarthy, for CNN March 21, 2014

Every week, Inside Africa takes its viewers on a journey across Africa, exploring the true diversity and depth of different cultures, countries and regions. Follow host Errol Barnett on Twitter and Facebook.

Essaouira, Morocco (CNN) -- For many tourists, Morocco is best known for its historic cities, rugged landscape and sumptuous cuisine. But for surfers, it's fast becoming known for the crashing waves that pound its Atlantic coastline.

For decades, fish has been big business in Essaouira, the charming, former Portuguese settlement on the west coast of Morocco. As stocks have depleted, however, the locals have started to shift their focus to more lucrative industries. While the seas no longer possess the riches they once did, for many inhabitants, they still represent a lifeline -- only now the biggest catch is the tourists riding the waves.

Abdullah Aitdir is one of those who have taken advantage of this business opportunity. His father ran a grocery store in the nearby village of Taghazout, which Aitdir has converted into a surf school. "Surfing is more profitable," he explains. "Even if it's seasonal, it's still good."

In recent years he has seen a move towards a more organized, better regulated surfing industry. "It used to be chaos," says Aitdir. "Everyone would just come and try to [enter] the surfing industry without paying any taxes, and there were no regulations. Now, there are more rules," he adds.

With Morocco boasting more than 300 sunshine days a year and 1,800 km of coastline, it's little wonder that surfing is proving profitable. Check out the gallery above and video below to see why Morocco is becoming a surfing hotspot.

Moroccan restaurants not to miss in Marrakech.
Edited by Destination Staff / March 5, 2014

As a bustling city that blurs the boundaries between modern metropolis and historic culture, Marrakech boasts an exceptional wealth of culinary delights, to out-do even the most discerning of palates.

From traditional Morrocan cuisine refined with modern style, to cosmopolitan menus that reflect the multitude of international influences that have come through the country, Marrakech is filled with some truly unmissable eateries, catering to virtually every taste and budget, blogs Stéphane Abtan. Here are 5 of the city’s very best:…………..

Read more here:

The ancient and the new in Morocco.
By Khairul Ashraf Kammed 20 March 2014

Khairul Ashraf Kammed visits imposing mosques in Casablanca, a fortress in Rabat and a green haven of sheer magic, the famous Majorelle Garden,in Marrakech

THERE’S a sudden silence in the bus when Mohsinne, our tour guide, announces that the bus driver doesn’t have a driving licence. Most of the passengers react quietly, with their jaws falling open. We have just begun our journey in a distant land and the last thing we want is to leave our fate in the hands of someone who is unqualified. “Welcome to Africa. Here we don’t need a licence to drive,” Mohsinne breaks the silence. Abdurrahman, the driver, just smiles, keeping his focus on the road.

Mohsinne then introduces Muhammad, whom he says is in charge of bus maintenance and passengers’ luggage. “Everything will be safe. Muhammad is also responsible to make sure that the group has enough members before we embark on each journey,” assures Mohsinne.

The group is made of 31 members of Bumiputera Travel and Tour Agents Association (Bumitra) who are on a familiarisation trip to Morocco, covering four cities: Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Fez (read the story on pages 12-13).


The short 25-minute drive takes us from bright blue skies at Aeroport Mohammed V to Casablanca city centre, with its grey skies overhead. Ahh... Has the 14-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport brought me to yet another haze-cloaked city?

But my annoyance quickly disappears when I step out of the bus at the compound of Hassan II Mosque. The “haze” turns out to be thick mist, so thick that even its towering minaret is but a blur.

Pleasant temperature, whistling sea breezes and the seventh biggest mosque in the world stand majestically before my eyes, making the calm morning even more beautiful. But this is just a short stopover before we check in at Kenzi Tower Hotel, which is just a 5-minute drive away. After lunch, we make our way back to the mosque and this time, the sun shines brightly, turning the sky blue as a swimming pool…………….

Read more: The ancient and the new in Morocco - Travel - New Straits Times

New Language Debate Between Islamists and Modernists
Friday 21 March 2014 Rabat

After the Justice and Development Party produced a draft for a new law concerning Arabic language and submitted it to the house of representatives, “modernists” attempted on Wednesday to pressure the islamist party to withdraw its submission. Causing considerable controversy ahead of the proposed law’s discussion before the relevant committee in the house of representatives, many “modernist” government entities made several calls on Wednesday in an attempt to pressure the PJD to retract its proposal, which aims to protect and improve Arabic.

PJD’s new draft law strives to boost Arabic’s status as the official language of Morocco. It aims to promote Arabic as the main language for education, administration and public institutions, as well as general affairs management and public services.

According to Akhbar Al Yaoum, before the Education and Culture and Communication Committee had held its meeting last Wednesday, many modernist governmental bodies tried to pressure PJD’s officials not to submit the draft.

Though it did not identify those government bodies, Akhbar Al Yaoum added, they couldn’t change the PJD’s willingness. In particular, Abdelah Bouanou, the PJD party leader in the house of representatives, submitted the proposal personally to avoid any possible delay.

Minister of National Education and Vocational Training, Rachid Belmokhtar refused to be the PJD’s spokesman during the submission. Instead, Minister of Culture Amine Sabihi represented the Islamist party and delivered a speech to the committee.

Sabihi stressed that the Moroccan language policy ”is backed by the constitution, governmental commitments and relevant international treaties.”

Talking about the policy to boost the position of Arabic as the official language in Morocco, Sabihi emphasized that this law will “compel educational institutions that receive foreign aid to allocate courses to teach Arabic.”

The modernists opposing signs rolled out when Amine Sabihi confirmed that this law will “compel the advertisers to use Arabic in any printed or audiovisual advertising.” Stressing that whoever “violate these items will pay a financial penalty estimated at MAD 50 thousands, (about $ 6,134).”
Edited by Jessica Rohan

Are Moroccans Racist Towards Sub-Saharan Immigrants?
Friday 21 March 2014

Today, Friday March 21 st, was the first day of a new Moroccan campaign called “I’m not called Azzi” –Azzi meaning a dark skinned person in Moroccan Arabic- which was organized for the first time ever to sensitize people on the importance of tolerance and fighting racism in Morocco.

Morocco is known to host different racial groups who, most of the time, co-live without any confrontation or issues. Generally speaking, Moroccans are famous for their hospitality and open mindedness. However, the campaign mentioned above wouldn’t have been launched if there weren’t a large number of people who feel offended by others’ racist comments and stares.

In Marrakech for example, you would hardly ever notice a sign of racism towards a dark-skinned person. This may be due to the fact that a number of Marrakchis are dark-skinned; they are our relatives, our friends, our neighbors, our teachers. We don’t even consider them to be different in any way, because after all, they’re not.

At least this is the way I perceived Moroccans to be before I asked a couple of Moroccan friends the following question: Do you think Moroccans are racist? And their answers were shockingly as follow: “In the US, people admitted that they have racism and worked towards eliminating it. As a result, today, the US has the first African-American President. On the other, in our country, we never admit that we have racism, which is even more dangerous, since we can’t work on solving a problem that does not exist in our minds,” said Oussama, who asked that his full name not be mentioned.

Ghizlane expressed a different opinion. She expressed her point of view by saying: “Being dark-skinned isn’t about color only, it is somehow a way of life. How they speak, how they behave, and how they interact with others is quite “predictable”; it’s their identity.”

“The blacks have earned a couple of stereotypes that are unfortunately true. For example, if you say Italians eat so much olive oil and Germans drink too much beer, it might be a stereotype but it is also true, same goes for dark-skinned people. A friend of mine used to say, they smell not only physically but also mentally. This is quite racist you would say, but it’s their behavior that makes them really unwanted,” she added.

Apparently, the campaign that will last from the 21 st of March until June 20 th is based on solid grounds. Racism is not a simple behavior; it’s a way of life. It’s doesn’t stop at “Look at that person, he or she is different,” it goes beyond that to the way we deal with those people whom we perceive as different just because they don’t look like us.

It goes to the extent of not wanting to be friends with them, not wanting to employ them, wanting them out of our country as is the case for a lot of African immigrants who seek refuge in Morocco, running from the many problems they encountered back home.

Maybe we avoid having them in our lives due to the stereotypes mentioned in the quote earlier, but let’s assume they’re not stereotypes and those people do actually behave in a certain way that makes people change routes when they cross paths with them. Don’t we all make mistakes, as individuals and also as peoples? Don’t we as Moroccans have certain habits that seem to Westerns as primitive, but that are parts and parcels of our Moroccans identity, like eating meals from the same plate with our fingers? Shouldn’t we admit we’re at fault, apologize from them and help integrate those people in our lives and be more open-minded and accepting of the other? Shouldn’t we look for what unites us and live together instead of what differentiates us from each other and live apart?

The same way as we, Moroccans, felt offended by the racist remarks made in recent days by Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, we should feel offended when we hear a Moroccan look down at a Sub-Saharan immigrants or treat them with disdain.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be further published, rewritten or redistributed

Heading for Morocco’s Erg Chebbi, through the Valley of 1,000 Casbahs.
(Mark Hannaford / John Warburton-Lee Photography Ltd ) - The Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate, Southern Morocco By Carol Huang, March 20, 2014

An enormous pile of sand was not our intended destination when we flew to Morocco over the winter. Instead, we were supposed to spend a week luxuriating at one of Marrakesh’s top riads, where a friend was to celebrate a 50th birthday.

But as sometimes happens with lavish affairs, things got complicated. Rather than fuel the drama, we decided, somewhat romantically, to go somewhere to see the sun rise over the desert. A glance through the guidebooks sold us on Erg Chebbi, an area of 400-foot-high sand dunes on the edge of the Sahara. The 350-mile journey there would take us through a southern region of the country known as the Valley of 1,000 Casbahs.

But as sometimes happens with lavish affairs, things got complicated. Rather than fuel the drama, we decided, somewhat romantically, to go somewhere to see the sun rise over the desert. A glance through the guidebooks sold us on Erg Chebbi, an area of 400-foot-high sand dunes on the edge of the Sahara. The 350-mile journey there would take us through a southern region of the country known as the Valley of 1,000 Casbahs.....................

It Continuous here:

These postings are provided without permission of the copyright owner for purposes of criticism, comment, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and it may not be distributed further without permission of the identified copyright owner.  The poster does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the message, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

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