By Morocco World News - March 3, 2017 By Amira El Masaiti Rabat
Closing the gender gap in the Moroccan labor force participation rate will strengthen the Kingdom’s economic growth, according to a study conducted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Morocco is currently losing a significant share of income because of gender gaps in the market. The IMF study states that gender segregation currently costs the Kingdom 46% of income per capita compared to countries where women are more present in the labor force market and entrepreneurship participation. “If women were as numerous to work as men today Morocco, per capita income could be close to 50% higher than it is currently,” says the IMF.
A previous study by the UN indicated that Morocco is ranked 117t out of 155 countries in the MENAP region in terms of gender inequality. It further asserted that countries with high rates of gender inequality grow substantially slower than countries that do. The study, which aims to assert the impact of gender inequality on the growth of economy in Morocco, found that gender gaps in the Moroccan labor market are “particularly large.” Female labor force participation has been declining in Morocco over the past decade due to the absence of participation of women over 25 of age, according to the IMF. Gender gaps are more prominent in Moroccan urban areas than in rural areas, indicating that rural women participate in the labor market in greater numbers but are first to be affected by downturns in economy. The rate of unemployment in Morocco is “slightly higher” for women than for men. However, educated women have a much higher unemployment rate compared to men with the same level of higher education.
Benefits of Closing Gender Gaps:
The study points out that Morocco is in the midst of a demographic transition, adding that the population growth is slow in the country. The UN predicts a rise in the dependency ratio by 2040. In order to avoid the negative effects of the dependency ratio growth, the IMF suggests that the incorporation of women in the job market may lead to overall income gain of 27% in 2040, if gender gaps are closed in 50 years.
The study also highlighted four associations between gender gaps and weak economic growth:
Policies that encourage gender equality in Morocco, according to the study:
The IMF acknowledges the measures taken by Morocco in terms of providing gender equality, but suggests the following procedures:
Anta Ndoye and Vincent Dadam, Middle East & Central Asia Department Lisa Kolovich, Strategy, Policy & Review Department March 1, 2017
Policies that better integrate women into the economy could help increase overall income and significantly improve Morocco’s growth prospects, IMF study finds.
Jamila is a 12-year-old girl living in rural Morocco. She is still in school when most girls her age are not—about 78 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 14 are no longer in formal schooling in the country’s rural areas. Her dream is to become a doctor, and if she stays on track with her education she should be able to accomplish this goal.
But significant challenges stand in Jamila’s way—a slowing economy over the past five years, limited job opportunities (22 percent youth unemployment), and fewer women in the workplace as compared to men (25 percent participation rate compared to over 66 percent).
The government has started to implement policies that better integrate women into the economy, but more still needs to be done to help young girls like Jamila achieve their dreams.
Women and the economy
As part of the assessment of Morocco’s economy, we looked at the relationship between gender inequality and growth and found that policies that better integrate women into the economy could significantly improve the country’s growth. For instance, if there were as many women working as men currently are in Morocco, income per capita could be almost 50 percent higher than it is now.
Furthermore, Morocco’s population growth is slowing, and the United Nations projects that the dependency ratio—the age population ratio of those out and in the labor force—will rise by 2040. This means that there is a potential for more people to be out of work over the next few decades. Continuing to implement policies that eliminate gender gaps—such as increasing access to education and improving public transportation (making it safer and easier to get to work) for women, vocational training and literacy programs for rural areas—could offset these negative effects.
Improving women’s rights
The government has already initiated the following steps:
More reforms needed
Even with these improvements, our research points out that stronger and better targeted measures are needed to increase female labor force participation and employment, and to address gender gaps in education in Morocco.
For instance, our study found that:
If all these actions are implemented, there is no doubt that the barriers to Jamila’s economic participation would be greatly reduced, and she would have more opportunities to contribute to a more prosperous and inclusive Moroccan society.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Exotic, crazy, colourful Marrakesh, so many intriguing cultural experiences but for the cook it’s a brave new world of tagines, cous cous, pastilla, meschoi, briouts, tangia. At first, the experience is virtually overwhelming. The souks and medina cover an area of about 19km and are not for the faint-hearted. Acres of stalls selling everything you can imagine and much that you can’t. I armed myself with a map and the phone number of the manager of the riad where I was staying so they could come and rescue me if and when I got hopelessly lost.
Before you venture into the Medina, sit down with a glass of frothy mint tea and a plate of Moroccan pastries and plan your adventure. I only had five days but I was determined to make the most of every moment. I’d chosen to stay at a beautiful chic riad owned by Jasper Conran, with just five elegant bedrooms surrounding an inner courtyard garden with orange and banana trees, a date palm and a trickling fountain in the centre – there was even a 10 metre lap pool for those who might like a refreshing dip even in winter. The food was delicious — breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bouchra is the cook (dada) here. The elegant dining room has tall metal windows, huge mirrors and portraits of Indian maharajah.
Billie Halliday crooned and the candles flickered as I enjoyed my first dinner at a low round table by the fireside – three little Moroccan salads, zaalouk (aubergine), taktouta (red and yellow pepper), cooked carrot and cumin and then a superb lamb tagine with artichoke hearts, fennel and cooked to melting tenderness so all the flavours melded together. The dessert was layers of flaky warka with pastry cream and a chocolate caramel sauce. We’d hit the jackpot.
Breakfast was another little feast, four Moroccan breads and lacy beghrir, the tender Moroccan pancakes. I was determined to learn how to make at least these light lacy pancakes. I cheekily knocked on the kitchen door; Bouchra welcomed me into her kitchen and over the next few days showed me how to make a whole range of breads. There were many, ingenious variations on the well-known Moroccan flat bread — m’semen. Some were cooked on the griddle others, shallow fried then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with coconut. Some were savoury to eat with eggs or b-sara (buttara), the lentil and bean soup often eaten for breakfast. Others were flaky and slathered with honey butter.
Then there are all the tagines which take their name from the earthenware pot with the conical lid in which they are served and if you are lucky also cooked.
These can be vegetarian or made from seafood, chicken, beef, lamb or rabbit with fresh vegetables and fresh or dried fruit, olives and maybe nuts.
Moroccan Mint Tea
Heat a teapot with boiling water. Add the tea and mint to the pot.
Fill with boiling water. Allow to infuse and stand for 5 minutes.
Pour the tea from a height into Moroccan glasses edged with gold.
Add sugar to taste (remember, in Morocco tea is supposed to be very sweet).
Brother Hubbard’s Semolina Pancakes (Beghrir)
Makes about 8 pancakes
Put the milk and water into a pot set over a medium heat. Heat this for a few minutes, stirring.
You want to get it to the point that it should be just a little warmer than your body temperature.
Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl.
Crack the eggs into the bowl, then add the yeast and salt. Whisk well. Still using the whisk, whisk in the semolina — a good energetic go will do it.
The mix will get a little thicker. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside to rest in a warm place.
After a while, you will see the batter bubble up as the yeast works its magic.
The batter should be ready after 20–30 minutes, once it’s good and frothy with lots of bubbles.
Place a non-stick medium frying pan (ideally 15cm to 18cm diameter) on a medium-high heat and let it get fully heated.
When it’s hot, add a tiny splash of oil and swirl it around the pan, then turn the heat down to medium.
Gently stir the pancake batter with a medium ladle, then add one ladleful to the pan or enough of the batter to cover the pan with 3mm to 4mm depth of batter, swirling gently so the surface is fully covered.
Cook for 1–2 minutes.
You will see bubbles form in the batter and then it will set as the wet texture on the surface gradually disappears towards the centre of the pancake.
When it’s set, lift it up and flip it over to sear for a few moments. This side should almost be undercooked.
Give the pan a shake so the pancake moves from side to side.
Take off the heat and remove the pancake onto a plate.
Keep covered with a cloth while you cook the remaining pancakes, stacking the cooked ones together under the cloth so they stay warm.
Gluten-free Spiced Vegetable Pie
Cut the vegetables into uniform-sized cubes about 5mm.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a wide sauté pan, add the onions, potatoes, carrots, celeriac and parsnips.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss in the oil, cover the pot and sweat on a gentle heat for 4 or 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds on a pan until they smell aromatic. Just a few seconds.
Crush lightly, add to the vegetables. Cook for 1- 2 minutes. Take off the heat. Sprinkle over the potato flour, turmeric and a pinch of sugar, stir well.
Put back on the heat and add the vegetable stock gradually stirring all the time.
Cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are almost tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, make the pastry.
Sieve together the rice flour, fine cornmeal, potato flour, xanthan gum and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
Dice the butter, put it into the saucepan with the water and bring to the boil.
Pour the liquid all at once into the flour and mix together quickly; beat until smooth for about 5 minutes (with the gluten-free flours).
At first the pastry will be soft to handle but as it cools it may be rolled out 5mm thick, to fit the tin.
The pastry may be made into individual pies or one large pie. Keep back one third of the pastry for lids.
Fill the pastry-lined tins with the vegetable mixture which should be almost, but not quite cooked and cooled a little.
Brush the edges of the pastry with the water and egg wash and put on the pastry lids, pinching them tightly together.
Roll out the trimmings to make the pastry leaves or twirls to decorate the top of the pies; make a hole in the centre, egg-wash the lid and then egg-wash the decoration also.
Bake the pies for about 30 minutes at 230C/Gas mark 8.
Serve with a green salad.
Claudia Roden’s Preserved Lemons
There are several methods. These come from Tamarind and Saffron published by Penguin Books in 1999.
Claudia Roden’s Lemons preserved in salt and lemon juice
In this method, considered most prestigious, no water is used. 65g of salt is required for 500g of lemons.
This works out at about 75g or 4 tablespoons of salt for 4 lemons.
Wash and scrub the lemons.
The classic Moroccan way is to cut each lemon in quarters but not right through, so that the pieces are still attached at the stem end, and to stuff each with plenty of salt.
Put them into a glass jar, pressing them down so that they are squashed together, and close the jar.
Leave for 3-4 days, by which time the lemons will have released some of their juices and the skins will have softened a little.
Press them down as much as you can and add fresh lemon juice to cover them entirely.
Close the jar and leave in a cool place for at least a month, by which time the lemons should be ready.
The longer they are left the better the flavour. (If a piece of lemon is not covered it develops a white mould which is harmless and just needs to be washed off.)
Before using, rinse to get rid of salt.
Lemons boiled in brine and preserved in oil.
This is a brilliant standby recipe which yields tender preserved lemon almost immediately
With a sharp knife make 8 fine-superficial, not deep-incisions into the lemon skin from one end of the lemon to the other.
Put the lemons in a large pan with salted water (the same proportion of salt as above-for instance 8 tablespoons for 8 lemons) to cover.
Put a smaller lid on top of them to keep them down as they float, and boil for about 25 minutes or until the peels are very soft.
When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh, pack the skins into a glass jar and cover with sunflower or light vegetable oil.
Tagine of Chicken with Green Olives
First prepare the marinade. Mix the garlic, saffron, ginger, cumin, paprika, salt, freshly ground pepper and the olive oil in a bowl.
Spread over the chicken, transfer the meat to a shallow dish, cover with cling-film and leave overnight to marinate in the fridge.
Next day, transfer the chicken and the marinade to a casserole. Add the onions, parsley, coriander and cinnamon stick and half cover with water.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces frequently in the liquid.
Add more water if it starts to reduce. Cook for a further 15 minutes, partly covered, until the chicken is tender and almost falls from the bone.
Add the preserved lemons and the olives and continue cooking for a further 5-6 minutes so the flavours combine.
Transfer the chicken pieces, lemon and olives to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.
Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Boil the sauce uncovered until it is about 250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup).
Add the lemon juice and season to taste with more salt and freshly ground pepper.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with lots of fresh coriander and couscous.
For Moroccan ingredients and lots of other good things seek out Mr Bell’s stall in the English Market. Telephone: 021 431 8655
AP | Published — Friday 3 March 2017
It is a school of last chances, both for its students and for the fading art that they are learning, stitch by stitch. Each of the 13 young Moroccans now studying under fashion designer Fadila El Gadi had dropped out of school, whether through boredom or academic troubles. But now they willingly spend nine hours a day in this free program, learning the traditional art of Moroccan embroidery — as well as the traditional academic subjects they once left behind. Six girls and seven boys, ranging in age from 13 to 18, start the day at 7 a.m., taking turns making breakfast for the group. The day ends at 4 p.m. The training is expected to last two years, at the end of which the hope is full-time work.
Bent over an embroidery frame, 18-year-old Nadia is among El Gadi’s most gifted students and is already making a little money outside class. “I’m comfortable in this field. I would love to be able to do it professionally like Fadila,” she said. El Gadi launched the school in her hometown of Sale, a city neighboring the capital, Rabat, because “I haven’t forgotten where I came from.” Embroidery made El Gadi’s career and she hopes the same will happen with the children at her school. Sandra Charteau, a professional embroiderer, comes twice a week to teach — although Charteau cannot speak Moroccan Arabic, the children are learning French and eventually English as part of their lesson plan. El Gadi hopes the children will ultimately be able to establish themselves, either as artisans or in haute couture. “Demand is high for craftsmen. I myself am always looking for trained staff for my own studio,” she said. “If we managed to have funding so they could each have their own little workshops, that would be really amazing.”
Kushal Chowdhury Today,
We stand atop a tumulus, surveyors of the world beneath us.
There are lush verdant fields on all sides and the ruins of Rome at our feet. (There is also a waste bin, brimming with discarded soft drink bottles.)
Behind us in the distance is the mountain of Zerhoun – and on it, the city of Moulay Idriss, outlines of white buildings……
Read more here: https://www.thequint.com/life/2017/03/04/travel-to-morocco-to-see-the-roman-ruins-of-volubilis-a-beautiful-place-frozen-in-time
By Constance Renton - March 3, 2017 Toronto
A Canadian architecture firm, Lemay, has won an international competition to redesign corniches of Casablanca’s coastline, according to Leisure Management. The contest was launched in June of 2016 by Casa Amenagement and invited bids from all over the world. Lemay’s winning design was chosen for its successful juxtaposition of sustainable development methods with modern urban design.
The design was chosen for its echoing of the classic Islamic garden style, incorporating overlapping layers of landscaping and grey water irrigation. The Lemay design will showcase resort areas, walkways, outdoor sports facilities and observation points.
The redesign will elevate five kilometres of the dramatic Casablanca coastline to a “layered sensory experience.” When completed it will form a leisurely seaside promenade from the sea to the city and back again. It’s a design guaranteed to make it a new Moroccan landmark. The first phase is slated to begin construction any day. The entire project will be completed by July of 2018. Phase one will consist of a promenade along the King Hassan II Mosque and the Ain Diab corniche. The promenade will feature unspecified attractions, water features and light elements. The project’s cost is projected to be USD $19.4 million. Lemay will be collaborating on the project with Moroccan company Geodata, specialists in topography and engineering.
By Constance Renton - March 3, 2017 Rabat
Famous American actor, Will Smith, paid a visit to the artists’ residence, Al Maqam, on Thursday. Located in the village of Tahanaout, approximately 30 kilometres outside of Marrakech, Smith was joined by a staff of six for his tour. Initially intended to be a two-hour long visit, Smith and his entourage were so captivated the visit stretched to five hours. When offered brushes and a canvas, Smith didn’t hesitate to try his creative hand. Under the watchful eye of a group of Moroccan artists and painters, Smith was only to eager to show off his talent, already honed for his role as a painter in the film, “The Redemption of Cain.”
It was clear the actor enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of Al Maqam, whose reputation as a tourist attraction is growing. Famed artists Mahi Binebine arrived at the residence five years ago to paint large studio panels. Other artists arrived and took up residence in the complex which is comprised of a residential area, paint shops, a gallery and a conference room. It was clear from the smile on Smith’s face that he enjoyed his afternoon in this artistic haven. No doubt his visit will add to Al Maqam’s attraction for an ever-widening array of tourists.
By Morocco World News - March 3, 2017 By Amira El Masaiti
The high-end American ready-to-wear brand “Kate Spade New York” derived inspiration from Morocco for its new spring 2017 collection “For spring 2017, Kate Spade New York heads to Morocco, drawing inspiration from dusky desert landscapes, the pattern play of candle lit lanterns, rose petals, the sensory overload of the souks and the oasis of calm in the majorelle gardens. Throughout the collection, textured fabrics and detailing; eyelets, pom poms, applique roses and ruffles sit against softly flowing and feminine silhouettes. more is more,” explained Kate Spade New York on its website.
The collection’s video ad shows the model Fernanda Ly walking a camel loaded with the brand’s bags through the busy streets of New York. Later, the model attaches the camel’s leash to a fire hydrant, as if a pet, before buying a bagel and coffee. The colors used in this collection are reminiscent of “colorful spices and paint pigments in markets,” says Deborah Lloyd, creative director of Kate Spade, on the site. The prices of these clothes and accessories range from $88 for a key ring to $358 for a pair of high heels, $598 for a leather bag, to $168 for a hat inspired by Berber headwear. “No matter where we go, we are always surprised by what we have in common. In a way, Marrakech and Midtown Manhattan are not that different after all,” said the brand.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Tunisia to discuss refugees and terrorism, Morocco is showing its regional neighbors how it's dealing with the latter. Willemijn de Koning reports from Rabat.
In 2003 and 2011 Morocco was targeted by terrorist attacks in Casablanca and Marrakesh - a shock to the country in the Maghreb region. "Morocco was really surprised by those attacks, especially in Casablanca," says Mohammed Benhammou, an adviser to the Moroccan government on how to fight terrorism. With his help, the North African country has been pouring its resources into fighting radical Islam and terrorism to make sure such attacks are not repeated.
One of those instruments is a new law that aims to crack down on terrorism and related activities. Anyone potentially preparing terrorist activities such as traveling to countries like Libya, Syria or Iraq and carrying out attacks either in those countries or in Morocco will face jail. This is where Morocco is going a different way compared to its neighbors, keeping an eye on it nationals not only at home but also abroad.
The Moroccan FBI
To be able to do that efficiently, Morocco launched its own version of the FBI, the Bureau Central d'Investigation Judiciaire (BCJI). Since it started its work in 2015, it has reportedly uncovered 40 terrorist cells and arrested almost 600 people. The numbers are impressive but, says Benhammou, they come as no surprise. "They work really well together with other countries. That's important, because terrorism outside Morocco can also be dangerous for us. For example, a little while ago terrorist suspects from Chad and Tangier were arrested because they were preparing attacks there. And we share all our information with European countries, because we all have the same enemy - terrorism," he told DW.
Indeed, Morocco was one of the countries to warn Germany about the Tunisian man who was behind the attack last year at a Christmas market in Berlin. But now more than ever the BCJI has to focus on it's own country. Ever since the "Islamic State" (IS) group began expanding in North Africa, Morocco has been facing an increasing threat. According to Adelhak Khiame, director of the BCJI, IS is specifically targeting Morocco by sending people who are not known to the intelligence services to form sleeper cells. "They even try to brainwash young girls on the internet to recruit them for an attack here," Khiame told DW. The BCJI says it recently uncovered a cell made up of mainly minor-aged girls.
School for imams
Preaching moderate Islam is part of Morocco's strategy to prevent young people feeling the lure of extremism The bureau is just one part of Morocco's strategy. In an attempt to nip the problem in the bud, the country is going back to school. In an effort to stop muslims from becoming extremists, the country has been educating its own imams for the past 10 years. In 2015 they took that one step further and opened an imam school where imams from all over the world can study and teach moderate Islam.
The school in Rabat currently hosts 250 Moroccans (100 of them are women) and 675 students from Mali, the Ivory Coast, France, Niger and French Guinea. Students are taught to accept different opinions and values. "People have different religions and cultures. Therefore, we need dialogue and acceptence from all sides," the director of the school, Abdessalam Lazaar, told DW.
Students need to be given a perspective in life if they're not to become susceptible to the "Islamic State" group
But becoming an imam is not a cure-all. A lot of young people who are poor see life as a jihadist as an attractive alternative. The institute therefore tries to counter those developments by offering courses in economics, history, philosophy and French. And those that do go on to preach in a mosque in Morocco are under strict vigilance, says Lazaar. "If someone exceeds the limits of the state's religious understanding, then he must be excluded."
Marocco remains vigilant
Vigilance is key in Morocco and people on the streets are aware that it is necessary. "Not only to stop terrorism, but also to protect the monarchy," a young man from Rabat, who wished to stay anonymous, told DW. "A friend who worked for the police, once told me that I must not talk so much about problems in the country and just do my thing."
A young woman from Casablanca shrugs her shoulders. "Everybody in Morocco is aware that you are being watched. If they have to do that to stop terrorists, we're okay with that, we have nothing to hide." The young man from Rabat agrees, but confesses that sometimes he's a bit afraid. "I have a friend who has some weird ideas and put them on Facebook. A lot of his friends unfriended him because they - like me - don't want to be watched because of him. I have nothing to hide - but you don't know what they think. And here you don't have the same rights as in other countries."
Government advisor Benhammou says Morocco's methods are working. Aside from the arrests, fewer people from Morocco sign up with IS than from other North African or Middle East countries. According to The Soufan Group, an international strategic consultancy firm, around 1,200 Moroccans traveled to Syria as of October 2015, while 6,000 came from Tunisia. "And bear in mind that Tunisia is four times smaller then Morocco," said Benhammou.
March 2, 2017 by Samantha Rees
Amanda Shine, of the chic New York–based ceramics line and branding agency, The Setting, recently headed to Marrakech with business partner and pal Billur Kazaz. It was a celebratory trip to commemorate their first year in business together and to gather inspiration for the launch of their next project: a hotel debuting this summer. Morocco ranked as their number one destination to gather homeware and hospitality insight, but the trip soon turned into an educational journey in culture, cuisine, and color—plus launched a serious love affair with Moroccan coffee. “One of the reasons I was most excited to travel to Marrakech was to touch and see Moroccan ceramics,“ explains Shine, adding that “Marrakech has a modern and inclusive energy full of people from all aspects of life and that was an especially enlightening and unique element of the trip.”
Between the swoon-worthy mosaic-clad interiors, lush gardens, and delectable sweets, Shine’s design-focused guide to Morocco is bound to inspire your own trip. Below, Shine shares a photo diary from her trip as well as some of her top picks on where to stay, dine, and explore in the Moroccan city.
Where to Stay:
Be prepared for a greeting of fresh almond milk and the finest dates when you enter this amazing set of riads (a riad is a traditional Moroccan-style house with interior courtyard) close to the city center with exceptional service, decor, food, and amenities. The hotel is in bloom with fountains of rose petals, a viewing rooftop, full-service hammam, a serene restaurant by the pool, and roomy, authentically decadent rooms. Immediately outside of the hotel is a mini version of the souk where you can explore without having to make the full commitment of traveling into the main city center.
A beautiful country house–styled property outside the city center was the perfect ending to our Marrakech trip. Some rooms have a small balcony for enjoying the gardens or a sitting of Moroccan mint tea; our room had fireplaces that the staff would light to ensure we had a warm and cozy night. Every detail of this amazing boutique hotel is one of a kind including freshly made breakfast, lunch, and dinner at your desired hour with your specific dietary needs. Lounge, indulge, and take in what the countryside of Morocco has to offer.
Where to Eat:
This is the romantic dinner destination in Marrakech. Upon being dropped off to a specific cross street by a taxi or carriage, a guide will meet and lead you down a winding path with a lantern in hand. Once you get to the secret door, you will be greeted by the owner of the establishment that welcomes you into an intimate environment lit by candlelight, covered with roses, and filled with the sound of tantric yet mellow live music. Enjoy a traditional Moroccan tasting menu and never forget this special experience.
For a more contemporary dining experience with traditional dishes and French-inspired desserts, Le Foundouk is a Marrakech must. Try a fish or chicken tagine and don’t shy away from indulging in almond-milk ice cream at the end of the meal. Breakfast at La Sultana Marrakech. “French culture is fused with Moroccan cuisine by way of freshly baked pastries. We took full advantage of this.”Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Shine
What to See:
Jardin Majorelle This roughly 2.5-acre botanical garden offers inspiration for every nature- and decor-lover and is perfect for a half-day adventure. Wander the endless cacti, tropical plants, and cobalt blue exteriors that were once owned by Yves Saint Laurent and where his ashes are spread.
Get lost in this endless web of shops offering handcrafted silver, spices, leather goods, rugs, garments, and food. Take a guided tour to see the full span of the souk on your first day to help you get an understanding of specific districts that house woodworking, leather, or other specialties. You can always venture out yourself; chances are you will be back for multiple shopping trips during your stay. (Pro tip: Always have cash (dollars are a good backup for large purchases like rugs) and an extra duffel to stash your goodies.)
Located in the Medina quarter, this lively square has been a main destination for locals and tourists since the early foundations of Marrakech. Games, snake charmers, cactus fruit, street food, and henna, along with an array of locals and tourists make up the famous square and is surely not to miss. But a word to the wise: If you’re taking photos of any act you will be expected to tip!
What to Buy:
Made from local argan nuts that are ground on site inside the small natural remedy shops, it’s a staple in Moroccan cuisine and beauty, and truly a must for argan oil devotees.
Orange Blossom Oil
If you’re wondering what the amazing aroma is in your hotel and around Morocco, it’s orange blossom oil. You can use it on your hands and skin as an essence, in baking recipes, or put some drops in your diffuser and make your whole house smell wonderful. We both purchased this and brought it home; definitely a favorite!
Small candlesticks, letterboxes, trays or teapots are all authentic to Morocco and make for incredibly valuable and special gifts for others or for your own home.
The most special pieces with incredible amounts of inlay and labor. Get yourself a small jewelry box or chess set.
By ALEXANDER LOBRANO MARCH 2, 2017
In this delightful patchwork metropolis, a gust of creative modernity, with new hotels, shops and cafes complementing the city’s ancient allure. Buoyed by a growing appreciation of its authenticity, Fez is rising. The proud Fassi have preserved their city’s traditional Moroccan atmosphere and appearance, refusing to peddle their town with heavy-handed promises of exoticism. That same pride and conservatism also explains why many residents don’t like hearing their city described as fashionable. Instead, the imperturbable self-esteem of this patchwork metropolis can be traced to the Al Qaraouyine (spelled various ways), which was founded here in 859 and is the oldest continuously operating degree-awarding university in the world. The grist for this ancient city’s new groove comes from a worldly, well-traveled band of entrepreneurial locals and its small but daring expat community. Together, they have given the town a gust of creative innovation, with new hotels, shops, cafes, cooking schools and tours that are as deeply nourished by local traditions as they are guided by a modernity that is intriguingly off-center in the eyes of many Fassi.
Explore street view, find things to do in Fez and sign in to your Google account to save your map.
1) 3 P.M. Spa Session
Most of the souks and cafes in the Fez medina are closed on Friday. So use this downtime to shed some travel fatigue at the beautiful spa of the Palais Faraj hotel. Start with a hammam (steam room) scrub down with argan-oil, eucalyptus-scented soap (400 dirhams, or $40), and follow with a 30- or 50-minute massage with lemon verbena or orange-flower-scented oil (400 dirhams, 650 dirhams).
2) 5 p.m. Street-Food Snacks
Morocco officially became a French protectorate in 1912. Under the auspices of Maréchal Louis Hubert Lyautey, the first French resident-general, plans were drawn up to modernize the country’s major cities, and work began on the Ville Nouvelle, a new French-style neighborhood on the edge of Fez, beyond el Jdid (new Fez) and the Mellah (traditional Jewish quarter). Together with the recently opened and very popular air-conditioned Borj Fez mall — which features a huge branch of the French Carrefour supermarket chain, one of the rare places where you can buy wine or liquor here — the Ville Nouvelle is a good place to take the pulse of modern Fez and go on a Moroccan street-food crawl. Head for Cyrnoss to try some maakouda, deep-fried mashed-potato fritters served plain with hot sauce or in soft rolls with garnishes of hot sauce, egg and cheese. They’re as addictive as they are caloric. (Minimum order of four costs 4 dirhams). At Grillade Adil, find succulent skewers of charcoal-grilled meat, including kefta (ground lamb seasoned with chopped onion, tomato, cumin, paprika and coriander), served with huge piles of crispy frites. (Minimum order is five skewers for 14 dirhams; frites, 7 dirhams).
3) 7 p.m. Aperitifs
Overlooking the medina, the 50-room Sahrai became Fez’s first real boutique hotel when it opened in 2014. Using rich local materials like biscuit-colored Taza stone and custom-made décor like copper-framed lanterns, the Parisian designer Christophe Pillet coined a new decorative idiom of contemporary Moroccan chic that has made this stylish establishment a favorite of the local beau monde. Join this cosmopolitan crowd for cocktails either in the curtained open-air gallery near the bar or in the rooftop bar overlooking the city. The cucumber-tini, which is made with gin, puréed cucumber, lemon juice and jasmine syrup, tastes especially good on a warm night (130 dirhams).
4) 9 p.m. Dinner in the Medina
“Nur” means light in Arabic, and sharing the radiance of her very personal modern Moroccan cooking is the mission of the chef Najat Kaanache at her intimate new restaurant in the medina. Ms. Kaanache, who grew up in the Spanish Basque Country, discovered her love of cooking while working at a seafood restaurant in Rotterdam, then did stints at a series of modern haute-cuisine restaurants, including Alinea, the French Laundry, El Bulli and Noma. Now she is applying the avant-garde techniques she learned abroad to the cuisine of her ancestors. Her tasting menus change often, but run to dishes like a souk vegetable “menagerie” — a composition of pickled, roasted and raw vegetables — and roasted poultry with Moroccan mole, candied poultry stock and caramelized raisins. Three-course menu is 350 dirhams; five-course menu, 550 dirhams; eight-course tasting menu, 700 dirhams.
5) 9 A.M. Hidden Medina
The beehivelike medieval medina, a dense warren of riads (traditional Arabic houses built around courtyards), shops and ateliers that show off handicrafts, is the most compelling, confusing and fascinating part of the city. One of the most memorable lessons it teaches foreigners is to embrace the humility that comes from letting go of the fear of getting lost. Wander here, at least for a short while, on your own, equipped with just three Arabic words: marhaban (hello), shukran (thanks) and la (no). Then sign on to a savvy local tour: the four-hour “Hidden Fez” offered by Plan-it-Morocco, a travel company run by two women — English and Australian — who live here and know the city inside and out. The tours, usually led by Moroccans, visit the city’s exquisite private palaces, enchanting hidden gardens, spaces where weavers work hand looms, the odoriferous tannery quarter and other places you would probably never find or gain access to on your own. The tour requires a minimum of two visitors and costs 1,600 dirhams. More information is available at plan-it-morocco.com.
6) 1 p.m. Lunch in an Arabic Garden
The casual Café Fez, in a walled, lushly planted garden, is run by the renowned French antiques dealer Michel Biehn, who often strolls the pathways of this little Eden in a white djellaba with a walking stick. Reasonably priced, friendly and serving fresh, inventive Franco-Moroccan cooking, this place is especially popular with local expats. The menu runs to dishes like endive, goat cheese and beet salad and confit de canard pastilla (a flaky pastry filled with shredded preserved duck). Average three-course meal, 350 dirhams.
7) 3 p.m. Old Town Shopping
Handmade carpets, lanterns, leather goods and pottery are the most common objects of desire in the Fez medina. But the old town also has an intriguing variety of artisans and merchants. Two of the best stops include Hicham Nafis’s stall in the honey souk, which sells a superb variety of single-provenance wild honeys, including caper flower, said to ward off and cure colds and the flu, and the used-caftan souk, El Merktane, in the El Achabine quarter, which sells vintage treasures. For modern beauty, check out the superb handmade leather accessories of the Italian designer Carmelo Tedeschi (by appointment only, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
8) 8 p.m. Dinner at Dar Roumana
The candlelit tiled courtyard of the five-room riad hotel Dar Roumana (House of the Pomegranate) offers a romantic setting in which to discover the excellent cooking of Younes Idrissi. The changing prix fixe menus are inspired by the French and Moroccan kitchens. Recent dishes have included grilled octopus with Moroccan spices and a salad of roasted pumpkin, chiles and baby peas with a yogurt and tahini dressing. Three courses, 350 dirhams.
9) 10 A.M. A Breath of Fresh Air
Take a break from the crowds in the medina with a stroll in the dappled shade of the towering palms in the Jardin Jnan Sbil, one of the oldest gardens in Fez, just beyond the city walls. Originally part of the Royal Palace, it was donated to the city in the 19th century by Sultan Moulay Hassan; its fountains and pathways were renovated in 2011.
10) Noon. Art of Moroccan Cooking
Aside from learning to make some superb recipes, including maybe cinnamon-seasoned beef and orange tagine and gluten-free berry-and-almond cake, the pleasure of a “Courtyard Kitchen” cooking lesson by the British food writer and cookbook author Tara Stevens is the chance to pick the brains of a warm, savvy food-loving Fez part-time resident (among her latest recommendations is Maison Mo Anan, an unexpectedly good Thai restaurant in the medina). Ms. Stevens came to Fez seven years ago, ended up writing a cookbook with Mike Richardson, the owner of the Café Clock in Fez (with another in Marrakesh), and ultimately bought and restored a riad, Dar Namir (House of the Tiger, which is named after her cat, Tiger). After explaining the menu to her students, Ms. Stevens takes them food shopping in the medina. Students can rent rooms in her riad, and she also organizes fascinating expeditions and alfresco cooking lessons at several organic farms in the countryside surrounding Fez (cooking lesson and lunch or dinner, 350 euros, or about $370, for two; 450 euros for four to six people).
The sumptuous 15-room Palais Amani (12 Derb El Miter, Oued Zhoune, Hay Blida; palaisamani.com) was created by a charming Franco-Moroccan woman from Montpellier and her family, which explains why it offers the pleasure of magnificently renovated Fassi décor with modern comforts, including air-conditioning and internet. The warm, attentive service, orange-blossom-scented air in the courtyard garden, twittering swallows and splashing fountains are what make it memorable, though. Doubles from 207 euros including breakfast.
The warm hospitality of the French-American owners creates a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere at Riad Laaroussa (3 Derb Bechara, riad-laaroussa.com), which they created from a ramshackle 17th-century palace in the medina. The palace’s painstakingly restored mosaics, woodwork and archways are the backdrop of the magnificent interiors here. Several rooms have working fireplaces. Breakfast is served on the tranquil courtyard terrace, and a swimming pool and traditional hammam are available to hotel guests. Doubles from 1,200 dirhams, including breakfast.
March 1, 2017 by Nicole Yi
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Morocco Is the Next Magical Destination You Need to Add to Your Travel List
If you've never considered traveling to Morocco, this photographer's adventures will convince you otherwise. Raisa Zwart visited the North African country for a November wedding and captured her short trip. Before heading to Ourika, she spent a day and a half in Marrakech, which she described as "a place of contradictions: the crowded medina, the somewhat pushy guides, but also beautiful scenery, fairy-tale like alleys, and amazing food," and added, "The colors and light there are just stunning." Raisa wandered around the medina of Marrakech — a medina is a historic quarter of a town — without any guides or direction. "It's also so much fun to just see what happens and where you'll end up," she said.
The beautiful palaces in Marrakech are a must see, specifically Palais Badii and Palais Bahia. In contrast to the older part of Marrakech, the city includes modern sections that have a distinctly different feel — both of which are worth the visit. She also suggests checking out Ourika, which is very close to Marrakech and lies within the Atlas Mountain range. "I would highly recommend combining a visit to Marrakech with one to Ourika — it's so beautiful and provides a nice, more quiet getaway from the city."
To make the most of your Moroccan experience, Raisa says to stay at a riad — "These traditional B&B-like places are like quiet oases in the Medina" — and to try the delicious North African dish tajine and to visit botanical garden Jardin Majorelle.
See the amazing photos from her trip!
Mar 1, 2017, RABAT, March 1 (Reuters)
Recent rainfall in Morocco is expected to yield a favorable crop harvest this season after last year's drought, recorded as the worst in three decades, the country's Agriculture Ministry said.
With an increase in average national rainfall to 287 milimetres, up 136 percent from last year's average of 122 milimetres, the ministry statement said the impact was "positive" for vegetation, dam-filling rates, and groundwater levels.
This season's rain comes after last year's abnormally dry weather across North Africa, slashing the country's cereal harvest last season to 3.35 million tonnes, down 70 percent from the previous record 11 million tonnes.
Last year's drought was the worst in 30 years, according to the government.
Sowed grain-dedicated lands were 5.11 million hectares at the start of the campaign, exceeding earlier expectations of 5 million hectares, including 44 percent of soft wheat, 35 percent of barley, and 21 percent of durum wheat. Wheat is a key commodity in daily life in Morocco and agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is the source of employment for nearly 35 percent of the country's workforce. The government said it expects the economy to grow by 4.5 percent in 2017, based on a cereals harvest of 7 million tonnes. (Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by Patrick Markey and Louise Heavens)
Ellie Harrison 1 March 2017
My first trip to Morocco felt very unlike anywhere in Africa I’d been before. On the twisting mountain road into the High Atlas Mountains, the main apple crop looked brighter than my blemished ancient cider orchard back home; storks nested atop the telecoms masts; cars zipped by in the hot, dry air, reminders of days gone by – Fiat Unos, Mk1 Golfs, even Renault 4s.
I’d been drawn to these mountains by the possibility of fossil finds, an indulgence of mine after a stint filming Dinosaur Britain on ITV. The geology of the Atlas range is varied, deposited millions of years ago under a warm, shallow sea teeming with life that covered the region. Trilobites scuttled along the sea floor and huge schools of Orthoceras, squid-like nautiloids with cone-shaped shells, swam above. When these animals died, their shells were preserved in the mud of the sea floor. Today, their long extinct forms are there to be rediscovered as treasures in the mountains. It’s almost impossible to comprehend, as we speed by in our flash-in-the-pan existence. There are rocks here containing the fossils of animals that became extinct even before the very first dinosaurs evolved more than 300 million years ago. Great discoveries have been made here: trilobites, crinoids, Cretaceous dinosaurs, ancient sharks and crocodiles.
Kasbah Tamadot sits proud in the wonderful Toubkal Massif, the craggy mass of rocky peaks and deep valleys that contains the highest summits of the Atlas chain. Arriving here and spilling out into a courtyard full of jasmine, palms and striking plentiful antiques, feels like being invited to the lavish home of a welcoming artist friend. There are tortoises creaking around the gardens between patches of shade; peahens and their chicks bobbing around the flowers; iridescent peacock feathers that have moulted, ready to be found and prized by the small hands of my daughters, aged six and five; and friendly camels waiting patiently to be sated with carrot kebabs. It’s the sort of place that appeals because it is intimate, a one-off and fun. The rooms are characterful, full of Moroccan patterns as well as a well-stocked minibar.
The suggestions of the hosts are also wonderfully sociable: “Let’s all dine on the roof this evening”, for example, or “We’ll play a movie on a big screen by the pool tonight” or even “How about a watermelon smoothie now?”
It was time to get the children into fossil hunting. In these mountains trilobites (an extinct arthropod that superficially resembles the common woodlouse) are the most common find. One afternoon, with hopes high, we struck out on a “nature walk”. In the dry heat along stony paths, guided by the gentle-natured Mohammed, the shorter legs among us managed a 90-minute trot, discovering bigger vistas than we’d seen before, all the while scrubbing around in the rocks in hope of an elusive fossil. For more serious Paleo enthusiasts, tours to fossil digs come highly recommended. Atlas geotours (atlasgeotours.com) offers the opportunity to meet local fossil diggers, as well as buy trilobite fossils, ammonites and geodes.
There were dozens of false alarms in the unfamiliar geology, but the very act of fossil hunting as a mindful practice would give adult colouring books a run for their money. This time, even without a find, we loved the process of connecting deeply with the detail of the landscape. Then, with our heads down and eyes scanning, a call out, a triumphant find – a shed viper skin – today’s life on Earth. More treasures to add to the peacock feathers.
By Yossef Ben-Meir
What does it look like when the local approach to achieving sustainable development projects guides not just how we govern, but is also strategically implemented by candidates to help them campaign and secure elected office?
First, let us consider which processes are most effective in advancing community initiatives that meet both socio-economic and environmental needs. From this vantage point, we can see how participatory development procedures translate into broad-based political movements.
Public participation in community programs and projects is the factor that most determines whether development-interventions successfully achieve their objectives. Sustainability requires local control in both the determination of priorities – regarding education, health, or the economy – as well as in management and evaluation of development projects.
By facilitating inclusive dialogue and planning, participatory development provides the basis for community-based and institutional relationships and the win-win cross-sectoral partnerships they form to achieve common goals. Critically, these projects are defined by the people (down to their budgets) in rural and small towns and cities, and designed to further their individual and shared interests.
A benefit of this process that can be especially harnessed in electoral politics is this: community-driven projects generate trust among beneficiaries, and between them and the individuals and agencies who helped turn their expressed ideas into improved life conditions. That goodwill and commitment is social capital that can launch political action and candidates.
The awesome challenge, however, is to organize across geographic spaces these open and local discussions regarding the needs of the community, and the implementation of solutions. To achieve this requires tremendous energy on the part of a dedicated political candidate. It requires communities that invite engagement and are willing to listen to and share different ideas. To catalyze participatory action, it requires experientially trained local facilitators of community planning.
How would this unfold in a political campaign? First, a political party or candidate would organize a series of meetings that involve local people assessing their needs, prioritizing their problems and opportunities, and implementing their plans of action. Political campaigning is then a process by which the people of a given jurisdiction meet, discuss, argue, reconcile, achieve consensus, and embark on a development path forward to meet their human needs.
In essence, the platform of one’s candidacy for public office becomes the genuine article of bottom-up politics and change, embodying the development projects of the people themselves. A candidate, able to catalyze participatory interaction across a municipality or state, will not only be in an excellent position to govern if elected, but the candidate will most likely be elected because the platform is a direct outgrowth of what the people have prioritized for themselves and their communities.
Candidates and their campaigns will forge collaborative bonds in the process of assisting communities in generating the data derived from local discussion, so they may then decide and act immediately on what they most want. This also leads to candidates gaining deep knowledge and insight into the issues of the people and the performances of existing social programs.
Indeed, campaigning this way in itself enables people to have a clear understanding of the kind of democratic governing to which the candidate is dedicated. A promise to rebuild infrastructure, retool dislocated workers, improve our schools, and heal drug addiction will no longer be just words, but a commitment that has emerged from hands-on experience regarding how improving society actually takes place, and the critical role that local empowerment has in such a process.
In fact, running for elected office in a manner informed by the concepts of participatory development and sustainability is a no-lose proposition. The results of the campaign itself will be numerous, viable, and may ultimately serve as essential proposals for local projects that can then become a bill of legislation before a state assembly, or a national congress or parliament. Win or lose, good shall be done – the campaign shall not be in vain due to this tangible accomplishment.
Juxtaposing this political strategy against the two dominant parties in the United States, it resonates with the core ideals of both the Democratic and Republican platforms. When people participate in and control the social initiatives that impact their very lives, it is true an expression of federalism or state (sub-national) empowerment. It promotes a decentralized system of managing affairs, it champions municipal and provincial or state levels of decision-making, and builds local capacities to create the change that people seek. At its founding and still today, engendering local control is a primary value of the Republican Party.
The Democratic Party would find its identity embodied in this strategy, because of its inclusive nature, which embraces young and old, women and men, the marginalized, the disabled, the less heard, indeed every person who abides in a locale. Furthermore, this approach inherently acknowledges that poverty, inadequate education and health care, etc. are not predominantly caused by the people who endure these trials. Rather, social problems that afflict our lives are rooted in matters of history, geography, decisions of previous generations, decisions made in distant places, our treatment of gender and ethnicity, circumstances of birth, and inadequate human services.
Indeed, alternative politics driven by the tenets of sustainability is a fulfillment of outlooks of both the left and right. It does not compromise the individual for the sake of the community, and vice versa, but rather simultaneously enhances both. Participatory renewal diminishes the separation between campaigning and governing, by way of the electoral process being a series of community actions that would unfold if the candidate or party were in the position of governance.
Most essentially, people need to be heard, needs are dire, stratifications within society and between societies are alarming, and campaign promises often ring hollow. When a bill for funding the projects of the people is a certain outcome of electoral campaigns themselves, then no words are necessary to accept on faith. But in fact, the actions that constitute a campaign for public office become much less distinguishable from those that characterize governing after victory.
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is a sociologist and president of the nonprofit organization, the High Atlas Foundation.
Music News Desk BroadwayWorld.com Mar. 1, 2017
Oasis Festival returns to Morocco this September 15-17, 2017, bringing a world-class music line-up to luxury music resort The Source. Nestled on the outskirts of the bustling city of Marrakech, Oasis has put Morocco firmly on the map as the must-visit festival destination of the moment. Now in its third year, the festival continues to showcase the finest international talent, as well as shining the spotlight on the flourishing Moroccan electronic music scene.
The second wave of acts are revealed today, with headline guests including dance music pioneer Richie Hawtin and multi-instrumental producer Nicolas Jaar, along with Henrik Schwarz, Marcellus Pittman, Daniel Avery, Anja Schneider, Unes and more!
Richie Hawtin makes his Oasis debut, with a headline performance on Friday, September 15th. The pioneering electronic artist and technological innovator has been a leading figure on the global electronic music scene since the turn of the '90s. Over the course of his illustrious career, he has founded seminal labels Plus 8 Records and M_nus, produced groundbreaking musical works as Richie Hawtin and Plastikman, and toured the globe with his cutting-edge shows and event concepts like ENTER. and CONTAKT.
Chilean-American musician Nicolas Jaar will bring his captivating live show to Oasis on Sunday, September 17th. From his 2011 debut album 'Space Is Only Noise', to his most recent LP 'Sirens', the multi-instrumental producer continues to make sophisticated electronic music that enraptures critics and fans alike. His live performance at Oasis 2017 is guaranteed to be a true festival highlight.
Also confirmed to make their way to the Red City are German DJ, Innervisions producer and composer Henrik Schwarz, Detroit selector Marcellus Pittman, Mobilee mainstay Anja Schneider, London-based producer Daniel Avery and one-third of Stockholm's influential Studio Barnhus crew, Kornél Kovács. Oasis continues to showcase Morocco's leading talent too, confirming the Moroccan dance scene's founding father Unes and Moroko Loko resident and rising star Jaza. Completing the phase two lineup announcement are Artunique, Harvey Sutherland (live), Mar1, Matthias Meyer B2B Patlac and Patrice Bäumel.
The new acts revealed today join an incredible roster of talent at Oasis, including Ellum label founder Maceo Plex, Berghain resident Marcel Dettmann, Detroit DJ and producer Moodymann, hardware maestros KiNK (live) and Karenn (live), plus Auntie Flo, Charlotte de Witte, Chloé, Jeremy Underground, Mike Servito, Polyswitch, Thris Tian, and Young Marco. All this, plus the festival's official Opening Party, which features a special 4-hour set from Ibiza main man Solomun, a back-to-back session from Kenny Glasgow and My Favorite Robot, plus sets from Moroccan electronic music ambassadors Amine K and Karmon. With lots more still to be announced, this is shaping up to be Oasis Festival's biggest year to date!
JazzWith sun-kissed days and starlit nights soundtracked by an impressive league of house and techno talent in the luxurious surroundings of The Source Music Resort, Oasis is made complete with stage-side swimming pools, daily yoga sessions, lush gardens, adventures in Marrakech, and stunning views of the nearby Atlas Mountains. Oasis brings the finest slice of festival paradise to the ancient world of Marrakech, creating a truly unique cultural experience.
Watch the magic from Oasis Festival 2016 in the aftermovie.
Book your place at Oasis 2017 at theoasisfest.com.
IF YOU GO:
September 15th-17th, 2017
The Source Music Resort
OPENING PARTY (September 14th)
Solomun, Amine K, Karmon and Kenny Glasgow B2B My Favorite Robot
OASIS LINEUP (September 15th-17th)
Anja Schneider | Artunique | Auntie Flo | Charlotte de Witte | Chloé | Daniel Avery | Harvey Sutherland (live) | Henrik Schwarz | Jaza | Jeremy Underground | Karenn (live) | KiNK (live) | Kornél Kovács | Maceo Plex | Mar1 | Marcel Dettmann | Marcellus Pittman | Matthias Meyer B2B Patlac | Mike Servito | Moodymann | Nicolas Jaar (live) | Patrice Bäumel | Polyswitch | Richie Hawtin | Thris Tian | Unes | Young Marco
Opening Party (Thursday, September 14th) | Advance Tickets available at theoasisfest.com/tickets/opening
Weekend Pass (Friday, September 15th - Sunday, September 17th) | Advance Tickets available at theoasisfest.com/tickets
Packages (inclusive of hotel and festival wristband) start from €169 EUR | $179 USD + BF. Book now at theoasisfest.com/packages.
by Kira Munk , February 28, 2017
Tangier shows promising growth prospects with the development of the Tanger Med Port, a revival of the old medina, and plans to boost tourism. The old cliché of Tangier, Morocco is its dated reputation as a bohemian haven with a seedy port town-flair. This was the city that the Beat writers of the 1950s called home. The region has been somewhat neglected by the government in recent decades, in favor of tourist havens such as Marrakech or Fez. However, Tangier has been receiving some well-deserved attention during the past decade, intensifying over the past couple of years. With the ongoing mega development of the Tanger Med Port, a revival of the old medina, and government plans to capitalize on its strategic tourist location on the doorstop of Europe; there are several areas to watch as growth and prosperity are on the incline.
The state-of-the-art Tanger Med port on the Straight of Gibraltar has recently reached the productivity levels of Durban, South Africa. The northwestern point of Africa now houses the largest shipping port on the continent and will be able to process over eight million TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent units) annually by next year.
At the time of writing, some businesses have shifted from the Spanish port of Algeciras to Tangier due to attractive pricing. There could be competition on the horizon as Algeria has approved a new deep-water port. However, for the time being, the Tanger Med port has turned the city into a global commercial hub.
Tourism is expected to grow by approximately 5% annually in Morocco for the coming decade. The first half of 2016 was shaky due to regional fears; in February and in July, authorities arrested extremists planning attacks within the Kingdom. The 2015 beachside shooting in Tunisia, as well as a 2011 attack in Marrakesh itself where 17 people were killed, bolstered skepticism about the region in general. In spite of these incidents, Morocco has retained its relatively secure image.
With the aim of boosting Morocco’s economy, another flashy edition to the shores of North Africa is a rail line built for high-speed TGV trains imported from France and supported by a consortium of international backers. Hoping to double the number of passengers that dart between cities, the TGV cuts the travel time from Tangier to Casablanca in half.
Tangier’s old city ‘medina’ is being revitalized from the inside out, with rustic ‘Riad’ hotels and plenty of fine dining options dotting the narrow streets. In addition, the northwest region of the country holds many touristic jewels – some quietly believe that the area could one day become more popular than Marrakesh. Spots like Chefchaouen and the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla are nearby, while ferry routs make it ever easier to reach from Europe.
Voluntarily departing 33 years ago when the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was admitted, Morocco has been readmitted into the African Union (AU): the conglomerate of African countries that fosters cooperation and unity among the 55 member states.
With the news that Morocco would be rejoining the AU, King Mohamed VI visited several African countries, showing an enhanced focus on Moroccan-African relations. Inherent to the rapprochement is an unspoken will to find common ground on the Western Sahara question that has threatened Morocco’s political relevance for decades.
While commercial development on Morocco’s northern coastline continues, some have noted that the plans do not address the roots of regional malaise. Unemployment among Moroccan youth is dire, as approximately 25% of those with degrees lack meaningful work. Hoping to increase access to jobs through massive development projects goes against the grassroots methods of bottom-up micro financing and instead takes a top-down approach; there are concerns that this is insufficient in addressing local needs.
A further caveat to the country’s cautiously positive outlook is the ‘blockage’ facing the Moroccan government; the parliament has not been able to form a government since elections in October 2016 due to party infighting and differences of opinion.
In addition, Morocco recently moved to ban the sale of the full face covering ‘burqa’ within the Kingdom of Morocco, citing security concerns as identities can be hidden with the garment’s use. While the measure aims to minimize threats from individuals associated with the so-called Islamic State (IS), proponents of the burqa could exploit the ruling as a grievance that justifies violence. This not only could provide oxygen to extremist flames, but also sow division within Moroccan society. Moroccan counterterrorism strategy has been focused on countering violent extremism for over a decade, yet cells affiliated with IS are periodically uncovered by security services. The ban could either exacerbate or ameliorate these tensions.
AFP February 26, 2017 Rabat (AFP)
Morocco's key tourism sector barely grew last year amid security challenges, but operators are hoping Chinese and Russian visitors will boost their fortunes in the coming years.
While political turmoil and jihadist attacks have battered the sector in Egypt and Tunisia, Morocco registered 10 million visitors last year, according to the Moroccan Tourism Observatory.
That was a barely perceptible rise of 1.5 percent from 2015, it said.
But hoteliers in the narrow streets of the capital Rabat's old city were cautiously positive. "Last year was better than 2015. And the first two months of 2017 augured an even better year," said Hanane, manager of a local guesthouse. Tourists are easy to spot wandering through Rabat's old city with its craft stalls, Andalusian-style houses and a 12th-century kasbah overlooking the Atlantic.
But while tourism revenues rose 3.4 percent to $6.3 billion (5.9 billion euros) in 2016, visitor arrivals to Morocco have fallen far short of an ambitious official target of 20 million per year by 2020.
A growing number of visits by Moroccans who live abroad -- counted as tourists when they come home -- accounted for much of the sector's buoyancy. Foreign visitor arrivals last year were down by 0.9 percent.
Karim, owner of a travel agency in commercial capital Casablanca, said more work was needed to drum up new business. "The situation is pushing us to look for new markets outside Europe," he said.
"But overall, it can be said that there was a slight recovery in 2016."
Authorities are hoping for an influx of Russian and Chinese tourists, who currently account for just one percent of total visitors.
That is far behind the French, who make up almost a third of arrivals -- a figure that includes many of Moroccan origin. "Europeans still top the list, but the number of Chinese visitors is growing," Hanane said. "Since visas for the Chinese were abolished in June, a door has been opened."
'Lacklustre' performance -
Tourism remains a vital pillar of the Moroccan economy and the country's second biggest employer, after agriculture. The sector accounts for 10 percent of national income and, along with exports and remittances from Moroccans overseas, it is one of the country's main sources of foreign currency.
Former imperial city Marrakesh, with its UNESCO-listed old town, and the coastal town of Agadir have long been key attractions. They remain popular -- in contrast to Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt, where visitor numbers have plummeted following the Arab Spring uprisings and repeated jihadist attacks. Morocco has not experienced an attack since a 2011 bombing in Marrakesh's famed Jamaa El Fna Square, which killed 17 people, mainly European tourists.
Today, security forces stand guard at Morocco's main tourist sites. The government, a key security partner of European countries, regularly announces it has dismantled jihadist cells. But while the kingdom remains safer than other countries in the region, visitor numbers have stubbornly refused to rise. The local press calls the sector's performance "lacklustre and disappointing" compared with a 2010 plan to double arrivals.
Back then, "Vision 2020" envisioned creating 200,000 new hotel beds and attracting 20 million visitors a year by the end of the decade. Since then, "many international factors" had disrupted the government's efforts, Observatory chief Said Mouhid said. "We will not reach 20 million in 2020, for sure, but it remains a symbolic figure to mobilise operators," he said. He defended last year's performance as "respectable and positive". "We are in a difficult international context, marked by many obstacles to travel," he said. "These figures prove the resilience of Moroccan tourism, even if they remain below our ambitions."
By Chaima Lahsini - February 25, 2017 Rabat
Reading between the lines of the seemingly unchanged data on Moroccan Diaspora, new trends become visible and are predicting a better profile. In a major report, titled “Talents Abroad: A Review of Moroccan Emigrants,” the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) drew an interesting profile. Released on February 21, the report presents the image of a growing, heterogeneous and dynamic Moroccan diaspora.
The number of people born in Morocco and living in OECD countries reached 2.6 million in 2010-2011, making it the tenth largest group of emigrants in the world and the largest group of emigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
According to the report, Moroccan emigrants are mainly concentrated in ten countries, the majority of which are European. One third resided in France in 2010-2011, testifying to the historical linguistic ties between the two countries. Spain and Italy, more recent destinations, together welcomed one million Moroccan emigrants in 2010-2011, twice as many as in 2000-2001.
The following five elements will help illuminate the findings:
Social Ladder Works
While the majority of Moroccan emigrants still have a low level of education, the report disclosed that this is changing. Half a million Moroccan emigrants held a higher education degree in 2010-2011, twice as many as in 2000-2001.
As the economic crisis of 2008-2009 hit the world, Moroccan emigrants suffered the full blow of it. Their unemployment rate stood at 34% in 2014 in European countries, 41% for the low-skilled. In Spain, the situation was particularly difficult with more than one out of two Moroccan emigrants unemployed in 2014.
Women are Coming
The OECD highlighted the fact that the number of Moroccan women emigrating is increasing. The number of female Moroccan emigrants with a high level of education has increased by 125% during the last decade, a more rapid increase than that observed among their male counterparts. In addition, descendants of Moroccan emigrants are more highly educated than their parents. More than 31% of Moroccan emigrants in Europe, or 250 000, have a higher education degree than their parents possessed.
America rather than Europe
Although the majority of Moroccan emigrants are in low-skilled jobs, thousands of them also hold highly skilled jobs in North America, and also in France. Results have shown, however, that Moroccan emigrants are more skilled and become better integrated into America society, rather than Europe. More than 7,000 doctors and as many nurses working in OECD countries were born in Morocco. With more than 50,000 international students, Morocco is the twelfth country of origin for international students enrolled in higher education in OECD countries.
Always Missing the Country
The growing, heterogeneous and dynamic Moroccan diaspora represents a major resource for the Moroccan economy. The government has long been aware of its role and has taken an active interest in this issue. Mobilizing the skills and talents of these people for the development of their birth country requires a better understanding of them and a better understanding of their aspirations, needs and expectations. For those returning, it is necessary to provide them with detailed information on work and investment opportunities to facilitate the recognition and transfer of their skills, says the report.
… And Third of Locals Want to Join Them!
The OECD report demonstrates some migratory dynamics. On the one hand, a third of adults in Morocco express a desire to emigrate, and this rate, already one of the highest in the MENA region, represents 45% of young Moroccans. On the other hand, return migration has increased by 30% over the past decade. These returned migrants, the Moroccan emigrants themselves or their descendants, have significantly higher levels of education than the average of the population.
Moreover, they are more than twice as likely to become entrepreneurs than the rest of the population. This is thought to be attributed to the fact that they are often able to benefit from experience, networks and financing abroad. This is a trend that emphasizes the critical potential of this group in the future development of Morocco.
By Morocco World News - March 3, 2017 , By Julia Cabrera Rabat
70 percent of the residents of Erfoud live on the sale of meteorites. Geology scholars are push for new laws to put an end to the “Mafia.” These extraterrestrial rocks are extremely popular for international trade in Morocco, reported the Middle East Eye (MEE). Located in the southeastern Moroccan desert, Erfoud has been able to preserve asteroid rocks, unaffected by water or damp soil.
Erfoud residents of all ages search the desert for fragments of these exquisite rocks, which they then sell to shopkeepers.
In the market, the asteroid fragments are valued according to “size, rarity, beauty and provenance,” said the MEE. An average rock can be valued at US $30, while a more unique peace can produce a profit of US $70. “The stone business rescued many nomadic families from poverty,” said Ismail Mohammed, a member of a nomadic family, to MEE. According to Mohammed, many nomads have been able to carry comfortable lives because of the market.
French geologist Louis Carion introduced the meteorite business to Erfoud in the 1990’s. Carion told MEE that he and his family distributed pieces of meteorites to nomads, enabling them to distinguish real meteorites from regular rocks. Since then, the market continued to grow. According to the BBC, an over 700,000-year-old meteorite landed in Morocco in 2011. The rock, named Tissint, is said to be the most important meteorite to have fallen in the last century. It was later sold to London’s Natural History Museum for a price greater then the museum’s entire acquisition budget. Morocco’s most recent mining legislation was issued in 1951, but according to the MEE the laws on meteorite sales are unclear.
Moroccan scholars such as Mohamed Boutakiout, a paleontology professor at Rabat’s University Mohammed V, want official laws against meteorite trade to be established. Along with his organization, the Association for the Protection of Moroccan Geological Heritage, Boutakiout has proposed law amendments to government officials, but they are still under negotiation. According to the MEE, Boutakiout describes meteorite trade workers as a “mafia”. “[Meteorites] belong to our country, to our history and it is a great heritage for our young generation,” he said. Carion disagrees with the establishment of laws that will prohibit the sale of meteorites, as he believes it will lead the region to poverty. “If the government closes the market, people are going to starve,” he told the MEE.
By Morocco World News - March 2, 2017 , By Amira El Masaiti Rabat
The Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research has announced alarming results of the National Program of the Evaluation of Student Achievement (PNEA) 2016 survey. The study, which surveyed 34,109 pupils, 4,606 teachers and 543 directors, highlighted important shortcomings in the linguistic and mathematical achievements of pupils.
Language: The study indicated that the average scores of language achievement are below average for both Arabic and French. Rahma Bourqia, Director of the National Evaluation Body in the Council, said that there is “a major deficiency in the written production in the Arabic language”. Scores in mathematics show that 84% of students have a result below average, and 54% of students do not exceed a score of 33%.
Repetition of School Years: According to Bourquia, “repetition has no positive effect.” The survey revealed that 75% of the pupils are over 15 years of age, thus exceeding the legal age for the first high school year. 38% of the students surveyed repeated at least once during their schooling. In this respect, the survey found that “the average scores obtained by students who have repeated at least one year during their studies are significantly lower than those of the students who have never repeated.”
Class Size, Technology, and Socio-Economic Status: The size of the class is also a significant factor in the low achievements of students. According to the survey, “the relationship between class size and student scores is negative.” Technology also influences academic performance. Students who have digital resources such as computers and internet at home score more positively than those that don’t. The Council pointed out that the student’s socio-economic environment plays a major role in their performances.
This program, carried out in the aftermath of the 2015-2030 strategic vision, is meant to be a measure of both student achievement and the development of the Moroccan education system, explains Bourquia. Omar Azziman, president of the Higher Council for Education, pointed out that the objective of this investigation was to pinpoint the dysfunctions of the national education system in order to remedy them. “The results obtained are below expectations,” said Azziman.
By Chaima Lahsini - March 3, 2017, Miriem Bensaleh-Chaqroun, CEO of Holmarcom Group - Les Eaux Minérales d'Oulmès - President of CGEM (General Confederation of Moroccan Companies)Rabat
Morocco could unlock a GDP of up to $30 billion by 2025 by capitalizing on its strong potential for gender diversity in business, according to the consulting firm McKinsey. Sandra Sancier-Sultan, Senior Associate Director at the consulting firm, presented this prediction as part of the results of her study “Women Matter,” which investigated the representation of women in positions of leadership in Moroccan companies.
The study showed that the proportion of female managers for the 48 largest companies in Morocco does not exceed 2%, compared with 5% in Africa and 3% in Europe. For female managers in occupations, the proportion is 54%. The Kingdom must put in place policies to strengthen the presence of women in the labor market and direct them to more productive sectors like industry and services, stressed Sancier-Sultan McKinsey director .
The presented the results the a study at the meeting organized by the French embassy in Morocco and the women councilors of French foreign trade in commemoration of International Women’s Day.
Since 2007, McKinsey has produced a series of reports on the diversity and presence of women in positions of responsibility in the public and private sectors. The Women Matter reports have established the link between the presence of women in leading positions in companies and their financial and organizational performance. The latest Women Matter Africa report shows that Africa has made progress in the representation of women in the private and public sectors to achieve levels that are equivalent to, or even higher than, global averages.
However, full equality of access to positions of responsibility between men and women is still a long way off.
Women Matter Africa’s research work is based on an in-depth survey of about 50 major African companies, interviews with 35 female executives and public sector executives and analysis of the financial performance of 210 listed companies. This research is the first exercise on the African continent to analyze regional dynamics in terms of diversity.
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