Isaiah Herard March 3, 2017
Tuesday night, Western Illinois University hosted Peace Corps volunteers, who shared stories from their service. The returned Peace Corps volunteers had served in a number of countries, including Morocco, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.
According to Peace Corps recruiter Jake Hamilton, the three main goals of the Peace Corps are to teach technical skills to people abroad, promote Americans and American culture to people abroad and come back to the states after service and educate Americans on the people and cultures of other countries.
“One goal of Peace Corps is to help promote a better understanding of other people on the part of Americans,” said Hamilton. “Since March 1, 1961, over 225,000 United States citizens have served in over 141 countries, promoting peace through education, recreation and culture sharing. From my experiences in Morocco, the people in the community I served used movies they had seen on TV to form their perception of Americans, so I wanted to give them a more accurate, vivid portrayal.”
Hamilton dived deeper into his experiences in Morocco, explaining how tough it is to live in a foreign country and emphasizing the concept of adaptation. “Your first three months, you stay with a host family, and the following two years you live on your own,” said Hamilton. “There was a point in time in which I had some clothes, specifically underwear, with holes in them. My host mom is doing my laundry and I get back from language lessons. She sits me down and tells me that she feels embarrassed that somebody living in her household doesn’t have sufficient clothing. The fact that she cared so much was heartwarming.”
Arden Caffrey, a Peace Corps Fellow at Western studying Public Health, detailed her experiences in Mozambique. “My first year was really rough. (My house) broken into eight times, and within those eight times the majority of my stuff got stolen,” said Caffrey. “After the sixth time, we decided that we were going to leave the Peace Corps because we can’t handle the high levels of thievery anymore. The principal at our school knocked on our door, which was very unusual, and said what amounted to, ‘Pack up your (expletive), we’re leaving.’” Caffrey continued with her presentation, iterating the amount of humility she gained from her experiences in Mozambique. “I realized that I wasn’t being culturally competent enough, open enough and understanding enough to realize getting broken into is just what happens there,” said Caffrey. “Struggle is what happens and being able to look past that and see the little things underneath is really where the hospitality was happening. People were taking time to help us move and that really changed my service and how I looked at my service.”
Before closing the presentation, Hamilton emphasized that the Peace Corps’ primary objective is to emphasize the kindness in human beings, regardless of their cultural background. “Kindness is universal,” said Hamilton. “The kindness we show people will go a lot further than the words we say to them. My host mom showed me that kindness, and it was because of her that I truly believe I had a successful service. A lot of other Moroccans made me feel welcome and wanted as well, but she truly went the extra mile of having me in her home. When I go back, I’ll have a place to stay and that will be the first place I go.”
For more information on the Peace Corps, follow the Peace Corps weekly activities on their Facebook page. For information in regards to recruitment, contact Hamilton at email@example.com
MENAFN - Morocco World News - 05/03/2017 (MENAFN - Morocco World News) 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.
MENAFN - Morocco World News - 05/03/2017 MENAFN - Morocco World News)
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 117th 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:
More women in the labor force increases the pool of talent that could benefit the economy. Diverse and efficient allocation of resources results in higher productivity and growth. Women invest large shares of their income in the education of their children. Gender is related to income inequality, which is a factor in weak economic growth. Policies that encourage gender equality in Morocco, according to the study: The 2011 constitution expanded the rights of Moroccan women in areas of marriage, child custody, access to divorce and guardianship. Morocco has the most developed gender budgeting initiative in the Middle East and Central Asia.In 2004, Morocco increased maternity leave, offering 14 weeks for recent mothers and a 100% wages, payable from a social security fund. The IMF acknowledges the measures taken by Morocco in terms of providing gender equality, but suggests the following procedures: Providing equality in inheritance rights can create various opportunities for women, such as ownership of housing and land. Bestowing access to education for girls, literacy programs for women in rural areas and vocational training for women in all areas. Creating local jobs for women, and encouraging female entrepreneurship.
By Chaima Lahsini - March 11, 2017 Rabat
The gender wage gap in Morocco is still well and alive. Moroccan women earn about 17 percent less than men, an astonishing number than has been disclosed in a study run by the Moroccan Directorate of Financial Studies and Forecasting (DEPF), in a collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the OCP Policy Center. Despite the decline in wage gaps between the sexes in both academic and professional sectors, the statistics are not reassuring. According to the study of gender equality, public policies and economic growth in Morocco, women are mainly hired in low-productivity sectors for low-skilled and low-paid jobs.
According to the study, several programs and measures have been deployed to improve women’s access to productive assets, institutions and economic mechanisms. However, despite these efforts, Moroccan women remain affected by significant inequalities in access to employment, clearly demonstrated by the low participation rate of women in the labor market, with only 24.8 percent against 71.5 percent for men by 2015. According to the study, women remain the most employed in low-productivity sectors. In addition, when at similar academic and professional levels as men, women earn about 17 percent less than their male counterparts.
In the same way, unemployment among urban women with high qualifications remained at a high rate of 21.7 percent in 2015, compared to 12.6 percent for men. Taking into account these inequalities, the new National Employment Strategy (SNE 2015-2025) targets the promotion of decent employment and the strengthening of equality in access to jobs. The study explains that its implementation is reinforced by taking into account the economic empowerment of women in the development and deployment of several sectoral plans and programs.
In rural areas, the study noted that women suffer more from discrimination in terms of access to paid work, noting that 73.6 percent of working rural women in employment in 2013 have family help status and apprentice without remuneration. “The participation of Moroccan women in working life remains limited,” the study states, pointing out that the participation rate for women was 25.3 percent in 2014 (after 30 percent in 1999) against 72.4 percent for men, a gap of more than 47 points.
As for access to education, progress has been made, notes the study, stating that significant challenges remain with regard to the rates of educational wastage and illiteracy, which remain high, especially among rural girls. In terms of strengthening the protection of women’s rights at work, labor inspectors carried out nearly 17,661 visits to the different production units in order to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Labor Code, explains the study. In addition, Act No. 19-12 concerning domestic work was adopted in July 2016 to provide social protection for this category of employees and to combat the employment of minor girls by criminalizing this practice.
MENAFN - Morocco World News - 05/03/2017MENAFN - Morocco World News)
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, nmed 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.
MENAFN - Morocco World News - 05/03/2017
Morocco World News) Promoting the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member states, the overriding concern of ECOWAS is to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. This will have the effect of reinforcing security and peace on the continent by creating a borderless region, whereby African citizens will benefit from the abundant resources of the continent.
ECOWAS offers stable commercial activities so that Africans will be able to live in dignity and peace. This goal echoes the statement of Moroccan Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar who said, prior to Morocco's return to the AU, that the Kingdom's helping hand is outstretched to everyone. Morocco's goal as a leading nation is for each African citizen to be able to hold his or her head high, free of the insults and injustice they now experience.
Morocco's Pragmatic Diplomacy
Following Morocco's decision to join ECOWAS, Moroccan Professor-Researcher at Mohammed VI's Institute of African Studies in Rabat, El Moussaoui Ajlaoui, told Morocco World News that the decision goes hand in hand with Morocco's return to the AU. 'Morocco's diplomacy [in Africa] attempts to penetrate all of Africa's geographic and economic block,' which includes the ECOWAS in the west of Africa. Ajlaoui went on to say that the current list of African nations forming Morocco's core social and economic relationships is located in the west due to the 'difficult' status quo the Maghreb and North Africa are experiencing.
RIP Maghreb Arab Union
Ajlaoui sees that the 'death of the Maghreb Union' (AMU/UMA), which was created to unify north African countries including Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania, has pushed Morocco to consolidate its relationships with west African countries. 'The issues in the north of Africa might not be over within the upcoming ten years,' Ajlaoui said. 'The political future in Algeria is at stake,– no one can predict what will happen, not to mention the difficulties that Tunisia faces to reach a democratic transition – while Libya has become a black hole.'
'North-West Africa': Earthquake in Africa
Nigeria, Ghana, and Guinea represent three of the 15 member countries currently making up ECOWAS. Over the course of three months, King Mohammed paid official visits to each of these nations.
During his visit to Nigeria's Abuja, the King and President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, signed a bilateral cooperative gas pipelineproject, which represents one the most importantbilateral agreements to have been signed between the two countries yet.
While in Ghana, a longtime supporter of the Polisario, the King turned his visit into a springboard for Morocco to court the nation and to further strengthen aSouth-South partnership. This will be achieved by revamping ties with the rest of the continent and by tightening the grip on the self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Overall, Morocco and Ghana signed 25 governmental and public-private partnership agreements in different sectors of cooperation.
This forward expansion of Morocco's diplomacy into the rest of the African continent and into ECOWAS, is viewed by Ajlaoui as efforts which will create a new 'North-West Africa' geographical block.
'This block follows several factors, including geopolitical bilateral cooperative relations with the member states of ECOWAS,' Ajlaoui told MWN. 'Morocco's entry into ECOWAS will be an earthquake in the African continent.'
Morocco's Leadership in Africa
When asked if Morocco could curb South Africa's influence on the rest of the continent, Ajlaoui brought up the outbreak of xenophobic and violent attacks against Nigerian communities in South Africa. Ajlaoui stressed that 'Morocco's dominance in Africa will follow its adherence to all the African blocks,' including the Southern African Development Community in Africa's south, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, theEconomic Community of Central African States and theCommunity of Sahel-Saharan States, in addition to theEast African Community and theIntergovernmental Authority on Development. "If Morocco wants to be strong and a leader in Africa, it should become part of part [the continent's] communities," Ajlaoui underlined. "Therefore, its request to join ECOWAS is a future preparation to join other communities."
By Ezzoubeir Jabrane - March 4, 2017 Casablanca
The Moroccan Business Center (CMC) anticipates a growth rate that could reach up to 4.1 percent in the current year, nearly three percent higher than the previous year. Due to the favorable climate condition since the start of the current agricultural year, the CMC’s economic forecasts at the beginning of the year predict a strong recovery.
The Moroccan Business Center pointed out in its monthly business newsletter that this recovery is also due to expected improvements in major industrial, commercial and service activities.
This improvement in the business cycle should lead to improvements in domestic demand, income, and living standards. However, employment rates are not expected to be greatly impacted by this turnaround. The Moroccan Business Center further stated in the special edition devoted to the internal market that the development of the Moroccan internal market in 2017 hinges upon several parameters, including changes in the final consumption of the main economic players, public investment and purchasing power.
In January, the High Commission for Planning (HCP) foresaw an increase of 3.9 percent in Morocco’s gross domestic product due to the recovery of 11.1 percent in the agricultural sector, which contributed to a 1.3 percent growth of the GDP.
By Chaima Lahsini - March 10, 2017 , Rabat
Almost half of Moroccan men would like their wives to stay at home, says a study published by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO surveyed men and women in 2016 to understand their perceptions about women and work. In Morocco, the findings are not very reassuring: 22% of the questioned Moroccans men are in favor of women working outside their homes, against 45% who prefer to keep their wives at home.
The ILO report correlates women’s refusal to work and educational attainment: 49% of men who have not passed primary education are against women’s work, compared to 42% of those with secondary education. Age also plays a key role in perception, as 29% of Moroccans under the age of 29 are in favor of women working, compared to 24% of those in the thirties and beyond.
The study goes further and incorporates the opinions of women. According to the ILO, 78% of Moroccans men and women are for the work of women, while 21% are against, and 1% refrained from answering. For their part, 87% of Moroccan women agree to work outdoors provided their husbands agree. In terms of recruitment opportunities, 39% of Moroccans think that educated and experienced women have every chance of finding a job, while 33% give them the same opportunities as men. Finally, 20% were pessimistic and 9% did not respond.
The results of this study, based on interviews with nearly 149,000 adults in 142 countries and territories, suggest that women might find support in their quest for productive employment and decent work coming from a rather unexpected source: men.
According to the report, gender equality is still far from being achieved, and the findings show real divides still exist in many regions of the world. But it also appears men and women are not always as far apart in their attitudes as conventional wisdom might lead them.
The findings of the ILO study show that women in North Africa are mostly similar to other women around the world, “the youngest women in the region are the most likely to prefer working only at paid jobs or being able to balance both, and those who are most highly educated would prefer to be working rather than staying at home.” However, men in the region are not in alignment with women: men younger than the age of 45 – particularly in Egypt, Morocco and Libya are more likely than older men to say they would prefer women to stay at home. And the most highly educated men are most likely to say women should work at paid jobs.
Sunday Mar 5, 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."
By Chaima Lahsini - March 11, 2017 , Rabat
Morocco was featured among the top 50 best countries by US News and World Report’s Best Countries listing, ranking 48th among the 80 evaluated countries. The report, produced in partnership with Y&R’s BAV Consulting group and the Wharton School of Pennsylvania, evaluated 80 countries across 24 rankings, drawn from a survey of more than 21,000 global citizens in nine sub-categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power, and Quality of Life.
Featured 14th in the Movers sub-category, a sub-ranking based on an equally weighted average of scores from four country attributes (different, distinctive, dynamic and unique) Morocco showed great potential as an up-and-coming economy with a 5.3 overall score on a scale of 10 point. In the Heritage sub-category, Morocco ranked 16th, thanks to its numerous cultural attractions, rich history, cultural accessibility, and, of course, great food. A great place to fulfill wanderlust, Morocco came 24th in the Adventure subcategory. With its friendly people, beautiful scenery and pleasant climate, the Kingdom marked a 3.8 overall score.
Morocco also ranked in the top 50 countries open for business. Its cheap manufacturing costs and favorable tax environment make it an attractive destination for investors and foreign businessmen.
The report also lauded the country’s cultural influence, ranking again in the top 50 for its distinct cultural identity and cutting-edge center of art, entertainment and fashion. With a unique and diverse culture, the Kingdom offers a trendy and yet authentic experience for travelers.
The report didn’t fail to praise the Kingdom’s distinct imprint: “In addition to its mountainous interior, sunny coastline and portions of desert, Morocco boasts cities and buildings rich in historical significance.” In many categories, Morocco emerged as a leader in Africa and the Middle East. Morocco was number one in the Open for Business and Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement categories among African and Middle Eastern countries; number one in North Africa for Forward-Looking Countries; and second in Africa in the Movers category.
By Morocco World News - March 6, 2017 By Julia Cabrera Rabat
After intensive research, the team at “Information is Beautiful” published a world map identifying what every country was “Best” at doing. Morocco was ranked best for its commodity, argan oil.
Argan oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree, which is growing in the Mediterranean region. The argan tree is equipped to stand the desert areas, as it has deep roots and small leaves that allow it to resist the wind and lack of water. In Morocco specifically, argan oil has been used for centuries in versatile ways. According to the company, “Moroccan Oil,” the multi-purpose oil can be used to dip bread in during a meal or incorporated into traditional meals like couscous. It is also used for cosmetic purposes, as Moroccan, and women all over the world have added argan oil to their beauty regimens for healthier skin, nails and hair.
The researchers at, “Information is Beautiful,” gathered their information from large data banks like the CIA, World Bank, Reuters and Forbes. The information was later divided into nine categories, Commodity, psychology, ecology, gastronomy, economy, nicety, humanity, technology and nasty. Morocco’s argan oil fell under commodity. While they were able to identify a lot of countries, there were some countries that were not included because according to, “Information is Beautiful,” there was not enough information on the country.
On January 14th, 2017, “Information is Beautiful,” clarified that South Africa had changed from number one in Death, to the best for platinum. They also stated that Canada had changed from best at personal freedom to number one for Facebook addiction.
By Morocco World News - June 9, 2015 , By Daniela Frendo Malta
You’ve heard about its lavish Moorish facades and luxurious riads, but Morocco has more to offer than just the splendour of its hamams. It is a country brimming with ethnic markets and rich traditions, and blessed with scenic landscapes.
This short guide of Morocco takes you high up the Atlas Mountains, across the golden dunes of the Sahara, and deep into the magical souks of Marrakech.
Live the Amazigh (Berber) life
Trekking along the Atlas Mountains offers a hands-on experience of Moroccan rural life. Berber villages of mud-built houses and cultivated fields stem from the heart of valleys and spread over red-soiled slopes. Herds of mountain goats can be seen perched on the rocky slopes, grazing away to their heart’s content. On your way you are bound to come across a few stranded huts selling freshly-squeezed orange juice and tribal ornaments. If the long trek makes you peckish, the makeshift restaurants at these ‘pit stops’ usually serve bountiful salads, lentil soups and the famous tajine.
Immerse yourself in ancient Moroccan culture by spending a few days with a Berber family. There are quite a number of local tour operators that provide tailored excursions to the Berber villages tucked among the High Atlas Mountains. Learn how to brew the traditional mint tea, get your hands and feet dirty with some farming, and dance to the primitive beats of Berber music.
Conquer Mount Toubkal
Being the highest mountain in North Africa at 4167m, the expedition to the summit of Toubkal should only be attempted if you’ve recently pushed your training level beyond the gym membership. It is a do-able, but still a rather challenging climb. Staying at a refuge means you have to step out of your comfort zone for a couple of days. Don’t get me wrong; the hosts are warm and the food abundant, but the toilets and showers leave much to be desired. The sleeping quarters are usually crammed, accommodating at least twenty visitors in a small confined room. It is highly recommended that you take your own sleeping bag just in case the refuge doesn’t provide blankets.
The ascent can take up to 6 hours on the final day, depending on your level of fitness. The trail weaves along rocky and gritty terrain, and in some areas the slopes can be quite steep. It is a physically-demanding trek, but the rewarding feeling you get once you’re standing on top of North Africa is priceless. The best time to attempt Mount Toubkal is between September and November as the unrelenting summer heat would have abated by then. Autumns in Morocco are generally mild. You are still likely to encounter strong gusts as you advance towards the summit. Make sure to pack thermal and waterproof gear – the temperature can drop below zero and rain showers are unpredictable. The climb might seem a bit disheartening at first, but if you approach the challenge with a good dose of willpower and take all the necessary safety precautions, it will turn out to be an exhilarating experience.
Explore natural gorges and ancient kasbahs
Morocco boasts diverse, yet equally panoramic landscapes. A day’s drive away from the lush green fields of the High Atlas Mountains takes you through arid moors and bare hills. The rugged scenery becomes more dramatic when you arrive at the Todgha Gorge, a canyon of golden-brown limestone. The sheer, smooth cliffs reach a height of almost 300 metres on each side, resulting in a dwarfing experience for anyone strolling through the gorge. Along the trans-Saharan trade routes in southern Morocco stand the crumbling ruins of ancient fortified towns, known as kasbahs. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the ksar of Ait Ben Haddou in Ouarzazate is one of Morocco’s most well-preserved and majestic kasbahs. Ait Ben Haddou has starred in many screen productions, including Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, and Game of Thrones.
Sleep in the desert
Contrary to popular belief, desert trips and night stays are completely safe in Morocco. The Moroccan Sahara remains unaffected by the rise of Islamist terrorist groups in neighbouring countries. In fact, sunset camel treks are all the rage in Morocco, but not everyone is willing to sleep in a desert tent in freezing temperatures. Spend a night in the Sahara with the hospitable Bedouins, singing and playing the drums with them. Wake up early the following morning for an awe-inspiring experience – watching the sun rising over the sand dunes.
Experience the magic of Marrakech
Finally, spice up your trip by venturing into the hustle and bustle of Marrakech’s spellbinding market. It is quite easy to get lost in the maze of the medina, but the locals will be more than willing to show you the way out… and then demand a tip. The souks of Marrakech display a spectrum of vibrant colours. There are about 18 souks in Marrakech, all exhibiting different trades; pottery, ceramics, leatherwork, jewellery, carpentry, copper work, and of course, traditional cuisine.
Moroccans are crafty salesmen, and years of experience have helped them master all the tricks of the trade. They can be very persuasive and unyielding. The best thing to do if you feel trapped is to actually chat to them. Talk to them about your holiday so far, and what has interested you most about their country. Remember to smile and be polite, and they might put the price down by a few Dirhams.
And if by the end of the day you think you had seen it all, then Marrakech holds another surprise for you. As the sun sets behind the mosque’s minaret, numerous food stalls set up shop in Djema el-Fna square, preparing for a long night of entertainment. Street performers showcase their eccentric talents to passersby. The snake charmers are usually the main attraction, but the square is also shared by storytellers, fire jugglers, Berber musicians and the occasional card reader. Don’t get too close to the performing area unless you are willing to leave a tip. However, this is a unique experience and it would be more enriching if you had to interact with the performers. The musicians are likely to catch you off guard and pull you into the circle.
Whatever you do, don’t panic.
Let the magic fill your heart and mind with inspiration.
By Chaima Lahsini - March 9, 2017 Rabat
The World Bank is preparing a major program for the improvement of certain Moroccan agricultural sectors. The program, announced on March 8 in Rabat by World Bank MENA Region Director Marie-Françoise Marie-Nelly, will be the second phase of the Green Morocco plan to optimize Moroccan agri-food sector throughout its value chain. “We are in the process of preparing a major program to improve the value chain of olive and citrus farms in particular, in all aspects relating to processing, marketing, optimization of product quality and standardization”, said Marie-Nelly to the MAP, highlighting the important role of agro-industry in the Moroccan industrial economy.
This program aims to improve the integration of upstream and downstream and market access in these sectors, which are identified as priorities within the framework of the agro-industry development strategy, and to improve the quality of agro-products in addition to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in this area, she added.
Marie-Nelly, speaking at a meeting initiated by the World Bank to present the main achievements of the sector in recent years, cited “positive” and “promising” results in terms of investments in the field of agriculture.
By Chaima Lahsini - February 2, 2017 , Rabat
Fez spas and beauty centers will remain mixed, contrary to what some news outlets reported Thursday morning. L’economiste was the first to report on its website a “prohibition of mixing in Fez.”
According to the economic newspaper, the Fez Mayor Idrizz El Azami decided during a Communal Council held yesterday to implement a segregation order on spas and beauty centers in Fez, ruling that these establishments will have to provide separates spaces for men and women.
News of the presumed “order” was quickly picked up by other media, igniting a heated debate on social media as many Internet users were shocked to hear of a segregation order in Morocco.
Social media users were quick to blame what they described as a “retrograde decision” on the council members, a majority of which are from the Justice and Development Party (PJD), and they accused the PJD members of uncovering their real radical “wahabist” faces.
However, the spiritual city will still welcome men and women alike into its renowned spas, beauty salons, and thermal stations. A source close to Morocco World News present at the Council’s meeting denied the existence of such decree, stating that the Communal Council only issued a recommendation stressing the need of vigilant monitoring of these establishments to ensure conformity to standard operations procedures.
Moreover, the mayor himself refuted the report. In a statement to Alyaoum24, he explained that the order was a simple collective decision to regulate the practice conditions of barbershops and beauty centers, and he denied any mentions of spas and beauty centers. The Communal Council does not have enough clearance to issue an order of such magnitude. Only the Ministry of Interior has the authority to implement segregation orders, whether in public or private institutions.
By Dr. Mohamed Chtatou* March 6, 2017
The digital revolution has brought to the Arab world the dream of democracy and personal freedom and is certainly changing totally the Arab mind and culture, in spite of the strong tug of tradition and religion, a combination of two important elements that have always, in many ways, prevented progress towards societal change and cultural revival.
However, as this revolution is wrecking havoc on Arab societies, creating new realities and new narratives, many observers, of this part of the world, are duly asking the question: how will the Islamic religion react to this challenging situation: adapt to it or reject it?
In the 7th century, when Islam extended east and west from the Arabian Peninsula, conquering new lands and converting different peoples; speaking different languages and practicing different cultures, the conquerors were met with fierce resistance in both directions. In North Africa, the native Amazigh people repulsed the Arab conquerors under the leadership of the able and beautiful princess Kahina and the General Kousseila. Realizing that they were preaching an austere religion that wants to practice an act of tabula rasa on the culture, they adopted a different approach geared towards accepting the cultural substratum and giving it Islamic names.
Thus, in Morocco, in the Northern village of Tatoft, there existed a pagan rite dating back to the God Pan and his fertilization act of the land through sexual intercourse with rural women. This practice, within an agricultural society, had a strong significance and impact on the popular belief of the population. Islam could not get rid of it; instead it incorporated it within Islamic folklore. So, instead of the lascivious God Pan, half goat, half man, with strong sexual desire and libido, a man dressed in skins took the part. The celebration rather than happening at the beginning of the new agricultural cycle was anchored to ‘Aid Lkbir, the Islamic feast of sacrifice, which would provide the skins to be worn by a man in the cave. Then, he would come out running and dancing to the music of oboes of the world-famous Master Musicians of Jajoukai and flailing women that are sterile to inseminate them. Thus, any form of copulation, unacceptable to Islam, is scratched out of the rite, but the essence of the tradition is kept.
The Islamic coloring of the celebration is further strengthened by the introduction, in the rite, of a useless character dressed in white, called Lhaj, the man who went to Mecca for pilgrimage. This celebration initiated in the north, is now practised all over the country; it is known as boujloudiyya in Arabic and bou-irmawen in Tamazight.
The millennials, are those children born at the turn of the millennium (a period of time extending from 1990 to 2005.) They came to life at the height of the digital revolution, spreading the ideals of globalization and freedom. The net is their arena for political activism and social intercourse. Their ideals center round: democracy, freedom, respect of human rights, preservation of the environment and the bashing of devious political and cultural practices and dogmatic religious beliefs.
In Morocco, the millennials are busy attacking the foundations of traditional culture and pushing further the frontiers of freedom. They all have new tools for expressing themselves openly: PCs, phablets, smart phones and tablets. They can get WiFi free connection in most cafés, restaurants and public places, and even one city, El Jadida, is offering free internet services within the municipality limits. Anyway, most of the smart phones nowadays have 4G technology.
Because the state media has always been in the service of the political and religious establishments, glorifying obsequiously the conservative and absolute monarchy and chanting the praise of a traditional and austere Islam that refuses to adapt to the realities of modern times. Sick of the fact that this media hardly ever treats subjects that are close to their hearts, the youth representing almost 50% of the population, in Morocco, created their own exclusive world on the Internet bashing the red lines of both politics and religion, forever.
This unprecedented silent revolution is taking place in Morocco and many Arab countries at the same time. It is true that the West and the rest of the world have been charmed by this Arab unprecedented awakening nicknamed “The Arab Spring”, writing hundreds of books and articles about it and making documentaries about its various manifestations, but nobody is paying any attention, whatsoever, to the quiet cultural revolution taking place instantly. The difference between the two phenomena being, that while the Arab Spring has been hijacked by the more absolutist Islamists pushing back societies to the Middle Ages, the cultural revolution is thriving because nobody is paying attention to it, at least for the time being. However, one of the good things about Morocco is the fact that the officials did not impose filters on the Internet as is the case in many Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, etc.
What are the various manifestations of this silent cultural revolution in Morocco?
Monarchy: In the 2011 constitution, as in all the ones before it is stated clearly that the person of the king is respected i.e. above any form of criticism, whatsoever, as such all political parties from left or right adhere to this law, instead they criticize and vilify the government, to be understood as an indirect way of questioning the king’s governance.
In the net however, the monarch is criticized for his massive wealth and his business predator instinct. The youth argue convincingly that while the people get poorer and poorer he is getting richer and richer and that he is the sole owner of Morocco Inc.
They, also, point out that he is going back on his promise of incremental democracy and incremental devolution of power, through a massive co-optation of politicians from left and right. But in spite of all this criticism, they yet adhere to the monarchy as a symbol of arbitration and stability due to its historical and religious legitimacy, which has remained unscathed.
Political establishment: The youth criticize openly the self-perpetuating political parties, who never defend the interests of the electorate, but instead are subservient to the monarchy to further their interests by partaking unabashedly in the massive plunder of national wealth. So, for the youth whether they are from the left or they are from the right, they are all co-opted by the regime and indulge in corruption, nepotism, embezzlement and abuse of power openly.ii So, the political elite is patriarchal and tribal, in essence, though they preach modernity and democracy in their political discourse.
Political traditions: The youth openly reject the traditional form of the monarchy and government, known as Makhzen, which is obsolete, in format, and archaic, in essence. As such, they reject the bay3a, which is the traditional expression of allegiance that takes place on the second day of the Throne Day in July, whereby thousands of state employees and elites and local and national representatives, dressed in white djellabas (Moroccan traditional robes), bow to the king on his horse, an action which almost goes back to 13 centuries ago, when the monarchy was first set up in Morocco.
This act may be seen as a perpetuation of tradition but these traditions, in the eyes of the youth, also entrench the concept of subject, an individual who has only obligations, instead of that of citizen who, has equally obligations and rights. The youth are calling for a revamping of the monarchy, indeed the “Mouvement du 20 Février” that came in the heels of the Arab uprisings called for the establishment of constitutional monarchy instead of the present executive monarchy. They, also, see the bickering that is taking place between the King Mohammed VI and his cousin Moulay Hicham, nicknamed by the press the “Red Prince”, iii is a mere gloss-over of real opposition to the regime, which has literally been obliterated through both brutal and or soft repression.
Patriarchal and tribal obedience bashing: The Moroccan youth have always been silenced by the patriarchal and tribal concept of respect of seniority. In presence of the seniors, the youth are taught to keep silent and listen to the elders who have more experience. So, actually the youth never get a chance neither to express their opinions nor become political elite. Indeed, the whole political and social arena is off limits to them, while the elder dinosaurs dominate every walk of life to the extent that political arena looks like it is a true Jurassic park and that is, undoubtedly, one of the reasons of the advent of the Arab Spring.
In the West, the youth are encouraged to form political elites, in Morocco and the Arab world, they are stifled and repressed and any rebellion on their part is considered as a rejection of tradition.
Female freedom: Since the adoption of a new family code in Morocco known as Moudawana on 2004, iv the Moroccan women are enjoying more freedom than in the past. Indeed, they can get married without the permission of a family guardian, refuse polygamy for their husbands and enjoy a better deal in inheritance. This new family code has indeed empowered the women and helped them break the chains of traditional slavery, once for all in spite of the resistance of the Islamists by imposing Hijab and drastic dress code to their females.
Sexual revolution: Men and women are joining forces to fight sexual religious taboos by open dating with partners inside and outside the country ending up either in marriage with non-Muslims or illicit haram relationship. Islamic religion allows men to marry non-Muslims freely, but disallows females unless the would-be partner converts to Islam. Nowadays, women are not sticking anymore to this religious constraint.
Sex workers: Many Moroccan women are exhibiting their naked bodies on the net to find work in the Gulf States as sex workers, something which has always been outlawed by religion. Worse many fathers and families are encouraging their female offspring to migrate to the Gulf countries to make money as prostitutes. In many ways this has become an accepted practice within the society. In addition hundred of Gulf youth and adults come to Morocco for sexual tourism in such cities as Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh and Agadir.
Gay practice: Gay culture has existed in Morocco since the dawn of history and was always tolerated by society, as long as it is kept secret. However, thanks to the digital revolution, gays and lesbians are coming out of the closet to display openly their sexual identity, without the fear of any retribution. Also, Tangier, Marrakesh, Essaouira and Agadir have become gay nests alongside the traditional Tangier gay community which thrived thanks to foreigners, some of them very prominent on the public scene such as the late French writer Jean Genet and the late American writer Paul Bowles. Moroccan gays are not only coming out of the closet, but they are also writing about their “deviant” sexual identity, such as Moroccan French Abdellah Taia, who published a book on his sexual orientation.
Public Show of affection: In 2013 two youngsters, from the conservative northern city of Nador, on leaving their school, kissed publicly and the video of their embrace was posted on YouTube. Their unusual act triggered various reactions nationwide: those who applauded the act and asked for the strengthening of personal freedom and those religiously-minded people who asked the State to punish the kids, who were, supposedly, under the subliminal influence of the western media.
In compliance with its conservative nature, the state arrested the couple, but this act triggered a worldwide campaign for their release and couples of youngsters organized a kiss-in in front of the parliament in Rabat, in defiance of religious conservatism. Under the pressure of the public worldwide, the government released the kids and dropped charges. The Amazigh support Israel not Palestine: Since the revival of the Amazigh nationalism in North Africa, the Amazigh militants in Morocco have been denouncing the official line on Islam and calling for the rewritng of history by stating clearly that the Arabs in the 7th century conquered North Africa by the sword and not by the act of peaceful conversion of the population to Islam known as foutouhat.
They reject the Islamic presence in the area as the worst form of colonialism experienced by the Amazigh people of this region in history. In their resistance to the Arab obliterating culture, they called for making Tamazight an official language, which was achieved in the constitution of 2011. However, their most abrasive move is to call for friendship with Israel by setting up Israeli-Amazigh associations, arguing that there are many Jewish Amazigh people, who have made a notable contribution to the culture and that Israel like the Amazigh are victims of pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism.
In addition, films were made about the painful departure of the Jewish Amazigh to Israel such as Kamal Hachkar’s film : “Tinghir-Jerusalem : les échos du Mellah .”vi For many Moroccan Arab nationalists, these Amazigh people are traitors of Morocco and Islam and should be arrested and put in jail, by all means.
Many people are arguing, quite strongly, that the Arab Spring is gone to the dogs, it might seem so,vii but the truth of the matter is that it is not. It is just picking up steam, redefining the route and straightening up priorities, to resume progression, stronger than ever. The big change will happen in the Arab world, come what may, maybe not all at once, as many people would want, but in an incremental fashion because Arab minds are all framed in a traditional way and all constrained by religious dogmatism and determinism.
But, while the political change is happening slowly, the cultural revolution is bulldozing its way ahead, with much determination, and Moroccans millennials, in particular, and Arab millennials, in general, are busting taboos with much strength, be they cultural or religious, and creating a new reality on the ground. They want to create a future of their liking, responding to their real needs and not to the expectations of a religion or a culture, imposed on them. Actually, all they are doing is exercising their right to choose and decide for themselves.
*Dr. Mohamed Chtatou is a Professor of education science at the university in Rabat. He is currently a political analyst with Moroccan, Gulf, French, Italian and British media on politics and culture in the Middle East, Islam and Islamism as well as terrorism. He is, also, a specialist on political Islam in the MENA region with interest in the roots of terrorism and religious extremism.
ii. Cf my related article in : http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/opinion/in-morocco-it-is-not-about-what-you-know-but-who-you-know_26731
iii. Cf my related article in : http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/opinion/the-game-of-thrones-morocco-version_24785
vi. The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival introduce this movie in the following terms (http://www.santafejff.org/tinghir-jerusalem-echoes-of-the-mellah/) :
“Tinghir-Jerusalem is filmmaker and historian Kamal Hachkar’s search for a community that has since vanished, the Berber Jews of Morocco. Hachkar is a Berber Muslim born in Tinghir, Morocco and raised in France. While he would return to Tinghir every summer with his family, it would be years before he discovered that the town once had a thriving Jewish community. By the mid-1960s though, they, along with the other 250,000 Jews of Morocco, had left for Israel.
Hachkar sets off in search of that history. What he discovers in conversations over old family photos and while listening to the stories of the Jews who left Tinghir – and the Muslims who remain – is a history of close co-operation between communities. They shared a common identity as Berbers, and lived in a town where “the muezzin’s call would mingle with that of the morning Jewish prayer.” In encounter after encounter, his interlocutors speak wistfully of the past – Muslims expressing sadness over the departure of their neighbors, and Jews wondering if that departure was worthwhile.”
By Morocco World News - March 6, 2017 Rabat
Children with autism participated for the first time in the International Marathon of Rabat on March 5. A number of organizations supporting autistic children from various Moroccan cities took part in the third edition of the International Marathon of Rabat. The initiative aimed to raise awareness of this segment of the Moroccan population and also to express support for the autistic community throughout Morocco.
The children with autism who participated in Rabat International Marathon ran alongside amateur runners from different cities of Morocco. There are no official statistics about the number of children with autism in Morocco, and cultural taboos make it quite difficult to count the cases of autism , as the condition remains a taboo and parents usually avoid presenting their children as autistic.
According to statistics obtained in 2009 from the International Association for the Defense of the Fundamental Rights of Children with Autism, there are between 338,000 and 563,000 autistic people in the world, most of them children.
Edited by Alexander Jusdanis
By Morocco World News - March 6, 2017 , By Nasser Bouzboune Marrakech
There are many facts and myths concerning the Vikings and their glorious expeditions and marks in history.
In old Norse, the word “Vikingr”, is a term used to characterize the famous Scandinavian civilization that existed between the 8th and 12th centuries. While there are many theories explaining why the Vikings decided to navigate from Scandinavia in search for new territory, the most common and famous one is purely economic.
Economic interest in Northern Europe was low since farming lands were not fertile while goods and resources were scarce. Known as fierce warriors, merchants, and passionate explorers, the Vikings were always attracted to goods and resources and have travelled to numerous destinations all over the globe from the North Atlantic Islands to European and Asian territory, and notably, Northern Morocco.
Famous Muslim historian and geographer from Andalusia Abu Abdullah al-Bakri mentions in his “Book of Roads and Kingdoms” (Kitab al-masalik wa-al-mamalik) that the Vikings (to which he refers to as “Majus”) raided the city of Nekor (located in modern day Rif, Morocco) in their North African adventure where they held numerous prisoners as slaves. This supports historical Viking presence in Morocco. It is important to note how the Vikings ended up in Morocco following their famous raids in Spain. The Majus, or “Nurman” (North Men) as called by the Andalusians, most probably had no intention to navigate through the Mediterranean Sea before clashing with the Muslim Caliphate of Andalusia. They attacked Lisbon and Sevilla where they took many fortunes, goods, as well as women and children.
The Andalusians undertook a different strategy when they faced the Vikings a second time. Caliph Abdu-al-Rahman the third was advised by famous scholar Ibn-al-Habib to declare war on the Vikings. They decided to switch strategies and stop them on the sea instead of engaging with them in land battle. On the sea coast of Lisbon, canons and archers were installed and used to attack seventy Viking warrior ships in which half were burnt. This particular battle with the Muslim Kingdom of Andalusia took place in 859 and is considered to be one of the most important battles of history, according to Dr. Umar F. Abdullah, founder and director of the Nawawi Foundation based in Chicago, USA. The remaining fleets were therefore forced to escape and continue through the Mediterranean Sea where they eventually ended up in Morocco and spent eight days.
Following their defeat in the coast of Andalusia, many of the Vikings captured were punished while a minority converted to Islam and were allowed to settle in the city of Jerez de la Frontera, in the province of Cádiz. Based on the historical records from the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland, the Vikings have raided a part in the north of Morocco during the 860’s, where they battled the Berber Kingdom of the Moors. As suggested by the annals, this took place following their famous raids in Britain navigations across the Cantabrian Ocean, which lies between modern Ireland and Spain, where they continued exploring and raiding. When they reached North Africa, they had to face the Berber king of Mauretania (not to confuse with Mauritania, the country) in a bloodbath where numerous warriors from both sides died. The Berber king lost a hand in this battle which resulted in both parties agreeing to challenge each other the following day. Due to a retreat from the part of the kingdom, the battle did not take place and the Vikings held many prisoners as captives, to be taken back to modern-day Ireland.
In her academic blog, British historian and writer Dr. Caitlin R. Green from The University of Cambridge and Institute of Continuing Education, has viewed the Fragmentary Annals with suspicion, linking them to archaeological evidence discovered in burials that date as far back as the time of medieval Britain and skeleton remains. The skeleton remains were of rodents (house-mice) and discovered in the Portuguese island of Madeira, not far from Morocco. This is considered evidence of human activity and settlement in the territory and the Vikings are known to take mice with them on their numerous journeys and raids way before the 11th century, when the Portuguese Empire colonized the coastal regions of Morocco.
The Vikings have explored major areas in the world and marked their place in history not only through battles but also in trade and commerce. On the contrary to popular belief, they have not destroyed everything in their path but were also open to communication and trade with other civilizations. Also, one can wonder whether the Muslim Vikings who settled in Andalusia were part of the Moors who were forced to exit Andalusia after the famous Reconquista, where all of the Muslims were driven out of Andalusia.
Another theory would be them being part of the Moorish, or Moriscos, who were allowed to stay in the peninsula if they converted or were coerced into converting to Christianity. In both cases, however, most of these groups of people would end up in Morocco. This poses a very interesting debate on the Moroccan population; do Moroccans have any Viking blood?
By Morocco World News - March 8, 2017 , By Safaa Kasraoui Rabat
The Moroccan National Debate Team finished in the top 15 teams at the 2017 Nordic Schools Debate Championship, which took place March 2 to 5 in Copenhagen.
The championship, organized by Denmark Debate Society and the Danish National Debate Team, hosted 34 teams from 18 countries.
The Moroccan debaters entered the competitions with a strong will to win the tournament. While they faced a rough start, this was not an obstacle for the team, whose considered the first day’s loss a forward-push and bounced back on the second day to an outstanding performance and won all its debates.
The team was defeated only by a team from Holland, who made the Moroccan debaters leave the competition by only 7 points. “It was heartbreaking to lose the last round after winning two in a row,” said the head of the coaching staff Soufiane Choubani . “But I am happy because we have accomplished our main objectives. Which was, 1, to have the team bond together in order to have a stronger relationship between themselves. 2, to have our team experience an international event before the World Cup so they can get rid of their fears and stress before the big showcase this August in Indonesia, the 2017 World Schools Debating Championship.”
This was the first time that the Moroccan team attended the Nordic Schools Debating Championship, which uses the same debate format as the Debate World Cup.The team strives to significantly increase the participation of African nations in the WSDC[Alexander1] and raise national pride in the Moroccan debate team. The team consists of captain Mariam El Mansouri with fellow teammates Salma Alaoui, Yousra Ougaddoum, Ali Benramdane and Wiame Boucheqif.
By Chaima Lahsini - March 6, 2017 Rabat
The number of environmental pollution-induced deaths of children under five years old in Morocco is the highest in North Africa.
According to two World Health Organization (WHO) studies published Monday, environmental pollution is responsible for more than 1 in 4 deaths of children under the age of five. Further, in 2012 95 children per 100,000 inhabitants died because of environmental pollution against 45 in Tunisia, 52 in Algeria, 35 in Libya and 49 in Egypt.
The first report, “Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment” reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia – are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.
In 2015, 77 percent of the Moroccan population had access to improved sanitation facilities, and 85 percent had the use of improved drinking water sources. These rates put Morocco second to last in North African countries in terms of access to safe water and adequate sanitation. “A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”
A companion report, “Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health”, provides a comprehensive overview of the environment’s impact on children’s health, illustrating the scale of the challenge. According to this report, every year 570,000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and secondhand smoke. Around the world, environmental risks such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, passive smoking, unsafe water, lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene, lead to the yearly death of 1.7 million children under five years, according to the WHO.
In Morocco, young women who fall pregnant are seen as "damaged goods" and many are rejected by their families. One women’s rights activist has been fighting for over 30 years to change things.Audio: http://www.dw.com/en/moroccos-taboo-of-sex-out-of-wedlock/a-37826532
By Chaima Lahsini - March 6, 2017 Rabat
Moroccan businesswomen dominate Francophone Africa, according to a ranking made by the weekly Jeune Afrique.
In their ranking of the 50 most influential businesswomen in the region, Moroccan company executives occupy the top of the pavement, headed by Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, president of the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco (CGEM).
1. Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun
CEO of Les Eaux Minérales d’Oulmès S.A., a leading company listed on the Stock Exchange of Casablanca, specialised in water and bottling, Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun holds an MBA in International and Finance Graduate of the University of Dallas and is an alumna of the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris and University Paris IX – Dauphine, France. She is also the CEO of the Holmarcom Group, owned by her family and one of the five largest industrial, commercial and financial groups of Morocco, a board member of Bank Al Maghrib, the National Central and Reserve Bank of Morocco, and Chairperson of the Euro-Mediterranean Center of Mediation and Arbitration. According to the Jeune Afrique, Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun was destined to become the first president of the CGEM, because “the business world has long recognized her leadership qualities.”“She is a member of the boards of many prestigious companies such as Eutelsat, Suez and the central bank of Morocco, to name a few. In April, she will also be added to those of Renault-Nissan,” notes the publication, stating that many leaders who meet her praise her talents as a negotiator.
2. Mama Tajmouati
Mama Tajmouati is Chairwoman & Chief Executive Officer at Société Nationale d’Electrolyse & de Pétrochimie (SNEP). She has been a member of Ynna Holding’s board of directors since its inception and has also been the wife of the late Hajj Miloud Chaabi and his adviser since the founding of the group. Mama Tajmouati is now in charge of the family group. In April 2016 she was unanimously appointed the group’s Chief Executive Officer by the group’s directors after a general meeting.
3. Rita Zniber
Zniber came third in Jeune Afrique’s ranking as the CEO of Diana Holding, a $3 billion (annual sales) agro-industrial conglomerate. Founded in 1956, the group has diversified businesses working in agriculture, wine-making, bottling of water and soft drinks, trading and distribution. She also established in 1992 the Rita Zniber Foundation, a non-profit organization in Morocco helping orphans find a home. She began in 1982 by helping children abandoned at birth in maternity hospitals. Today, the foundation has two centers that provide a home to 350 children until their adoption.
4. Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch
One of Morocco’s most powerful businesswomen and one of North Africa’s wealthiest female entrepreneurs, Salwa Idriss Akhannouch is the founder and chief executive officer of the Aksal Group, a Moroccan leader in luxury goods, department stores and shopping malls. The Aksal Group, which attracts 15 million visitors every year and generates an estimated turnover of 5 billion Moroccan dirhams ($514 million), owns a 50 percent stake in the Morocco Mall, one of Africa’s largest shopping centres, built at a cost of over $240 million in 2007.
5. Nadia Fettah
After graduating from the Parisian business school, HEC, Nadia Fettah made her debut at the consulting firm Arthur Andersen. She founded Maroc Invest in 2000, before joining CNIA in 2005. Since then, she has become CEO of Saham Assurances.
Ghislane Guedira, Executive Director of Finance and Management Control at the OCP; Ghita Lahlou COB of Saham Santé and Phone group; Ghita Lahlou Executive Director of the Moroccan Equipment, Supply & Import company; Nadia Fassi-Fehri CEO of Inwi; Sarah Kerroumi Ynna Holding’s General Secretary; Lamia Tazi CEO of Sothema; Laila Mamou Wafa Salaf’s Executive Director; and Intelcia’s Deputy Director-General Najat El Jebari occupy the 7th, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 28th and 29th places of this ranking.
This ranking was based on a pre-selection of more than 100 leaders from the largest companies in Francophone Africa, prepared by the editorial staff of Jeune Afrique on the basis of three criteria: the company’s workforce, highlighting its social status, its turnover, highlighting its economic strength; and the supposed influence of the company executive, which reflects both the position it occupies within the organization and its ability to influence economic and political decisions at the national and international levels.
By Morocco World News - March 8, 2017 , New York
The American Sephardi Federation’s (ASF) 20th Anniversary Edition of the New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival will celebrate Morocco’s culture of co-existence between Muslims and Jews on Opening Night, Thursday, March 30th. André Azoulay, Counsellor to Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, is to receive ASF’s Pomegranate Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his remarkable life’s work bridging religious divides through artistic and other cultural endeavors.
Azoulay’s fête, co-presented with Association Mimouna, will feature live performances by French-Algerian recording legend Enrico Macias, Kuwaiti star and human rights activist Ema Shah, Israeli-Moroccan singer Neta Elkayam and Amit Hai Cohen, and French-Moroccan opera singer David Serero, the great-grandson of Morocco’s former Chief Rabbi, Haim David Serero of Fez.
In 1992, to revitalize the historical, cultural, and spiritual legacy of his hometown, Azoulay founded the Essaouira-Mogador Foundation. The Festival of the Andalousies Atlantiques, one of the foundation’s eight cultural festivals, is the only one in the world where the stages are exclusively dedicated to Muslim and Jewish musicians, singers, and dancers. Azoulay is a strong supporter of the Association Mimouna, a movement of young Moroccan Muslims who preserve and promote the Moroccan Jewish heritage as an essential part of their Moroccan identity.
“Morocco is a vibrant and welcoming country; an exception to the global trend of increasing intolerance,” says Jason Guberman-P., Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, who recently visited Morocco, Egypt, Israel, and Cyprus as part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ Mission. “HM King Mohammed VI has restored 167 Jewish shrines and cemeteries, and Moroccans are proud of their effusive Jewish legacy. Indeed Morocco’s constitution celebrates its ‘one and indivisible national identity’ defined by its Jewish, Arab, Amazigh and other elements.”
“Counsellor Azoulay has made it his life’s mission to perpetuate this Moroccan ideal, which ‘values openness, moderation, tolerance and [the] dialog for mutual understanding between all the cultures and the civilizations of the world.’ In honoring Counsellor Azoulay, ASF hopes that others will emulate his enlightened example,” added Mr. Guberman.
On Opening Night ASF will also be honoring filmmakers Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl (Letter from Baghdad) with the Pomegranate Award for Directors, as well as Davina Pardo, who is receiving the new Rising Star Pomegranate Award dedicated in memory of the 2012 Pomegranate Award-winning Israeli-Moroccan Director Ronit Elkabetz. “Opening night is a star-studded celebration of the spirit of inclusiveness that is the Sephardi world and which we represent throughout the festival in film,” says Artistic Director Sara Nodjoumi. “Only at the NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival could such a diverse array of performers – Jews and Muslims, Moroccans, Israelis, and Kuwaitis – come together in song.”
The Pomegranate Award is designed by renowned Baghdad-born artist and ASF Board member Oded Halahmy, proprietor of the Pomegranate Gallery in Soho and Jaffa. The Festival will take place at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street). The complete list of films and ticket information can be found at www.nysephardifilmfestival.org.
By Morocco World News - March 7, 2017 , Rabat
The Japanese government donated 2.2 million dirhams to three Moroccan associations involved in several fields, including women’s economic empowerment, sustainable agriculture and education.
The donation was presented by Japanese ambassador to Morocco, Tsuneo Kurokawa, during a signing ceremony, held on Monday in Rabat, in the presence of representatives of several Moroccan ministerial departments and members of the associations concerned.
The first project, carried out by “Argana Noumskroud”, a women’s agricultural cooperative. It provides for the construction of a production center of argans in the rural commune of Ameskroud.
The second donation was granted to a project run by an association of agricultural water users in Izergane (province of Taroudant). It is meant to optimize solar energy systems for agricultural operations.
The third project, led by “Dar Talib” association, concerns the development of a boarding school for boys in the southeastern city of Tinghir.
Speaking on this occasion, the Japanese ambassador said that “since 1989, 354 projects have been funded in Morocco through the Non-Repayable Assistance Program, with a total amount of about 165,732,000 dirhams.”
By Amira El Masaiti - March 6, 2017 Rabat
Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMVI) in Rabat will open its doors in 2019 and 2020 to two of the greatest names in French history: Claude Monet and Eugène Delacroix.
The two exhibitions, as well as an exhibition on Mediterranean modernity, will become the next in a chain of prominent European painters featured at the museum, after an exhibition of Giacometti paintings in 2016 and one of Picasso’s art pieces next month. The coming exhibitions were announced by Mehdi Qotbi, the president of the National Museum Foundation of Morocco (FNMM), on March 5 after meeting with the officials of various museums in Paris.
Oscar-Claude Monet exhibition in 2019:
In Paris, Qotbi was welcomed by Patrick de Carolis, director of the Museum Marmottan Monet, which has the largest collection of the Impressionist painter, as well as Serge Lasvignes, President of the Centre Georges Pompidou and Bernard Blisténe, Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne. “During these meetings, the idea of an exhibition on Monet in 2019 in Rabat as well as another on Mediterranean modernity with the great names of the 20th and 21st centuries artists was established,” said Qotbi.
The Centre Georges Pompidou holds the second largest collection of modern and contemporary paintings in the world, after the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Oscar-Claude Monet was one of the founders of French Impressionist artistic movement and was noted to be one of the most consistent and truthful practitioners of the movement’s philosophy, which stressed on vibrant and bright use of color in paintings, capturing images of objects as if they were stolen glimpses.
“The Return of Delacroix to Morocco” exhibition in 2020:
Qotbi also spoke with Dominic de Font-Réaulx, the General Director of the National Museum Eugène Delacroix, who agreed to organize an exhibition of Delacroix in Rabat in 2020 entitled “The Return of Delacroix to Morocco”. “This is an extremely important event because Delacroix was the ambassador of light and color in Morocco in the 19th century and had nourished the Impressionists of the time,” asserted Qotbi.
Delacroix is considered to be the leader of the French Romantic School. For six months in 1832, he accompanied a French diplomatic mission to Morocco. Throughout his journey, he developed a vast repertoire of paintings and sketches inspired by his passion for the Orient, which are now considered to be masterpieces. These exhibitions aim to establish MMVI’s place in the world of modern and contemporary art museums, as well as to develop cultural programming in Morocco.
Nohaila Rami is a Moroccan professional in communication, marketing and digital media. She has previously worked as an online editor and a communication specialist
If we fail to address poverty today, the more likely it is to increase tomorrow.
Poverty is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and the whole world suffers from it. The term can be defined as the state of one who lacks a certain amount of money or material possessions.
With the growth of inequality worldwide, developing countries are not the only ones affected by the phenomenon. In fact, poverty grows every year, and some believe it can never be eradicated.
According to DoSomething.org, a movement with 5.5 million young people who want to make a positive change, nearly half the world’s population “live on less than $2.50 a day.” Considering there are over 7 billion people on the planet, that’s more than 3 billion who live in poverty. The website adds that over “1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.”
This is alarming.
So, what causes poverty, and what are its consequences?
According to the Borgen Project, a US-based nonprofit that seeks to address poverty and hunger worldwide, there are three key issues.
First, history plays an important role. Most of the poorest countries in the world were former colonies of European powers. These nations in the so-called Third World sent slaves to faraway lands and had their territories seized by colonizers—from which resources had been stolen.
Second, war and political instability are often the case in countries marred by poverty. Simply put: “Both of these factors have often been tied to histories of colonialism, but whatever the causes of war and political upheaval, it is clear that safety, stability and security are essential for subsistence and, beyond that, economic prosperity and growth.”
In other words, without peace in the land and security for all, no amount of wealth or education will benefit the everyday person. And that helps exacerbate poverty for a country’s most vulnerable people.
Third national debt is a huge problem for former colonies. As per the Borgen Project, “poor countries carry significant debt loads due to loans from wealthier nations and international financial institutions.” And when a country gets a development loan, they are often required to “open their markets to outside business and investors.” In the end, small business owners take a beating at the market place due to large conglomerates eating away at the proverbial pie.
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Poverty has its fair share of consequences on society, including malnutrition, health concerns and education.
Malnutrition: Often, people who live in poverty—both relative and extreme—rarely have access to nutritious foods. And even if they have access to such foods, they are unlikely to possess enough purchasing power to buy them, not to mention the risk of inflation driving up the price of basic essentials like bread. Health: Poverty and disease often go hand-in-hand. People who live in poverty usually “lack the resources to maintain a healthy living environment. They are almost always lacking in nutritious foods, which decreases their bodies’ ability to fight off diseases.”
Education: Children who grow up in poverty often do not attend school from a young age. While school is free in countries like Morocco, getting an education does cost money. For example, school uniforms and supplies such as books are often out reach for many people. In the end, many kids drop out of school and work with their families.
The Borgen Project sums it up: “Whatever the reason, there is a clear correlation between families living in poverty and their lack of education. Without the ability to attend school, many people go through life illiterate.” As a result, people run the risk of an endless cycle of poverty when generations of a family go through the same thing: being born into a poor household, dropping out of school at an early age, having children and living a life in poverty all over again.
Indeed, while each country differs in their experience with poverty, there are similarities around the world.
In Morocco, the majority of those who live in poverty reside in rural areas, since the people there lack the resources to access clean water, electricity and quality education. Even with its major improvements to reduce the level of poverty in rural parts, Morocco still falls far short of other lower middle-income countries.
There are key questions that must be asked: What is the solution to prevent the expansion of poverty in Morocco and the world in general? And how can civil society and government solve this critical situation?
Many people do not see the bigger picture here: If we fail to address the causes of poverty today, the more likely it is to increase tomorrow. And, as a result, the more it will harm our children and their children.
The future generation is at stake. The time to act is now.
*[This article was written for the 2016 Voices of the World Program. In partnership with the United Nations Foundation, Fair Observer taught more than 400 students in six countries—India, Morocco, Kenya, Austria, Mexico and the United States—about journalism and substantive issues such as water, health and poverty. Click here to read more.]
NATALIA DIDOVICH March 7 2017
By Youssef Igrouane - March 8, 2017 Rabat
On International Women’s Day, Jawjab, Moroccan incubator of talents and web content released a video portraying 100 years of Moroccan female beauty and modernity. To mark the 40 annual celebration of the women’s day, which is annually taken place on March 8, Jawjab aims to pay a tribute to the Moroccan women and their struggle and sacrifices for equality. “We want to remind people how the Moroccan woman was free and modern in the past – we miss the freedom that the women strongly expressed,” said Younes Lazrak, Jawjab Manager.
Lazrak went on to add that the one-minute video is designed to salute all women, as well as their rights, freedom and the openness they have expressed for 100 years.
The goal of the video, which portrays the diverse beauty of Moroccan women and their historic modernity since 1915, is to demonstrate the courage of Moroccan women in order to display their beauty throughout history, according to Lazrak. The video also aims to transmit a message to the viewers that “women’s freedom has existed for a long time,” Lazrak said. “Nowadays, women’s freedom has decreased.”
“There is something interesting I want to point out – women nowadays have been regaining the possession of their body,” Lazrak stated. “Whatever the woman wants to do with her body is considered her own business – the rest of the world has no eligibility to poke into her own business.” Jawjab, created in June 2016, aims to support youth in the region that have the passion for e-videos, and offers them the technical equipment and trainings to produce quality videos.
March 11, 2017 by Press Release Washington, March 10, 2017
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$150 million financing in support of the Moroccan government’s goal of modernizing its national identification system and provide financing to promote innovative startups and job creation. With an aim of enhancing social and economic inclusion, the two operations will enable better identification of individuals for better targeting of social programs and lifting barriers to accessing finance for startups and small enterprises.
Almost 5.3 million Moroccans, of which two-thirds from rural areas, live under the threat of falling back into poverty due to their socio-economic conditions. The US$100 million Identity and Targeting for Social Protection Project aim to develop systems to ensure that social programs are better targeted and reach the most vulnerable Moroccans. Specifically, it will fund the development of a National Population Register (NPR) whereby each individual will have a unique identifying number (UIN) that will facilitate current processes of identity verification as well as a Social Register (SR), which will collect socio-economic information to identify the most disadvantaged households and individuals, eligible for social benefits. The SR will enhance social spending by reducing the margins of errors and will allow greater coordination among the various social programs and line ministries. Both the NPR and the SR will be managed by a National Agency for Registers, a central institution which will be responsible for managing and assuring the best utilization of information.
The World Bank estimates that the project will help double the impact of poverty reduction programs such as RAMED and Tayssir and will contribute to savings of over 30 million dollars per year as program resources will be allocated only to the most vulnerable households and individuals. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Interior over the next five years, through a result-based financing – whereby funds are disbursed upon completion of agreed objectives. Along with resources, the Word Bank will provide technical assistance to help the country develop the institutional, legal, and operational frameworks to ensure the proper use and sustainability of the new systems.
“The current program will benefit nearly 9.3 million Moroccans from the most disadvantaged segments of the population enabling them to have greater access to social protection programs. With a better designed and managed identification system, Morocco will be able to implement more targeted social programs that can have tangible impact on the population” said Diego Angel Urdinola, World Bank Senior economist and Task Team Leader for the new project.
The US$50 million Financing Innovative Startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) project, approved today, will help address a market gap in the supply of equity financing for innovative young small and medium enterprises. Evidence from the Middle East and North Africa Region shows that startups have the highest contribution to net job creation. Despite being the best regional performer with regard to access to finance for SMEs, Morocco has not been able to support innovative and high-growth potential firms at the initial stages of their development. “Young small enterprises are faced with challenges to mobilize financing; mainly because banks cannot finance start-ups (without substantial collateral) due to their lack of an existing sustainable revenue stream, and their perceived high risk, said Randa Akeel, Senior Financial sector specialist and Task Team Leader.
The project will invest in innovative startups and SMEs through private funds to selected promising investments. The project will also address gaps in the supply of investment know-how and support that most entrepreneurs need to create viable startups by providing resources to ecosystem support providers for mentoring and investment-readiness programs. Overall, the project will contribute to increasing Morocco’s innovative private sector through the creation of a Venture Capital market in Morocco
“Both operations support the government’s commitment to reduce social exclusion and promote private sector growth“ said Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Maghreb Country director, “improving targeting of social programs, strengthening social services and facilitating access to opportunities for entrepreneurs is the path to an inclusive growth that is beneficial to all Moroccans.”
By Zineb Raji - February 11, 2017 , Rabat
How intensely he asked for money at the traffic lights attracted my attention and compassion. He wasn’t wearing any heavy clothes, but he didn’t seem to mind the freezing cold weather, so focused he was on making his requests before the traffic lights turned green.
Even during the coldest days of the year, this boy, around 7 or 8 years old, wore only a bleached green shirt and long, blue trousers that were too big for him. His almond shaped eyes darted all around with a diamond-like sparkle. He had an innocent red face, dry with a chapped nose and trembling purple lips. He ran around knocking on some cars’ windows and waving to others, trying to catch as many of them as possible.
I watched him as he playfully skipped away from cars that had given him money and also as he shuffled away with a bowed head from those that didn’t, only to once again open his eyes widely in expectation of a more generous car to pass by. While the boy was biting his tongue looking for his next target, I wished that he’d been wearing a hat, gloves, waterproof shoes, and a heavy sweater, as the cold and chilling wind were blowing through his curly hair and loose clothes.
What a stupid wish, I then told myself. He shouldn’t be begging for money at traffic lights in the first place. He should be at home studying or enjoying a warm meal. I did not get a chance to talk to him or even make eye contact, but my thoughts remained with that boy for a while. The least I could do would be to clarify my wishes for him. So, I closed my eyes and imagined a different life for this kid, a life overflowing with vivid colors. I wished that he had a family that showed him love and took good care of his needs. While one cannot ask for perfect equality, I wished that at least he lived with a family that did not bear the brunt of inequality, a family that could afford a comfortable home, healthy food every day, clean clothes, books, and other life necessities.
I hoped that a lack of money would not impact his emotional and behavioral development nor would it affect his ability to evolve and flourish. I hoped that a lack of income and resources would not deprive that boy of a happy childhood with happy memories and would not expose him to psychological or physical violence, beyond the disdainful looks of others.
I hoped that a shortage of financial resources would not influence his chances in life and prevent him from enjoying his hobbies and sports. I wished that he, and other children like him, could enjoy a decent standard of living, and that instead of being occupied with gaining money for their subsistence, they would do homework, read stories, play with their friends, enjoy their childhood, and dream about what they want to be when they grow up. I hoped that he enjoyed high self-esteem and was not ashamed of who he is. I hoped he would not get involved in violent crimes or addictions and would maintain good physical and mental health throughout his life.
I hoped that he would receive good education to help himself and others and that he would learn how to harness the powers of his mind, to be creative, and to be an artist, a wise man, or whatever he wanted to be. I hoped that he would learn from his mistakes, teach others what he knows, and travel to interesting places and see the world. I hoped he would be positive no matter what life threw in his face. I hoped he would have a well balanced, confident character and a charismatic personality. I wished he could see a bright future awaiting for him. I hoped that someday he will be able to build a family, to live out his aspirations and dreams, and to tell thoughtful stories to his children.
I wished that this boy lived in a place without nepotism, corruption, or injustice, a place with strong social and ethical standards. I wished that he lived in a place of equal opportunities that put nobody at disadvantage except those who so choose. I wished that he lived in an inclusive, secure, stable, and safe place. I wished that he was in a place where people’s resources were allocated effectively and not squandered, misallocated, or mysteriously missing. I wished he was born in a place that valued and appreciated human dignity and took good care of women like his grandmother, mother, sister, wife, and daughter. I wished that he had been born in a place where policies were crafted to protect the vulnerable and respond to their basic needs.
I hoped that he would someday say that being a citizen of the country is a gift and a blessing that he will forever appreciate and treasure. I wished that he wouldn’t spend lots of money but rather live a good and cherished life. I wished not that this boy and others like him lived in another country, but rather that their country was a different one, the right one for them, a country whose deserved progress and growth that could be supported by the most vulnerable segment of its population, children, who hold in their hearts and minds a huge and incredible potential for its salvation
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