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Morocco Week in Review 
May 16, 2020

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Trump to Appoint Morocco’s Moncef Slaoui to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine

The Moroccan expert denied he was part of the US COVID-19 task force in March.

By  Safaa Kasraoui - May 13, 2020 Rabat

Moroccan expert in immunology and vaccinology Moncef Slaoui will lead Trump’s team tasked with developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The expert will guide a group of medical professionals to formulate a vaccine to battle the pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people across the world, according to Politico. Slaoui will help tackle the task alongside experts from the Health and Human Services and Defense Departments.
While President Donald Trump is seeking a quick solution to the pandemic, health officials continue to express doubts that scientists working to develop a vaccine could achieve their goal this year.

The pandemic has killed approximately 83,953 people in the US as of May 13. The country is now the world’s hardest-hit, with over 1.41 million confirmed cases to date. The former chairman of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division and Perna, Moncef Slaoui will be in charge of overseeing “Operation Warp Speed,” sources told Bloomberg Law today. Prior to today’s announcement, Slaoui had denied his involvement with the US COVID-19 task force.

UN Votes Moroccan Innovation Best COVID-19 Protection for Farmers

Project Attaissir allows farmers to respect social distancing rules by controlling their crops remotely.

By Zuza Nazaruk is a Rotterdam-based journalist who focuses on social inclusion and climate emergency. May 10, 2020 Rabat

Participants of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) webinar voted a Moroccan digital solution Attaissir (“Tighten”) as the best innovation for the protection of farmers and vulnerable groups in the face of COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  Cosumar Group, a leading manufacturer of white sugar in Morocco, created Attaisir with a Moroccan startup in 2019 to respond to challenges of cultivating and harvesting sugar crops, particularly sugar cane and beet.  By digitizing the processes of cultivation and harvesting, the innovation facilitates the management of key stages of cultivation. Cosumar estimates that 80,000 of its strategic partners—farmers growing the sugar plants—benefit from the initiative.

Building the Morocco We Want After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Despite the damage the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to millions of Moroccans, it is a historic opportunity for the state and society to rebuild.

By Samir Bennis is a political analyst. May 12, 2020 Washington D.C

Within a few months of its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has had many disastrous effects on countries across the world, including Morocco. But not everything that resulted from the pandemic is negative. Some of it is even beneficial. There are several positive lessons we can learn from this serious challenge afflicting Morocco. The most important lesson is that Morocco must capitalize on the positive momentum the crisis generated and the historic reconciliation between public institutions and the Moroccan people. We must make this reconciliation a starting point for building a new Morocco where all Moroccans enjoy freedom, equality before the law, and equal opportunities—a starting point where Moroccans reject all the aberrant practices that stand in the way of building a developed, prosperous, and open society.      

Al-Yūsī’s Discourses: Situating a Sufi Scholar in a Vivid 17th-Century Morocco

By M Lynx Qualey April 16, 2020

What was life like for a Sufi intellectual in seventeenth-century Morocco? While that wasn’t what al-Ḥasan al-Yūsī set out to tell us in The Discourses composed in the 1680s CE, the book nonetheless gives us a picture of his life and time:

The peripatetic al-Ḥasan al-Yūsī was in his fifties, and arguably the most influential and well-known Moroccan intellectual of his generation, when he found himself sent by Moulay Ismāʿīl to live near the ruins of the Dilāʾ Sufi lodge. It was in this moment, when he was under quasi–house arrest by Morocco’s second Alawite ruler, that the scholar set down The Discourses, the first volume of which has now been edited and translated to English as a “labor of love” by Justin Stearns, Associate Professor in Arab Crossroads Studies at NYU Abu Dhabi. Although al-Yūsī is remembered foremost as a logician and a saint, The Discourses presents other sides to the seventeenth-century Sufi intellectual, offering up his culinary and digestive opinions, his thoughts on composing

In Photos: Exploring the Beaches of Morocco

The line where the ocean met the sky entranced me. The distinct separation was barely visible as the sky darkened.

By Harrison Daley - Harrison, an intern at Morocco World News, studied culture and current affairs in Morocco through SIT Study Abroad. May 10, 2020 Rabat

Large impenetrable waves, faintly illuminated in the warm glow of street lamps, crashed into a jagged rocky shoreline. In the distance, clouds angled over the peaceful horizon. The last bits of sunlight penetrated through them, breaking through the seams.   My feet dangled over a rocky precipice, the foaming mouth of the ocean breathing below. The only sounds were those of passing cars and the giant swells rising and falling.  The sharp rocks twisted into strange formations. Their uneven surfaces periodically disappeared, engulfed in dark, powerful water.  A fire burned on the reef, a few silhouettes gathered around it. The rough coast, covered in shadow, extended into the distance.  The line where the ocean met the sky entranced me. The distinct separation was barely visible as the sky darkened. 

One of my most memorable nights in Rabat was spent exploring its rugged shoreline. I walked several miles along the coast, amazed at the intense beauty below me. I eventually ended up sitting on a cliff edge, quietly observing the seething water underneath my feet. It was a lot to take in. I grew up in the American midwest, and had never seen anything quite like Rabat’s sharp and tumultuous coastline.

In Photos: Morocco’s Subtle Beauty

Sometimes shadows and simplistic beauty invoke the strongest sense of awe.

By Harrison Daley - Harrison, an intern at Morocco World News, studied culture and current affairs in Morocco through SIT Study Abroad. May 7, 2020

While studying journalism in Rabat, I was consistently dazzled by Morocco’s unique culture. The intricate murals, ancient archways, and smooth ocean horizon were captivating, evoking a deep sense of wonder.  As I traversed Rabat’s streets and traveled along its jagged coastline, I was taken aback by Morocco’s distinctive beauty. It was everywhere, even in the smallest subtleties.  I began to focus on these nuances, attempting to capture them in my photos. My goal was to encapsulate Morocco in my photography, down to the feelings it induced.   Instead of aimlessly snapping my camera, I was thoughtful of every frame, every background, and every subject. In my mind, opportunities were everywhere–I had just had to discover them. The smallest details, such as sunlight casting shadows in an archway, or a cat lounging next to a stone wall, have the power to tell a story.  They tell the story of Morocco’s mystery and wonder through the lense of my perspective.  Here are some of my best photos from Morocco. I feel these photos truly capture the essence and unique beauty of the country. If you have not visited Morocco, hopefully they will inspire you to one day witness this enchanting country.

Ramadan in Morocco: A Bohemian South Korean Chef’s Treasured Experience

“There are several reasons why I left to live in Morocco. Firstly ... I became Muslim in Morocco, so I feel like it’s my second home. Secondly, foods.”

By Taha Mebtoul - May 12, 2020 Rabat

Mino was a professional musician in South Korea and had no thoughts of converting to Islam or moving to Morocco when he first went on a trip to the North African country in 2006 to learn about the “Darbouka,” or goblet drum. His experience in Morocco eventually steered his life in a new direction. “There are several reasons why I left [South Korea] to live in Morocco,” he tells viewers in a Q&A on his Youtube channel. “Firstly … I became Muslim in Morocco, so I feel like it’s my second home. Secondly, foods.” Mino runs the “Bohemian Kitchen” channel on Youtube, with dozens of cooking tutorials on both Moroccan and Korean meals………

Morocco Reveals ‘Wiqaytna’ Application for COVID-19 Tracking

The application notifies its users whenever they make contact with COVID-19 patients.

By Yahia Hatim - May 12, 2020 Rabat

Morocco’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Interior revealed the first details of a soon-to-be-launched mobile application to track COVID-19 infections during an online press conference on May 11. Titled “Wiqaytna” (“Our safety”), the application received the approval of the National Commission for the Protection of Personal Data on May 10. A multidisciplinary team from several public and private institutions took part in the development of the application. The software is currently in a trial phase and will soon be launched for public use, but the launch date is not yet official.

Ministry of Education Launches Survey to Assess Remote Learning

The ministry ventured into the unprecedented initiative of facilitating 100% remote learning nationwide in mid-March after the suspension of face-to-face classes.

By Yahia Hatim - May 11, 2020 Rabat

Morocco’s Ministry of Education launched on Sunday, May 10 a survey for students, parents, and teachers to assess the remote learning initiative, launched after the suspension of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire aims to determine how well learners, parents, and teachers are able to use technological devices to participate in remote classes, as well as how the initiative affects the learning process in comparison to face-to-face classes. The ministry also hopes to evaluate the pros and cons of remote learning to further improve methods for the remaining period of the nationwide lockdown, and to study ways to implement remote learning in regular curricula going forward.

My Life in Morocco | Episode 3 : Quarantine Continues (apartment tour!)

Living in Morocco during quarantine - apartment tour, some cost of living info, getting stuck on the roof, and making friends with some animals. This is episode 3!

American Experiencing Ramadan in Morocco: Fasting Progress and Struggles...and MINT TEA
As an American experiencing Ramadan during an epidemic lock down, I find fasting with very few distractions, or even any accountability, incredibly challenging. Today, I crack open my journal for a glimpse into my personal thoughts concerning my progress...and struggles over the past two weeks. And don't miss out on my effort in making that legendary Moroccan mint tea!

AMERICAN Experiencing RAMADAN in Morocco: My Love for the Street Markets...and HARIRA

Morocco Quarantine Souk of Tamraght, Slovenian and American Shopping
Shopping in the Tamraght Souk during the Morocco state of emergency. Vlog update of an American and Slovenian stuck in Morroco. We go to the souk with dogs and buy some almonds while we have an English and darija lesson on numbers. After we buy some vegetables

How North Africa is Responding to COVID-19

While the pandemic has swiftly spread all over the world, with the US being currently the new epicenter, Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), could be the next epicenter.

By Moha Ennaji is an author and international consultant. May 11, 2020 Rabat

UN officials state that the COVID-19 pandemic will probably kill at least 300,000 people in Africa and drive nearly 130 million into poverty and famine. They have also underscored that the continent suffers from a dire shortage of hospital beds and ventilators to deal with this pandemic.  In North Africa, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases so far has been limited, despite the region’s proximity to Europe. As of May 10, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco had a total of 12,818 cases and 735 deaths. Algeria has had the most deaths, with 502, followed by Morocco with 188, and Tunisia with 45 deaths, according to John Hopkins University Center.  Recognizing the vulnerability of their strained healthcare systems, North African countries have been proactive, closing airports, ports, borders, restricting travel, closing schools, cafes, mosques, establishing stay at home orders and setting up curfews. While in normal times, these would be considered extreme measures, they too often now seem necessary although temporary actions to halt the spread of the pandemic

sourdough khobz ʿarabi

May 10, 2020May 10, 2020 

I have been baking a lot lately (original, I know). Usually this means I’m making either a run-of-the-mill sourdough loaf (following this excellent primer from the Kitchn) or this evergreen Smitten Kitchen buckle, swapping in whatever fruits are in season –– it is a particularly great way to use up the sad apples at the bottom of your fridge –– and substituting different spices based on pairings I find in Niki Segnit’s indispensable The Flavor Thesaurus. This week I made a pear & blueberry buckle with cardamom and ginger.

Recently, however, in preparation for an appearance on Tony Tahhan‘s wonderful #TetaThursdays Instagram Live series, and with a container of discarded sourdough starter growing by the day, I set about experimenting with techniques and recipes for making khobz ʿarabi (literally, Arabic bread, aka pita bread) using only discarded starter as the leavening agent. If you are longing for fresh khobz ʿarabi and have some sourdough discard handy, this is the recipe for you! No yeast required. Recipe & details after the jump. (I’m still working on capturing great images of this recipe, so in the meantime enjoy this gorgeous shot from Tony’s IG page!)


Falling in Love with Ramadan in Casablanca

Growing up in the UK, I knew nothing about Ramadan, I did not know that Ramadan is about much more than fasting, nor did I know that I would fall in love with it.

By Madeleine Handaji - May 7, 2020

Running down the winding, uneven staircase towards a huge wooden door that needs kicking at the bottom to open, I try very hard to balance the tray of dates, harira, seafood pastilla, and fresh lemon and ginger juice in my shaking hands. As I reach the bottom step, crash, the door opens and an old woman bustles through it, seeing me just in time. Smiling, the old woman, heavily laden with bags and boxes, shuffles aside to let me rush through the door. She shouts that she will leave a box of chebakia outside my flat, as she makes her slow but purposeful way up the stairs. 
Outside in the narrow street, the air smells of grilling meat and excitement, jovial shouts and urgent conversations echo with the breeze. Tired, happy faces gather as two men roll out long, woven prayer mats across the dirty square.

Moroccan Souqs Inspire Summer 2020 Nail Polish Collection From Essie

With shade names like “souq up the sun” and “worth the tassel,” the Moroccan inspiration behind the nail polish collection is hard to miss.

By Morgan Hekking - May 11, 2020 Rabat

American nail care brand ‘essie’ has released its summer 2020 collection, and the vibrant colors of Moroccan souqs are the inspiration behind the shades.  The limited-edition collection features “six bright nail polish shades inspired by wandering through the bustling bazaars of Morocco,” the brand says in its ad campaign. Each polish retails for $9, and the collection will be available throughout summer 2020.  “Souq up the sun,” a radiant coral shade, represents the Moroccan desert heat, while “mosaic on down,” an enchanting gold, summons visions of wandering through a maze-like market studded with glimmering treasures.

Travel Agencies Present Pathway of Recovery for Moroccan Tourism.

The Moroccan Travel Management Club suggests governmental support for travel agencies to help them recover from the crisis.

By Zuza Nazaruk is a Rotterdam-based journalist who focuses on social inclusion and climate emergency. May 10, 2020 Rabat

The Moroccan Travel Management Club (MTM Club) prepared a report outlining the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry. The report also includes a series of recommendations for travel agencies and the government to help the agencies get out of the crisis. 
MTM Club, an association of the largest hospitality agencies in Morocco, joined in the collective effort of state and non-state actors to foster the economic recovery of Morocco.  “The 20 largest agencies in Morocco grouped in this club have decided to make their voices heard in a difficult economic and social context,” said Mohammed Setti, the general coordinator of the MTM Club, in a statement to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

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