Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review
November 22, 2014
Northern Community Radio presents Peace Corps documentary.
RPCV /Morocco David McDonald Friday, November 21, 2014
Many people have heard about the United States Peace Corps founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. And quite a few people know someone who has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in some far-off place overseas. But few people know exactly what happens during those 27 months of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a foreign country.
Independent producer David McDonald recently returned to Grand Rapids after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco from 2012 to 2014. During his service, he interviewed more than 40 fellow Peace Corps Volunteers as well as recorded a fascinating variety of audio from all over Morocco. The result is a ten-part audio documentary called “27 MONTHS” - an entertaining and thought-provoking series that looks at what it means to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer from the first day of training in Philadelphia to the close of service in Morocco more than two years later. With a mixture of David’s narration, wide-ranging interviews with his colleagues, everyday sounds from Morocco, and loads of different music, “27 MONTHS” explores whether the Peace Corps is still relevant in the 21st century by looking at the good, the bad, the disappointing, and the fulfilling.
Northern Community Radio will broadcast “27 MONTHS” on KAXE and KBXE at 12 p.m. starting Saturday, Nov. 22, and continuing for 10 consecutive weeks. “27 MONTHS” will also be rebroadcast on Sundays at 10 p.m.
In addition, MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota will feature an exhibit during the month of January 2015 that was created by David in tandem with the radio show. The multimedia display is entitled “REFLECTIONS FROM MOROCCO” and features photographs, prose, poetry, and other visual souvenirs from his time as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The display conjures up the charm, the confusion, and the contrast of living in a different land with a different language and a different culture that somehow over time becomes a new normal.
For more information go to www.kaxe.org or contact Program Director Heidi Holtan at 800-662-5799 or email@example.com.
GES Summit: US Vice-President Celebrates 72nd Birthday in Marrakech.
Thursday 20 November 2014 Marrakech
The official opening session of the 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit that is taking place in Marrakech was marked by the celebration of the birthday of US Vice President Joseph Biden who turns 72 on Thursday.
Joseph Biden, who was born in November 20, 1942 in Pennsylvania, jokingly said in the beginning of his speech that it is a nice gesture of his majesty King Mohammed VI “who assembled this crowd for my birthday.” The crowd, consisted of high dignitaries, ministers, economic operators, civil society representatives in addition to young entrepreneurs from all over the world, started singing a mass ‘happy birthday to you’ song to the Vice President of the United States of America.
“I appreciate it,” he added.
Biden delivered his speech after Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelillah Benkirane read a letter addressed by King Mohammed VI to the conference. The US Vice President expressed his happiness to be in Marrakech and in Morocco, saying that “what most people do not realize is that Morocco holds a special place in the hearts of Americans.”“Morocco is the first nation in the world to recognize the United States of America 237 years ago in December 17, 1777, and I come here to say thank you,” he added. Joseph Biden also said that he came to Morocco, a Muslim nation at the crossroads of Africa, the Arab world and Europe, to talk about ‘what it takes to succeed in the 21st century, and what is required to create thriving, innovative societies worthy of the talents of their young people.’
US hails Morocco's encouragement of women entrepreneurs.
Marrakech, Nov 20 (IANS)
US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has hailed the leadership of Morocco's King Mohammed VI in encouraging entrepreneurship and women entrepreneurs, noting that the North African country's achievements in this area are "truly fantastic".
Speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of the 5th edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), being held in Marrakech Nov 19-21, Pritzker said she was "delighted" to take part in this international event, the first of its kind in the African continent, MAP news agency reported.
The senior US official also welcomed the efforts made by Morocco to enhance the business climate as part of an "absolutely attractive approach" for the American business community, especially in light of the Free Trade Agreement of 2006 between Rabat and Washington which is a foundation for further business partnerships. The US secretary of commerce highlighted US businesses' readiness to invest in Morocco, a country with a favourable business environment, as evidenced by the presence in the kingdom of some 150 US companies which ensure around 100,000 jobs.
In this respect, she noted that Morocco attracted both large multinational corporations and small US companies that provide their services and expertise.
Concerning Morocco's win-win partnership strategy in Africa, Pritzker said Morocco and the US could "certainly" work together in order to strengthen this virtuous circle, thanks to King Mohammad VI's vision to make the country Africa's hub and a gateway. The US secretary of commerce said she appreciated the role of Moroccan women entrepreneurs as evidenced by the strong female participation in the GES in Marrakech, recalling in this context that the Obama administration works to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the world.
Job Creation, Economic Development, Main Goals Of USAID In Morocco: Official
Friday 21 November 2014 Marrakech
The USAID’s main objectives in Morocco are job-creation and economic development, said on Friday assistant administrator of the US agency for international development (USAID), Alina Romanowski.“Our priority is to contribute to developing the private sector and creating more jobs”, she told MAP on the sidelines of the 5th Global entrepreneurship summit (GES-2014) held in Marrakech this November 19-21.
Romanowski went on that the USAID action in Morocco also seeks to support education and training projects and back the civil society, stressing that 60 years of presence in Morocco have helped the agency consolidate the friendship and cooperation bonds between Morocco and the USA.
On the partnership concluded recently between the USAID and the “FrioPuerto Tanger SA” start-up which obtained a loan to set up a cold-storage warehouse in the Tanger-Med port, the USAID executive said this partnership will help promote economic development and job-creation in Morocco and open new export opportunities for Moroccan farming products. These funds will also contribute to the promotion of the Morocco-USA free trade agreement by helping Moroccan famers export their produce to the USA and worldwide, she went on.
The USA considers that upgrading inter-regional trade in North Africa is a priority, she said, regretting the low level of intra-Maghreban trade. At least 3,000 entrepreneurs, high-ranking government officials, heads of state and young entrepreneurs from all over the world got together in Marrakech for this major global platform, held for the first time in an African country, “to empower entrepreneurs with the skills and resources necessary to compete and thrive in the 21st century”.
Held under the high patronage of HM King Mohammed VI, under the theme of “harnessing the power of technology for innovation and entrepreneurship”, the GES 2014 was held in Marrakech in accordance with an agreement between HM the King and President Obama in November 2013 in the USA.
GES-2014: BMCE Bank Announces Million-dollar African Entrepreneurship Award.
Thursday 20 November 2014 Marrakech
BMCE Bank Group CEO, Othman Benjelloun, announced, here Thursday, a one million dollar African Entrepreneurship Award. This award will be established in partnership with internationally-recognized stakeholders, Benjelloun said at a panel held within the framework of the 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (November 19-21) under the theme “Harnessing the Power of Technology for Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. Underlining that this award is a contribution to promote the spirit of partnership in Africa, BMCE Bank Group CEO said it will be granted annually to young African entrepreneurs.
“The first prize will be awarded in 2015,” he said, announcing that “the conditions to apply for the award will be posted shortly on the website of BMCE Bank.”
A jury of prestigious figures from around the world will decide the winner of the African Entrepreneurship Award, he added.
During his participation at this panel, Benjelloun presented the success story of BMCE Bank Group, and its international expansion, particularly in Africa.
GES-2014 is bringing together over 3000 entrepreneurs, together with heads of state, high level government officials, global entrepreneurs, small medium enterprises (SMEs), corporate leaders, and young entrepreneurs. There is also an “Innovation Village” where entrepreneurs and innovators from Africa and around the world can promote their projects and share new ideas on myriad topics including ICT, water management, and alternative energy.
U.S. gives boost to young Moroccan entrepreneurs.
Vice President Joe Biden said the United States plans to invest an estimated $50 million to support young entrepreneurs. (source: @GESMarrakech14)
By Mustapha Ajbaili | Al Arabiya News, Marrakech Thursday, 20 November 2014
The United States plans to invest an estimated $50 million in public-private partnerships to support young entrepreneurs in Morocco, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday. Biden made the announcement on the second day of the fifth Global Entrepreneurship Summit being held in Marrakech. The investment will be made through the Millennium Challenge Corp., which had previously invested close to $700 million in the North African kingdom. Pending MCC board approval and congressional notification, the new investment will be made as part of an agreement that is expected to be signed in 2015, the White House said.
Biden said the United States and Swedish automobile manufacturer Volvo are working together to establish a training academy for entrepreneurs in Morocco.
The academy will train 150 students each year from Morocco, Ivory Coast and Senegal, focusing on maintaining industrial and commercial equipment. The training will also include developing technology and business skills to prepare students to meet the demands of the job market or establish their own free enterprises.
Biden also said the U.S. government, in partnership with Morocco’s northern neighbor Spain, will provide a $7 million credit guarantee to help finance a state-of-the-art cold storage facility at the Tanger-Med port in Morocco. The cold storage facility seeks to support Morocco’s agriculture value chain by enabling increased agricultural exports to key markets and facilitating job creation across the sector.
Morocco has had a free-trade agreement with the United States since 2004. The White House said the planned investment is designed to support that agreement. During his speech, Biden focused on the importance of a fair education system, empowering women to boost the spirit of entrepreneurship, and combating corruption. “Around the world we work to connect entrepreneurs. This includes promoting transparency and fighting corruption,” he said.
“It takes a universal education system, a value system that gives people the freedom to try and fail, a society that empowers women,” Biden added.
“Without empowering women, everything else we want to achieve is exponentially harder.”
A Radical Rethink: Aligning People’s and Donors’ Priorities.
RPCV and HAF President Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir
With the enormous diversity of social contexts where development interventions take place, one might imagine it would be extremely difficult to identify a single rule of thumb that enables the best possibility for project success, or sustainability.
However, global experiences since the aftermath of WWII and the implementation of the Marshall Plan do in fact point to an identifiable quality – as essential as finance – that must be present in order for development initiatives to endure.
I refer to the participation of the intended beneficiaries in all aspects and phases of the project cycle, from inception to evaluation, to the point where it is in fact they, rather than any outside agencies, who dictate the path of a project. Concomitant with this, sustainable development across nations and the globe can only be realized where donors align their priorities squarely with the self-determined priorities of the people.
Bridging the gap - theory and practice
The path to the acceptance of the participatory approach to development was forged, through trial and error, over several decades until the 1990s, when its global recognition by development practitioners became well-established.
Possessing this theoretical knowledge is, however, unfortunately not the same as achieving broad participation of local people in the design and management of projects that are intended to benefit them.
Participation requires facilitation, meaning that, in order for inclusive local development planning to occur, a third party coordinator is necessary – one who applies interactive activities that enable participants to assess their needs and prioritize the changes they seek.
Facilitators therefore need to work and live among the people, transferring the essential skills so that communities themselves can maintain the project development momentum. Unfortunately, the vast majority of development agencies do not have the human resources and the absolute commitment needed in order to achieve this vital, constant proximity to needy communities, who are often to be found in the most remote locations.
Genuine participation on the ground does not unfold without at least initial support. Too often there remains a tragic gap between what donors to development are willing to fund and the projects that communities identify as most important to them.
This gap accounts for much project failure and can be bridged by donors supporting the application of proven participatory planning methods as well as being prepared to embrace the possibility of a range of project types (agricultural, health, education) emerging from the local dialogue process.
Examples of successes – and of the opposite – can be found at the national and international level.
In the High Atlas mountain region of Morocco, the typical donor solution is tourist-related, based on the thousands of hikers and general visitors each year who seek to behold the most awesome peaks in North Africa. Yet, after hundreds of meetings among communities of the region, not a single one identified tourism as a priority project area. This is because tourism typically benefits a few households out of many, the pattern being to stop in one village along a line of ten that may exist in a valley and, in that single location, enjoying a meal or an overnight stay. On the other hand, all communities identify clean drinking water, irrigation and women and youth enterprises as top priorities because these will benefit every household in a given village and every village in the valley.
For a short period during the 1990s there existed opportunities for Israeli-Moroccan development collaboration. What a tragedy it was that the sole project that both included government-to-government cooperation and met local villagers’ self-described needs, namely an irrigation project including the installation of pressure-drip systems, was denied funding by USAID’s Middle East Regional Cooperation program, since it did not involve joint technological development.
Where there is an opportunity for Israeli-Palestinian shared effort to implement local projects of whatever type, that are determined by local Palestinians, that opportunity should not pass because it may not fit within the strict donor guidelines of what they think local people might need.
At a time now of Shi’ite and Sunni major escalation of distrust and violence, the international community should fund any and every initiative that involves their joint collaboration in order to achieve the development goals of the people. Particularly in the context of the Arab Spring, the affirmation that people experience as the democratic planning of local development progresses, would have a stabilizing effect, both in political and social terms.
In Ferguson, Missouri, and other U.S. counties with especially divided social groups, local people would do well to create businesses and human service initiatives that cross ethnic and faith-based communities, whose scope the beneficiaries themselves should determine. In this case contributing donors would be funding the basis for empowerment, peace and prosperity, all at once.
The radical conclusion, therefore, is that a partial ‘rewriting of the rules’ is necessary to rectify the disconnect that can exist between donor requirements and the popular will. At times this would send strong messages that cross political divisions while, fundamentally, ensuring project success and genuine social justice.
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is president of the High Atlas Foundation and a sociologist.
Morocco’s Jewish Berber History.
Wednesday 19 November 2014 By Lynn Sheppard Essaouira
Many visitors to Morocco are surprised to learn of the country’s cultural diversity. Although today a majority Arab Muslim country, Morocco has a significant Jewish past (and present) as well as indigenous Amazigh (also known as Berber) population who pre-date the Arab immigration.
A fascinating aspect of Morocco’s history is where Berber and Jewish history and culture intertwine. Transliteration of Berber language is a recent innovation and so Berber history was seldom recorded. In fact, it is often due to enthusiastic members of the Moroccan Jewish diaspora and other chroniclers of Jewish history that we can gain an insight into the peaceful and fruitful coexistence between Berbers of Jewish and Muslim faith.
Although travelers to Morocco will meet Moroccans of Berber origin almost everywhere, their homelands are the rural and often mountainous areas such as the Atlas and Rif mountains and the desert. Recent political movements to recognize their indigenous heritage, languages and culture have drawn on the similarities across three main geographical and linguistic Berber groups in Morocco, which together form around 40% of the population. The call for greater recognition and autonomy has drawn on a broader movement across North Africa and the Sahara among the Amazigh (plural: Imazighen, meaning “free men”).
There are two theories regarding the existence of a distinctly Jewish subgroup of Berbers. Whether indigenous Moroccan Berbers adopted the Jewish faith and culture, and/or Jews migrated to North Africa and adopted the Berber language and culture, the layers of Morocco’s cultural patchwork probably pre-date the Roman era.
Jewish Immigration to North Africa
Historians refer to several waves of Jewish immigration to North Africa, beginning potentially with the destruction of Solomon’s Temple after the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC but certainly underway by the time of the Jewish Rebellion in the Middle East against the Romans, which began in 66 AD. Jews are said to have flown major cities such as Fes and Meknes to the Atlas mountains during persecution by the Almohad Caliphate which ruled North Africa and Al Andalus (including parts of the Iberian peninsula) during the 12th and 13th centuries. The Almohads, Berber Muslims, were significantly less tolerant of non-Muslims than their predecessors. In a historical twist, it was in these cities that many Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century found shelter and success.
Despite religious differences, the proximity of Muslim and Jewish neighbours within rural Morocco created closely-knit communities, meaning that crafts, customs, culture and language were exchanged to create a uniquely Moroccan mix. Although today there are virtually no Jews living in rural Berber communities, their legacy is visible all over the country if you know where to look.
As well as the Mellah (Jewish quarter), cemeteries and synagogues found in many Moroccan cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Essaouira, there are also events and sites of Jewish religious and cultural significance in rural areas. The moussem (pilgrimage) of Ait Bayoud in Essaouira Province, held every Spring, is one such example. Further South, an ancient Jewish Berber community is recorded in Oufrane, in the Souss region (not to be confused with the ski resort Ifrane in the Middle Atlas), where Jews are said to have lept into fire rather than convert to Islam in the 18th century. Nearby, significant sites can still be visited in Ighil n-Ogho near Talouine (in the Anti Atlas and famous for saffron) and in Arazane (30km from Taroudant). In the Ammeln Valley near Tafraoute, locals claim certain tribes are still referred to as Aït-Aouday (“Tribe of the Jews”), although the Jews are long gone.
Further east towards the Algerian border, is the town of Amezrou, which sits on the caravan route up from sub-Saharan Africa, along which camels once carried goods from the Jewish enclave at Timbuktu to the port of Mogador (Essaouira). Here, Berbers still practice the same silversmithing techniques introduced by the Jews. The khamissa, in the shape of a hand, used to ward off the evil eye, is a symbol based on a pentagram which unites Jewish, Muslim and more ancient customs and is still cast in Berber silver today.
Moving north east, along the famous ‘route of a 1000 Kasbahs,’ the Jewish Berber community of Tinghir, on the east side of the Atlas mountains, was documented in Kamal Hachkar’s recent film, ‘Tinghir-Jerusalem – Echoes from the Mellah.’ In the town, there were certain trades practiced by Jews and others by Muslims. Each community had its places of worship but they shared their festivities, their language – the good times and bad – for over 2000 years right up until the 1960s.
Heading back across the high passes into the mountains, there are many remote communities of the High Atlas where traces are still visible of Jewish Berber communities. The High Atlas Foundation, which is supported by Journey Beyond Travel, today arranges for Jewish Community of Marrakech to loan land near Jewish holy sites for the development of organic fruit and herb nurseries for the benefit of impoverished local communities. Such projects are present at Akraich (Al Haouz Province) and are also being developed in Azilal Province. In this latter province, the Ait Bougemez Valley (Morocco’s so-called ‘Happy Valley’) exhibits a fascinating element of Berber history. A communal granary (in the local Berber dialect, agadir) sits on the summit of a strangely pyramidal hill that was once the site of pilgrimages to the Jewish saint, Sidi Moussa. The granary, now UNESCO-registered, is said to offer fertility benefits to young women who visit it – a distinctly un-Islamic practice in itself which one can imagine draws on traditions far older than Bible.
Once visitors to Morocco scratch beneath the surface, they will find a history more diverse – and yet more unified – than most would suspect. This is Morocco’s distinct heritage which sets it apart from other North African and Middle East countries and which is still – in great part – waiting to be discovered and documented.
Lynn Sheppard is a British writer living in Essaouira. She has been living there for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She writes at maroc-o-phile.com as well as for travel industry clients. You can follow Lynn on twitter (@maroc_o_phile) or Facebook (marocophile)
Jill Biden Praises Morocco’s Advances In Women’s Rights.
Wednesday 19 November 2014 Marrakech
Jill Biden, wife of US Vice-President Joe Biden, praised, here Wednesday, Morocco’s advances in women’s rights under the leadership of King Mohammed VI.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, part of the 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES Marrakech, November 19-21), Jill Biden reiterated the commitment of the United States “to support the actions of women and girls to help them not only to survive, but thrive in their communities.” In this regard, she called for encouraging countries to implement policies aimed at promoting the rights of women and their full and complete integration in different sectors.
Stating Morocco as an example, Mrs. Biden underlined the importance of the new Family Code, which has upgraded the civil rights of women both in society and the family, saying that she is “very impressed with the Women’s education and training Center, built in the district of Hay Mohammadi in Marrakech as part of the National Initiative for Human Development, as well as the involvement of women in the work of this social institution”.
Jill Biden, who arrived Wednesday, to take part in the GES-2014, visited the same day the Centre, which provides training to women and girls to have access to income-generating activities
Moroccan Youth Protest: ‘’We Are Students, Not Customers’’
Thursday 20 November 2014 - Aziz Allilou Rabat
Moroccan youth mobilized in a public square in Rabat against the privatization of education in Morocco, opening a social dialogue under the slogan, ‘’we are students, not customers.’’ With privatization, education becomes a commodity like any other thing that you can buy and sell,’’ they say. On Tuesday evening, twenty students stood in a public square, near the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat, asking passerby to join their social dialogue on the increasing commercialization and privatization of public education.
In a few minutes, dozens of Moroccan students, pupils, teachers, parents and employees liked the idea, and joined the debate due to the importance of the subject.
Education is Not for Sale
‘’I am against the privatization of education, since it is not logical to pay in order to get information. Education is not for sale,’’ says Suleiman El Miri, 19, a first year student at the faculty of political science in the Mohamed V University of Rabat. Suleiman was a member of the the Student Union for Change of the Educational System UECSE who voiced his opinion warning, at the same time, that in terms of numbers, the privatization of education is rising in Morocco. ‘’Since 2000 the number of students in the private schools increased from 4% to 15%,’’ he says.
Amine, a classmate of Suleiman intervened to complete the idea of his friend, stressing that the government is not satisfied with this increase. ‘’They want to want to raise the number of students in private schools to 50%,’’ he says. He goes on to add that if we continue this acceleration, only 70% of students will be enrolled in public schools by 2023, 48% by 2030, and the number will be reduced to 3% by 2038. ‘’This means that 97% of students will be obliged to study at private schools by 2038. And since private education in Morocco is quite expensive, many families won’t be able to send their children to schools by that time,’’ said Amine.
Which has Superior Quality, Public or Private Schools?
Hiba Kasmi is a 17-year-old student who studied at a private primary and secondary school, and now continues her studies at a public high school. She told MWN on the sideline of this event that neither public nor private schools are of superior quality relative to the other. ‘’Each of them has its own problems,’’ she says. ‘’On the one hand, private school students get high marks which they don’t deserve, and teachers are not respected by their students. In public schools, the education system is disastrous, and teachers are not competent, ‘’ she explained.
However, Aya Karim, 16, who studied at a private school for 10 years and now is a student at a public high school, believes that private schools are of superior quality compared to public schools. ‘’When I was in private school, teachers would review the lesson when I didn’t understand. In the public school, meanwhile, the teachers always refused to repeat the lesson once again,‘’ she says. Aya goes as far as to wonder why she should pay money in order to understand the lesson. ‘’Teachers in the public sector ‘’have to understand that they are required to review the lesson until it’s understood, because this is their duty,’’ she concluded.
Wissal Cabbani, 16, a baccalaureate student at a private school says she is against private schools, ‘’since we shouldn’t have to pay for education.’’ ‘’Otherwise, only the rich elite would be educated and the poor won’t be able to go to school. In this case, the gap between the rich and the poor in Morocco will become even wider,’’ she explained.
Are Teachers Responsible for the Lack of Education Quality in Public Schools?
Multiple interventions in the social dialogue accused teachers of being responsible for the bad quality of education in the public sector. But teachers responded to these accusations with accusations to the Moroccan educational system, stating that ministry of education is to blame rather than teachers.
Karima, a 31-year-old primary school teacher in the countryside of Sale says that public education suffers from a lot of problems due to the failing educational system. ‘’In some rural areas, teachers don’t even have the basic tools to do their duty. Plus, the content of the subjects that we teach is useless, thus, I think the educational system needs an urgent reform,’’ she explains.
On the same note, Hicham Hiat, a 23-year-old English teacher in Tata, says that the teachers are good but they face many obstacles that prevent them from doing their duty. ‘’In my case, students in Tata were not interested in learning English. I tried to make them interested, and I succeeded. But the problem is that we suffer from the lack of basic tools for teaching. For instance, the administration couldn’t afford me a data show, so I had to buy it myself,” he points out.
Hicham, who has been teaching English for only two years, goes on to explain that people should not generalize that teachers are not good. ‘’I know teachers in the country side of Tata who are very good and they are doing their best. But, the problem is within the people’s mentality,’’ he explains. ‘’They have lost trust in the teachers and in the Moroccan educational system as a whole’’ Hicham concluded.
This education initiative was taken by many individuals from Morocco who form the Student Union for Change of the Educational System (UECSE ), as a part of Global Week Action, launched worldwide from the 17th to the 22nd of November by International Student Movement. The International Student Movement (ISM) is a platform consisting of many individuals and groups from different parts of the world. A group of students associated with the ISM came together during a series of chat meetings and decided to call for coordinated action worldwide.
Hamza Mala, 22, a member of UECSE , estimated the number of participants in the event at more than 100 people. He told MWN that UECSE ‘’is not linked to any political movement or party.’’ ‘’UECSE is union that consists of young students who believe that education is a legitimate human right, and that it should not be offered for sale. We are struggling for a free quality education,’’ Hamza claims.
Morocco evaluates youth in politics.
By Naoufel Cherkaoui in Rabat for Magharebia – 20/11/2014
Years after the adoption of a national charter on youth participation in legislative elections, young people in Morocco continue to shun politics. A conference on the status of young people within Moroccan parties was held at the International University of Rabat on November 12th.
Omar Alaoui, a young member of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), said he entered the world of politics because it attracted him and after he learned that young Moroccans who are active in parties did "not exceed one percent". "The least that can be said about this ratio is that it is very weak, especially considering that young people make up almost 60 percent of the total Moroccan population," he noted. He added, "Young people are under the impression that nothing can be expected from politics, decisions are taken elsewhere, and they have no say.""There is a big rift between the elite and youth, which suggests the existence of a defect in communication between the two groups," he continued. "They make up the majority of the total population, but they are not represented politically, and this is what causes their aversion for politics." "Many participated in the February 20 Movement, but this was a temporary participation," Alaoui said. "If this category wants to transmit its ideas it has to become politically active in the context of the parties, at a time when there are 34 parties comprising different currents."
According to Moundir Souhami, politburo member of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), young Moroccans have always been political activists. The evidence lies in the document of independence, which was signed in 1944 by a group of political leaders who were young at the time, he said. "The president of the first Moroccan government did not exceed the age of 40," he noted. "Young people also took part in demonstrations in Morocco since the sixties of the last century until the establishment of the February 20 Movement in 2011 within what is known as the Arab Spring.""What prevents the political commitment of Moroccan youth is the reality of the political scene, which suffers from Balkanisation," he continued. He explained that laws governing political parties "ensure the renewal of the political elite and rejuvenate it by ensuring the presence of 20 percent of young people within political bodies". "This leads us to say that there is a desire for the rejuvenation of the political scene, but on the other hand, there is a movement resisting this trend," he added.
For his part, Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) member Zouhair Kanfaoui said, "We have a good constitution that is relatively fair to young people and therefore, if those mechanisms guaranteed by the constitution are engaged, they will bring significant gains to youths.""Yet this cannot be achieved if this category remains outside the political parties," he continued. "Our reluctance as young people toward political participation opens the door to opportunists and corrupt people, regardless of their political parties.""Young people's participation could rectify the position of the political parties and thus the political scene," he said. Kanfaoui called for a broader youth organisation in politics in order to ensure the "defence of the rights of youth".
For his part, political science professor Miloud Belkadi told Magharebia that the low participation of youth in political parties was "due to the weakness of these bodies in mobilising this category at a time when the political landscape is going through its most vulnerable stages".
Moroccans and the Waste of Time.
Saturday 15 November 2014 - El Houssaine Naaim Marrakech
Societies always reflect on their culture. It is logical to understand a society by studying its culture. The three elements of culture: product, practice, and perspective, contribute to shaping a private image of any society. Thus, culture enables people, sociologists in particular, to analyze a society, and maybe highlight its remarkable features, or discover its negative aspects.
I would like to tackle this topic regarding the Moroccan society, and see how culture reflects and mirrors Moroccans’ view of the concept of time. Although I’m using “Moroccans”, I’m not generalizing. I’m simply referring just to the majority of them.
Culture can reveal the way Moroccans appreciate and consider time. By studying the way they practice ceremonies and holidays, the way they produce and create things, and the perspectives they have towards abstract concepts, we might deduce some facts about the status of time in Moroccans daily life.
Beginning with the products: Tajin, Coscous, and Moroccan Tea are the famous traditional foods and drink, respectively. These products require more than two hours to be cooked, and at least an hour to be eaten, as all of them are eaten or drunk hot. Moroccans relax whenever they cook, even though it can waste half a day. No one cares about time, or consider how to save some of it for doing something else.
Besides food, some traditional or popular daily destinations might also take too much time. Among them is the Hamam, where Moroccans, mainly women, spend at least two hours bathing. Moroccans often stay in cafés for hours, just talking, watching football matches, or reading newsletters.
On the other hand, ceremonies and celebrations may take more time than the above activities. For example, a wedding celebration might take few days. It is celebrated also from night until early morning. The day after the celebration is set aside to catch up on sleep. National and religious holidays are similar. It always takes too much time to celebrate them, as they can take more than three days.
In a direct way, time seems not to be precious for majority of Moroccans. Some Moroccans organize their social or even their professional appointments only by specifying “morning,” or “evening;” they never specify a defined time. Besides this, they also schedule their appointments only by the time of prayer. For example, “let us meet after the Al Asser prayer”
In the same context, some Moroccans might be late for an appointment, class, or work by half an hour, but they still consider this “on time.” Half an hour or an hour is “almost” on time. For example, in a bus station, you might be told that a bus is leaving right now. But when you get on the bus, you discover that “right now” means “in more than an hour.” If you are unlucky enough, you might be asked to change your bus because the one you are in is not going anywhere yet. It does not matter if you are in a hurry or you have something urgent to do in another city.
It is noteworthy that in such situations Moroccans describe the ones who are in a hurry as “dead people,” or “li zerbou matu.” So it’s better to take it easy, as it is always too early, “Mazal lhal” as Moroccans say.
Despite all this, Moroccans still have too much time. If you ask someone about what is he doing, he might answer with “nothing”, or rather, “nothing to be done”, while in truth there is a lot of work that needs to be done.
Instead, one might find many Moroccans, especially in the evening, walking for hours and hours everyday, which is their habit. They meet their friends and have long conversations, including asking about what’s new with them, to which most of them answer with “nothing,” or “Walo,” or “just with time,” “Gha Maa Lwaqt,” which has no meaning in the original language as well.
After asserting that culture can have an impact on the societies’ behavior and living standards, I cannot help but mention the role of education in changing the way Moroccans view time.
Education and teachers should adapt subjects that can promote people’s organization and appreciation of time, and educate them to respect time. Curricula should incorporate content that addresses students’ time out of the classroom. Through education, we can change the negative aspects that we have in our culture.
It is not normal to be on Facebook or chat online, while reading books might be more useful. It is not normal to do everything slowly and have no appreciation for time, while we expect to develop as quickly as possible in order to compete with the developed countries. We should all make an effort to change our behavior. Time is money; no development will be real without knowing how to organize our time, and how to effectively use it.
Edited by Timothy Filla
Morocco: A True Melting Pot.
Dr. Chtattou Sunday 16 November 2014 Rabat
There is no doubt that Morocco occupies a strategic position in its region. It sits at the crossroads of many cultures, religions, and civilisations, and has throughout the centuries become a true melting pot of many ways of life and human beliefs, not to mention, obviously, races and ethnic groups.
In one of his speeches, the late King Hassan II described Morocco as a tree with roots in Africa, a trunk in Morocco, side branches in the Middle East, and top foliage in Europe, and so it was for many millennia.
Accepting the “other” in his “otherness”
Because of this brassage de cultures, Moroccans have masterfully acquired the ability and the predisposition to accept others, no matter how complex their differences might be or how alien his “otherness” is. Moroccans by nature are accommodating, open, friendly, available, and very tolerant of other people and their cultures. But, their most important quality, by far, is their innate ability to welcome other life experiences and cultural currents that clearly are not in contradiction with their own entrenched beliefs, digest them, and adapt them to their lives.
As such, they have interacted positively and constructively with the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, and many other ancient civilizations. They made beneficial exchanges with them all, and today one can still see the vestiges of these human interactions in Moroccan language, customs, and belief, and not to mention the remains of entire cities such as Volublis, Lixus, and others.
Lixus : capital of cultural harmony of ancient Morocco
Lixus was first built by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC. It served as a trading post to establish business with the locals and the rest of the Mediterranean countries. The site has many tile works showing Greek gods and mythology.The Phoenicians marvelled at the hospitality and the warmth of the locals, and in return taught them some agricultural techniques such as irrigation and water preservation.
During the Punic phase, extending from the 3rd to 2nd century BC, the Carthaginians had much commercial and military activity in Morocco. The invaders taught the locals to salt fish and grow grapes for wine production. Around the 1st century BC, the Roman empire extended to Morocco, which they called Mauretania Tanginita. Lixus, very much like Volubilis, became an important Roman city in which commerce and trade flourished, as a result of the peacefulness and friendliness of the natives.
Amazed by the warmth of the Moroccans, the Romans appointed local kings to rule these lands, such as Juba II, who is considered one of the wisest and just Amazigh rulers ever. He was succeded, after his death, by his son Ptolemy. During the reign of these two Amazigh monarchs, Lixus became an important center of intercultural communication between the native population and Roman civilization. As a result, the city grew in political and commercial importance.
Temples were built for prayer, arenas for games, wrestling, and the display of local Animals, such as the lion of the Atlas and barbary horses. The city also had baths and an extensive industrial area, where fish was salted and wine bottled to be shipped to the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea via the Loukous River. The city of Lixus prospered as an agora of Mediterranean cultural dialogue, until the fall of the Roman Empire around the 5th century AD.
Islamic civilization propelling Moroccan culture north to the Iberian Peninsula
As early as the 8th century AD, horsemen coming from Arabia Felix brought with them a new monotheistic religion to North Africa: Islam. The Arabians gradually converted the Christian and polytheistic Amazigh people, but not the Jewish inhabitants, who kept their own monotheistic belief. In turn, the newly converted Amazigh, under the leadership of General Tarik Bnou Ziyad, crossed the strait that has since been called Gibraltar, and spread Islam to the Iberian Peninsula. The peninsula remained under Islamic rule until the the Reconquista in 1492.
In Spain, under the Amazigh dynasties of the Almoravids and the Almohads, Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived in total harmony for centuries on end. They respected each others’ beliefs and cooperated for the wellbeing of all people. The Muslims were Emirs ruling Spain, Jews were their visirs and advisors, and Christians the commanders of their armies.
After the fall of Grenada to the Catholics in 1492, both Muslims and Jews were forced out of Spain and headed to Morocco, where they found refuge while the Inquisition set about to persecute those who stayed behind. Those who were made to leave were welcomed in by the native Moroccans, and managed to prosper and occupy important posts in the Moroccan government. They also thrived in trade and finance.
The Amazigh spreading Islam to Africa
After the arrival of Islam, Moroccan Amazigh dynasties grew in power and moved southward, spreading their new religion to sub-Saharan Africa. They spread the religion by persuasion at times, and by subjugating the Africans at other times. In so doing, they enrolled the locals in their armies and brought home many others as slaves. The African slaves, to keep their culture alive, secretly played their music and practiced rituals of exorcism. Centuries later, when they were freed, the Gnaoua, as they are called locally (a mispronunciation of Guinea), formed brotherhoods and travelled all over the country playing their music for subsistence. Today, their music and culture is known globally, thanks to a yearly festival organized in Essaouira in June.
Judaism is also a Moroccan religion
Judaism and Jews are as old as the country itself, until their massive migration to Israel after its creation in 1948. They lived all over the country in villages, towns, and cities and practiced commerce, trade and finance. Because of their wide experience in international trade, Moroccan Sultans appointed them as their financial and commercial agents: tujjar sultan.
A good example of interfaith dialogue in Morocco can be seen in the city of Sefrou, situated thirty kilometers south of the spiritual capital of Morocco, Fez. In Sefrou, Muslims and Jews lived in harmony door to door and practiced their religious rituals in tandem, to the extent that it became difficult to tell what was Islamic and what was Jewish. What is more, they venerated the same Saint, who is buried in a grotto in a neighboring mountain. The site was tactfully called Kaf al-moumen (the grotto of the faithful) because it was a religious sanctuary for both Muslims and Jews and worship time in this area was equally divided.
Sefrou is not unique example of religious harmony in Morocco. Other cases can be found in places like Debdou, Azrou, Fez, Rabat, Meknes, Marrakesh, etc. In all these places, there were communities of Jews that practiced their faith and trade in complete peace and harmony. They were fully Moroccan, and as such enjoyed the full rights and obligations of their Muslim brethren.
During the Second World War, when Nazi-occupied France wanted to persecute the Jews in Morocco, the late King Mohammed V resisted the order and said that if Jews were to be persecuted, then all Moroccans would be persecuted, because the Jews are no different from his other subjects, and for whose safety he was fully responsible.
Morocco, now and then, land of dialogue and tolerance
At the turn of the 20th century, Morocco was subjected to European colonialism, and the country was divided between the French and the Spanish who, over 44 years of a Protectorate regime, left a lasting imprint on the language, culture, and way of life of Moroccans, which can still be seen today.
Today, Moroccans proudly highlight their multiple and composite identity: Amazigh, Arab, Islamic, Jewish, African, Andalusian, and Mediterranean. They are proud of their age-old tolerance and acceptance of the “other.”
AfDB Welcomes Morocco’s ‘Solid’ Economic Performance In Difficult Context.
Monday 17 November 2014 Abidjan
Morocco has a “solid” economic performance with an average annual growth rate of 4.2 % over the 2009-2013 period despite a difficult international and regional context, said the African Development Bank (AfBD). The Kingdom “enjoys good political stability as it implements far-reaching reforms, AfDB indicated in its 2012-2016 country mid-term review and 2014 performance review, adding that “from the economic standpoint, Morocco has solid performance with an average annual growth rate of 4.2 % over the 2009-2013 period despite a difficult international and regional context.
Since 2011, successive authorities have striven to improve government efficiency and public finance management, while seeking to preserve macro-economic stability, AfDB pointed out. The document also sheds light on AfDB positioning in Morocco, noting that the African bank is one of the Kingdom’s leading
development partners with an active portfolio of 33 operations (loans and grants) for net commitments of approximately USD 2.79 billion.
Morocco: How Can We Promote True Entrepreneurship?
By Hamid Bouchikhi, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at ESSEC Business School
This week, Morocco will host the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. This major event not only deserves our attention, it also calls on us to thoughtfully examine the Moroccan entrepreneurial landscape and challenge local political, economic and civic leaders on this issue.
Recently conducted document research and interviews have confirmed the extreme rarity of growth entrepreneurship in Morocco, despite the noble endeavours of multiple public, private and associative actors.
This is not an insult to my home country when I say there seems to be many more promoters of entrepreneurship in Morocco than there are entrepreneurs. Indeed, I’m not alone in thinking that we spend more money on talking about entrepreneurship than we do actually on starting new businesses.
I want to draw attention to the microscopic seed capital investments in Morocco (two percent according to a study published in 2014 by AMIC) and the abandonment of seed funding by the Maroc Numeric Fund.
Although I’m not up to speed on all the details, it would appear that this investment vehicle, designed to spearhead innovative entrepreneurship in Morocco, has experienced a too low deal 'deal flow' and has encountered some difficulties in one of its early stage investments.
The very low level of growth entrepreneurship suggests two hypotheses. The first is pessimistic: Morocco does not have an independent entrepreneurial potential worthy of the name. The fact that most of the recent Moroccan "success stories”, excluding real estate, were the work of groups Benjelloun, Chaabi and SNI partially confirms this hypothesis.
If entrepreneurship in Morocco is only within reach for established players – the only actors capable of identifying real entrepreneurial opportunities, building teams and overcoming structural barriers – this should draw the attention of public policy-makers.
Indeed, instead of striving in vain to encourage young people to start their own businesses, it would be better to encourage, through conventional public policy measures, established local businesses, and not just foreign ones, to launch new ventures in more than just real estate.
In this way, the country would be more likely to see the birth of a new cohort of companies like Marjane, Assouak Assalam, Nareva, or Méditel INWI.
Indeed, if it’s only within the reach of established businesses and entrepreneurs to launch successful start-ups, public policy-makers need to assume responsibility for disadvantaged and unemployed youth, and help them create their own job, or even their own micro business.
In this regard, we need to stop calling it entrepreneurship and more accurately refer to it as a kind of necessary but not sufficient economic inclusion.
The second more optimistic assumption is that Morocco has an entrepreneurial potential, but this potential has not yet been activated. The number of times I’ve been impressed by the innovative ideas and concepts of young Moroccans has shown me evidence of this potential. Here, we can underscore the quality of the projects submitted by students from sixty universities and schools to the national competition organized by the Moroccan branch of the American NGO Enactus.
We should note also that the Moroccan team was runner-up at the 2014 Enactus World Final held in Beijing. Finally, we should also remember that a large number of young Moroccans are starting their businesses in Europe or North America while many Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs.
They don’t feel yet that Morocco has a favourable ecosystem. At a time when IT makes global economic models possible from any location with high speed internet access, it’s a shame that Moroccans don’t start local businesses with international reach.
It is unfortunate and symptomatic that Enigma, a promising new startup operating in the 'data mining' sector, and which raised US $4.5 million in 2014, is located in the United States. It is equally unfortunate that multinationals choose to create centers in Morocco because they find well-trained yet inexpensive engineers, while local entrepreneurs are not able to take advantage of this pool of human capital.
If Moroccan politicians believe in the local entrepreneurial potential, beyond the established companies, then they need to address the real structural obstacles that block their development. For example, young businesses in need of cash can’t survive in an ecosystem where the non-respect of payment deadlines is commonplace.
A young entrepreneur recently told me that, while working on a third project for a client, the entrepreneur still hadn’t been paid for the first. However, he’s limited in how much pressure he can put on this client, if he doesn’t want to lose him entirely.
Slow purchasing decisions, lack of transparency, frequent order changes and last minute attempts to renegotiate prices create a difficult entrepreneurial environment. While established companies have the equity and access to credit to overcome these challenges, younger entrepreneurs don’t. It is not by chance, as I wrote above, that noteworthy startups of late have been launched by established firms.
I’m very encouraged by the fact that we’re finally starting to talk about project incubators and accelerators to support the growth of young, innovative companies in Morocco. The country desperately needs them.
When the necessary tools are implemented, they’ll only produce results if the administration, the economy and the Moroccan society realise a cultural revolution to embrace entrepreneurship. Talk is cheap and today we need action. The Cultural Revolution will be a reality when, for example, any client of a contractor should feel morally responsible for the financial health of the supplier.
I also welcome the development of social entrepreneurship in Morocco. In an environment where the state and the market don’t allow a portion of the population to meet basic needs such as food, health care, or education, it is important that national and international NGOs intervene to mitigate these gaps.
NGO activism, while welcome, must not, however, convince Moroccans that social entrepreneurship is the only mode of entrepreneurship within their reach and that true entrepreneurship is the prerogative of established national or foreign companies.
We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the need for social entrepreneurship is inversely proportionate to the prevalence and effectiveness of for-profit entrepreneurship. In an economy that produces profitable companies, jobs, tax revenue and wealth follow suit and allow the many to satisfy basic needs and access a minimum quality of life. Social entrepreneurship should mitigate distributive imperfections of capitalism, not replace it.
It is for this reason that Morocco needs to promote among its young talent, ambitious, for-profit entrepreneurship. Imagine what the country would be if a hundred entrepreneurs created companies, each earning one billion euros in turnover.
The volume of total activity generated by this cohort of entrepreneurs would be well above the current GDP. In a country of 33 million people, we should be able to find these one hundred entrepreneurs. I hope that local political, economic and civic leaders will make this speculative scenario a mobilizing national goal.
Casablanca Calling: Meet Morocco’s Female Religious Preachers.
Tuesday 18 November 2014 Rabat
Casablanca Calling premieres on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at 22h00CAT on Witness, Al Jazeera’s observational documentary strand. Filmed over two-and-a-half years, Casablanca Calling is an intimate portrait of three Moroccan women – Hannane, Bouchra and Karima – working as official Muslim leaders or Morchidat.
In Morocco, 60% of women have never been to school, but the Morchidat programme was introduced in 2006 as part of a raft of reforms to strengthen the position of women in Moroccan society and temper the rise of extremism, manifest in the terrorist attacks that struck Casablanca in 2003. The Morchidat have a mission: to highlight Islamic teachings of compassion, tolerance and equality. Their work takes them into mosques, schools, homes, orphanages, prisons and out in the countryside. They support the education of women and girls; campaign against early marriage; and encourage young people to build a better Morocco, rather than dreaming of life in the West.
Award-winning director Rosa Rogers says, “The lives of women in the Arab world are often closed and off limits to those outside. As I learned about the work of the Morchidat and the lives of the women they work with, I discovered a different Islam from the images that dominate Western mainstream media. On every step of the way with this film, I have had my ideas and preconceptions consistently challenged, reframed and expanded.”
Does Morocco Have a Drinking Problem?
Wednesday 19 November 2014 By Jawad Azzouggagh Toronto
Does Morocco have a drinking problem? I seem to be asking that question more and more these days. In reality, it is something we should discuss as a nation. It is healthy to discuss it. Sadly, we all know that our bars are full of locals. Rich and poor, men and women. One place brings them all together, under flashing disco lights and the melodies of exotic music. Even if the law clearly states the sale and consumption of alcohol is for tourists and foreigners, no one really cares about that. It is one of those laws that exists, but doesn’t really exist. When it comes to serving these patrons, there are really no guidelines or training provided or implemented by local government agencies, such as the health department.
In the West, bars are vigorously inspected by special agencies to ensure that alcohol consumption policies are in place. These polices ensure the safety of the public. Before one can serve alcohol in Canada for example, they must complete a course called a Smart Serve. This educational course allows the person serving alcohol to learn about the responsibility of serving alcoholic drinks, and understanding the risks of over-serving a patron. These laws are very strict, so much so that a bar can be shut down for simply allowing drunkenness. Yes, allowing drunkenness in a licensed establishment is against the law, even if defeats the idea of going to a bar.
Why don’t we go out and see what it is really like in Morocco. We show up to a popular bar in Meknes, the imperial city at the footsteps of the Atlas Mountains. Around 5 o’clock in evening on a cold Saturday, I meet an old comrade for a night out. As we walk into one of the favorite and most popular bars downtown, I cannot help but to appreciate the melodies of Oum Kaltjoum, creating a positive vibe and the smell of Lamb Tagines is captivating. It all comes together so wonderfully, but deep down the guilt takes overs and I can’t help but feel that I am doing something wrong.
The middle aged barmaid Dunia, looks like she is having a bad night. She greets us with a wan smile and tired eyes, opens two beers and prepares our table for endless tapas to come. If anyone can tell you about locals drinking, its Dunia. She has seen it all, and after a few cold ones she was not hesitant to share her experiences over a period of thirty years in the business.
“People come here to get wasted and they don’t know how to have a glass or two,” she told us. “The bar owners just want us to sell the maximum. It’s very sad to see my people come here and blow their entire monthly pay in one night.”
After only 4 hours of sitting at the bar, trying to get a feel for a night out, It is obvious that almost all of the patrons are intoxicated and it seems that there is no end in sight. In fact, the bars will continue serving alcohol until morning, when sadly everyone stumbles out into the daylight.
So why is it that in a Muslim country where alcohol is considered haram (prohibited), so many residents consume so much? I think it is the fact that drinking is considered shameful and that it must be consumed in secret. This leads to overconsumption when given the chance. It is like underage drinking in Canada. Since people under the age of 19 are not allowed to drink, it is common for teenagers who want to experiment to buy alcohol illegally and then consume too much. This often leads to alcohol poisoning as they have not yet learned the limit that their bodies can handle and are not in public places such as bars where consumption is limited.
According to the WHO, the majority of Moroccans abstain from alcohol. However, anyone who has gone out on the town can clearly see that this is not the case. Many Islamists have argued that alcohol should be banned, and recently there has been a huge increase in prices and taxes due to pressure from these groups.
Those in favor of keeping alcohol available argue that banning it will be detrimental to the income generated by tourism and also to the thousands of jobs created by Morocco’s thriving wine business.
We all know that alcoholism is a serious problem worldwide and a problem that cannot be ignored in our kingdom. I am deeply concerned about the incidences of serious illnesses, psychiatric problems and fatal car accidents that seem to be plaguing my beloved nation.
Statistics on alcohol consumption do not accurately reflect the consumption of alcohol in Morocco as they are based primarily on self-reporting and this can be seen in cases of liver cirrhosis, diabetes and traffic accidents due to impaired driving.
Banning alcohol altogether would significantly impact tourism and the revenue this generates. And it could potentially lead to black market trading and home brewing. This is already a problem as there are bootleggers throughout the country that will deliver alcohol 24/7. The solution therefore does not lie in making Morocco a dry country. The responsibility lies with the government to enforce regulations. But they cannot do this without first acknowledging the problem.
HM the King Dedicates 1.1 Billion Dh-Worth Waste Water Treatment Plant for Fez.
Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat) 20 November 2014 Fez
HM King Mohammed VI dedicated on Thursday, at the rural commune of Ain Bouali (Province of Moulay Yacoub, near Fez), a waste water treatment plant for the city of Fez, a pilot project at the national and continental levels.
The 1.1 billion DH-worth project, a strong signal of the particular attention granted by the Sovereign to environment protection and sustainable development, will help improve the quality of the Oued Sebou river water, prevent cut-offs in the water purification plants of Kariat Ba Mohamed and Mkanssa, end odor nuisances and cut greenhouse effects emissions. It will also promote the living and health conditions of 5 million inhabitants along the Oued Sebour river and contribute to the urban and agricultural development of the city of Fez and its region.
As a major component of the city's liquid sanitation, the new plant will treat all the waste water produced by the city before rejecting it into the Oued Sebou river, contributing, therefore, to solving the problems of water resources' integrated management.
The new facility, which meets international standards and uses latest technologies in waste water treatment, extends over 14 ha and uses the "activated sludges" technique. It has a treatment capacity of 1.2 million Population Equivalent with a daily flow of 155,400 cubic meters.
In addition to the "water and sludges" branches, the plant, a project of the water and electricity supply public company (RATEEF), comprises an analysis laboratory to measure various indicators of water quality before, during and after processing.
Furthermore, the plant also includes a sludge processing chain with a mechanism that makes it possible to produce up to 50 pc of the plant electric energy needs.
In order to ensure the plant sustainability, an industrial depollution plan for the city is also featured to eliminate organic and toxic matters by delocalizing polluting industrial activities (oil extraction, tanning, copper work and others) and grouping them at the Ain Nokbi industrial zone.
This major project, which holds strong health, biologic, economic and ecological impacts, was financed by a state's subsidy earmarked by the national liquid sanitation plan, a loan from the consortium of national banks and the Fez water and electricity supply company. It is part of various initiatives taken by the Sovereign to preserve the environment and ecosystems.
83 percent of Moroccans Reject Homosexuality: Survey.
Friday 21 November 2014 Rabat
Moroccan society is known for its openness to the outside world and its adoption of many trends coming from the West. But when it comes to topics that are considered taboo, the overwhelming majority of Moroccans still hold conservative views. According to a survey conducted by the TNS Foundation for Morocan magazine Telquel, 83 percent of Moroccans hold negative views regarding homosexuals.
The survey, which interviewed a sample of 1000 Moroccans aged 18 and up, revealed that 83% of Moroccans are against homosexuality, while 11% hold a favorable view of it.
The survey shows that the anit-homosexuality law in force in Morocco reflects the opinion of most Moroccans. Under Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, sexual acts between people of the same gender are punishable by between six months and three years in prison.
Last May, on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, a group of people called “ASWAT”, a group for sexual minorities, launched a campaign for the defense of gays and lesbians in Morocco. The group, whose motto is “Love is not a crime”, called for the protection of the rights of same-sex couples in the kingdom. The group started a petition entitled “Say No to homophobia in Morocco” to demand the abolition of Article 489 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes “licentious acts against nature with an individual of the same sex.”
Once a stopover, Morocco becoming home for migrants.
Saturday, November 22, 2014 Rabat:
In a back alley in the Moroccan capital, the small household repair shop opened by Moctar Toure since escaping conflict in his native Ivory Coast is doing a brisk business. At the gates of Europe, Morocco has long been a transit point for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa looking to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.
But tighter immigration controls and economic malaise in Europe have made the kingdom a destination in its own right for many. In spite of the challenges that living in Morocco poses for migrants, Toure wants to stay permanently and got his legal papers last year. "In the beginning it wasn`t difficult... it was impossible," said the Ivorian, who migrated to Morocco nine years ago.
For several years after his arrival he relied on whatever odd jobs came up. Toure struggled with a family to support, and it was only when he received his residency permit that he was able to secure a regular income. With the help of local refugee agency Amapp, he got a roof over his head and rented a small space where he started his shop a few months ago in a working-class neighbourhood of Rabat. Toure has even managed to employ a fellow Ivorian to meet demand from customers, most of whom are locals. Although he is still working to integrate with society, "to return to the Ivory Coast would be something abnormal", he said. The alternative to staying in Morocco for many is a perilous sea voyage across the Mediterranean.
According to figures from the UN`s refugee agency, more than 2,500 people have drowned or been reported lost at sea this year trying to cross the sea to Europe. They include people who have fled poverty-stricken nations in sub-Saharan Africa, preferring to risk their lives at the hands of people smugglers.
Those who remain in Morocco face a struggle to access education and healthcare.
This year, in response to a migrant influx and criticism from rights groups, authorities launched a scheme to naturalise migrants and refugees, who number about 30,000. By the end of October, 4,385 residency permits had been delivered out of more than 20,000 requested.
Serge Gnako, president of the migrant organisation Fased in the economic hub Casablanca, arrived five years ago. The 35-year-old Ivorian said he was deported several times and it was "difficult to access healthcare or to school your children". Gnako believes Morocco is changing, however, and is hopeful his one-month-old son will receive a solid education. "I see our future in Morocco, and I hope my child will learn Arabic," said the former university lecturer, who now teaches French. Thanks to a recent ministerial ruling, Gnako`s local school in the residential suburb of Oulfa now has 15 students from sub-Saharan Africa.Migrants in Morocco still face problems after gaining residency, especially in finding work in a country where youth unemployment is near 30 percent.
"Your residency permit lets you look for work, not to find it," said Reuben Yenoh Odoi, a member of the Council of sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco.
Many still consider "going to sea", said Odoi, a Ghanian, referring to the treacherous maritime crossing to Spain.
Several hundred migrants recently tried to storm the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the north African coast, leading to the arrest of more than 200.
Driss el Yazami, president of the National Human Rights Council, the group tasked with Morocco`s residency programme, recognises that the process is still in its infancy. "Getting your papers is not a magic wand for integration," he said.
In addition, tensions between local and migrant communities remain fraught. In August, a Senegalese man was killed in clashes between migrants and residents in the northern port city of Tangiers. But such impediments do not faze Simon Ibukun, a Nigerian musician who plans to settle in Casablanca.
"I`m Moroccan, and I`m working hard to get into the management business and become my own boss," he said.
40 Percent of Moroccans Are Against Polygamy: Survey.
Friday 21 November 2014 - El Houssaine Naaim Marrakech
Polygamy is a legitimate right in Islam, but about 40 percent of Moroccans are against it.
46 percent of women object to polygamy at a great extent, while only about 22 percent of men share them the same attitude, according to an opinion poll accomplished by TNS Foundation for Tel Quel magazine.
40 percent of men are in favor polygamy and expressed their objection to the idea of banning polygamy, compared to 27 percent of women who rejected a ban.
When it comes to sexual freedom, the majority of respondents are against. About 90 percent of women and 78 percent of men reject the idea.
These resulted are related to religious and psychological taboos that still limit people’s desire to change or open their views, according to those who conducted the poll. Many women refused to even to take part in the opinion poll, as many Moroccans are conservative when issues that are related to religion or sexual issues.
In accordance with the 2004 Family Code, which replaced the Personal Code of 1957, a husband should obtain the consent of his first wife if he ever wants to marry another woman. The Moroccan Family Code has rendered polygamy nearly impossible. According to the text of the code, “the judge shall not authorize polygamy unless he has verified the husband’s ability to guarantee equality with the fist wife and her children in all areas of life, and there is an objective and exceptional motive that justifies polygamy.”
‘The Orchestra of Blinds’ to Represent Morocco at Marrakech Film Festival.
Wednesday 19 November 2014 -Fez-
The film ‘’The Orchestra of Blinds’’ will represent Morocco in the 14th edition of the Marrakech Film Festival, which will take place on December 5-13. The film appears on a list released by The Hollywood Reporter, an American film website. The film is directed by Mohammed Mouftakir, and tells the story of a famous orchestra chief who forces his eldest son, Minou, to work hard and rank first in his class in primary school.
Minou falls in love with his neighbor’s maid, Chama, and loses interest in school. He ultimately figures out a way to get with that by falsifying his grades to get his father’s approval. Mohammed Fakir evokes again the figure of the father, which is a dominant theme in his previous film, “Pégase”
Along with “The Orchestra of Blinds”, many other films were chosen to enter the festival competition. The list includes “The Blue Elephant” by Egyptian director Marwan Hamid, “Chigasaki Story” by Japanese director Takuya Misawa, “The Keeping Room”, by American director Daniel Barber, and “Red Rose”, by Iranian director Sepideh Farsi.
Over the years, attracted the attention of several prominent actors, directors, and screenwriters, as well as internationally distinguished figures in the world of culture and mass media
The panel of judges include prominent figures, who are led by the French actress Isabelle Huppert, as well as Oscar-winning Danish film director Susanne Bier, Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (winner of the Palme d’Or in 2007), the French comedian, actress, model, director, singer, and writer Mélanie Laurent, Italian film director and screenwriter Mario Martone, Moroccan film maker Moumen Smihi, and former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in both modern and classical theatre productions, British actor Alan Rickman.
This year’s festival honors the king of Arab comedy Adil Imame, British actor Jeremy Irons, and American actor Viggo Mortensen.
The festival is an opportunity to bolster the ties between filmmakers, actors, and the film industry as whole. It is also a great event that promotes tourism and promotes the reputation of Morocco internationally.
Edited by Timothy Filla
Morocco to spend, reform to double foreign investment -minister
By Andrew TorchiaFri Nov 21, 2014 MARRAKESH, Morocco Nov 21 (Reuters)
Morocco plans to boost state spending in support of industry and reform regulations as part of an effort to double foreign direct investment by 2020, investment minister Moulay Hafid Alamy said.
Unlike many Arab economies, Morocco managed to avoid a big drop in FDI in the wake of the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, partly by marketing itself as an export base for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
FDI inflows are now running at an annual rate of about 4 billion euros ($5 billion), higher than pre-crisis levels of around 3 billion euros, Alamy said in an interview. "We think we can double that by 2020," said the former insurance industry entrepeneur, who built a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $620 million before becoming minister in October 2013.
As the volume of FDI rises, Morocco is moving up the manufacturing value chain, particularly in aersopace and autos. Last year Canadian plane maker Bombardier began building a $200 million plant to make parts for its CRJ Series aircraft. Multinational industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp said it was establishing a factory to make electrical distribution modules and protection devices.
Moroccan bonds have outperformed most emerging markets since last year partly because of this trend; Morocco's economic growth should accelerate next year as higher-value-added sectors increase their contribution, Standard & Poor's said last week.
Alamy outlined a strategy to attract investment that focuses on private sector companies -- he will encourage investment banks to partner with foreign investors to arrange projects -- but involves a sizeable dose of state intervention.
A new public investment fund, reaching about 2 billion euros by 2020, will support strategic projects with state money, while the government aims for industrial parks across the country.
At the same time, it plans new regulations to encourage the creation of smaller firms that will provide goods and services to foreign investors. They will be able to register in a single day, an incentive which Alamy hopes will bring many unregistered Moroccan firms into the legal economy.
Morocco has two factories making fully assembled cars, both involving Renault, and the local business community believes a third may be in the works.
Alamy said his ministry was in talks with seven foreign auto industry companies, which he declined to name, and expected to sign deals --- not necessarily for full assembly plants -- with at least two of them by the end of next year.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Catherine Evans)
Morocco: Message From the King of Morocco - Knowledge Is the Only Resource Whose Value Increases When It Is Shared - Jean Abinader
Moroccan American Center for Policy (Washington, DC) 20 November 2014
By Jean R. Abinader, Matic / US and Morocco Sound Strong Support for Global Entrepreneurship
The fifth Global Entrepreneurship Summit kicked off this week with a meeting between Vice President Joseph Biden and King Mohammed VI and opening remarks by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at the Summit's Women's Entrepreneurship Day event. Held in a special tented facility in Marrakech, the Summit, which seeks to promote greater support and resources for entrepreneurs, especially in Muslim-majority countries, has brought together more than 3,000 private and public sector participants.
In an article in the Washington Post, Vice President Biden was quoted as saying, "The secret people don't know is that our diversity is the reason for our incredible strength. But the world and the United States will be more peaceful and prosperous, when the brightest, the most innovative, the greatest risk takers believe they can reach their potential at home." He went on to add that every country should understand the benefits of supporting entrepreneurship broadly, for men and women, as both a boon for economic development and an effective tool in combating radicalism and extremism.
Secretary Pritzker, speaking to more than 300 women on the opening day, reflected on her own business experience and on the necessity of building holistic support systems for all entrepreneurs. "I must say that I am so inspired by the women at this summit - all of you. Your dynamism; your fearlessness; your courage to not only enter the workforce, but to start a business is so inspiring to me. Your appetite for risk, your vision for your companies, and, indeed, your vision for your societies, comprise the very definition of the entrepreneurial spirit."
She noted that innovation and entrepreneurism have been central to the growth of the US economy and that one of her priorities is to share lessons learned globally. "The opportunity for business creators to thrive is the foundation for a rising middle class, for security and stability, and for broad based prosperity."
Reflecting on the themes of inclusive and sustainable growth, the Secretary pointed out that "Societies can only reach their full economic potential if they tap into 100 percent of their talent pool. That means embracing the ideas and aspirations of our youth. That means enabling women to get a good education and secure the capital needed to start their own companies. That means allowing women to dictate their own futures. That means empowering you - and all women entrepreneurs. When women entrepreneurs take risks and succeed, societies change for the better."
King Mohammed VI Underlines Morocco's Commitment to Innovation and Entrepreneurism
In his address at the opening of the Summit, King Mohammed VI spoke quite forcefully about the benefits of promoting innovation and entrepreneurism.
"In keeping with its core values and basic principles, Morocco believes wholeheartedly in the Summit's objectives. It has been devoting its energies to promoting human and sustainable development and investing in entrepreneurship. My country also encourages the sharing of expertise and know-how and maximizing the complementary strengths of all parties, particularly between the countries of the South."
After summarizing Morocco's commitment to regional development, the King embraced the notion that being an entrepreneur is not a function of luck but requires much more. "One is not born an entrepreneur; one becomes an entrepreneur by embarking on the road to success in an interactive process involving hard work, learning and a capacity to deal with challenges. Entrepreneurs are people who challenge the established order and the status quo. They do not hesitate to respond - at their own level - to needs that are yet to be identified, that are unmet or that are new."
Reflecting on Morocco's challenges to accelerate economic growth, the King tied together the notions of social and human development with the role of entrepreneurs. "Entrepreneurship and innovation are twin values; they are both springboards for freedom, social mobility and prosperity, provided the business environment is favorable and the required conditions are met." He restated Morocco's commitment to working with the private sector to promote a favorable environment for business to thrive and expressed his belief that it all begins with adequate education.
"Education is an essential step, a prerequisite for the maturation process that leads people to think critically and to hone their skills so that they are able to seize an economic, technological or social opportunity when they see one. Therefore, it is up to us to provide future generations with an education that goes beyond the mere 'accumulation-transmission' process in order to develop creativity, responsiveness and inventiveness."
The King sees how all of these ingredients - education, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity - have vital implications for Africa and beyond. "To overcome the pessimism that has plagued our continent, our governments should instill self-confidence in our young people so that they can believe in their ability to learn and to become entrepreneurs. To this end, we need to nurture positive examples and turn success stories into models to emulate. The same applies to female entrepreneurship, which holds so much promise for our economies and our societies that we all need to encourage it; otherwise, we will be depriving ourselves of a huge potential."
The value of entrepreneurship in achieving sustainable and inclusive growth is relevant in the context of Morocco's aspirations, as well as those of young people across the globe. "We must not confuse technological innovation with technical sophistication. The so-called low-tech innovations - just like more sophisticated technologies - can help us meet specific needs, especially in developing countries. Innovations of this kind are often helpful in terms of supporting social development and improving the well-being of the population."
As the Summit proceeds, there are special sessions focused on innovators from Africa, women, successful entrepreneurs sharing their stories and offer support, as well as experts in finance, marketing, business plan development, and the other elements of the entrepreneurship eco-system. It is an opportunity to go beyond showcasing what has been done to investing in future entrepreneurs who can change the business face of many countries.
Morocco to split energy windfall between deficit, spending.
By Marrakesh | Reuters Friday, 21 November 2014
Morocco’s government is likely to split any budget windfall due to lower energy prices between deficit reduction and fresh spending, Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid said. “We are looking at three things: reducing the deficit, public investment and increasing social services,” Boussaid told Reuters on the sidelines of a business conference late on Thursday.
The government, which obtained a precautionary $5 billion, 24-month financing facility from the International Monetary Fund in July, estimated last month that its budget deficit would shrink to 4.3 percent of gross domestic product next year from 4.9 percent this year.
That forecast assumed an average oil price of $103 a barrel. With Brent crude now below $80, state finances are set to benefit if current prices are sustained.
The government ended subsidies for gasoline and fuel oil early this year, reducing the budget’s exposure to oil prices. But it maintains diesel subsidies at a reduced level as well as big subsidies for cooking gas, one of the most politically sensitive commodities.
It could also benefit from lower oil prices because of the boost to economic growth and tax revenues; energy imports cost the resource-poor country about $9 billion in the first 10 months of this year.
Boussaid estimated last month that the economy would grow 4.4 percent next year, up from 2.5 percent this year, but he said on Thursday that growth would accelerate to higher levels if oil prices stayed low for an extended period.
Navigating the Maze of the Marrakech Medina
Friday 21 November 2014 By Lynn Sheppard Essaouira
One of the most exciting aspects of a trip to Marrakech is rooting through the souks for an elusive bargain. However, it can also be one of the most daunting as the labyrinthine alleyways start to all look the same and the road you thought would lead you back to the main square (Place Jmaa el Fna) turns into a dead end.
There are signs, maps and guides, but my advice would be to just lose yourself in the markets and follow these simple tips to stay on the right track (and keep your sanity!)
1. Load the map
If you have a smartphone, you can load the map of the medina eg. From googlemaps. You can also drop pins in key locations such as your hotel, the restaurant where you have booked or the shop you are trying to find. Even when you are not using the internet (wifi or 3G), the map is visible, can be magnified on your screen, and should show you where you are (using the GPS from your regular phone signal). Personally, I’d rather take out my phone to find my way than unfold a map conspicuously on a street corner…
2. Place Jemaa el Fna
This is the main square and the orientation point for any route description around the medina. Shopkeepers will happily point you towards it if you look a little lost. However, it’s not always named on internet maps. Drop a pin on Cafe Argana on googlemaps to denote the square.
3. ‘Road Closed’
A ruse of tedious longevity for those of limited other job prospects is to tell tourists that their chosen route is barred. This enables the ‘helpful’ local to direct said tourists round an alternative, possibly via a shop where they might get commission and probably for a fee. Moroccans are very helpful, hospitable people and may genuinely be trying to be of assistance, so use your common sense: if there are streams of people coming towards you, the street is unlikely to be closed.
4. Watch out pedestrians (insert punctuation as appropriate)
Although most of the Marrakech medina is pedestrianised, bicycles, mopeds, handcarts and mule or horse-draw carriages are a constant hazard for the dawdling tourist. Keep to the right, keep your wits about you and keep a hand on your purse/wallet. If you hear ‘balek!’, get out of the way!
Many hotels and restaurants will happily send their staff with you to see you on the right way. However, due to a crackdown on ‘faux guides’ (false guides) a number of years ago, some locals may be reluctant to be stopped by the police while accompanying tourists if they don’t have official guide’s papers. The action against unqualified guides has undoubtedly reduced the hassle-factor, but many very knowledgeable older people (who were unable to pay for official certificates) have now been excluded from the market. The upshot is: a good guide is unlikely to be touting his trade in whispers on a shady street corner. If you would like the services of a guide, ask your hotel or a friend to recommend someone.
Marrakech is a fascinating city and part of the thrill is total immersion, which occasionally means getting lost! A little common sense, a confident air and an awareness of what’s around you will mean your stay is infinitely more pleasurable than if you are timid, suspicious or scared. People are often happy to help, so don’t be afraid to ask. However, some people are opportunistic: Morocco is a developing country and tourism offers a lot of opportunities to earn money. People will expect to be paid for services they offer, but if you didn’t want or request the service, there is no reason to pay!
Lynn Sheppard is a British writer living in Essaouira. She has been living there for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She writes at maroc-o-phile.com as well as for travel industry clients. The article was originally published on her blog. You can follow Lynn on twitter (@maroc_o_phile) or Facebook (marocophile)
Magical Morocco: Ancient cities, splendid souks and lightning in the desert on a tour of northern Africa's most accessible state
By Catherine Eade for MailOnline 19 November 2014
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2802012/Magical-Morocco-Ancient-cities-splendid-souks-lightning-desert-tour-northern-Africa-s-accessible-state.html#ixzz3JojSM5Cu
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Morocco a colourful blend of the exotic.
By Bruce Jamieson, For The Vancouver Sun
Marrakech a fantastic destination on its own, but also a great base from which to travel. Morocco is the western extremity of the Arab and Muslim world, a magic carpet flying between myth and reality.
Separated from Europe by only the 15-kilometre Strait of Gibraltar, it is worlds away from life as most of us know it. Although flora and fauna are distinct and the architecture unique, it was the diversity of the people that fascinated me. Phoenicians, Romans and Bandals came here; then Andalusian refugees from Spain and slaves from the sub-Sahara. Once, there were many Moracccan Jews, expelled from Iberia during the Reconquista, but since the formation of Israel the population is 97 per cent Muslim.
The biodiversity in Morocco is the wildest in the Mediterranean — there are tuna, swordfish, tarpon and dolphin. Forests of holm oak, juniper, red cedar and Aleppo pines characterize the northern slopes. Bird life includes horned larks, vultures and golden eagles.
Home courtyards feature orchids, geraniums and scarlet dianthus. My intrepid wife, Carole, loves orchids, and was pleased to see a multitude of indigenous varieties.
For centuries, visitors have journeyed to Marrakech — a fantastic destination on its own — but it is also a great base from which to explore the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara. There is a marked dichotomy between the median (old town) and the Ville nouvelle. Observing the cacophonous mob of snake charmers, musicians, acrobats, dentists (believe me), preachers and assorted lunatics is like nothing I had ever seen.
Winston Churchill loved to stay at the luxurious La Mamounia Hotel. He invited Franklin D. Roosevelt to meet there and plan the conclusion of the Second World War. Today you can stay in the Churchill suite for $1,200 per night.
One evening, we attended Chez All near Marrakech for a fantasia. This included a six-course meal, musicians playing amzhads (a single string violin), drums and mars (an odd double clarinet). The meal featured a tajine, a delicious, slow-cooked stew of meat, vegetables and spices, named for the pot in which it is cooked.
Pastillia is a rich mixture of pigeon meat, lemon, eggs cinnamon and saffron in a pastry. A lamb entree followed with couscous, olives, hot peppers, garbzos and herb bread soaked in olive oil. The entertainment included a Berber cavalry charge, complete with discharging muskets.
While travelling through the High Atlas, we saw numerous groups of Berber nomads. Their tents, woven with wool and hair, were surprisingly wide-based, but families are large and multiple wives are the norm. The High Atlas is the only area in Africa that receives snow. The summit of Djebal Toubkal is North Africa’s highest peak (4,167 metres). With winter coming on, women were gathering firewood they heaped on donkeys.
In Fes, we entered the walled medina’s labyrinth of narrow streets and were assailed by hustlers selling all manners of goods. We suffered sensory overload as the scent of kebabs on open grills combined with whiffs of hashish, the stench of tanning vats and the sweet smell of cedar shavings.
The souks were incredibly small shops selling fish, meat (including camel), copperware and, of course, the leather and rug work for which Morocco is famous. The spice souk had massive sacks of saffron, cumin, ginger and orange flowers. Among the more unusual wares: goat hoofs for hair treatment, ground-up ferrets for depression and chameleon liver for sexual frustration.
If you go, be careful to adhere to local etiquette. Wear a moneybelt, not a fanny pack. It is not polite for men or women to wear shorts and women must not bare their shoulders or, heavens, their cleavage.
There are few places in the world as colourful and exciting as Morocco. For those in search of the exotic and unfamiliar, Morocco will not disappoint.
Weekly recipe: Moroccan spiced lamb with vibrant chickpea salad.
byTimes News Service | November 03, 2014
One thing I absolutely love about Middle Eastern food is its vibrancy. It really creates a great atmosphere in my kitchen. So today for my ultimate Middle Eastern meal I am going to fill my home with Mediterranean sunshine along with the aroma of cooked lamb and to give it a perfect cooling contrast I am going to prepare very colourful, healthy, chickpea salad which I am going to season with lovely Mediterranean spice - Sumac
l Rack of lamb: 1
l Paprika: 1 tsp
l Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
l Nutmeg grated: 1 tsp
l Olive oil: 1 tbsp
l Chickpeas: 100g
l Cucumber: 1 chopped
l Spring onion: 2 chopped
l Tomato: 1
l Pomegranate seeds: ½
l Pine nuts: 3 tbsp
l Extra virgin olive oil: 1tbsp
l Sumac powder: 2 tsp
l Lemon juice: ½
l Honey: ½ tsp
l Preheat the oven at 250 degrees.
l Place the rack of lamb on a plate and season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle paprika, also grate the nutmeg on it and drizzle some olive oil.
l Just with the hands rub it on both sides of the lamb.
l Heat little olive oil on pan and pan sear the rack of lamb for 8 - 10 minutes while continuously flipping it.
l Then put it on a pre-heated tray and pop into the oven for about 20 minutes.
l Now let's make our salad. Here is my little trick to make this salad more interesting - heat a pan and drizzle some oil on it and sauté the chickpeas.
l Sprinkle little paprika powder, salt and pepper, sauté till they are slightly caramelised.
l Then in a big plate mix all the ingredients of salad and for the aromatic finish sprinkle over some parsley and mint.
l Mix properly.
l Finally to season drizzle
over some olive oil, sumac powder, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
l Your sumptuous Mediterranean meal is ready to enjoy.
You say Morocco, and I say lamb and spices
BONNIE S. BENWICK The Washington PostThe Columbia Daily Tribune Tuesday, November 4, 2014
This potent, super-savory lamb dish is typical in Sale, Morocco, a walled medieval city. Generous chunks of lamb or kid goat are rubbed in a salty garlic paste and ground cumin and cooked until nearly falling off the bone. Then — and this is what makes the dish stand out — ground coriander seed and olive oil are added to the pot, and the sauce is reduced until it is thick and dark, bold and a bit salty.
The recipe comes from a Rabat cook who insists on serving the meat with a pot of mint tea. The tea aids digestion and adds to the perfect combination of flavors.
The lamb is more flavorful when cooked on the bone; ask your butcher to cut the bone-in leg of lamb into eight or 10 pieces with bones attached to the meat. Or you can buy a single piece of boneless leg of lamb and cut it into large pieces.
Serve with plenty of bread.
LAMB WITH GARLIC, CUMIN AND CORIANDER
One 3-1/2-pound bone-in leg of lamb, cut into 8 to 10 pieces (see headnote)
10 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2-1/2 cups water, or more as needed
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons ground coriander
Mint tea, for serving
Rinse the lamb and pat it dry; place the pieces in a large mixing bowl.
Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic and salt into a smooth paste; rub this paste evenly all over the lamb. Sprinkle with half of the cumin, then rub it into the meat. Turn the pieces, sprinkle with the remaining cumin and repeat the rubbing step.
Transfer to a large, heavy pot, Dutch oven or flameproof casserole with a snug-fitting lid. Pour the water into the (empty) mixing bowl, swirl to pick up any remaining spices, then pour into the pot. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the meat is very tender and comes away easily from the bone, about 1-1/2 hours, moving the meat from time to time to keep it from sticking. Add a bit of water if needed to keep the sauce loose.
Stir in the oil and coriander; cook uncovered over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick and dark, about 20 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure the meat is covered.
Place the meat on a serving dish or in a tagine, and cover with the sauce. Serve with the mint tea.
Nutrition per serving: 390 calories, 40 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 120 milligrams cholesterol, 1,220 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams sugar
— Adapted from “Morocco: A Culinary Journey With Recipes” by Jeff Koehler (Chronicle, 2012).
Morocco Continues Growth On Strong Economic Fundamentals -
By Jean R. Abinader Moroccan American Center for Policy (Washington, DC) 3 November 2014
Will it be enough to provide needed jobs, improve GDP performance?
During the past week, several reports and interviews provided insights into Morocco's economic performance, including challenges and strategies to expanding opportunities for growth. An article in the Business Standard noted an interview with World Bank Managing Director for Finance, Bertrand Badre, who said that "Morocco showed great institutional and economic stability amid the turmoil that has been going on over the past few years regionally." He was referring to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, resulting in a continued global slowdown, as well as the Arab Spring.
The article mentioned that "Badre also highlighted the construction of infrastructure and the advanced urbanization taking place in Morocco, which are 'very important' for the World Bank because of Morocco's pivotal role in the West African and sub-Saharan region." He also noted that the country must do more to diversify its economy to create more centers for growth and enable more stakeholders to participate in the formal economy. The reporter concluded that "Besides its macroeconomic, institutional, and economic stability, Morocco has an asset of location in the crossroads of sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, in addition to openness on the Atlantic."
Another look at Morocco's performance came from Fitch Outlook, the ratings agency. Under the headline "Fitch confirms Morocco's Investment Grade with Stable Outlook," Morocco's state news agency reported that Morocco's grade remained stable as a result of its "macroeconomic stability in an unstable international and regional environment and the resilience of GDP growth, despite a drop in the foreign demand of Europe."
Once again, Morocco received recognition for its ongoing efforts to decrease its budget deficit, due to controls on current expenditures, reductions in subsidies, falling energy costs, "the consolidation of public finances, acceleration of exports by new industrial sectors, and improvement in the overall" business environment.
Strong Economic Medicine while Forward-leaning into Africa
Morocco's exception to the tumult in the region was also noted in a Financial Times interview with Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid. "Good news is a rare commodity in the Arab world these days. Violence is raging across Syria and Iraq, Egypt has retrenched into authoritarianism and Libya is in chaos. Even Tunisia, which is managing its transition to democracy with aplomb, is facing huge economic challenges. But in the far west corner of North Africa, Morocco has so far been spared much of the pain of the last four years."
Morocco has managed to reduce its fiscal deficit from 7.4 percent of GDP in 2012 to 5.5 percent by the following year, "and remains on target for further reduction this year, as Rabat slashes subsidies and reforms its economy. The country's economic and political stability - rare commodities in the region - have already brought returns. Tourists numbers were up by 7 per cent in 2013 as many Europeans, scared off by the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, travelled instead to Morocco."
The article went on to note the growth of automotive manufacturing and the positive response to the government's "€1bn Eurobond - its first euro-denominated bond in four years," as additional indicators of Morocco's success. While the rest of the Arab world, racked by falling oil prices and increasing instability due to the impact of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and their spillover to neighboring countries, "Many analysts predict Morocco will be North Africa's best performing economy in coming years. Although growth slowed slightly this year because of low agricultural yields and weak growth in Europe - Morocco's main export market -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates GDP will grow at around 4.7 percent in 2015."
Boussaid credits this success to "reforms begun more than a decade ago, including investment in major infrastructure projects and programmes for industry and renewables, particularly solar energy." The minister also talked at length about Morocco's partnership strategy in sub-Saharan Africa. Its goal is to become "a platform for production and export to African countries through Casablanca Finance City (CFC), a new regional finance hub."
More than 60 multinational banks, insurance companies, professional and legal services, private equity, and asset management companies have signed up for offices in the CFC. Already headquarters for the African Development Bank's new $3bn Africa50 Fund that will finance infrastructure on the continent, CFC hopes that up to 100 companies will be based in its special zone.
Still Tough Going Ahead
While the IMF has projected healthy growth for Morocco in 2015, the outlook for the rest of the region is not as positive, according to Marketwatch. Regional instability coupled with the continued weakness is the global economic system, are a drag on economic expansion, and Morocco feels this impact directly.
"One major contributor to recent socioeconomic ills has been double-digit unemployment rates in many Middle Eastern countries. But the IMF's baseline gross domestic product growth projections aren't high enough to reduce unemployment in a meaningful way, it said. Unemployment is of special concern among oil importers such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, which have some of the highest jobless rates in the region, especially among young people."
The government has implemented a broad range of incentives to encourage agencies and investors to accelerate the pace of training and education to align workers' skills with market needs. Yet the slowdown in FDI and the need to increase domestic private investment are constraining opportunities for job growth. "To solve the jobs riddle, Middle Eastern countries needed 'deep, multifaceted transformation' that buttressed the private sector and raised living standards. The region needs sustained, stronger and more inclusive growth to markedly reduce unemployment-a critical issue facing nearly all countries in the region," said Masood Ahmed, IMF's Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department.
To maintain its momentum, Morocco is implementing a multifaceted growth strategy that focuses both on key sectors and driving job growth. It is tackling government policies and regulations to maximize flexibility in labor markets, property ownership, and public expenditures so that the private sector and people of Morocco have access to resources needed to expand economic opportunities and build a healthy, sustainable, and inclusive job market.
Low cost production in Morocco.
LONDON: Adel Murad Sunday 16 November 2014
Although French car manufacturer PSA/Peugeot-Citroen denies plans that it is negotiating for a low-cost assembly plant in Morocco, market sources confirm that “serious discussions are going on between Moroccan officials and several carmakers including PSA.” It makes sense for PSA to produce cars in Morocco. Its French rival Renault has a factory on the Moroccan coast in Tangier. There is also talk of a research and development center in Morocco to help the company serve Middle East and North Africa markets more effectively and add more local flavor to their cars.
PSA Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon said something revealing earlier this year. He confirmed that the company “Can't continue to sell cars in Turkey or North Africa that have been made in France or the euro zone." CEO Carlos Tavaris has pledged to reduce costs and return the automaker to profit. He plans to do that by outsourcing and assembling cars in low-cost locations like Morocco.
Market sources know that this approach may be the only way out for PSA which has been dependent on Europe and a mid-market segment that suffered most during the current six-year recession in both demand and pricing.
While, Renault found its salvation in the Dacia low-cost production line, the Peugeot 301 and Citroen C-Elysee are the closest models the company currently has to budget offerings. Both cars are built in Spain on the stripped-down architectures of pricier models.
The issue of moving production out the EU, and France specifically, remains a sensitive issue to French unions and government, especially with 10 percent unemployment figure. The company plants in Rennes and Poissy remain vulnerable to further cuts in the future. That explains the company’s reluctance to comment on the Moroccan plans publicly.
It may be worthwhile for the GCC to start formulating plans to offer a scheme of incentives to carmakers to entice them to set-up plants in the region. The region is host to some of the world largest facilities in aluminum, petrochemicals and other industrial and energy products. It also has a vibrant demand for about a million cars every year. It seems only natural that the next step should be the setting up of an assembly plant to serve the regional markets.
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