By Youssef Igrouane - April 16, 2017 Rabat
15 percent of Moroccan students smoke, 13 percent use drugs inside their educational institution and 10% use alcohol, according to a new study conducted by the National Program of Learning Assessment (PNEA).
The study, which was conducted in cooperation with the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research, also found that violence in Moroccan high schools remains widespread.
One-fifth of the students involved in the study resort to violence, whether verbal or physical abuse, according to the study. One-fifth are subjected to aggression and harassment and 18 pecent of the students reported being sexually or morally harassed often. The study said that girls often suffer harassment contrary to boys, showing that the proportion of girls, who are harassed either from their professor or from administration officials reached 19 percent. The rate for boys is only moderately lower, at standing at 16 percent.
Regarding the phenomenon of abuse within schools, the study shows that an average of 19 percent of students have teachers, who were victims of verbal abuse themselves. Sixteen percent have professors who have been victims of physical violence. Forty-five percent of the students studied were subjected to verbal violence from their professors and 13 percent have professors who could potentially practice physical violence against them.
The study added that 23 percent of students do not attend their classes regularly, in addition to 22 percent who do not respect cleanliness and do not safeguard the spaces of their institutions.
It appears that the number of Moroccan teenagers who are addicted to drugs and alcohol is on the rise. Based on a study conducted by the Biochemistry and Nutrition and Cellular Biology Group, in affiliation with Casablanca’s Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, approximately 600,000 Moroccans are addicted to drugs, with 16,000 addicted to hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.
April 16, 2017
At a time most of the MENA region countries chose the status quo to tackle the crises rolling out of the Arab Spring, Morocco opted for a social contract that safeguards stability through credible reforms, coupled with measures to uproot extremism, the Australian newspaper highlighted.
King Mohammed VI brought a new social contract by choosing “stability through reform,” said Creg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of the Australian, quoting Morocco’s newly appointed foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. “There were some (in the region) who believed stability could be achieved through the status quo, through freezing everything. Our stability was achieved through a new constitution, through transitional justice, through improvement in the status of women, through big projects for human development,” Bourita added.
Creg underscored that Morocco’s stability draws its strength from the centuries-long history of uninterrupted national sovereignty in the country. “Morocco was a state for more than 13 centuries,” he said.
On the effort led by Morocco to curb extremism, a key factor in stirring instability in the MENA region, Creg pointed out to the reform of the religious sphere in Morocco.
In this regard, he shed light on the role played by the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams in countering the extremist rhetoric and championing the lofty values of moderation and tolerance inherent to Islam.
Quoting the Institute’s manager, Creg said that “one of the main objects is to correct the extremist reasoning and understanding of religion,” adding that “the extremists misuse religious reasoning for extremist purposes. This institute corrects the reasoning of extremists. Then the extremists can talk only with weapons. One day the extremists will understand they have nowhere left to work because this institute has filled their space.” Creg concludes his article by highlighting the potential for cooperation between Morocco and Australia in terms of security cooperation and de-radicalisation.
By Morocco World News - April 15, 2017 By Safaa Kasraoui Rabat
The British Council is calling on young candidates interested in political science to apply for a series of intensive training sessions in Great Britain, with the aim of enabling new generations to acquire the skills required in the development of practical policies.
The training session entitled ”Policy and Leadership Development” will be held October 18 to 27.
Chosen candidates will have the opportunity to meet inspiring international leaders of the field and will also take part in an immersive conference in the British Parliament. ”The young candidates selected will be provided with the opportunity to meet with NGO presidents, political decision-makers and British MPs with the aim of deepening mutual understanding, broadening their global perspectives and strengthening their minds for international cooperation,” said the British Council in press conference.
In the application, candidates will be asked to present unique ideas in order to justify their future goals as well as to explain why they think they have the skills to become one of the future inspiring world leaders. Applicants must be between 18 and 35 years old, and must submit their applications by April 30.
By Morocco World News - April 20, 2017 Rabat
The Chairman of the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research (CSEFRS), Omar Azziman, presented a report on values within the Moroccan school system at a press conference on Wednesday, underlining the council’s discovery of a degradation of “shared national values” in education. “There is a huge disparity between the discourse on values, rights and obligations and day-to-day practices,” stresses the CSEFRS’ report.
The council pointed out the “special attention” given by governmental reforms since the 2011 constitution to “shared national values” such as Islam, cultural diversity, social life, democracy, human rights and dialogue between civilizations.
The document blames the decline of these values on the failure of pedagogical approaches in nurturing and consolidating values among Moroccan students. The CSEFRS also notes the proliferation of cheating violence, gender inequality, harassment and the violation of human rights in Moroccan schools. In the same vein, the report indicates that Moroccan schools generally are engaged in practices harming the environment as well as the properties of citizens. In reaction to the observed decay, the Higher Council recommends a return to the shared national values.
“It is worth highlighting that values education is a shared responsibility amongst school, family, media and all the other institutions working in the fields of education, culture and mentoring in a complementary way,” said the report.
The report is the CSEFRS’ first major action since the appointment of Mohamed Hassad as the new Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education, and Scientific Research.
April 20, 2017
The World Bank (WB) said in its semi-annual MENA economic Monitor that GDP growth in Morocco will rebound to 3.8% in 2017 on the backdrop of abundant rainfall auguring a good agricultural season.
The report noted that growth would improve to 3.8% after the Moroccan economy endured the impact of drought in 2016 which dragged overall GDP growth to 1.1%, a situation that reflects the weight of agricultural production in Morocco’s economy where it represents almost 15 percent of GDP.
The World Bank also pointed out that non-agricultural growth remained sluggish not exceeding 3%, while unemployment rate decreased slightly to 9.4%. Macro-economic reforms have contributed to the reduction of external imbalances, highlighted the World Bank, citing the reform of the subsidy system in 2014 along with a solid fiscal management and financial oversight leading to a reduction in the deficit to an estimated 3.9% of GDP in 2016 and to a stabilization of public debt at around 66% of GDP.
Low oil prices as well as the steady flow of FDIs have bolstered Morocco’s foreign currency reserves, which covered 6.4 months of imports by the end of 2016, said the World Bank. On the post-electoral deadlock, the World Bank noted that the delay in forming the new government has slowed the reform momentum.
At the MENA level, the report shows that war, violence and low oil prices will drag the region’s growth from 3.5% in 2016 to 2.6 in 2017. The World Bank emphasized that the sustainability of economic recovery in the region will depend on the effectiveness of any future peace-building and reconstruction efforts. “Civil wars, coupled with an economic slowdown, have created newly vulnerable groups and significantly weakened public services such as health and education,” said Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa Region.
Morocco World News - April 16, 2017 , By Tyler Brock Rabat
The Kasbah des Oudaya’s cobble-stone streets guide you through its narrow passageways.
First built in the 12th century during the Almohad Caliphate as a fortress overlooking the Bouregreg river, it later became the refuge of Andalusian Muslims fleeing Spain after their expulsion in the early 1600s.
Its inner walls, half-white, half-blue, shelter the houses and riads within, while shops and cafes line the streets. Each door or window shutter features a unique design, like a fingerprint.
If you get lost here, it is not hard to find your way back, but you may forget why you ever wanted to leave.
By Saad Eddine Lamzouwaq - April 16, 2017 Rabat
Since its creation in 2015 to help fighting terrorism and other forms of criminality, Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ), has been making the headlines.
Nicknamed “Morocco’s FBI”, the Bureau has been successful in dismantling scores of terrorist sleeping sells and arresting dozens of terrorism suspects.
Its director, Abdelhak El Khayam, has become a widely known figure in Morocco thanks to his numerous appearances on TV and interviews he gave to dozens of newspapers, websites and TV channels.
A good communicator, El Khayam is seen by many as completely the opposite of the image Moroccans have had for decades of security officials. That is why he seems the perfect guy, from within security apparatus, to market the kingdom’ strategy in the fight against terror. Invited to talk about Morocco’s experience in dealing with terrorism threats, Abdelhak El Khayam outlined, in a interview with the French TV channel “France 24”, BCIJ’s achievements so far. “43 terrorist cells have been dismantled since 2015”, said BCIJ’s director, adding that is success is due to the Bureau’s preemptive strategy in countering terrorism. “We dismantle terrorist cells before they move to action”, explained El Khayam.
The Moroccan security official revealed that there are 1623 Moroccan fighters abroad, and that 400 others died in combat. “78 people came back from these war zones. We deal with these people according to the law. The first thing we do is to sumitt them to interrogations on why they left for these zones, as it is forbidden by Moroccan law, then they are transferred to the General Prosecution for further investigations”.
Since terrorism is a transnational threat, regional cooperation is important. Abdelhak El Khayam said that coordination with countries such as Mauritania is strong. But, with Algeria it is another story. Morocco’s Eastern neighbor is not that cooperative. “Intelligence cooperation between Morocco and its Western allies remains strong”, said El Khayam, citing as an example Morocco sharing information with France and Belgium and other countries. Abdelhak El Khayam also pointed out that the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations surveils the web and social media to track terrorist organizations since the latter use internet to spread their message and attract new recruits. El Khayam also explained that phones are put under surveillence only when the General Prosecution authorizes it, and that these operations are conducted under its monitoring. BCIJ director also said that Morocco’s fighting terrorism laws are in line with respect of human rights, adding that arrest operations are conducted under the surveillance of the General Prosecution, and that arrested individuals have the right to remain silent or ask for a lawyer.
By Morocco World News - April 19, 2017 , Casablanca
Morocco has announced its plan to wipe out the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) by 2030. According to director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Administration, Abderrahman Maâroufi, this will be accomplished mainly through a new national plan recently launched by the Health Ministry. Maaroufi made the statement on Monday in Casablanca.
During a panel on Hepatitis C, a discussion entitled ”What Measures Should be Taken in 2017?” was initiated as part of the first meeting on “Menafrica-Health.” Maâroufi explained that the program aims to eliminate HCV as a public health problem in accordance with the sustainable development’s orientations and goals. He also noted that the Health Ministry is set to launch this program in different facilities across the kingdom.
The plan is based on five main axes. These include active screening of HCV among the population most exposed to the disease and providing health care to screened people and promoting prevention of disease transmission. Also included in the strategy, is information development and the creation of a monitoring system to track the impact and implementation of the plan at a national level. A national committee of coordination and governance will also be created as part of this strategic plan, Maâroufi noted. He added that this new plan of attack is meant to provide low-cost care and treatment for those affected. It will be provided courtesy of the Medical Insurance Plan for the Financially Underprivileged (RAMED) as well as through the marketing of generic drugs (Sofosbuvir for instance).
The Menafrica-Health meeting will also include conferences on topics such as Infectious diseases: Challenges and Expectations, Access to good quality drugs, Educational Training for Jobs Dealing with Drugs and Transfer of Technology, The Pharmaceutical Market in the African World, and lastly, Controlling the Quality of a Drug: The Necessity and Role of a National Laboratory for Drug Control.
According to an article published in the Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare in November of 2016, Morocco determined to make the eradication of HepC a national priority back in 2012. To that end, it put into play a budget of MAD 65 million to create a program of access to effective HepC treatment for the population’s most vulnerable sectors.
According to the Borgen Project’s October 2016 blog, although modern medical facilities are certainly available in Morocco, rural locations continue to suffer from an absence to easy access of quality medical care. Access to safe drinking water, a particular concern regarding the spread of HepC, is also still a serious issue for large segments of the rural Moroccan population. It makes HepC an “extremely endemic” problem for the Kingdom.
Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and USAID have provided funding for portable water supplies and vaccinations, as well as better access to medical care.
The United States had pledged to give USD 33,500,000 to help Morocco combat the top diseases facing the country. It’s unclear what, if any, effect the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency will have on that pledge. One thing that is clear to most observers is that Morocco’s aggressive approach to fighting diseases has a proven track record of success. In 2010, they were able to announce that the Kingdom had eradicated Malaria.
With Morocco’s tourism industry bourgeoning, there is concern to not only alleviate the suffering of the Moroccan people afflicted with the disease, but also protect visitors as well.
According to International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT), Hepatitis C is a viral infection which causes inflammation in the liver. An infected person can begin to show symptoms of the illness anywhere from six weeks to six months after their initial infection. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, vomiting and nausea, low to no appetite, dark urine and jaundice.
Over many years, it can also develop into a chronic infection that can, in turn, bring on cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer after many years. There is currently no preventative medicine or vaccine against HepC.
by Cecile Guerin , April 18, 2017
The formation of a new government in Morocco has put an end to months of political stalemate. The political crisis has nonetheless exposed the power struggles at play in Moroccan politics and the challenges ahead for the newly-formed coalition. Saadeddine El Othmani, the 61-year-old second-in-command of the Islamist Party for Justice and Development (PJD), put an end to months of speculation about the future of Morocco’s politics by announcing the formation of a new coalition government in a press conference in Rabat on 26 March. Since the PJD’s victory in last October’s elections, its leader Abdelilah Benkirane had unsuccessfully tried to form a coalition with rival parties, plunging the country into its deepest political crisis since the Arab Spring. Although an agreement has now been reached, the constitutional crisis that has affected the country over the past few months has exacerbated tensions between Islamist and pro-monarchy parties. With a fragile alliance of ideologically diverse parties, the PJD is at its weakest since its rise to power in 2011 and faces a number of political and economic challenges.
Morocco avoided much of the political upheaval of the Arab Spring when protests broke out in 2011. Under the pressure of pro-democracy protests, King Mohammed VI nonetheless initiated a series of constitutional reforms, extending the powers of the Prime Minister and giving a stronger role to parliament. The election of the PJD in 2011 ushered in a new era in Moroccan politics, characterised by a balance of powers between Islamists and royalists.
Morocco’s constitutional crisis and the breakdown of negotiations in recent months highlighted the continued tension between the PJD and parties backed by the monarchy. The king and royal court’s active role in the negotiations fuelled accusations of royal meddling. The political paralysis has also tainted Morocco’s image as the most politically stable in the region. For year, Morocco’s stability has allowed the country to attract foreign investments and maintain a dynamic tourist industry, in contrast for example with Tunisia where political crises and terrorism have dealt a blow to the economy.
While the deadlock appears to have had no significant impact on the economy so far, it has nonetheless created a climate of uncertainty for investors, as El Othmani’s ability to keep the coalition together remains uncertain. Political divisions will continue to run deep in the country in the next few months and could have repercussions on the government’s ability to pass reforms. A potential breakdown or unravelling of the ruling coalition would be damaging for investors’ confidence and the country’s economy.
The newly-formed government faces a number of challenges in the months ahead. On the political front, the PJD will struggle to hold its diverse coalition together. The governing alliance is composed of five parties with diverging ideological stances, from the conservative Popular Movement (MP) and the left-meaning USFP and PPS parties to the pro-market National Rally of Independents (RNI).
While coalitions are the norm in Morocco, months of political stand-off and protracted negotiations have increased tensions between the PJD and other parties. Tensions are unlikely to abate in the short-term, as evidenced by the recent power struggle between coalition parties for the control of key ministerial portfolios. The monarchy-backed RNI’s gain of strategic economic ministries will continue to fuel frustration among PJD officials about the king’s influence on political decision-making.
As the successor to the charismatic Benkirane, El Othmani also faces a personal challenge. A behind-the-scenes PJD official, El Othmani was the party’s secretary general between 2004 and 2008 and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Benkirane’s government. Othmani is perceived as a man of consensus, and the RNI and MP endorsed his choice as Prime Minister. While the PJD has nominally embraced the king’s choice of Benkirane’s successor, the party is unlikely to accept further compromise with the monarchy.
While the constitutional crisis has focused the country’s attention on politics, the economy will also be a key issue for Othmani as the government’s response to economic challenges is likely to determine investors’ confidence after six months of political deadlock. 2016 was a difficult year for the Moroccan economy as economic activity went down to 1.4% in the second quarter of the year. Droughts also resulted in a decrease in agricultural revenues and further affected Morocco’s sluggish growth. The PJD’s failure to deliver on its promise to increase economic growth since 2011 has already eroded the public’s confidence. The next few months will therefore test Othmani’s ability to maintain the PJD’s political prominence
Travelers Today By Riyanka Roy Apr 19, 2017
While there are too many things in Morocco that will make you fall in love with the country, food is definitely one of them. From delicately cooked grilled pigeon meat to sardines covered in a paste of coriander and parsley, from traditional sweet pastries to Moroccan mint tea, it's going to be a grand treat throughout your journey in Morocco.
Here are 10 best dishes from the Moroccan menu card that you just can't afford to miss while paying a visit to this African country.
Tagine. The most popular dish in Morocco, 'Tagine' can be found in any Moroccan restaurant. Deriving the name from the tajine pot in which it is cooked, this is basically a North African Berber dish. Tajine is clay pot with a conical lid which is used for cooking the meat and veggies very slowly. Mostly served with bread, tagine can be made with different ingredients. The taste and flavors differ according to the ingredients that are used. The most preferred ones are - Chicken with vegetable tagine, Beef and egg tagine, Lamb and plums tagine, Lamb and almonds tagine.
Khobz. Every country has a different variety of bread, and Morocco is no exception! Khobz, the Moroccan crusty bread, is made in wood-fired ovens and served as appetizers with Tagine and Harira. Bread can be called as the staple food in Morocco, as people have it for almost every meal. Don't forget to try out the other varieties of bread in Morocco, such as the harcha (a buttery bread), rghaif (a flaky flatbread), or baghira (spongy crumpet).
Couscous. It is the second most popular dish in Morocco, and equally delicious as that of the tagine. Finely rolled wheat pasta is steamed over a stew of meat and vegetables. The meat is grilled and covered with a pyramid of wheat pasta and served with a huge portion of vegetables. It is often garnished with raisins, as the Berbers preferred the tinge of sweetness with a blend of spices and the meat.
Bastilla. The name of this dish has been derived from the Spanish word "pastilla". This crunchy pie has a perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors. Actually originating from the city of Fez, Bastilla is a fantastic pastry with pigeon meat, eggs, almonds, raisins, cinnamon and topped with icing sugar. However, pigeon meat is rarely available nowadays, and most restaurants serve Bastilla stuffed with beef or chicken. It's a perfect snack for the evenings and can be accompanied with the refreshing Mint Tea.
Mint Tea. Not just a beverage, but the Mint Tea is an integral part of Moroccan cuisine! Known as 'Moroccan whiskey', mint tea is usually heavily sweetened with sugar chipped off a sugar cone. The tea is served with a few sprigs of spearmint stuffed into the glass. Pastries and pies along with this Mint Tea is a combination that you'll keep craving for. And you'll surely want to buy some packs of this tea and take back home!
Sardine Chermoula. Chermoula is actually a blend of herbs and spices that are used for marination and an integral part of the Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine. Being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Moroccans love their share of fish and seafood. Sardine Chermoula is a popular dish in which sardines are marinated with a paste made of garlic, pickled lemons, cumin, coriander, onion, black pepper, ground chili peppers, saffron, and other herbs. The sardines are then grilled over coal and served with a spicy sauce. Whether you are a fish-lover or not, you definitely will fall in love with this!
Harira. This special cuisine has its roots in Arab and mostly available during the month of Ramadan, when the fast is broken during dusk with a steaming bowl of Harira. It's basically lentil and lamb/ chicken soup with a dash of tomatoes and chickpeas. Lemon juice and coriander are added for flavors. This thick soup is served with slices of bread or pretzels, and available at all food shacks in the Moroccan markets. It's ideal for backpackers and budget travelers since it's cheap and very filling. If you are volunteering in Morocco, then you can try Harira at your host's place—the traditional harira cooked at the homes are even more delicious!
Brochettes. Having its roots in France, Brochettes made their way in Moroccan cuisine due to the love for the meat of the locals. Basically kebabs, brochettes are found on almost every street corner in Morocco. Grab some delightfully spiced meat skewers while exploring the Moroccan markets and satiate your taste buds. You will find chicken, lamb, as well as beef brochettes and each of them is succulent with a burst of flavors!
M'hanncha (Almond Snake Pastries). Don't go by the name, there's no snake in it! This dessert is one of the most loved food items, that's usually prepared for the family gatherings or special occasions. It is more like a cinnamon roll, only with the addition of almonds. It got the name 'Snake Pastry' due to its appearance. This coil-shaped sweet delight would be the perfect ending to any meal.
Nous-nous. Moroccan coffee is very different from the regular espresso that you have! Nous-nous literally translates to 'half-half', and that perfectly defines the coffee that Moroccans favor. It's half milk and half coffee with a thick layer of creamy froth on top. It's always served in a glass, so you can revel in the aesthetic look of seeing the layers of milk, coffee, and foam! With dozens of cafes coming up as tourism is flourishing, nous-nous is becoming more popular among the travelers from all over the world. Your trip to Morocco will remain incomplete without trying this flavorful coffee.
If you are planning to travel to the magical land of Morocco and dreaming about walking down the blue lanes of Chefchaouen, exploring Fez and Marrakesh or hopping in Rabat, you just can't miss out savoring the tastes of the delicious cuisine. Binge as much as you can, because good food is equivalent to happiness! If you have loved anything else in Morocco that I missed out, do drop a comment and let me know!
Ursula Lindsey / 19 Apr 2017
Ketabook helps readers and scholars find books published in the Maghreb.
Mohamed El Mansour has retired from teaching history at Mohamed V University in Rabat, but he keeps himself busy. He writes books and articles on historical subjects, and he runs a unique online business, Ketabook, which assists foreign libraries and scholars in finding books from the Maghreb. The first challenge is simply to be aware of what is being published in Morocco and neighboring countries—no simple task.
The Maghreb book market remains very unstructured and informal, El Mansour told me when we met for a coffee in Rabat, and distribution is weak. Because of this, he and his team “work on a small scale, on the basis of personal relations. You have to go knock at the [bookstores’] door.” Few bookstores or publishers in Morocco or its neighbors have an online presence. Books are printed in small runs (if a book sells two to three thousand copies, it is considered a best-seller). About 30 percent of books are self-published. El Mansour’s own latest book—an edited collection of the memoirs of a Moroccan ambassador in Istanbul at the end of the eighteenth century—is “self-published and self-distributed,” he said.
A reported 3,304 new publications in Morocco came out in 2016, including 497 academic journals. “There is a lot of publishing here, but publicity does not always follow,” says El Mansour. “A book might be on the shelf somewhere but nobody knows about it.” In fact, every year archivists from the King Abdul Aziz Foundation—a library and research center in Casablanca—travel around the country to inventory new books. Moroccan law does not require publishers to deposit a copy of books in a national library, and the foundation has found that many titles never leave the town in which they were published.
Books also struggle to make it across borders. El Mansouri says he usually stocks up on the latest publications from Algeria and Tunisia at the yearly Casablanca book fair. In late March, Morocco was the guest of honor at the 2017 Paris Book Fair. It was an opportunity to showcase the country’s writing but also to take stock of its low level of reading. A recent survey found that 85 percent of Moroccans do not have library cards, and 64 percent have not bought a book in the past year. As I’ve written about before, this is a problem endemic to the region, with many overlapping causes. (I will probably write about it again, too. It’s an issue I care deeply about.) It is also an issue that civil society is increasingly focused on, organizing mobile libraries and many initiatives dedicated to valorizing reading. But ultimately it is too big a problem to be solved without government intervention and particularly educational reform.
El Mansour Studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies and taught at U.S. universities as a Fulbright scholar. This made him familiar with Western universities and aware that it was hard for scholars there to access books from the Maghreb. For scholars of the Arab world, particularly those who are restricted to English, Morocco has long been “a poor cousin,” says El Mansour. The fact that few scholars specialize in the region is linked to the scarcity of materials and to the linguistic challenge it presents: scholars may need to learn French as well as Arabic and perhaps Amazigh. But in recent years, El Mansoour says he has noticed “a small scholarly shift towards North Africa.” That may be in part because so many other countries in the region have become difficult and dangerous for academics to visit.
Ketabook is a small family business (El Mansour’s son helps from San Francisco now) aimed at a niche market, and it relies heavily on El Mansour’s familiarity with the publishing scene and the scholarly fields in Morocco. The website features a selection of titles that El Mansour thinks might be relevant to scholars—they range from best-selling novels to political biographies; from the work of contemporary Moroccan scholars to new editions by local universities of classic works by French Orientalists. The focus, reflecting El Mansour’s own expertise, is on the humanities and the social sciences. The Moroccan professor and his team also offer reading suggestions tailored to scholars’ research projects. Ketabook ships about 1,000 books a year to customers in the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. The Bibliotheque Nationale in France is a customer, as is the American University in Cairo.
I was thrilled to stumble across this small, smart, creative venture. I hope it grows, but I also hope that all the many elements in the region’s book market – publishers, distributors, book stores, book reviews, public libraries, and of course readers — develop to a point where one well-read historian isn’t my best chance of finding out what’s being published in Morocco these days.
Carleton students spend a day cooking in Rabat, Morocco, while on an off-campus study program.
Tanya Bush '19 • Apr. 18, 2017
Eating traditional tajine in Morocco is an intimate affair. Tajine, a slow-cooked stew typically made with a variety of vegetables and some form of meat, is an indelible fixture in the Moroccan home. Friends and family gather around the earthy clay pot the tajine is prepared in, using their hands to scoop up a portion, bumping knees, and battling for the best bits.
On a Saturday in January, five Carleton students (including me) studying abroad on the Cinema and Media Studies photography trip were invited into the home of a Moroccan woman named Sanae to learn how to cook tajine. The dining room was crowded with furniture, and the walls and people invaded each other's spaces. Sanae, a commanding woman with a generous smile, put each student to work, handing out knives and peelers until every member of the group had a task. Having taken off her hijab to prepare the meal, Sanae crowded a host of vegetables and spices into the clay pot to cook. Her hands moved deftly, gently nudging an overly curious student away from the stove. After about an hour and a half, Sanae peeked into the clay tajine pot, appearing satisfied while moving around the little living room to serve lunch.
Tajine, which is served in the clay pot it is cooked in, is traditionally structured so that the vegetables surround the main event—the meat—in the center. Moroccan meal etiquette divides the tajine into individual sections from which each person eats. However, limbs inevitably overlap and the best chunks of lamb in the pot are likely to be stolen despite each designated section.
In Morocco, meals are not only pockets of time for eating but also intimate spaces for family and friends to tell stories, talk about the days events, and delight in each others company. Sanae’s invitation into her home to share a meal inherently carried a sense of intimacy, a closeness fostered by both the environment and the food. With knees clustered together and biscuits on the way, ten students and Moroccans sipped their tea, relishing the intimacy of the affair.
The OCS experience that Carleton provides not only allowed our group to understand and integrate into a new culture, but it provided us with a unique opportunity to form meaningful relationships within a foreign context. As students, we will forever carry with us the indelible importance of generosity in Morocco, implementing it back in our Carleton context.
By Morocco World News - April 19, 2017 , By Danielle Knafo New York
Where can one see Muslims and Jews enjoying a meal together and socializing as friends these days? I know it sounds like a riddle, and perhaps it is. The answer is in New York City, where there exists a group of Moroccan Jews and Muslims who meet regularly to socialize, enjoy good food, and get to know one another. Most of them have Moroccan roots, which is significant, because Morocco is known for its diversity and tolerance—two traits that seem to be in short order these days.
Simo Elaissaoul, a native of Sale, Morocco, arrived in the United States in 2007. Longing for a sense of community, he used social media to contact other Moroccans in the area. What began as small get togethers with other Moroccan Muslims, to celebrate holidays and have Bar-B-Q’s, grew into a movement. Collaboration with Jason Guberman, director of the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), and his wife, Irina Tsukerman, turned the idea into a social club that would include Jews. To date, there have been sixteen dinners.
I wish to write about a very special dinner that took place on March 29th. It was the evening before the opening of the annual Sephardi Film Festival, hosted by the ASF. Guests included the honorable Andre Azoulay and Enrico Macias. These two men signify a lot to the Moroccan community and they each represent a unification of Jewish and Muslim spirit. Azoulay, a Jew, is currently senior advisor to Morocco’s King Mohammed the VI and was the advisor to his father, King Hassan II.
The fact that a Jew works so closely with the King of a Muslim country demonstrates the uniqueness of Morocco in the Muslim world. No Moroccan Jew forgets what Mohammed V did for the Jews of Morocco during WWII. He protected the Jews from the Nazis and Vichy government during the Holocaust, declaring famously, “We have no Jews in Morocco; Only Moroccan citizens.” Enrico Macias is a Jewish Algerian-born singer who is known for his Andalusian melodies and songs that sing about the nostalgia for his childhood home. His father was a violinist, who played Andalo-Arabic music, and his father-in-law was also a musician who was assassinated in 1961. Unlike Morocco’s openness to allow travel to its previous Jewish citizens, Algeria has not permitted Macias to travel there for more than 50 years.
Having these two men attend the monthly Moroccan dinner was a special treat. They individually and collectively symbolize the merging of Arab and Jewish values and culture. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other groups took this group as a model for peaceful co-existence?
Danielle Knafo, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at LIU and Faculty and Supervisor at NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She has published seven books and dozens of articles and lectures internationally on a variety of subjects. She is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and she maintains a private practice in Manhattan and Great Neck, NY. She was born in Safi, Morocco.
By Morocco World News - April 18, 2017 , By Safaa Kasraoui Rabat
Spring of Dignity, a coalition of Moroccan NGOS, has urged the new government coalition to consider their demands regarding women’s rights ahead of the the first governmental council to be held on April 19.
The Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) called on new members of the government to take feminist movements into account in their upcoming actions.
The association aims to highlight a number of women’s rights issues and integrate them into discussions of public and political regulations.
The coalition has been focusing on several issues relating to the status of women in Morocco, namely violence against women, parity, equality, inheritance legislation and penal reform. The NGOs have emphasized that several memoranda were presented to the former government, but the latter did not responded to their demands. In response, the Minister of Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development, Basima Hakkaoui, has stated that the majority of these NGOs refused to accept laws relating to women’s rights presented by former head of government, Abdelilah Benkirane.
With the re-designation of Hakkaoui as head of this department, debate will continue, especially as legislation on violence against women and the project of Authority for Gender Equality and the Fights Against all Forms of Discrimination (APALD) are still under discussion in the parliament.
By Youssef Igrouane - April 22, 2017 ,Rabat
After finding himself in an eye of the storm, former Salafi detainee Mohamed Abdelouahab Rafiki – better known as Abou Hafs – has publicly defended inheritance equality between men and women in Islam, calling for an open dialogue on the issue in Morocco.
Debate on the controversial topic has emerged yet again following the release of a book titled “Men Defend Inheritance Equality” by 100 well-known Moroccan public figures, including Abou Hafs, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Fouad Laraoui.
Abou Hafs, who was previously jailed because of his connection with the deadly Casablanca terror attacks on May 16, 2003, uploaded a video to his website Al Mizane’s Facebook page to respond to criticisms he received following his defense of inheritance equality on 2M’s “Hadith Maa Sahafa” (Discussion with Press) last Sunday. In the video, Abou Hafs notes the wide and often harsh reactions to the show’s discussion, including some that called his views on inheritance in Islam were “blasphemy”.
Equality Beyond Islam
In response to his critics, Abou Hafs emphasizes that his views gender equality come straight from Islam. “I do not personally have a problem,” he says. “I consider equality is one of the values that the religion of Islam came with, or rather the revolution that the Islam came with by calling on the gender equality.”
Abou Hafs, who appears unruffled despite the huge amount of criticism he since received on social media, goes on to note that he is not ready yet to call for inheritance equality in Morocco.
“Why I am nowadays don’t call for inheritance equality between men and women, because I know that the issue is complicated because it is related to the systematic structure of the family and the other problem that is related to it [family] such as custody and adoption,” he says. Abou Hafs said that the current problem his critics is that they do not even allow other people to talk about the issue. Raising his hand in the video, Abou Hafs asks the people who object discussion of inheritance. “What does make you afraid?” he asks. “What frightens you so as to not allow people to discuss this topic?”
Why Should We Discuss Inheritance Equality?
Abou Hafs stresses that he personally advocates for an open, public discussion about inheritance equality. “Simply, the judgments of inheritance that are based on Quranic verses and Hadiths date back to an old era. They were revealed in another social context – which today has changed, – and social [gender] roles are currently different to the ones of that era,” he says. “The role of man has been changed and the role of woman as well.” Abou Hafs goes on to note that the role of woman nowadays is also responsible for the charges of household expenses and he emphasizes the need to consult experts to understand how women’s roles have changed. To conclude his video, Abou Hafs suggests to bringing all the debate’s parties, including preachers and sociologist, together to rationally discuss the issue without of bigotry or extremism. “This dialogue should be conducted by the state and institutions. But while we are awaiting it to be opened, why will not discuss the issue by filming videos and writing columns?
Mon, Apr 17, 2017 Guy Hedgecoe in Rabat
A 20-minute drive south out of central Rabat, the Mohammed VI Institute is a large complex of plush, cream-coloured buildings, sitting behind a fence. Although the luxurious premises resemble a private university, they are in fact a pillar of Moroccan religious diplomacy.
The institute was opened in 2015 by the king and it is a training centre for young Islamic preachers, housing 1,200 live-in students from Morocco, sub-Saharan Africa and France. The institute’s international reach reflects its status as a major tool in Morocco’s efforts to encourage a moderate strain of Islam, not just domestically but beyond its borders.
“It’s a good school, a very good school,” Musa Sano, a 23-year-old student from Guinea, says as he leaves the institute through the front gate. “It’s good for Morocco. It’s good for Africa.”
This is part of a wide-ranging strategy by Morocco and its king to counter extremism through an array of “soft” initiatives. These have included establishing a radio station, Radio Coran, which broadcasts prayers throughout the day, and even the 2015 pardoning of 37 apparently repentant Salafists serving prison sentences for terrorism-related offences. Dismissed by some as superficial, and by others as political distractions, these efforts nonetheless reflect Morocco’s determination not to fall into the kind of religion-fuelled turmoil that gripped Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring, or which saw neighbouring Algeria riven by civil conflict.
The regime’s concerns about extremism were prompted, in great part, by a 2003 terrorist attack in Casablanca, which killed 45 people, followed by another in Marrakech in 2011, which killed 17.
In January, the CIA warned that Morocco was one of several countries at risk of suffering a terror attack of the kind seen in Nice, Berlin and the UK recently. But another worry for Moroccan authorities are the nationals who go abroad to commit such attacks. A Belgian man of Moroccan origin, Gelel Attar, was charged with plotting the 2015 Paris attack, while Spanish authorities frequently arrest Moroccans on terrorism charges – most recently three men accused of recruiting for Islamic State in Catalonia and Valencia.
A Moroccan national investigation bureau, set up in 2015, has made about 600 arrests and dismantled about 40 cells, according to the government. But it is Morocco’s 53-year-old king, bearer of the title “Commander of the Faithful”, whom many credit with controlling the extremist threat. In a televised speech last summer, Mohammed VI’s condemnation of terrorists could not have been clearer, when he said: “They are people who have been misguided and they are destined to live in hell forever.”Mohamed Daadaoui, an expert on the politics and monarchy of Morocco at Oklahoma City University, says: “Morocco has long been successful at countering the rise of extremism through advancing a version of Moroccan royal Islam that has the monarch at the helm.”
The regime’s virtual monopoly of the religious sphere, Daadaoui adds, “has inoculated the institution of the monarchy against challenges from extremism”, a strategy that is bolstered by the king’s claim of ancestral descent from the family of the prophet Mohammed. Abdelali Hamiddine, a senior figure in the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which has governed since 2011, is confident that Moroccans’ allegiance to their king as their religious leader helps keep fundamentalism at bay.
“Terrorist organisations like Islamic State have no future in Morocco, except some young people who are influenced by some texts on the internet or on Facebook,” he tells The Irish Times.
He also points to social conditions in Morocco, which he says “are far better than in Egypt or Algeria”.
Morocco has not seen the kind of political upheaval that the Arab Spring of 2011 sparked in neighbouring north African countries. Instead, it has been relatively stable, with King Mohammed overseeing a parliamentary system which was merely tweaked in the wake of the unrest. Yet some suspect the king’s campaign of Islamic moderation is simply a crafty way of burnishing his international image while ramping up vigilance and repression of dissidents. Maati Monjib, a political historian and human rights campaigner, says the king and his rgime “are exaggerating the menace of Islamism in Morocco in order to take back the rights that were recognised and respected during the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2012”.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Moroccan regime had banned the sale of the burka in many towns and cities. However, the garment is easy to make at home, inviting the conclusion that the prohibition was an empty gesture. “Extremism is gaining ground,” says Mohamed Elboukili, an academic and member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). He believes the problem is being sown among younger generations who are under the influence of an increasingly illiberal education system.
He offers the example of the Muslim headscarf, which he says most of his female students now wear, in contrast to 15 years ago when few of them did.“You can say to me this scarf doesn’t mean anything. Yes, it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s isolating the girl from the boy,” he says. “Now she’s wearing the scarf, but later on she’s not going to shake hands with the boy . . . Later on she’s not going to study in the same class with boys. Those are the mechanisms of an Islamist state, that’s how it works.”
Elboukili points to high illiteracy levels in Morocco, which he says are a typical trampoline for fundamentalists. He also highlights the role of the supposedly moderate Islamist PJD, which has governed since 2011. “The Moroccan government, the palace, they know what’s going on and they know this transformation is going on and they shut their eyes to it,” he says. “What’s important for them? The economic side. Profits. And the Islamists [PJD] are not against profits.”
The PJD’s collaboration with Mohammed VI is set to continue as the party attempts to form a new government following last October’s inconclusive elections. Meanwhile, only time will tell if the regime’s pre-emptive strategy against extremism is working or if fears of a nascent Islamist state are justified.
Ranjana Narayan IANS India Private Limited 17 April 2017 Casablanca (IANS)
Four years ago, Morocco imported 93 percent of its energy needs. By 2030, it hopes to get 52 per cent from renewables. Just how serious the country is about solar power comes across loud and clear to visitors as soon as one crosses the Mohamed V International Airport here.
Large solar panels along the road and street lights topped with solar panels line the way for a few miles -- highlighting how the north African nation is moving firmly ahead in its mission to become a solar superpower.
Morocco's King Mohammed VI earlier this month launched the fourth and final phase of the world's largest solar energy plant -- Noor Solar in Ouarzazate, on the edge of the Sahara desert. Noor is the Arabic word for light. The first phase of the $9 billion project was launched in 2013, while the second and third phases were launched in 2016. When completed in 2018, the desert solar power complex will have a 582 MW capacity, enough to power 1.1 million homes -- and would measure the size of capital Rabat.
Morocco's leadership in renewable energy was highlighted at last month's Crans Montana Forum where Said Moufti, Research Director of the Royal Institute for Strategic Studies, pointed out that solar and wind power plants had been set up all over the southern provinces. "Morocco is showing by way of example," he said. The first phase of Noor, which was commissioned in February 2016, uses 500,000 curved mirrors spread over thousands of acres of desert to generate up to 160 MW, making it one of the world's biggest solar thermal power plants. The mirrors are part of technology called concentrated solar power (CSP). The 39-foot-tall parabolic mirrors focus the sun's energy to heat fluid in pipelines, which when mixed with water, produces steam to drive a turbine.
This system can store power after the sun goes down and generate power at night. While Phases II and III are also CSP projects, Noor IV, the final phase, uses photovoltaic (PV) technology to produce electricity. The entire Noor project, when ready, will help reduce CO2 emissions by 760,000 tonnes a year and by 17.5 million tonnes over 25 years, according to reports.
Morocco's stress on renewable energy will not only help the country reduce its energy imports, but also generate revenue from exporting energy across the Mediterranean to Europe and to its neighbours in Africa.
Morocco, a country of 33 million people, is the only African country with a power cable link to Europe. The stress on renewable energy will also create jobs. Morocco currently employs about 3,000 people in the renewable energy sector. According to a study by the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Institutes of Economic Sciences (FEMISE), the country is expected to create between 270,000 and 500,000 new green jobs by 2040. The report was released at the COP22 held in Marrakech last year.
The Noor project is being developed on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis by ACWA Power Ouarzazate, a consortium of Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), Aries and TSK. Morocco is also focusing on wind energy. It has set up the Tarfaya wind farm complex -- said to be the largest in Africa -- stretching more than 100 sq km across the Sahara desert, on the southern Atlantic coast.
(The writer was in Morocco at the invitation of the Crans Montana Forum. Ranjana Narayan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Business Wire April 22, 2017WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP)
Morocco has long been a climate advocate, becoming the first African and Arab country to host a Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) in 2001. In November 2016, the country—dubbed a “perfect place for the world’s biggest climate change conference,” according to Quartz—again hosted world leaders in Marrakesh for COP 22, this time with the task of implementing the historic Paris Agreement from the year before.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI urged participants at COP 22 to move beyond promises to “tangible initiatives and practical steps,” and to respect and support the priorities and resources of developing countries. “Holding this conference in Africa,” he said, “is an incentive for us to give priority to tackling the adverse repercussions of climate change, which are growing worse and worse in the countries of the South and in insular states whose very existence is in jeopardy.”
Since November, Morocco has ensured that the climate action agenda moves forward as COP 22 President, hosting a number of events and workshops with members of Moroccan civil society as well as international stakeholders on capacity building, sustainable industrial areas, and more. Morocco sent a delegation to the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington, DC this month to address issues of climate finance, and is working closely with the incoming Fiji COP 23 Presidency in advance of the Bonn Climate Change Conference in May.
Meanwhile, Morocco continues leading the way on sustainability and renewable energy at home:
Morocco has enshrined environmentalism in its governing documents. Article 31 of the country’s 2011 Constitution guarantees citizens’ right to “the access of water and to a healthy environment”; while Articles 71 and 152 address the government’s responsibility for environmental protection and oversight.
Morocco has set ambitious energy goals. Morocco has committed to generating 42% of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, and 52% by 2030.
Morocco is a world leader in solar energy production. The country’s NOOR solar power complex is the largest in the world – so large it is visible from space; and by completion, will be capable of producing 2,000 megawatts of energy. In addition, Morocco currently maintains 13 wind farms and plans to build at least six more before 2020, capable of producing a total of 2,000 megawatts of energy.
Morocco is serious about waste reduction. The Moroccan Parliament signed a bill into law on July 1, 2016 banning the use, production, or import of plastic bags; and Rabat hosts an active recycling and waste-management center that employs disadvantaged people to sort through waste for reusable, recyclable and saleable material.
Morocco understands the importance of raising public awareness on climate change issues. That’s why Morocco’s Association of Teachers of Life and Earth Sciences works with the Ministry of Education to promote environmental awareness at centers in 18 different towns and cities throughout Morocco.
The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
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By Morocco World News - April 23, 2017 , Rabat
Thousands of demonstrators marched on Sunday in Rabat in protest against what they believe as sapping of public school. Demonstrators, mainly adherents of left-wing movements and political parties, along with the movement of teacher trainees, voiced their anger at the Ministry of Education.
The protesters said they would not back down from the struggle “to save” Moroccan public school.
According to the demonstrators, the state is plotting against public school system by canceling tuition-free education. They also drew attention to the increasing degradation of quality in public schools calling on Moroccans to step up to defend public education. The demonstration was led by the Moroccan labor union Confédération démocratique du travail (CDT). The union reportedly said that the state is aiming at “disintegrating” Moroccan public school and that this is something about which Moroccans cannot remain silent.
In addition to advocating free-tuition public education, demonstrators voiced their anger at the deplorable situations of public schools, including high drop-outs rates, shortage of teachers, overcrowding in schools and the state’s propensity towards the privatization of public education. Privatization, said demonstrators, threatens to deprive underprivileged children from their right to education. Moroccan had long taken for granted that schools and universities should be free-tuition. In recent however more and more families are turning to private schools to guarantee better education for their children as the degradation of the quality of education in public schools continues
By Morocco World News - April 18, 2017 , Rabat
Morocco has received an important amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last few years. In 2015, the North African country received $3.2 billion of FDI Compared to other Arab countries it is light years ahead. Until a few years ago, Tunisia used to receive the largest chunk of foreign direct investment among Arab league nations. However, this changed due to the Arab spring.
Morocco was unharmed by the Arab spring, unlike other nations. Coupled with a stable government, energy concerns did not exist in Morocco. What’s more the country was open to new technology. This and the following factors make Morocco a prime country for foreign direct investment.
So as to incentivize foreign direct investment, Morocco has ratified various international treaties and laws relating to the protection of investment. This includes Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, The Inter-Arab organization for investment Guarantee Corporation among others. Free transfer of capital and income is allowed due to these treaties being ratified. In case disputes occur the matter can be referred to any court or tribunal of your choice as an investor. An added bonus is the treaties protect you from double taxation. Double taxation occurs where you are taxed in both your home country and your investment country. Having this agreement makes business easy to run in Morocco.
Morocco has a unique way of bringing together both the government and private institutions. A national committee of business environment was created in order to enhance communication between the two arms. Once certain issues are brought up, a resolution is reached on how to resolve them. On top of that new policies are created in order to make Morocco attractable to outside investment. The committee is always on hand to make business as smooth as possible for all investors.
In 2015 an investment fund was created by the government. The main aim of the fund was to give aid to businesses. Your business could receive a 30% bonus of investment (before tax). This bonus is received should your company invest in the following areas: Research and development costs, start-up costs for the first three years and purchasing or renting real estate or industrial equipment.
An export growth bonus is provided for in the fund, with a cap set at 10% of export turnover. It means the more your business exports, the higher bonuses you receive from the government.
As an investor stability of a country is key to putting in your hard-earned money. You will be pleased to learn that Morocco is one of the most stable countries in the Arab-league nations. King Mohammed VI has been in power for the last 17 years since succeeding his father. There have been no major political upheavals in that period.
Democratic elections occur and the Islamic government is currently in power. International companies such as Renault have invested heavily in this country. This goes to confirm the level of investor confidence this country currently experiences.
Morocco is turning into a major international hub and as an investor, your investment would be both safe and appreciated.
Morocco expects its cereal harvest to hit a 10.2 million tons, an increasing of 203 pct in cereal harvest year-on-year.
The forecast was made on Monday by agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch in a meeting at the eve of the opening of the annual International Agriculture Fair in the northern city of Meknes.
In 2015, a severe drought hit the country, which compromised the 2016 agriculture production, and on the top of which cereal harvest.
Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the north African country's gross domestic product (GDP).
The good rainfall since October has helped Morocco's economy grew by 4.3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with 1.7 percent in the same period of previous year, according to the official High Commission for Planning.
The commission said in a note on the Moroccan economy that this growth was mainly due to the rise in agricultural output by 12.9 percent in the first quarter this year, up from nine percent last year. Morocco's International Agriculture Fair, which invited Italy as its guest of honor, will be held on April 18-23.
By Chaima Lahsini - April 21, 2017 , Rabat
Saad Eddine El Othmani presented the government program to both Houses of Parliament Wednesday, outlining an economic plan covering entrepreneurship, extractive industries, improved worker compensation programs, and a national water program.
The new head of government said that he aims to achieve an economic growth rate between 4.5 and 5.5 percent and to control the budget deficit at 3 percent of GDP by 2021. The government will also aim to reduce the Treasury debt ratio to less than 60 percent of GDP, the inflation rate to less than 2 percent (maintaining the current level), and the unemployment rate to less than 8.5 percent.
20 Percent of Tenders for SMEs
The government will work to support and strengthen the entrepreneurial fabric, particularly small businesses (TPE) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to establish the national business preference system, and to setting up an incentive and innovative framework. He also mentioned the implementation of provisions of the public procurement decree to reserve 20 percent of tenders for SMEs. Solidarity Agriculture will benefit from a plan 2017-2021 concerning 297 projects for a sum of MAD 6.5 billion to the benefit to 130,000 small farmers. El Othmani also cited the acceleration of the merger of public authorities to support and encourage investment, export, and promotion, as well as the the establishment of a specific financial framework for newly created and emerging small and medium-sized industrial enterprises, increased support for small businesses become more competitive by supporting 20,000 companies, including 500 pioneers, and the development of a national strategy to integrate the informal private sector.
Incentives for the Extractive Industry
El Otmani’s government program proposes a package of measures in this context, including accelerating the pace of implementation of the new investment reform plan, and in particular the activation of the tax incentive system for new industrial companies and major exporting industries as well as the adoption of a new investment charter. El Othmani also stated plans to strengthen Morocco’s leadership in the phosphate industry, and to establish a legal, administrative and organic framework to encourage investment in the mining and petroleum and natural gas sectors, in particular through the introduction of new incentives under the Finance Act and the Investment Charter. The achievement of this objective requires a structural transformation of the economic fabric and investment incentives promoting the industrial and business sectors through the further implementation and support of the industrial acceleration plan 2014-2020, explained the head of government.
Promises to the Self-Employed
The head of government revealed the establishment of a program to promote self-employment of young people in rural areas. He said this initiative would strengthen employability through the establishment of a system of internships in administrations, public establishments, and local authorities. The project would be implemented following a call for proposals and the granting of financial support and coaching to the selected projects. In addition, the government program aims to further develop and adapt labor legislation, promote decent work, and establish stable labor relations through the revision of the Labor Code through an inclusive participatory approach, labor inspection, extension of supervision to the institutions concerned by social legalization, and the extension and improvement of social security and medical coverage. In this context, El Otmani will be working to improve and simplify the conditions loss-of-work compensation, as well as introduce a social security scheme for the self-employed and a comprehensive reform of pensions.
A National Water Plan
The head of government also mentioned a national water plan, which would strengthen infrastructure and water facilities by constructing 15 large dams for the period 2017-2021, at a rate of 3 per year, and 10 additional small dams per year in order to help supply rural communities with drinking water and irrigation. El Othmani expressed the government’s commitment to strengthen the Moroccan model in renewable and efficient energy through the implementation and acceleration of the renewable energy plans to increase its shares from 42 percent in 2020 to 52 percent by 2030. The head of government also plans to finalize the development of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, the implementation of the first part of this strategy under a program contract for the period 2017-2021 between the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE), the government, and local authorities.
Fri Apr 21, 2017. Anthony Goelz, Reporter isustudentmedia.com
The Moroccan Student Organization held their first event, Taste of Morocco, on Thursday. The event was a night of sharing culture, spreading the taste of Morocco and togetherness. “This event was to promote the culture of Morocco as a country, since a lot of people do not know where Morocco is and partnerships between Morocco and the United States especially the universities,” said Issam Faouz, the vice president of the Moroccan Student Organization.
Faouz also talked about some of the history between the U.S. and Morocco. “Morocco was the first country in the world to recognize the United States as an independent country,” Faouz said.
“In Morocco we have a lot of cultures there, since we’re close to Spain, Europe and Africa. So it’s a big mixture of culture,” Faouz said.
The event displayed many aspects of culture. There was dancing, a fashion show of Moroccan dresses and food. “Chicken, beef and couscous — we call it tajine. It’s really beautiful; it’s organic,” Faouz said. “We wanted to order the food from Indianapolis, from a more authentic Moroccan restaurant, but unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time so it was Sodexo. We did a demonstration for them and they took notes, and we had a taste in session, and it was close, not the real thing, but close,” Faouz said.
He exclaimed the difficulty of preparing an event like this, but Faouz stressed the importance of the help from Sodexo. “It wasn’t easy, but thanks to their collaboration and hard work we made it,” Faouz said. He continued to thank the Banquet Center for their work. Faouz said that it was very different from what they were used to, but they handled it well. Faouz also wanted to use this event as a way to address the current political climate in the U.S. “I just want to say with what is happening in the United States and what is happening with Trump, we want to show to the American people we are so peaceful, and we are not different. We have to build bridges, be open, meet each other and learn from each other.”
By Mohamed Chtatou - April 23, 2017 , Rabat
In response to a question of a journalist about the personality of the crown prince Sidi Mohammed, the late King Hassan II retorted: “He is he and I is me” and he was, indeed, fully right. Hassan II was a good speaker, eloquent, smooth talker but loved to stay at home. On the other hand, Mohammed VI is quiet and withdrawn (taciturn), measured and a very mobile person. As a matter of fact, he is on the move all the time, for the laying down of a foundation stone or the inauguration of a project to which site he will even come back, sometimes unexpectedly, to control and evaluate the progress of the assigned work.
A sovereign on his steel horse
At the beginning of his reign, his idyllic field of activity was Morocco, without any preference for a specific region. He began with the regions that his father had underprivileged, for political reasons, such as Al-Hoceima, Tanger and Tetouan. After Morocco, Africa, in its immensity, became his field of predilection, where he continues, tirelessly, to project economic and technical expertise of his country successfully today.
In his constant mobility, Mohammed VI is rather like his great grandfather Moulay Hassan I, who reigned from 1873 to 1894, governing narrow-minded, rebellious and difficult Morocco. This Morocco in question included two big distinct regions: bled al-makhzen, under the control of the central government and bled as-siba, the country of the Amazigh/Berber people in total dissent, which fully recognized the religious power of the sultan “Commander of the Faithful,” amir al-mu’minin, but not his temporal power, hence their foursquare refusal to pay him due taxes. Hassan I, to diplomatically diffuse this refusal, resorted to religious taxes within the framework of zakat. Hassan I died on his horse in 1894, during one of his multiple field trips, and his death was kept secret by his chamberlain, hajib, as tradition dictates, until the whole expedition got back to the capital city of Fez.
The horse of Mohammed VI, on the other hand, is pure steel; it is an old Boeing 747 of Royal Air Maroc, which serves as means of locomotion, place of residence and work office, when abroad. After Francophone Africa, the trader king successfully focused on the eastern part of the black continent; raising the contempt of a jealous official Algeria towards this young and dynamic monarch, who never stops moving, while the poor Algerian President Bouteflika is nailed to a wheelchair and is even unable to hold a few minutes discussion given his poor health.
Mohammed VI is not like the sovereigns of the world, who spend their time in their palaces gathering flowers and organizing worldly celebrations. Mohammed VI is a good businessman, who successfully created Morocco Inc. and duly exports Moroccan’s know-how marvellously well in: telecom, banking, insurance, mining, electricity and water, agriculture, irrigation, renewable energies, management, etc. and sets up win-win projects with Moroccan capital all over Africa. In short, a good example of south-south cooperation, which can be taught in the universities of the world, to the satisfaction of development teachers and designers of viable models of good economic governance. Mohammed VI, is masterfully demonstrating to all self-respecting Africans that one can basically take care of oneself and set up a model of south-south development not financially and politically costly and, of course, very beneficial for everyone.
Mohammed VI: the itinerant African caliph
During his recent visit to Madagascar, Mohammed VI, who normally speaks very little with the press, gave an interview to the Madagascan media in which he solemnly declared: “Morocco and Africa are one. To separate them would be an uprooting, an error” and further affirmed his respect for the African people: “Every visit to Africa is an opportunity for me to reconnect with the African populations that I admire and respect” while stressing his wish for sharing and caring: “Morocco has projects in various African countries. We give and share, without arrogance, or undertones of dishonesty and colonization”
This feeling is, undeniably, reciprocal because for many African Muslims the Moroccan sovereign is their “Commander of the Faithful,” amir al-mu’minin, and this does not date from yesterday but a reality that began with the Amazigh dynasties of the Almoravids (1040-1147) and the Almohads (1121-1269), who introduced Islam into Africa, not by the means of the sword but through beneficial trade. In fact, Moroccan commercial caravans have, from the 12th to the 18th century, criss-crossed southern Moroccan regions and sub-Saharan Africa to exchange multiple goods and products. Timbuktu was one of the high and prominent places of this exchange. With these caravans, ulemas traveled everywhere in West Africa and built Koranic schools where they taught the Koran and the Hadith to the local population. Over time, the inhabitants of this part of Africa have adopted the Moroccan written form of the Arabic language, al-khatt al-maghribi, which they used to write in Ajami their community languages ??such as: Soninké, Pulaar, Fulfudé, etc. and this tradition is still alive today in the most beautiful fashion ever.
In the 18th century, a great Algerian Sufi alem, Sidi Ahmed at-Tijani (1735-1815,) came to settle down in Morocco, where he opened a religious lodge, zaouia, in Fez to teach the precepts of a moderate and tolerant open Islam wasatiyya. This religious center, still active today, is called Zaouia Tijaniyya. His teachings soon spread to West Africa and his followers, who took the name of Tidjanes, opened African zaouias, which, soon, became major religious centers. Today, for millions of Tidjanes in Africa, a visit of Zaouia Tijaniyya in Fez is considered as a “small pilgrimage” of great spiritual importance and value.
The Moroccan Sherifian influence in West Africa extended even to the political system. Indeed, in the north of Nigeria, we still find sultans recognized by the legal authorities, who, certainly play only an honorary role but enjoy much respect and esteem from the local population. These sultans go out in procession, on horseback, for Friday prayers followed by their subjects, one of which bearing the sultanesque parasol, that is the emblem of power, both religious and temporal, as is the case still in Morocco today.
African Economic Order
Mohammed VI, this jet-set sovereign of Africa, in his many visits to the black continent, works tirelessly for the establishment of an African economic order, where the Africans, take control and care of themselves, with much respect and dignity. This dream is not an illusion, but a wish dear to all Africans, rulers and governed, who all want the best for this continent that has the necessary resources and will and only needs courageous political decisions for inter-African development projects clear of any harmful and paralyzing ideology.
Today, unfortunately, many Africans are political refugees, looking for an alternative homeland or economic immigrants in search of work and human dignity that goes with it elsewhere.
Hopefully, African leaders will follow Mohammed VI’s example, in the near future, and put a purely African economic order in place for the benefit of all Africans, without any exception. Amen.
Through its rich culture, Morocco is aiming to reach the heart of the Russian consumer – a business strategy which could pave the way for Moroccan products into the vast Russian market .
Centuries of history, modernity and elegance came together to form the third edition of the Morocco festival in Moscow as it kicked off at the Metropolis commercial center. The Moroccan Center for Exports Promotion – “Maroc export” – has been organizing this event since 2014 to showcase a wide range of Moroccan products to Russian consumers.
The opening ceremony included noteworthy Moroccan cultural activities, along with business networking, and opened up opportunities to Moroccan exporters to promote their products.
Moroccan Ambassador in Moscow Abdelkader Lecheheb said: “The Russian market is very important for our country. Morocco is the second biggest partner for Russia in the Arab world and on the African scale. This third installment is held under the banner of the diversification of our products here in Russia”
Textiles, cosmetics, footwear, leather, and home decoration were among the products in the spotlight at this year’s edition of the festival. More than 350 products from 33 major companies were presented over the course of the event. They were selected by the purchasing managers of the Metropolis commercial center, who visited Morocco to choose the products that would be of interest Russian consumers.
Yasmine Benjelloun, Managing Director at Fen Yadi, told Euronews: “We are a Moroccan brand specializing in Moroccan handicrafts. Today we are working with our own Moroccan designer who launched the “Ouchma” collection we see here. Ouchma is a mixture of Berber tattoo and Moroccan zéllige patterns. “We already operate in Europe and the Middle East and we want to continue our strategy to develop internationally, so the Russian market opened for us an opportunity we would like to capitalize upon.”
Strengthening trade relations with Morocco is also a point of interest for Moscow, the Minister of the Moscow City Government and Head of the Moscow City Foreign Economic and International Relations Department told Euronews that the Russian capital is looking to expand business opportunities to include more sectors. “It is really important for the Russian citizens to be acquainted with a different culture. We think that we can share experience in the municipal technology and in the development of transport,” he said.
“Morocco is considered as one of the most stable regions of all the points of view not only security but also from economic point of view and from the protection of the investment.” Along with the opening of the festival, some business meetings have been planned between the city of Moscow and ” Maroc export” for later this year in Morocco in order to enhance entrepreneurship and trade between the two countries
By Amira El Masaiti - April 22, 2017 Rabat
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests has signed 20 Plan Vert contracts since the launch of the environmental plan in 2008, according to Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch. “These contracts are a real roadmap for the development and implementation of the relevant value chains,” said Akhannouch in a statement read out on his behalf by the ministry’s Secretary General, Mohamed Sadiki, during a forum held on the sidelines of the 12th International Salon of Agriculture in Morocco (SIAM).
These contracts reflect the Plan’s goals, which will be achieved as a result of the commitment of the signatory parties, the required investments, and the supporting policies to be implemented in the field of agriculture, explained the minister. The implementation of these contracts was assisted by a strengthening of the institutional and legal framework governing the professional organization according to a value chain approach.
Morocco’s Green Plan contributes 19 percent to the national GDP, 15 percent in agriculture and 4 percent in agribusiness. The sector plays a major role in the Kingdom’s macroeconomics, and it offers a strong social support, generating the income of 80 percent of people living in rural areas. The SIAM opening ceremony was attended by President of Guinea, Alpha Condé, Aziz Akhannouch as well as several government officials and foreign ambassadors to Morocco.
This major event, which represents a platform for economic exchanges and a space for future reflection, was organized this year with the title “Agribusiness and Sustainable Agricultural Value Chains” in order to stress the need for collaboration between the different stakeholders of the Moroccan agriculture sector.
By Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter - April 21, 2017
From left, Sultana Mamann; her children Haim, Joshua and Shira, King Mohammed VI, his son Crown Prince Moulay Hassan and Elie Mamann Elie Mamann was out walking with his family on Lincoln Road in Miami’s South Beach area when he thought he saw someone he knew. There, in a clothing store, shopping with his wife and son, was a middle-aged guy wearing a jean shirt and denim pants. Mamann, a native of Toronto whose family immigrated from Morocco in 1963, recognized him immediately. “That was the king of Morocco,” he blurted out to his wife, Sultana. At first, she didn’t believe him. “Yeah, right,” she replied.
But Mamann was certain of it. In his household growing up, as in many of the homes of Moroccan Jewish emigrés, the king was held in high regard. So was his father, King Hassan II. And there, mingling with the commoners, in clothing as casual as you can get, was the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, along with his wife, Princess Lalla Salma, and son, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan.
The royal trio might have been mistaken for just another family out shopping during a family vacation. Except, of course for the U.S. Secret Service agents strategically placed around them, in addition to members of the king’s own entourage.
Mamann walked up to one of the king’s assistants, a woman in charge of protocol, it appeared, and asked permission to approach the king. As it turned out, the king is very approachable. Mamann was given the green light and soon was in conversation with the monarch. “I said, ‘Your majesty, I’m born in Toronto, my parents were from Casablanca and I want to thank you for all you do for the Jewish people in Morocco and around the world. He said, ‘It is my honour,’” Mamann recounted.
“He was the nicest guy you can ever meet in your life,” Mamann stated on the phone from Florida, where his family was still enjoying their Passover vacation. The men conversed in French. The wives spoke in Spanish. The king was particularly impressed that the royal family is held in esteem by former Moroccans and that even third-generation Moroccans, like Mamann’s children, Haim, 15, Joshua, 14, and Shira, 11, are taught about the Jews’ long history in that north African land. King Mohammed was surprised that Haim, who attends Yeshivat Or Chaim, just completed a project on the king of Morocco, in which he explained how Jews were proud of their heritage. “He couldn’t believe it,” Mamann recounted.
For many Jewish Canadians, it can be puzzling why Moroccans hold the monarch in such high regard, Mamann said. But Moroccan Jews know the monarchy has been good to its Jews. “Jews are safe in Morocco,” even while that is generally not the case across the rest of the Arab world, he said. Jews have served in the government, and the country maintains good relations with Israel. The graves of saintly rabbis are protected by Moroccan guards provided by the king, Mamann said.
Of course, Jewish history in Morocco was not always sunshine and rainbows. Where once there were 260,000 Jews in the country, today the number is down to around 2,500. Facing sporadic violence, most left in the decades following creation of the State of Israel, though the king is credited with offering protection to the country’s Jews.
The Mamanns spent about 40 minutes chatting with the royal family. The boys discussed basketball shoes and the king extended a personal invitation for the family to visit him in the royal palace.
“It was very nice for the king to be so hospitable,” Mamann said of the April 13 encounter. For his part, Mamann invited the king to visit Toronto. And it wouldn’t be 2017 if the families didn’t pose for selfies before going their separate ways.
Coincidentally, the royal princess and Sultana crossed paths one day later, again in South Beach. “[The king’s] wife told Sultana that he never stops talking about you, that even if you’re not born in Morocco… and you’re a proud Canadian, that you still have connections to Morocco and teach your children our traditions,” Mamann recounted.
Back in Toronto, news of the encounter has spread and “everybody is flipping out,” Mamann said. Mamann expects to take up the king’s offer and visit the royal palace, perhaps sometime next year.
In the meantime, the chance meeting certainly added an element of excitement to the family’s Passover getaway, one that may well join a lustrous tradition of Jewish Moroccan lore.
By AFP Published: April 24, 2017 QAMISHLI, SYRIA: Islam Maytat thought marrying an Afghan-British businessman was her ticket to a new life as a fashionista in London. Instead she became a widow living under extremist rule in Syria.
At just 23, the young Moroccan spent three traumatic years in northern Syria under the Islamic State group’s so-called ‘caliphate’. Tens of thousands of foreigners have joined extremist groups in Syria, including women who are encouraged to marry and raise the children of IS fighters. Some, like Maytat, have been lured unknowingly into marriages with would-be militants. Maytat spoke to AFP after fleeing IS’s northern stronghold of Raqa to territory controlled by a US-backed alliance fighting the extremist group.
Now safe in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli, Maytat holds her gurgling 10-month-old daughter Maria in her lap as she tells her story. “Meeting my husband was one of the things that motivated me to study fashion design in Europe, but I had no luck. Everything went wrong,” she said. She first met Khalil Ahmed — an Afghan-British trader who worked in Dubai — online in early 2014, and they married two months later. He flew to Morocco to marry her and they then went to Dubai, stepping into a complex web of lies and journeys across the Middle East that would eventually take her to Syria.
Ahmed proved to be a strict, controlling husband who did not allow her to wear makeup or bright clothes. After a brief trip to Afghanistan to meet his family, Maytat was eager to get to London and start working as a stylist. Ahmed proposed travelling to Istanbul, convincing a reluctant Maytat that it would be easier to move to London from there. But as soon as they landed in Turkey, Ahmed immediately drove her to the southeastern city of Gaziantep near the border with Syria.
Ankara has long been accused of turning a blind eye to IS fighters using the porous Syrian-Turkish border to transport people, goods, and funds — allegations it vehemently denies.
In Gaziantep, Maytat and Ahmed moved into a large house full of ecstatic couples from countries including Saudi Arabia, Algeria and France. “I asked them ‘Why are you here?’ And they told me they were there to migrate to the caliphate in Syria,” Maytat recalls.
In June 2014, IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” across Syria and Iraq, where it implemented its literal interpretation of Islamic law. “I began to cry. It was two weeks after the caliphate was declared and the women kept saying ‘We’re going to the land of the caliphate, the land of the Muslims’, and they were all happy,” Maytat says. In August, Ahmed and Maytat made their own journey across the border into war-ravaged northern Syria. They settled in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, where Ahmed’s brother was already living with his family. “I said to my husband ‘Why did you destroy my life like this? You should have told me from the beginning that this is what we were going to do’,” Maytat recalls. “And he said ‘You’re my wife — you have to listen to what I say’.”
Tears welling, Maytat says she had felt powerless to resist Ahmed, her only link to her previous life. By September, she was pregnant with her first child — Abdullah — and Ahmed was sent to a month-long military training before deploying to IS’s front in Kobane.
On October 8, 2014, Ahmed’s brother told Maytat her husband had been killed in combat. “I became more depressed. I said to myself, this is the only person I knew in this foreign land, and now I’m alone here,” she tells AFP. Pregnant and alone, Maytat moved into a shared “guest house” for widows of militants, mostly Uzbeks and Russians. This is when the military training started. “When they forced us to do weapons training I was pregnant, but I had no choice,” she says.
Unable to communicate with many other widows, Maytat was allowed to move into a building housing other Arabic-speakers. “There were French, Tunisians, Moroccans and Algerians. I stayed there until I gave birth to Abdullah.” Less than a year after her first husband died, Maytat remarried in order to escape the shelter. Her second husband, an Afghan known as Abu Abdullah, took her to Raqa, the de facto capital of IS’s caliphate. “I couldn’t deal with life there — he wouldn’t let me leave the house — so I asked him for a divorce two months later,” she says.
She then married for the third time in three years, this time to an Indian fighter in Raqa known as Abu Talha al Hindi. That 18-month marriage produced her daughter, Maria. When Maytat learned Abu Talha had been killed battling the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, she joined up with another militant widow, a Yazidi woman. They escaped IS territory via “a secret route” that she refused to divulge. Traumatised by her past, Maytat is now also worried about her future and that of her two young children. “I still don’t know what to do with my life. “I hope to return to Morocco with both of my children, but I don’t know if I’ll have a future or not there.”
By Matilde Mereghetti Apr 18, 2017
The Moroccan government, through its department of maritime fisheries and the national institute for fishery research, has launched a new initiative intended to strengthen the sustainability of both fishing and aquaculture in the region. the initiative is called 'Blue Belt', Tarki Abdelouahed, engineer at the Moroccan department of maritime fishing, told Undercurrent News. The project, which was proposed in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other partners at the Marrakesh climate change conference last November, is part of an African package for climate-resilient ocean economies and involves nine other African countries, including Mauritania and Senegal.
The package aims to provide technical and financial assistance to support African economies dependent on oceans, and enhance resilience to climate change in coastal areas. The 'Blue Belt' initiative proposes a global action plan, including a roadmap of "solutions" to be implemented based on three main areas of intervention, which include coastal observation, sustainable fishing and sustainable aquaculture, particularly seaweed farming.
'Blue Belt' aims to implement "a durable mechanism for the sector in Africa", Abdelouahed told Undercurrent. "It is a project in phase of study, initiated by Morocco. Currently we are studying the feasibility, how we will develop the investments," Abdelouahed pointed out. Blue Belt will also reinforce the country's 'Halieutis 2020' strategy, which was implemented in 2009. "Developed in accordance with the strategic guidelines of his majesty [Morocco's] king Mohammed VI, 'Halieutis 2020' intends to build the sector into a real growth driver for the economic and social development of the kingdom," Abdelouahed said.
Halieutis aimed to strengthen the Moroccan fishery sector's development and competitiveness. It planned to increase fish production to 1.2 million metric tons, to bring Moroccan fishery exports to $3.1 billion, and to triple the sector’s GDP by 2020. "We have already achieved the country's total production which reached 1.6m metric tons, in line with the government's strategy to improve the fish industry's performance," said Abdelouahed. The government's Halieutis strategy also aimed to increase fishery durability, improving research and quota management as well as boost the industry's competitiveness, building new infrastructure.
Morocco, with its 3,500 kilometer coastline, exports over 600,000t per year of frozen, fresh and canned fish and seafood products, worth €1.6bn per year. The country's fishery sector directly employs 170,000 people, and 490,000 indirectly. Morocco exports approximately 80,000t of octopus per year, with catches stable and managed by fishing quotas.
Morocco is also the world's largest producer of sardine and exporter of canned sardines. It produces 1.2m metric tons of pelagic fish, including sardines, per year. Canned sardine exports reach around 139,000t, worth $390m, of which approximately 45% is exported to other African markets.
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By Chaima Lahsini - April 23, 2017 , Rabat
Eight novelists from throughout the African continent shared their visions on African women’s literature at a literary fair held in Rabat on Thursday as part of the cultural event called “Afrique en Capitale”. During the panel, held in the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMVI) under the theme “Voices of Women”, Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda), Leila Abouzeid (Morocco), Rabâa Abdelkefi (Tunisia), Nora Amin (Egypt), Sefi Atta (Nigeria), Khadi Hane (Senegal) Latifa Baqa (Morocco) and Siham Bouhlal (France / Morocco) discussed their thoughts on the state of African women’s literature.
This event was initiated by the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) in partnership with the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI), the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco, the FNM and the International University of Rabat (UIR). Driss Al-Yazami, president of the CNDH, said he was pushed to initiate the event by his interest and admiration of the African women’s literature. “I wanted this event to be a moment of discovery, I wanted to share with others this literature that so deeply touched me, and delve into literary journeys as diverse as these rich women.”
Wounds into Words
The authors on the panel haven take their pens and express themselves, motivated by the desire to translate their wounds into words, to advocate for the rights of their compatriots, denounce the heavy weight of the traditions, change the mentalities, demand social changes and value women. War, racism, religion, genocide, rape – the women tell it all in a poignant show of strength and resistance. Their texts, while different in content and style relate the same stories, of women who persisted in the face of immense, women who dared to relate the tell of a bloody history, but who carry their battle scars with pride and do not back away from the truth.
“To not forget.” Scholastique Mukasonga replied simply at Ammi’s question “Why do you write?”. The Rwandan author explained how it was the genocide of Rwanda’s Tutsis in 1994 that made of her a writer. “Writing has been a way of mourning for me and, with my books, I’ve woven a shroud for those whose bodies, buried in mass graves or scattered in ossuaries, are lost forever.”
Her words echoed in the captivated hall. “I survived my people’s genocide because I could write, and when I finally found the courage to go home to Nyamata, I realized that I had a duty of remembrance.”
She continued, “I was somehow the memory-bearer for those whose very existence – whose every trace – the génocidaires had wanted to wipe out and deny.” Mukasonga wasn’t the only one to relate Africa’s bloody history. Nora Amin, an Egyptian author, director and actress, left the audience is silent tears as she read an extract of her latest book “Migrating the Feminine”, describing the chilling rapes of many women in Maydan Al-Tahrir.
Women against Prejudice
Amin’s essay is a fearless attempt to find an answer to what it means to be a woman in a society full of prejudice, contempt, anger and transgression against the female, in all ages and in all forms. Her text is personal, passionate and political. “Writing for me is resistance, it’s uncovering silenced truths. Writing through the voice of a woman means erasing a history of shame, it means revolting against a patriarchal system, it means telling the stories of heroines, women who went through unimaginable anguish but are everything but victims.”
Her voice was strong in a time full of confusion, and her language, vibrant and poetic, didn’t fail to make the women sitting in the audience quiver in awe. In the 21st century, African literature appears to be essentially feminine, with the emergence of great novelists in all regions and languages of the continent that bear both the aspirations of African women and African people.
“Voices of Women” was an opportunity to meet the great names of women is African literature women in heartwarming and passionate debates that allowed the public to cast a new look on the works of novelists of different nationalities and immerse themselves in their respective universes. “Through this event, I hope that people will be curious enough to read this rich and fascinating literature, to dare and discover the beauty of Africa through the text of these awe-inspiring women,” concluded Al-Yazami.
April 19, 2017 By Sarah Madsen Hardy and Marisa Milanese
College acceptance letters have hit inboxes, and another crop of all-above-average kids has eagerly grabbed the brass ring. But if you meet them a few months down the line, as we will in our first-year writing classes next September, it’ll be clear that some of them aren’t quite sure what they signed up for. As one struggling freshman admitted during office hours, averting his eyes from a half-written draft, “College is just something I need to get done.”
The remedy, say increasing numbers of colleges and counselors, is a gap year. Although just 1 percent of Americans take one, advocates believe gap years give students an academic and social boost. Some schools are even offering gap-year incentives because, as one college administrator recently avowed, gappers “don’t struggle like other freshmen do with the transition to college.” According to the American Gap Association, the time off is “an opportunity for the student to take more ownership of their life.”
As teachers at Boston University, which costs $68,000 a year to attend, we see firsthand how a gap year could benefit many of the students who enter our classrooms burnt out, stressed out or just unsure why they’re there. What troubles us is this: Gap years should get students off the hamster wheel, but the way they are currently being imagined — and marketed — they could perpetuate the problem they aim to fix.
But most [gap years] listed ... are more like Thinking Beyond Borders, where participants pay $36,000 to travel four continents over seven months. An entire industry has emerged to cram gap years with engineered experiences that parents can purchase for their kids. There are a few well-respected — and less cushy — programs, including Global Citizen Year and City Year. But most listed by the American Gap Association are more like Thinking Beyond Borders, where participants pay $36,000 to travel four continents over seven months. A cheaper option, The Leap, charges just over $3,000 for a save-the-world sampler plate, 10 weeks of nonstop activities: “Come to Tanzania to take care of autistic children, explore vast lakes, renovate school buildings, plant trees, track turtles and live alongside some of the world’s most remote communities.”
If the dazzling array of options seems overwhelming, there are, well, more options. You can hire a gap-year counselor to help choose which gap-year travel specialist is the best fit. As Camps International reassures its gap-year clients, “We take care of everything, offering you support before, during and after your experience so that every single detail is covered.”
We understand why students (and their parents) would seek a way to tap into experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise — and to do so in a way that feels safe. At some point, though, these structured support systems start to sound like yet another iteration of the relentless summer internships, SAT tutors and college application advisors that inspired calls for students to “take more ownership of their life” in the first place.
A gap year should get you off track and beyond tracks. It should combat the simultaneously competitive and coddled culture that has turned our students into ... “answer-getters,” rather than “problem-explorers.” One advocate for the gap year, former Harvard Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons, argues that the current cutthroat K-12 track pushes students toward burnout and apathy: “Once in the ‘right’ school, students are pushed along by teachers, by outside tutors and, if they stumble, by learning specialists who will help them approach their studies in the most efficient manner.”
Hear, hear. But how is a gap-year travel specialist any different? A gap year should get you off track and beyond tracks. It should combat the simultaneously competitive and coddled culture that has turned our students into what writing studies scholar Elizabeth Wardle describes as “answer-getters,” rather than “problem-explorers.” Twelve years of standardized testing have convinced our “excellent sheep” that there’s one answer, and their only job is to find it as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next one.
But tolerating ambiguity is crucial to college success. Writing a research paper, as we teach students to do, is not an AP-style paint-by-numbers endeavor. We exhort our students to get lost in the research process because this is the one thing that college-prepped kids generally don’t know how to do. The “answer-getters” in our classes are all too likely to miss the discovery of a new question through an unexpected turn. “Problem-explorers" — and we are lucky to have taught many of them, as well — do research projects motivated by a desire to solve a problem larger than themselves. They are creative in surmounting setbacks, and they recognize and embrace serendipity when it happens.
Is there an analogy here? Every step of a real intellectual inquiry requires resourcefulness and autonomy. A prefab gap year program nurtures neither. Problem solving, creativity and serendipity are not something you can hire a consultant to help you arrange. We’re all for gap years. But let’s allow capable young adults to arrange their own itineraries, balance their own budgets and figure out what they want to accomplish — to fail, get lost and try again.
Susanna Schrobsdorff Thursday April 20th, 2017
It’s just after sunset in the Moroccan Sahara and the sand is already cold. But if you put your hands a few inches under the surface, there's still warmth. Nestle into a dune and it feels like a heated seat.
We're camping for the night in a wide trough between several giant dunes along with a half-dozen other 4 × 4s, a helicopter and four dune buggies that were traveling with the teams scattered around this region tonight. They are competing in an all-female off-road rally that began with a ceremonial start on March 18 in the South of France and will end in southeast Morocco in three days, on March 30. Most of us in the campsite are members of the press, here to chase after the competitors through the desert.
Annick Martin, a petite guide with untamed blonde hair, is preparing a pot of pasta for a gaggle of tenderfoot journalists. Wine has appeared, and those who aren't transfixed by the spangles in the night sky are searching for clean cups when someone sees a viper slithering past the folding tables. Vipers are ambush predators that hide under the sand waiting for their meals to come to them. They're easy to step on. But not to worry. Martin puts down her spoon, goes to the back of a truck and pulls out a machete. After all, we sleep only a few feet away.
Later Martin laughs when she describes how the serpent's jaws kept snapping after she lopped off its head. Anything that survives in this hostile landscape doesn't seem inclined to give up on life easily. Even the thorny plants look dangerous, as if they were designed by Tim Burton. Earlier in the day I asked about a grove of fruit trees in the middle of nowhere. "Yes, those are fruit, but they're poisonous," a guide said. "Even the animals won't eat them."
To placate those of us who fear that even a dead snake might still be deadly, Martin scoops the toothy viper bits into the fire with the tip of her machete. Then she turns back to her spicy coconut sauce, hooting and laughing with the French photographers, somehow smoking, stirring and drinking simultaneously.
Back home in France, Martin is a retired pharmacist. Out here she's a 65-year old desert ninja who can hustle her 4 × 4 up an 80-meter dune and, more importantly, careen down the other side without flipping boot over hood. And of course there's the machete, which she got 15 years ago in Vietnam when she was an equipment assistant transporting canoes, bicycles and food for an insane, long-distance off-road motor race called the Raid Gauloises. The knife, she says, "always accompanies me in my car."
She comes to Morocco every spring to work with the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc. Martin competed years ago; now she and the other media drivers, mostly male, are in charge of getting us journalists from checkpoint to checkpoint, hurtling over oceans of sharp bulky rocks, dunes and mounds of camel grass that can bring even a jacked-up 4 × 4 to a clunking halt. The rally is unusual for two reasons: It's for women only, and it's not about speed. It's a navigation race, with no GPS technology allowed. The team that travels the fewest kilometers and still hits each of the checkpoints—between eight and 15 each day—wins. The teams of two Gazelles, as the women are called, are allowed only a compass and topographical maps that were drawn decades ago. Each morning they are given the longitude and latitude of their checkpoints, and they have to figure out the shortest route, adjusting for their driving ability and the terrain.
The event's founder, Dominique Serra, says she wanted to create something unique for women. "People see cars and they think of speed, but we wanted to put in place the constraints that demand strategy and reflection and navigation off-road," she says. The rally started 27 years ago with nine cars. Now there are 158 teams in 4 × 4s, Quads, trucks, crossovers and motorbikes.
Like many endurance competitions, the Gazelles draws bucket-listers and, to a lesser extent, racers who want to win (or at least finish). The event is not well known in the U.S., but it gets heavy coverage in Europe and Morocco. This year's field included the 2002 Olympic downhill gold medalist Carole Montillet of France and a team comprised a former Miss France and Kiera Chaplin, Charlie's granddaughter.
It's hard to fathom how a process that's so Lewis-and-Clark works with cars in the desert. Women in their crash helmets plot courses on maps that flutter in the wind. They climb to the top of dunes and rocks and hold compasses at eye level as they scan horizons that, to me, look exactly the same. Sometimes the blowing sand is so thick I can't even see our car, never mind the Atlas Mountains, which are supposedly somewhere around here. Other times I'm sure I'm seeing actual mirages: That ocean behind the dunes can't be real, can it? Not when, I later learn, we're practically in Algeria, eight hours from the Atlantic.
The navigators on each team do this climbing-and-sighting ritual at least a dozen times a day, finding new landmarks and adjusting the route a few degrees here and there. It's slow going. They have to move away from the metal of the car so the compass readings aren't skewed, and they have to be high enough that they can pick out some sort of distinguishing feature in the vast landscape that resembles a sea of sand.
At one of the last checkpoints I meet Louise Bergeron. She is a cheerful rally official from Montreal who has competed in the event five times and now trains participants. The whole thing, she says, is fun. I can barely hear her over the roar of the wind as she explains to me the penalties—enforced in added kilometers—for calling a mechanic or skipping a checkpoint. The biggest mistake the women make is navigating on instinct. "Even if you think you see a landmark or the checkpoint flag itself, you could still be off by 20 kilometers," she says. "Take out your compass and check again. You can drive like a champion, but if you don't know where you are, it doesn't matter." It sounds deeper than a racing philosophy; I jokingly ask Louise if I can call her occasionally for life advice.
She laughs and heads off to inspect the leading cars, making sure they're following safety regulations and don't have any contraband equipment. She also checks on the racers' well-being. This is the sixth day of a competition that requires them to rise from their tents at 4 a.m. and drive 13 bone-rattling hours. It's also usually the point at which any latent incompatibility between teammates becomes disabling: Teams that have raised tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorship money chuck it all just because they can't stand the thought of one more meal together of sandy tuna from a can. I totally get it. I'm pretty sure one particularly long car ride led to my divorce.
Later I meet Karima Benouaret Benzid, a 39-year-old French-Algerian flight attendant who lives in Versailles and is competing for the fourth time. Her last partner didn't like sand and preferred roads to dunes, which makes navigating the desert a bit tricky. Her new one, Parisian who manages business training programs named Adeline Drouin, is a much better fit. I first notice Benzid because on the side of her 4 × 4 is a huge picture of a veiled Muslim woman reading a book, which was commissioned by Drouin to promote literacy in Morocco, where some areas are very traditional and most women are veiled. "We want people to know that women have the right to read and write," Benzid says. "With knowledge you can work, you can have independence." After the competition, Drouin leaves that picture on the side of the truck which she uses as a street vehicle in one of Paris' mostly Maghreb suburbs.
As the trucks make their way through the desolate course, kids turn up, seemingly from nowhere, and run alongside yelling, "Hey, Madame Aïcha!" (Aïcha is the name of the Moroccan food company that sponsors the race.) Competitors carry T-shirts to give to them, and many in the press donate their food ration boxes. Many of the locals here are nomadic Berbers, a tribe who still use a language of symbols that is thousands of years old. Their hospitality is legendary: nomads living in lean-tos who will offer you tea in their only cup.
The first year Benzid came to Morocco, she was lost all the time and finished 107th. She's pretty comfortable out here now, and she's come to appreciate this nontraditional form of rally racing. "The guys who do some of the organizing tell us they couldn't do this race," she says. "They just would not spend hours looking for a [checkpoint] flag in the desert. They'd just get annoyed and quit."
Indeed, despite the obvious difficulty of navigation and the harsh aspects of camping in the desert, the question of whether this is a real sport or just some sort of extreme adventure travel sometimes comes up. Maybe it's the extravagance of the food in the camp dining tent. (How many wilderness competitions have freshly shaved parmesan for your pasta or three kinds of wine at dinner?) There's even a "beauty contest" for the cars, which are elaborately decorated not just with sponsor mentions, but with messages from family and art representing the team's origins or mission. And because more than half of the women are first-timers, there's a bit more hand-holding here than there is in other extreme sports competitions. Serra is unapologetic about what she calls the more feminine aspects of the event. "We're women among women," she says. "We're looking to have our own expression of this sport for women because we really are different."
The team of 40 or so mechanics who function as a communal pit crew—all of whom are men—joke affectionately about the women who get so lost that they have to be guided back onto the course over the radio. But make no mistake: Anytime cars are going fast in close proximity there is danger. There are crashes, punctured fuel tanks, broken wheels and crushed chassis.
Often, one vehicle cresting a dune will smash into another that's been stuck on the other side. That's how Chaplin's car got banged-up. The other team taped up its door and kept going. Chaplin, who models in New York City and manages her grandfather’s estate grew up in Switzerland where the dunes are made of snow, but her partner, Cindy Fabre, a former Miss France knows the sand well, having done the rally three times. They threw their broken grill into the backseat and got back on track.
While wrecks can lead to road (or sand) rage on occasion, the vibe during the rally is one of cooperation. (After her crash, Chaplin says, "Everyone hugged and we all kept saying we were sorry.") There are a lot of fiftysomething mothers who take care of the younger girls. Many are there for the same reasons that Benzid competes: to prove something to themselves—and to those they leave at home for two or three weeks. "My mother was like, You shouldn't do this, you have three kids and a husband, it's dangerous," Benzid says. "I said, 'Sure I have a family, but they can do things without me. They have to cope. And I have to live my life with my own dreams too.' "
The sentiment wasn't lost on her nine-year-old son. When Benzid picked him up from the airport not long after the end of the rally, he said, "Mama, you were gone for a long time, but it was worth it. I'm proud of you." And heshould be. Benzid's team came in fifth.
Stephanie Perusse, a mother of two teenagers who renovates and flips houses in Montreal, says she's wanted to compete in Morocco for 20 years, but her father dissuaded her. "He said it's a rally for little women who don't know what to do with their time," she says. Her father is Jean-Paul Pérusse, a professional rally driver and two-time Canadian champion. "I used to call it just a social event," Jean-Paul says. "You have actresses who do it so they can talk about it at cocktail parties. I told Stephanie, 'I'll help you prepare the car, but this is a Sunday ride in the desert.' " But once he started researching the course, once he saw the dunes, the sandstorms and the rocky hills, he changed his mind. "It's not a race against time, but it's no Sunday drive either," he says. "It's tough to do well."
With rare exceptions, auto racing is a sport dominated by men. Stephanie says she would have loved to race when she was younger but the landscape was just too forbidding. "I looked and there were some women in Formula One, but they were placing last," she says. Even at the grassroots level—the kart racing that draws in young racers—girls are rarely seen on the track. "When you see that the basic school for racing is not appealing to girls," says Jean-Paul, "it's understandable that you don't see many ladies in Indy or Formula One."
Stephanie's father worked on her Toyota FJ Cruiser for months after she committed to the rally, reinforcing everything that could be reinforced. They shipped her vehicle over to Portugal in February and after a ferry ride arrived in Tangier to make the start. Once the race was underway, he followed her online. The cars have satellite positioning devices that allow officials and family members and sponsors back home to track them—and to send a rescue party if needed.
As the competition wound down, Jean-Paul began getting the same adrenaline hit watching the blip on the screen that he felt when he was winning his own races. "It's a feeling you don't know if you haven't really won something," he says. By 4 p.m. on the last day it was clear Stephanie was going to crack the top three—a podium finish. Jean Paul bought a ticket to Morocco then and there and was at the airport by seven that night. It was just too good to miss.
When he got to the coastal town of Essaouira, where the ceremonial finish took place on April 1, Jean-Paul was disappointed to find that the Gazelles don't do a podium presentation. "One of the organizers said it would take too long," he says, incredulous. But as Serra puts it, this is an event for "women among women." So no podium—but there was a formal gala in a room decorated, according to the organizers, like a "magical garden with birds singing and extravagant floral arrangements.”
And there was a parade on the beach. Jean-Paul drove his daughter's truck while she and her teammate, Marie-Sophie Gauthier, sat on the roof. He was a little irked that the vehicles weren't in order by ranking. "So I started passing trucks left and right so we ended up being second," he says. "Stephanie was quite mad." After all, this rally was never about speed, or getting somewhere first. There was so much more going on for these 316 women—hairdressers, opticians, models, mothers—who stepped out of their lives and into the desert to test themselves. For some, just dedicating the time and money to the event was liberating. That was visible in their faces as they drove on the packed sand of the beach, waving bras and flowers. All the sandstorms and the impossible dunes were behind them. But not out of mind.
"In a few days I'll be another person," Benzid said. Her job with Air France requires a smooth, tight hairstyle, a pressed uniform and full makeup. But for two weeks in the desert it didn't matter if her locks were frazzled and her clothes were baggy. Not when there was another checkpoint ahead.
Monday, 24 April 2017 Laura Gavin
Rabat has long played second fiddle to Marrakech, but this city by the sea has a charming authenticity and enough up its sleeve to please both city weekenders and those looking to travel beyond Morocco's mainstream tourist attractions. Read on for a closer look at Rabat, including the best things to do, plus information on how to get there.
Best things to do in Rabat
1. Visit the Hassan Tower
Though all that remains of Sultan Yacoub al Mansour's ambitious twelfth century mosque is the minaret (the sultan died before it could be completed), it's an iconic 50-metre tower that is hard to miss as you explore the city, guarded by the pillars that would have held up the roof of the mosque. The incredible, intricate designs are not repeated, so it's worth a full 360° look around all four sides before you pose for that essential photo.
2. Haggle in Rabat Medina
Essentially what was the old town of Rabat, today the medina provides a snapshot of bustling Arabic bazaars, traditional cafes and the alleyways and shopfronts of daily life here in the capital. Located just south of the Bou Regreg river, this is the place to buy leather goods, lamps, Moroccan crafts and curiosities and Berber carpets. And since it's not nearly as tourist-focused as Fez or Marrakech, you might find it a more leisurely - and even potentially cheaper - experience.
3. Indulge in some fine dining
Rabat's food has been noticeably influenced by its history, with traditional tea rooms sat alongside 5-star French restaurants, Andalusian-inspired cuisine and all kinds of delicious European-Middle Eastern fusions. If you're looking to sample the best Moroccan fare, stand out restaurants to try include Dinarjat in the medina, where you can pick your own dish using fresh local ingredients from the nearby markets and Le Ziryab on Rue des Consuls, home to a beautiful Moroccan courtyard. For a novel experience, Le Dhow is a seventeenth century wooden boat located near the Kasbah docks which also does excellent French food (the 'discovery' menu starts from 160dh for two courses*) plus live music most nights.
4. Walk through Bab Oudaïa into the Kasbah
A dramatic entrance into the old citadel, Bab Oudaïa is one of the finest examples of a Moroccan gateway you'll see, though if it's closed you may have to enter from the somewhat smaller entrance beside it. Once inside the Kasbah des Oudaïas, it's a quiet idyll of residential streets built onto the clifftops, warren-like in their size and number and picked out in bright shades and patterned tiles. It's free to visit the peaceful Andalusian Gardens at the southern corner of the citadel, and gaze out over lofty views of the mouth of the river and the bright turquoise sea beyond.
5. Enjoy a day on the beach
Make the most of the those long hours of sunshine and head to one of the city's nearby beaches. Skhirat Beach is a popular choice, a half hour's drive south of Rabat and home to the luxurious L'Amphitrite Palace Resort & Spa if you want to make a weekend of it. Alternatively, walk down to Rabat's small but attractive shore, following the path to the left of the Kasbah. Watch out for rough waves if you're swimming or surfing (sea temperature averages of 23°C make August the best month for this), or simply stroll up to the town of Salé on the opposite banks of the river and catch the magnificent sunset.
6. Go back in time at Chellah
Explore the extent of Rabat's long history at Chellah, a Medieval Merenid fortress built onto an ancient Roman site, the ruins of which are still visible today. There's also the remains of a mosque, a minaret and the royal tombs of Abu al-Hasan and his wife within the still-sturdy red walls. Chellah's abandoned feel, complete with overgrown fig trees and nesting storks in the spring, only adds to the atmosphere. Located in Rabat's metro area, you can reach it on foot from the medina.
7. Take a day trip to Fez
Heralded as the most beautifully preserved city in the Arab world, Fez looks like a work of art, from the striking blue tiles of the Bab Boujloud to the textiles on the giant weaver's looms in the old medina. Peep through the doors of the city's highly decorated and most famous holy sites, Kairouine Mosque and Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, shrine to the founder of Fez (non-Muslims are not allowed to enter) or try a slice of camel hump, a local delicacy, at the food souks - Fez is considered one of the best street food destinations in Morocco. Only a two-hour drive along the coast from Rabat (a little longer by train), the city is definitely worth a day out of your itinerary.
How to get to Rabat
Flights to Rabat from the UK go direct from London Stansted with Ryanair or with Royal Air Morocco from London Gatwick, with a journey time of around 3 hours 15 minutes. You can also get there with a stop at Paris Charles de Gaulle if you fly from Birmingham, Manchester or Heathrow. Rabat-Salé International Airport is a five mile drive from the city outskirts, located in the town of Salé, north of the river Bou Regreg. You can get a direct train every hour from the airport to Rabat Ville, which is a good option since the main city railway station is found near the Ville Nouvelle and many of the main Rabat hotels.
Once you've arrived, it's easy to get from Rabat to other tourist attractions in Morocco. There's a network of national trains going on to destinations like Casablanca (just over one hour), Fez (2 hours 30 minutes) and Tangier (3 hours 35 minutes), while buses leave from Place Zerktouni, just out of the city, with connections to most cities in Morocco. Local taxis are divided into two types - 'Petite' taxis are only for short journeys around the city; if you want to hire a taxi to go outside Rabat, you'll need a 'Grande' taxi.
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