Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review
February 25, 2012
Google recreates the long journey that Ibn Battuta undertook seven centuries ago on the doodle that it put up on its home page in the Arab countries to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Moroccan explorer. Regarded as the greatest medieval Arab traveller and his book the Rihlah describes his travels that covered more than 120,000 kilometres tha covered an areas of 44 modern countries. Ibn Battuta had served as a Qazi in India for about six years during Muhammad bin Tughluq's rule and travelled extensively across the country. He began his travels at the age of in 1325 at the age of 21.Google has put up a scrollable Ibn Battuta doodle that depicts his journey through six slides, starting and ending in Morocco via Egypt, Turkey, India, China and other countries. The doodle also shows Delhi's Qutub Minar. The last slide shows Ibn Battuta back in his home country Morocco dictating an account of his journeys to Ibn Juzayy, that would become his book Rihla. The Ibn Battuta doodle is Google's 1311th doodle since the first ever Google doodle back on August 30, 1998. To see the Ibn Battuta birthday Google doodle visit www.google.co.ma (For updates you can share with your friends, follow IBNLive on Facebook, Twitter and Google+) #Ibn Battuta #Google doodles #Google #Muhammad bin Tughluq #Morocco
Food prices lead rise in Morocco's January inflation
Tue Feb 21, 2012 RABAT (Reuters)
Inflation in Morocco, as measured by consumer prices, stood at 0.9 percent in January led mostly by higher food prices, official data showed on Monday.
Food prices, which account for about 40 percent of the consumer price index's total weighting, rose 1.6 percent in January compared to their level a year earlier, the state's High Planning Authority said.Underlying inflation, a gauge used by Morocco's central bank to set the benchmark interest, stood in January at 1.2 percent compared to its level in January, 2011, the authority said.On a monthly basis, inflation rose 0.2 percent from December after a 0.3 percent rise in food prices.Inflation in 2011 stood at 0.9 percent, which was below the central bank's 1 percent forecast. The state has spent the equivalent of 6 percent of the $97-billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) subsidises staples, mostly wheat and sugar, as well as energy products.
Man 'Born to Explore' Takes TV Viewers to Untouched Morocco
by Andrea Mustain, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer - Feb 24, 2012
Adventurers short on time and travel money can still make a trip this weekend to one of the most inaccessible and exotic spots in Morocco. With the click of a remote, viewers can visit Taffraout Isserce, a tiny mountain villageof only 200 people, thanks to a new episode of "Born to Explore," a television series that sends host Richard Wiese to far-flung spots around the globe in search of adventure.A lifelong explorer, Wiese has spent the first season of the show searching out encounters with wildlife and untouched cultures. In this week's episode, he certainly succeeded in the latter. According to the Moroccan officials who helped arrange the visit, when Wiese and his crew arrived in Taffarout Isserce in November 2011, they were the first non-Moroccans to set foot there."I was as skeptical as can be," Wiese told OurAmazingPlanet. "Morocco is a really well- traveled place, so I thought, how could you visit a place that non-Moroccans had never been?"Yet according to Wiese's interpreter and residents of the tiny hamlet, the Americans would be the first foreigners to visit.
Extraordinary ordinary experiences Even with the help of a local guide and a newly built road, getting to the village was quite a journey, one that took the crew along winding dirt roads high into Morocco's Atlas Mountains. When they finally arrived, "I would say the entire village was out there to greet us," Wiese said. (Along with goats and cows.)The next moments, Wiese said, might have been torn from the dusty pages of an old National Geographic. The crew was led to a large, communal kitchen, lit by shafts of sunlight and abuzz with butter-making and bread-baking, where traditional tea was served. [See images from his Morocco trip here.]It's on just such experiences with ordinary people that Wiese said he wants to focus his show. The son of an airline pilot, Wiese has been traveling the world since he was a young child. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro when he was 12, and, by his mid-40s, in 2002, he became the youngest president to ever lead the storied Explorer's Club.Yet his youthful bravado has given way to more nuanced desires."When I was younger, I did much more testosterone-fueled things," Wiese said. "But now I'm taking time to meet the porters who used to carry my bags. I'm meeting families."
Making connectionsNow, Wiese said, it's as much about the human connection as it is about the adventure."I still like to race and climb and run, but I'm secure enough now that I don't feel like I have to wrestle an animal," Wiese said. "I can if it's appropriate!" he added. "But I'm not interested in almost dying every week."And, he said, meeting people from other cultures should just be part of an explorer's job."One of the roles of an explorer is to go to a land different from their own and say, 'Hey, these are what these people are really like,'" Wiese said. "And once you look somebody from another land straight in the eyes, and you see a smile, you never think about that place the same way. I think it gives you a reason to feel optimistic about the world."Catch Wiese's latest visit to out-of-the-way places on Saturday, Feb. 25. The "Morocco: The Lost Village" episode of "Born to Explore" will be broadcast on most ABC stations. Reach Andrea Mustain at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaMustain. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.
Morocco: Street Fare, unpolished But Overpowering
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
While it is unusual to find more than a cursory description of the fine street food of the Fez Medina, Serhua has done such a wonderful job - you can almost taste the food! Serhua is that as a 23 year old student she has managed to trave the world doing what she likes most... as she says "It just dawned on me one day that this is what I would love to do. Writing, and documenting my thoughts regarding all the great (mostly food) places I've been to. All over the world. I'm not quite all over the world yet, but since I was living in Hong Kong over the summer, I thought it was a good time to start. Since then, I've returned to Singapore, and embarked on countless other adventures: Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Croatia, UK, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Austria, Greece, Eastern Europe, and more. Hopefully it never ends.
Street food in Morocco is a dizzy affair. At once familiar and exotic, the subtle twists that made certain dishes completely different really blew me away. We spent three days in Fez, (and two in Marrakech), but I suspect we have barely scratched the surface of Moroccan street fare. Each morning, we would begin our day at a completely local joint for mint tea and coffee. Tasting coffee all over the world is one of my favourite travel to-do, even if I can't put a finger on the differences sometimes. The moroccan mint tea, a local favourite, was both soothing and refreshing. It may look a tad intimidating and unpolished, but it really wasn't as overpowering as it looked - Mint tea in Morocco is made using brewed green tea as the base, so mint leaves are only thrown in at the last moment. Note of caution: Steeping the mint leaves for more than two minutes may cause acid reflux!The Secret Bakery
This unassuming hole in the wall bakery was one of our greatest discoveries in Fez. They seemed to be always churning out freshly baked pastries throughout the day, and we couldn't resist buying a few to try each time. We went back so often, the owners began recognising us! Everything tasted wonderful (especially fresh from the oven), but we were particularly partial to the chewy dates pastry and heavenly cream puffs drenched in chocolate! I can't praise this gem enough.Instead of going for Beghrir, the classic Moroccan pancakes (second from the left in the photo above), we tried out something I still haven't been able to identify (help, anyone?) - what looks to me like a charred rice pancake which we had with Moroccan butter and honey.I must say, even though the pancake itself was a little dry and tasteless, the combination of fillings was wicked! Msemen (bottom left in the first picture) is a cousin of the Indian prata and is definitely a must try as well. If the riad you're staying at serves that for breakfast, count your blessings and eat your fill. If they don't, try to get freshly pan-fried ones, not those pre-cooked and stacked up as pictured. They go best with Moroccan butter!After passing by this stall that sold refrigerated white drinks a couple of times, our curiosity finally got the better of us and we approached the lovely stall owners to ask what those white drinks in glasses were. "Raib - home-made yoghurt", they said. We were sold. It had the familiar taste of sweetened yoghurt but the consistency was less that of commercial smoothness and closer to that of a milkshake (reminiscent of India's lassi). Totally delicious!All sorts of juices were available along the streets too. We had raisin juice and pistachio juice, among others. Isn't it interesting that they use raisins instead of fresh grapes? It looked so thick and the idea of raisins crushed into juice was so unnatural that I felt gutsy just for trying. The taste was certainly unique - much lighter than I'd imagined, surprisingly refreshing and intensely sweet. Pistachio juice was an equally surprising beverage - I never knew juices could be made from nuts and still taste this light and refreshing. Really interesting juices, though I'd have the yoghurt over these any day.The Unapologetically Addictive Sidekick - Spicy Vermicelli
Snack AMINE sold a mean fried chicken. I was walking by the stall when the aroma of fried chicken and grilled meat stopped me in my tracks. A closer glance at what the locals were eating had me point at the fried chicken, and my friends and I have been fans ever since. It wasn't so much the chicken (though it was undeniably tasty, for sure), nor the fries. Instead, it was the inconspicuous noodles tucked beneath the chicken (you can see a glimpse of it in the picture, just beside the chicken on the left) - an orange-tinged seasoned rice vermicelli (bee hoon). Unassuming but so unapologetically addictive. The spicy, salty and sour flavour combination really kept us wanting more! I sincerely hope that one day, I'll find out exactly what they call this noodle and get a copy of its recipe.Khobz (Flat Bread) with Fried Liver, anyone?
Khobz (flat bread) laced with all sorts of fillings (beef, chicken, etc) can be found almost everywhere in Morocco. We had a few of the beef ones when we were hungry - they were tasty, but hardly a revelation. Then one day we saw this stall completely enveloped by locals. When we closed in to "investigate", I was immediately intrigued. The three stall owners were operating like a single machine - two of them deep frying slices of livers, sunshine eggs, green chilli and potato cakes, while the other assembles the sandwich, slitting the middle of the Khobz to form a pocket, then stuffing it with freshly fried liver and additional fillings. I think I might have drooled a little. Alas, by the time the queue reached me, the fried livers were sold out and I had Ma'Quoda (potato puffs) in my Khobz instead. Tasty, yes, but not what I really needed to try. So I came back the next day and finally laid my hands on the fried liver sandwich! Had some fried green chilli to go with it too. The strong, distinct liver flavour punctuated with sharp, bright notes from the green chilli and a slight, sour tang from the red chilli sauce - just brilliant.
Morocco And The Political Potential Of Renewable Energy.
Midway through a conversation with Saïd Mouline last week, the director of Morocco’s Agency for the Development of Renewable Energy, it became clear that building the region’s alternative capacity meant much more than just cleaner energy.Faced with a dramatically different economic and political landscape than just a year ago, Mouline and the Moroccan government in Rabat have set out to not only establish themselves as green energy leaders in the Mediterranean, but possibly even use that new focus to shift the balance of influence in the region.
To be clear, the country’s initial embrace of renewable energy is rooted firmly in the country’s lopsided dependence on foreign energy. While sharing the North African coast with some of the continent’s largest oil and gas producers, Morocco is left to import 95 percent of its energy needs, putting it in a precarious situation where energy prices can, and have, skyrocketed overnight.
Starting a few years ago, the Moroccan government got serious about building the country’s renewable capacity to help meet domestic demand and tap into growing interest from Europe for new energy sources. Frustrated with space constraints and resource uncertainty, Europe had begun exploring the idea of tapping into North Africa’s solar and wind potential with proposals for sprawling projects meant to cushion EU demand and help countries reach 20 percent by 2020 renewable goals. In Morocco, this was followed by government energy efficiency campaigns and funding for renewable projects, setting a 42 percent renewable goal by 2020. Anchored by a $9 billion solar plan announced in 2009, the country’s renewable path was meant to both establish the country as a green leader in North Africa and remove the threat of price fluctuations brought on by its dependence on imports. And until recently, that was limit of the country’s energy outlook. Hardly modest, but that was where it seemed to end.
However, as Rabat watched North Africa undergo the deep political and economic evolution of last year, Morocco’s renewable energy potential took on a new importance. With new governments in place in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, long-delayed partnerships in the region seemed suddenly possible. Proposed trading blocs that had sat in limbo for decades were brought up for discussion again. In late January, Algeria even welcomed their first official visitor from Rabat since 2003 with the arrival of Morocco’s foreign minister. For energy purposes – both traditional and otherwise – an economically unified North Africa would give them a stronger hand to play when it came to producing and exporting energy to the European market. Planning and investment efforts could focus on local priorities, like domestic job creation and energy needs in Fez, not just Madrid. By offering up a more cohesive energy production effort in the Maghreb, energy actors like Mouline reasoned, the area could have more say about funding, revenue sharing and sustainability. The shift would, they hoped, give North Mediterranean energy consumers more of a stake in the South’s overall wellbeing, moving away from the long-standing focus on security and oil.“ By developing green energy, we are creating solutions for Europe – not just economic but social solutions for the future,” he told me last week. As recently as last year, oil and gas firms in the region came under fire from local governments and community leaders for a lack of attention for job training and support.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the sentiment. Earlier in the week, members of a project team at a Barcelona-based think tank focused on the future of renewable energy in the Mediterranean said the feeling was widespread. With new governments in place, they thought there was real potential for building new projects and funding agreements around North African priorities, not just EU sustainability goals and cheaper prices for Europe. Pitching projects from Tangiers to Cairo would need to start with meeting local needs and move out from there. Education, jobs, research and development for in-country workers and students would need to accompany any new projects. Or at least, that’s what they are hoping will happen. In practice, that sort of influence through renewable energy could be a long way off. Will Pearson, an energy analyst at the Eurasia Group offered that the kind of development necessary to get the European market on board would first require dealing with issues of transport infrastructure and funding thanks to the economic restrictions in Europe, both of which are unlikely to be remedied in the near future.
For now, it’s far too early to see how keen new governments in Tunis and Tripoli will be to partner up as the economic realities of funding a newly open state become clear. Despite a pledge for twice-a-year meetings between foreign ministers, Algeria and Morocco still face two decades of closed borders and disputes over the Western Sahara that show little sign of fading. Plus, existing projects are already taking shape in some communities over others, highlighting the difference in progress between the various Maghreb states when it comes to renewable development.For now, Mouline and other renewable energy proponents in the region have plenty to keep them busy while new and existing government try to find ways to break down the obstacles that have kept efforts like the Arab Maghreb Union dormant for so long. In addition to stepping up support for coalition projects like Desertec, Morocco’s government and Mouline’s Agency for the Development of Renewable Energy have launched a series of localized efforts to promote both efficiency and renewable solutions. The projects will be explored further in later posts.
Morocco tourism grows slightly despite world economic downturn
Number of tourists visiting Morocco is up by one percent, at just over 9.34 million, despite world economic downturn.
Middle East Online First Published: 2012-02-25 RABAT
The number of tourists visiting Morocco was up by one percent last year, at just over 9.34 million, despite the world economic downturn, tourism official Kamal Bensouda said Thursday. Tourist income was also up, by four percent, at 59 billion dirhams (5.36 billion euros, $7.12 billion), he told MAP news agency. The steady results came despite recession in Europe, a continent which accounts for 80 percent of Morocco's tourists, Bensouda said. Most visitors are French, Spanish, or Moroccans living abroad, he added. Morocco was the only North African country which did not see a drop in tourism last year, when Arab Spring revolutions swept away the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Agadir, one of the preferred destinations for tour operators, illustrates 2011's drop in tourist activity. Last January, Agadir registered in its classified hotels a total of 48,367 arrivals and 266,633 overnight stays, a drop of 19.93 percent and 23.36 percent respectively compared to the same period in 2011. Meanwhile, the new Moroccan Minister of Tourism Lahcen Haddad believes that 2011 was still a good year. Despite the local and regional events, Moroccan tourism has had good achievements, he said. "The sector, which contributes about 9 percent of the GDP, achieved satisfactory results in 2011 despite a difficult world and declining travel demand due to the economic crisis which hit the main tourist source markets of Morocco,'' said the Moroccan minister, whose remarks were reported by the MAP news agency.
A symposium in Fez discussed the phenomenon of abandoned children
By Said El Azhary Morocco World News Fez, February 25, 2012
“The role of society and the psychological health of abandoned children” that was held in Fez on February 22, 2012 had been organized by ‘Alwafae’, an establishment which specializes in the protection of abandoned children. This symposium featured renowned speakers who shared experiences and provided the public with insightful information regarding this phenomenon.
From the very beginning of this symposium, the director of the Alwafae association described their role and emphasized the collaboration between social assistance agencies that help and protect abandoned children. Their critical work hopefully helps such children integrate successfully and feel no different from others in Moroccan society. On her part, Professor Kawtar Raiss, a child specialist and therapist, explained clinical ideas regarding the phenomenon of abandoned children. She began talking about theories of abandoned children that had been discovered during the second World War. She mentioned that in the twentieth century, psychologists minimized the level of abandoned children by helping affected families. Moreover, she emphasized the development of the relationship between mother and child as essential for survival in the early years: the innate imperative for the new-born baby to be linked to caregivers. In contrast, the life of abandoned children is very different, because from the very beginning, they have no relation to families in general and to mothers in particular. She raised the question, “did they already have a mother to lose?” that clearly moved the audience and changed their perception of the lonely world of abandoned children.
Professor Mastapha Zizi, a specialist and therapist, discussed the “Institutional Psychiatric Care of Abandoned Children.” He indicated that when a child loses one’s family, it is hard to even say words like mother, father and grandparents. The child forms a bond with the mother with whom he/she develops since an early age, which is a special bond of love and affection. Then, he/she discovers that she is not there to offer care and protection. Consequently, the child will probably raise the following question: “where is my mother who is supposed to protect me in the weakness of childhood? Who will protect me if not her, the very one who brought me into existence?” He went on to say that, “we, as educators, parents and civil society, are all here to provide education and social guidance and offer an alternative of protection as caregivers.” He added, “So let us ask ourselves: Are we true to what we are trying to do? Can we be effective parents to these children?”
Professor Zizi talked about his deep experience from many years working with associations, which are interested in child abandonment. There are hard situations, but they attempt to provide “the spirit of mother” and the strong existence of “ideal father”. They provide a substitution service, both educationally and emotionally. They create a system hand in hand with the same principles of the natural realm of caregivers. Ultimately, “the child should feel little difference: he/she is like everybody else!” said the professor.
Saida Benkirane, a psychologist specializing in psychiatric treatment in the private sector and a professor of Psychology of Violence at the Faculty of Art and Humanities in Fez, also shed light on this topic through her presentation entitled “An Experience of a Specialist nex tto Abandoned Children.”This example paved the way to talk about her personal experiences as a psychologist in “parentless centers”. She mentioned that many hard experiences were ingrained in her memory, most of them like notes and personal points of views. To make positive impacts needs effort. She stressed that nothing can be achieved without team-work between social assistance agencies and educational establishments.When all the positive points are united for practical purposes using well-organized methods, much can be achieved. Very simply, as humanitarian agencies, we need to cooperate to give a helping hand to these children. In doing so we open horizons and extend opportunities to them and encourage their personal journeys of self-discovery, where they are free to express themselves and to explore the world around them.Abandoned children will always need psychologists and social workers and educators to work together to help them, to try to provide the essentials that abandoned children need for healthy development. She emphasized the importance of collaboration between society and the ‘parentless centers’ and the ideal conditions that could be created. Her message was that collaboration spreads its kindness.
The Portrait of the Others in American Movies
By Larbi Arbaoui Morocco World News Taroudant, Morocco,, February 24, 2012
Of all cultural forms, cinema is best suited to reflect the culture, the political ideology and orientation of a given nation. Cinema was and still is a powerful means to manipulate and reshape the thoughts of the audience. Irrespective of one’s educational level, an avid cinema fan is likely to passively consume all presented material. Through many films, especially war movies, American film makers were perfectly able to establish the idea of otherness and the American as an undefeated super hero.
Only by watching a few movies, one may end up adopting stereotypes; such as Russians threatening world peace, the French are to be ridiculed, Mexicans are drug dealers and Arabs are sex-machines, if not terrorists.In most American movies, the setting, length, casting and techniques may vary, but the story remains the same. Always, there is an immense threat targeting the world from outsiders and sometimes aliens. Thanks to their intervention at exactly the right time, human beings will enjoy a safe life and the natural rules will be in a harmonic balance again. They introduce themselves as indispensable peacekeepers, appointed not by divine right as was in the feudal system, but by a highly sophisticated advanced technology implemented in the making of their movies.In fact, they are not to blame. They have got all that it takes to make amazing movies responding to the universal aspirations. They were able to entertain the whole world.
Personally, I stood enthralled and astonished by the intricate worldly-wise techniques and high-tech technology used in the newly released movies even though the story sounds monotonous and boring. The unprecedented technology used in these movies is breath taking whether it exists in the real world, or it is only a mere fiction. To commercialize the idea of American superiority is not a sin, but to falsify history, debase some ethnic groups and disregard other nations is an unacceptable immoral practice.
As a Moroccan, I will never find it mortifying to introduce “Said Jemmani” to the world as the wisest person of all his time. Neither will I feel it is exaggerating to present the myth of “Aicha Qndisha” as the most powerful invincible woman, who along with other militants was able to expel the colonisers from Morocco. According to the myth, she had super-powers that made her stronger and more ferocious than Superman, King Kong, the Hulk and even Hell Boy. Unfortunately, such myths will never go beyond the oral folklore to make their way to the screen plays of Moroccan film makers, if we do not consider the cultural richness and moral lessons these myths communicate.
This week, I watched G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a less biased American science fiction and action movie directed by Stephen Sommers. The story is about an elite military unit, known as G.I. Joe, whose mission is to retrieve nanotech-based warheads before they are used to destroy the world. The thing that attracts my attention in this movie, and makes me love it, in addition to it being technologically advanced, is the significant heroic role given to some foreign actors namely Said Taghmaoui and Byung-hun Lee. Said Taghmaoui, a Moroccan actor, is a member of the G. I. Joe team who, with his excellent skills in computer science, helped the team track the enemy and destroy the missiles before they were used against their targets. At the end of the movie, whether it is the direct message of the movie or my own interpretation, I learned that peace is the fruit of a collaborative work.
Editing By Benjamin Villanti
Larbi Arbaoui, an English teacher, has been teaching English for more than 5 years. He studied English language and literature in Moulay Ismail University, Faculty of Arts and Human sciences, Meknes. He Attended and participated as a speaker in several Regional colloquium of the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English. He wrote a short play entitled « Aicha, the Talented Student » performed in Dar Athaqafa, Zagora. . He is a Contributor to Morocco World News.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved
Aissawa Spirit to Overwhelm Meknes City
By Nidal Chebbak Morocco World News Fez, February 24, 2012
The city of Meknes will host the first edition of the National Festival of Aissawa Art under the theme “Heritage as a Mainstay for Advanced Regionalization” on February 24-25 at Faqih Mohammed al-Manouni Hall of the Regional Directorate of Culture starting from 6:30 pm.The festival’s organizers revealed on Tuesday the rich program they set for the event. More than 30 Aissawa orders will participate, such as Ouald Sheikh Kamel from Meknes, Ahl Touat Dar Damana from Ouazzane and Taaifa al-Aissawia from Fez, in addition to the great artists Abderrahim Souiri and al-Asri Orchestra.
Under the framework of the festival, a seminar will be held on “Forms of Popular Expressions in the Issmaili City: Issawa Order as a Model,” with Prof. Mohammed Amine, Prof. Mostafa Benfaida, Prof. Muley al-Hassam al-Bouyahyaoui al-Idrissi, Prof. Mohammed Amine al-Alaoui. The seminar will take place on Saturday, February 25, at 3 pm, in the meeting hall of the headquarters of the Council of Meknes-Tafilalt region.
At the same time, there will be an art gallery for the prominent artist M’hammad Jacky Belhaj at the gallery of al-Manouni Hall.The festival comes as an occasion to introduce and celebrate Aissawa art in Meknes and shed light on the cultural diversity and artistic richness of the city. It’s a festival that celebrates the genuine heritage and history of the region. The festival aims to reposition Aissawa art as a unique authentic art form that should be preserved and cherished by honoring its pioneers and professionals.
At the same time, it seeks to encourage creative youth who are interested in this ancient artistic heritage.Aissawa heritage is considered as one the most important local popular art forms. It not only characterizes the cultural and civilization diversity of Meknes-Tafilalt region, but also marks the lives of Moroccans as a means of expression and a tool of communication that is loaded with values of co-existence and tolerance. This cultural heritage has been maintained and passed on by countless generations throughout history.
Editing by Benjamin Villanti
The Best People in the Worst Places and Vice Versa
By Omar Bihmidine Morocco World News Sidi Ifni, Morocco, February 23, 2012
Every time I go on holiday, I usually pay my hometown, Tafraout, a visit, for it is the place where I feel more at home, particularly when I meet and see my relatives, old friends, and the students I studied with and played with during my schooldays.
Recently, to my utter dismay, I discovered that the fact that the best people are in the worst places and the worst people are in the best places holds true. I discovered so while I was strolling in Tafraout and meeting my ex-classmates who were doing different jobs for their living. The first old friend of mine whom I met by chance has now become a blacksmith. He was dressed in red and his hands and face were all covered with patches of black grease. His clothes smelt of something like charcoal. I came closer to him until he recognized me and we hugged each other warmly. I talked to him for some time and couldn’t help remembering how intelligent and hard-working a student he was through all the years I studied with him. This friend usually outshined me in class. At the time, I saw in him a doctor or an engineer. All our teachers paid him compliments for his excellent work at school. As soon as he got his his school diploma, he went to university and came back home, despondent about his dreams. He found out that the university did not live up to his expectations. I was on the verge of crying when I saw him a blacksmith, not a doctor or an engineer as I had imagined. I did not know how and why he came to end up doing this job. I did not dare to ask him why as I was afraid of mortifying him. When I bade him goodbye, I instantly remembered that he was a good student who turned out to land a bad job.
A few days later, I called another excellent ex-classmate of mine so as to see him and see how life has been treating him. He invited me to his shop where he worked as a shopkeeper. His father used to be a shopkeeper, too. We hugged each other and had a long conversation. We brought back memories of our schooldays. I reminded him of some teachers, bad and good ones. We laughed heartily; I asked him about his life and he said that he liked his job. However, I felt that he regretted many things, but he chose not to impart them to me as had been his habit long ago. The position of shopkeeper is a noble one, but I don’t think it would suit this friend who masters French and English remarkably well and who used to excel greatly in his studies at high school. At the time, I would see in him a teacher of French. As a student, he used to write and speak excellent French. He would have done greatly if he had pursued his studies after his second year at the faculty when he dropped out and started his little business. I did not have the courage to ask him why he had chosen that job, but knowing that good people sometimes land bad jobs withholds me from posing any more questions.
I heard that another ex-classmate of mine has now become a carpenter and I went to see how he is leading his new life. This friend used to rank first at school and was one of the most brilliant students along my schooldays. He is now a B.A. holder in economy, but he has chosen to return to his hometown and help his father with carpentry. His father has got a shop where they do carpentry, and now this friend is in charge of the shop. Being familiar with this friend, I asked him why he didn’t apply for a white-collar job; in response, he said that he earned more as a carpenter than as a white-collar worker. All my teachers appreciated and encouraged this ex-classmate at that time. They usually resorted to him to serve as a model for his peers whenever they want to present something new to us. I must admit that there were times when I wished I had been like him. Now, things have changed, and this man is now a carpenter despite the fact that he used to be a brilliant student who surpassed all his peers.
On the other hand, I also met underachievers who never cared about studies at that time, but who have now become high school teachers and primary school ones. Some have even gone out to become M.A. holders. I very well know a new primary school teacher who was notorious for cheating during exams. He rarely prepared for the exams, and he usually did his best to get the average either by begging his teachers for marks or by begging his classmates to provide him with answers. Over time, he demonstrated in Rabat and was hired in the mountains next to his home. This friend used to be a bad student who has now turned out to be in a good place.
A year on, Morocco's democracy movement founders.
By PAUL SCHEMM Associated Press Feb 18,RABAT, Morocco (AP)
Morocco's pro-democracy February 20 movement spearheaded the country's version of the Arab Spring and sent the centuries-old monarchy scrambling to reform. Now, a year after its birth, the youth-led group appears to have lost its way.And while the movement struggles for relevance, Morocco's problems are far from solved: Social discontent and clashes between police and unemployed graduates are on the rise as the economy suffers from the effects of Europe's financial crisis.
Like the Occupy movements in the United States, Morocco's pro-democracy groups now need to find out if they can keep the fight going. On Sunday, the movement will try with countrywide anniversary demonstrations to rekindle some of the fire that at its peak in March put 800,000 people from all walks of life on the streets calling for an end to corruption, greater democracy and social justice. The protesters shook the cities of Morocco and achieved some of the things they wanted, bringing their country a new constitution and free elections. Since that time, however, the numbers at the weekly demonstrations have plummeted to a few thousand in the larger cities as ordinary people abandoned the movement, apparently satisfied with King Mohammed VI's reforms, including granting more powers to elected officials - or scared away by a tougher response to the protests. Elections on Nov. 25 were won by a moderate Islamist opposition party promising many of the things once shouted at demonstrations.
Moroccan authorities have trumpeted their "third way" of dealing with the Arab Spring, steering between revolution and repression in favor of reforms with stability. Social unrest has continued though, including violent clashes between police and unemployed graduates calling for government sector jobs. The youth-led movement has had a hard time harnessing that simmering anger. "The problem with February 20 is that it is elitist and doesn't have a rapport with the people," said Mouad Belghouat, a 25-year-old rapper with February 20 whose songs excoriating the palace and social inequalities in the country became the soundtrack for the movement. The movement's demands weren't all realized, he said, "so we continue to go into the streets."
Belghouat, who goes by the named El-Haqed, or the Enraged, was jailed for four months for getting into a fight with a regime supporter in the gritty, low income suburb of Casablanca where he lives. His supporters say the charges were trumped up."You can't talk to people about parliamentary monarchy, they think the king is sacred, so you have to talk to them about unemployment and those stealing the wealth of the country," he said, explaining that he and his friends in the movement now go to neighborhoods and have discussions to raise people's consciousness.It also helps that his rap songs appeal to the young, unemployed and disenfranchised youth that swell the crumbling slums surrounding Casablanca, Tangiers and other large cities.
The movement's protests always had an artistic side to them, with street theater often accompanying the colorful marches through the streets. In one Casablanca protest, a man with the mask of a hated adviser of the king dangled a baguette on a fishing rod above the grasping hands of three ragged figures representing the people. There is no denying that in the initial months of the protests, February 20 achieved more than generations of party politics had accomplished in opening up Morocco." It succeeded in breaking a taboo, it brought out into the open calls against corruption and the domination of certain figures on the economy," said Omar Bendoro, a political analyst at Rabat University. Close associates of the king from wealthy families are perceived to dominate the economy.After years of repression, people are no longer afraid to make their discontent known, whether about lack of water, electricity or civil rights, he added."Social problems have always existed, but now the people explode because there is a chance that the powers-that-be will take them seriously," Bendoro said.
The king, due either to the street rallies or fears of Egyptian- or Tunisian-style revolutions, agreed in March to amend the constitution, bowing to longtime demands from political parties.Under the new constitution the prime minister has more powers and comes from the party that won the most votes, rather than whomever the king felt like choosing under the old system. Ultimate power, however, still rests with the monarch and his court of close advisers. Even as the concessions, including raising public sector wages, blunted popular anger, activists say there was a second, darker, prong to the official response - one that targeted the movement itself. Starting in May, demonstrations began to be attacked by riot police and hired thugs, and some activists started receiving late night visits from security officers." There were two levels at work, the institutional and the non-institutional, which was the intimidation, beatings and propaganda - particularly propaganda about the Islamists," said activist Abadila Maaelaynine.
State media said the demonstrators were being infiltrated by radical communists and hardline Islamists from the banned Adl wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity) movement, which did have a big presence in the demonstrations.The accusations stuck, further cooling public ardor for the movement, and soon the demonstrations became more of a weekly - later monthly - traffic nuisance than a real vehicle of political change. "We failed to become more innovative in what we were doing and it's time to admit that," said Zeinab Belmkaddem, a young activist with the movement, which is now looking to start a political party and build up a lasting network tied to the people. "We don't want to just stay in the streets, we tried that for a year - been there done that - that's it, but at the end of the day what happened is that others took advantage and that's what happened with the PJD," she said bitterly, referring to the Islamist party that won elections. The party has been a clear beneficiary of the movement.
"The process of democratization in the country is moving in a good direction," said Mustapha Khalfi, once the editor of the PJD's newspaper and now the minister of communication and government spokesman. "Moroccan society has the feeling that what is happening in politics has an impact on daily life and most importantly when they participate it can make a difference."Khalfi is quick to praise the February 20 movement for its early efforts, but noted that it has since lost momentum and popularity and it is the new government that is now looking to satisfy people's demands for jobs.Activists, however, question whether the limited powers given to the new government will be enough to enact the deep reforms that the people crave - especially as daily frustrations mount."Now the people are waiting to see what they can do," said the rapper Belghouat. "They will be disappointed."
US/Morocco: Clinton Should Urge Legal Reform Rights-Friendly New Constitution Requires Revision of Repressive Speech Laws
February 24, 2012 Washington, DC)
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton should urge Morocco’s new chief of government Abdelilah Benkirane to lead the process of revising laws that impose prison terms for peaceful expression, Human Rights Watch said today. Clinton should also urge Moroccan authorities to free leading journalist Rachid Nini, who is serving a one-year sentence for articles he wrote.
On July 1, Moroccan voters approved a new constitution that contains strong affirmations of human rights, including freedom of expression and of the press. On July 29, Clinton welcomed the referendum “as an important step toward democratic reform.” However, Moroccan authorities continue to punish critical speech by applying the many repressive provisions of the press and penal code that seem to be incompatible with the spirit of the new constitution.“Having praised Morocco’s 2011 constitution, Secretary Clinton should now urge authorities to revise both laws and practices so that they are in harmony with that constitution,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch.
Among the laws that violate both the spirit of the new constitution and Morocco’s obligations under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is the press code’s article 41, which provides prison terms of up to five years for speech that “undermines the Islamic religion, the monarchical regime, or [Morocco's] territorial integrity,” or that is offensive toward “His Majesty the King, and the royal princes and princesses.”
Article 263 of the penal code provides prison terms for “gravely offending” public officials. Article 266 provides prison terms for “insulting” the judiciary or discrediting its rulings or attempting to influence the courts. Rachid Nini is currently serving a one-year sentence on these and other charges related to his columns in al-Masa' newspaper.
Human rights activist Chekib el-Khayari served most of a three-year sentencefor “gravely insulting state institutions,” also under penal code article 263, after he accused certain Moroccan officials of complicity in narcotics trafficking. Authorities pardoned el-Khayari last year.Articles such as these seem to contradict the constitution’s affirmation in article 25 that “freedom of thought, opinion and expression in all its forms is guaranteed,” and in article 28 that “Press freedom is guaranteed and cannot be restricted by any form of prior censorship.”
In addition, authorities continue to prosecute several Moroccans for having distributed fliers in November 2011 urging a boycott of the legislative elections held that month. “The constitution raised the bar high on human rights,” said Whitson. “What’s needed now is the political will to apply its principles to closing down the repressive legal arsenal that authorities use to curb critical expression.”
Kasbah Resources closes in on upgrade to 54,000t contained tin Resource at Achmmach in Morocco
Sun 11:39 pm
Kasbah Resources (ASX: KAS) is on schedule to upgrade the 7 million tonnes at 0.8% for 54,000 tonnes contained tin Resource at its Achmmach Project in Morocco, with infill drilling on Section 2050 continuing to confirm and extend the Meknes Inferred Resources up and down dip. Highlight intersections from recent drilling comprise 9 metres at 0.63% tin from 373 metres, including 3 metres at 1.15% from 377 metres; 8 metres at 0.96% from 268 metres; 14 metres at 0.42% from 310 metres; and 5 metres at 1.03% from 332 metres.
A total of 1511 metres was drilled across three holes, with one hole passing through a thicker than anticipated intersection of the Meknes Zone and also intersecting mineralisation above the zone. These holes were drilled to assess the grade and tin disposition either side of a previously drilled hole included in the 2010 Meknes Resource. Five drill rigs are in operation at Achmmach across a 1 kilometre strike length. Kasbah is targeting an upgrade to the Resource by the March quarter of 2012.
The company has successfully extended the Meknes Trend tin mineralisation by 320 metres to the east of the 2010 Meknes Resource boundary. The Gap Zone is a significant exploration target which could link the Meknes/Fez and Eastern Zones’ tin mineralisation previously defined by the 2010 Resource model.
Drilling at The Gap Zone has returned promising intersections of 11.2 metres at 0.52% tin from 357 metres, 5.4 metres at 1.52% from 388 metres and 6.6 metres at 0.98% from 407 metres, from a drill hole that showed some elevated tin grades adjacent to and within the intrusive. It also has significant intercepts below the intrusive which can be linked to those in the first hole, suggesting that these intercepts and the lower intercepts on sections to the west may indicate the development of another mineralised zone heading to the east, below the Meknes zone. The current drilling program was designed to complete first pass drilling of The Gap Zone to confirm the extension of the Meknes mineralisation.
If successful this will extend the mineralised strike by an additional 500 metres and provide the link between the previously reported resources in the Meknes Zone with the resources in the Eastern Zone.
Ongoing success at the Achmmach Tin Project in Morocco has seen Kasbah Resources’ share price almost double in less than two months. Kasbah has been on an upwards share trajectory since mid to late December last year when shares were trading at around A$0.14.
Recent drilling results have the potential to transform the project and Kasbah into a significantly larger and higher valued “tin play” than currently is the case. Achmmach is a significant tin project, with a growing tin resource. There is potential to link the resources in the west of Achmmach to resources in the east.
The project contains one of the largest undeveloped tin deposits in the world, with a JORC Resource of 7 million tonnes at 0.8% tin, with a cut-off grade of 0.5%, for 54,000 tonnes contained tin. This comprises an Indicated Resource of 2.2 million tonnes at 0.8% tin, and an Inferred Resource of 4.8 million tonnes at 0.8% tin
Dust clouds sway like ghosts dancing to an inaudible tune across miles of Moroccan dessert. I’m only 15 minutes south of Marrakech, but the soil’s already darkened to a deep, blood-clot red that clashes violently with the cobalt sky above. Spindly Argan trees feature goats that have clambered into the branches and nibble on the fruit (yes, really), a snapshot of surreal comedy against nature’s stark, beautiful reality.It’s my first up-close and personal foray into Morocco’s rural centre, despite having fallen head over heels for mad old Marrakech eight years beforehand. There’s something intoxicating about the swirling, jasmine-soaked souks, the thrill of losing yourself in the medina only to wind up on a rooftop drinking pomegranate martinis hours later. I’ve returned several times since to enjoy the city’s myriad hidden bars, supper clubs and late night lounges. But this time I want a different kind of escapism, one that’s less hedonism, more health. 'We’ve the perfect place', Rosena, the Irish founder of Moroccan concierge experts Boutique Souk, assures me before arranging a car to drive me the three-hour journey south into Morocco’s Berber country.Thirty miles south of the colonial port city of Essaouira, our jeep turns inland, swerves sharply at a junction and turns up an invisible, potholed dirt road through fields of carefully irrigated vegetable patches and chicken coops. A donkey brays ‘hello’ as I clamber out, the only contender to shatter the silent calm of our weekend lodgings.Named Lalla Abouch after ‘Lady Argan‘ and Morocco’s famous Argan tree, the guesthouse embodies what many ‘boutique’ lodgings strive for yet often fail to achieve. Chic and rustic, it proffers the perfect balance between comfort and style – the home from home I’ll never replicate no matter how many Elle Decoration subscriptions I sign up for.
Beaming Lucreiza, the Italian who runs this hideaway, gives me a tour of the farm’s intimate selection of cosy rooms, all located around a bougainvillea-splashed courtyard, before ushering me onto the farm’s charming alfresco terrace for fresh mint and ginger tea. Terracotta pots trickle fresh water into a plunge pool overlooking acres of lovingly tended vegetable patches, whilst wild tortoises sunbathe lazily in the afternoon rays as kitchen hands gingerly navigate them whilst plucking robust courgettes for the evening meal.Food is a big draw at Lalla Abouch - so don’t go thinking this is yoga with all the normal detox-wheatgrass-deprivation tags. Lunch, though simple, is lip-smackingly good: home-plucked bitter leaves; creamy local goats cheese; cumin-crusted courgettes, caramelised carrots; a fuchsia pink beetroot dip; wholegrain couscous studded with ruby pomegranate seeds. Each bite radiates with energy and (forgive the hippy hyperbole) is offered up with love. Lucreiza beams as I eat. 'We like to give an alkaline, vegetarian diet during the retreats', she explains. 'It’s a good for body cleaning and rejuvenation.' come away from the meal feeling more satiated than many of my finest dining experiences back in the UK.
Besides intensive, twice daily yoga and meditation sessions lasting two hours a go, Lalla Abouch offers a real (and rare) opportunity to totally unplug from daily life. As Lucreiza concedes, 'the natural elements are deep and strong', so the entire operation of the farm and its retreats has been designed to really embrace the local surrounds – and the produce found within it. Better still, my experience isn’t marred by the constant checking of Blackberry’s or broadband; connectivity here is slim to none. Sure, it’s a little disconcerting at first, but after several hours our entire party agrees we’re happy for the forced technology amnesty. With no one to tweet or CC, I instead sink into an indulgent afternoon of reading in the farm’s huge hammock, slung beneath the boughs of the Argan tree. I doze, stirring only when the attention seeking donkey’s comical eey-awww or Lucreiza’s quiet, smiling kitchen hands water the fragrant herb garden. I’ve done no yoga yet, but I can already see why Moroccan specialists Boutique Souk thought they’d 'struck gold' when stumbling upon the farm.
At four, our group heads to the back of the farm for our first outdoor yoga session. A selection of accouterments - blocks, ropes, mats, rugs and even handmade lavender eye bags made by Lucreiza’s staff – await us, as does our twinkly eyed instructor, Lisa. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Lisa exudes the kind of calm, energised confidence that comes (I imagine) from practising and teaching Iyengar yoga internationally for over 15 years. She guides us into an afternoon meditation, encouraging us to focus on our breath as birds caw overhead and bees work the final fragments of pollen from flowers facing an inevitable autumn decline. The meditation lasts half an hour. Focussing on your breath and not a thousand other things is harder than I thought. 'Be an observer of your mind', Lisa coaxes. 'Let the thoughts flow through rather than attaching to them; it’s a wonderful trick to avoid getting upset about stuff back home.' It’s already hard to imagine ‘home’, such is the all-consuming cocoon of Lucreiza’s domain. Post-meditation, Lisa ratchets things up considerably, stretching my limbs - and concentration - beyond what I thought possible. 'If it tingles, you know you’re doing something right.' I wince as my hamstring seizes. Lisa catches me and affirms, 'acknowledge the pain, but don’t attach yourself to it.' Easier said than done. After an hour and a half of contortions and even a bonifide headstand – who knew! – we finish with a twilight meditation, eyes opening just in time to see the full moon rise over the crest of a hill. More meditation kicks off our second day – early. I can’t help but spy the hammock - will Lisa notice if I slip into it as still as a corpse? Underfoot, nutty shells of old Argan fruits release aromas that stir the stomach and make me wonder if I can last until breakfast.
In true yogic conduct, no food should be taken before practice and our fennel and potato soup the night before seems a long time ago. But I will myself to focus and find my limbs soon relax into the postures. Lisa is military in her precision and encouraging in her approach, pushing us like no other yoga teacher I’ve encountered. But when you’re holding poses for as long as 12 minutes at a time, I soon learn this holistic equivalent of a personal trainer is key to maintaining stamina. As we finish our final posture in an elevated plank, something that requires equal parts coordination, breathing and balance, she reminds us, 'don’t worry guys, the next part of your day is going to be all about pleasure! 'Indeed it is. As we return from the morning’s yoga, the farm’s brunch is laid out like a buffet for the Buddha. Carafes of beetroot, apple and ginger juice sit beside thick, nut-studded Bircher muesli, newly-leavened bread and homegrown fig jams rub shoulders with coriander couscous and fava dips, earthenware bowls of giant roasted vegetables and softly cooked lentils find space next to bulging wheat berries drizzled with homemade Argan oil. We look on in stunned, appreciative silence. Then the donkey brays, as if in approval, or maybe in prayer? Either way, if you ever find yourself at Lalla Abouch, you’ll discover there’s plenty to be thankful for.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
ProWorld Announces New Opportunities to Volunteer Abroad in Morocco: ProWorld expands its presence in Africa with new opportunities to volunteer abroad in Morocco, including teaching English, mentoring young people and assisting with vocational skills.
S an Francisco, CA (PRWEB) February 22, 2012
ProWorld, a social enterprise that offers volunteer, internship, and study abroad opportunities for individuals and custom groups in developing countries, is proud to announce new opportunities to volunteer abroad in Morocco. The ProWorld field office, located in Meknes, Morocco, near the capital, Rabat, will allow individuals interested in community development the opportunity to volunteer with local non-governmental organizations that mentor Moroccan youth, teach English, and help women develop vocational skills. “Morocco is the crossroads of Africa, Europe and the Middle East, with mosques and tombs that date back to the ninth century, and an array of people and cultures who have made it their home,” said Richard A. Webb, founder of ProWorld. “By volunteering abroad in Morocco, ProWorld volunteers will experience a unique opportunity for personal reflection and insight into global communities beyond their own backyards.”Opportunities to volunteer abroad in Morocco include:
Mentoring Moroccan youth at a local NGO created to foster peace and understanding between the people of Morocco and America by leading art, music, theater or other extracurricular classes.· Making a difference to women in Morocco by assisting trained professors and teachers with co-leading an English language course and assisting with vocational skills.
“In Morocco, 60% of women are illiterate, and half a million Moroccan children under 15 spend their days working instead of getting an education,” said Hajime Matsukata, program director, ProWorld. “ProWorld’s volunteer programs in Morocco are designed to help build a better future for women and children though support of local NGOs.”Prior to launching projects in a new country, ProWorld establishes strong relationships with local community organizations, working together to determine how volunteers can make the largest impact. ProWorld’s staff of development experts live on-site in local communities year-round so they can best tailor projects to the needs of the local people. ProWorld’s founders, Richard A. Webb and Nick Bryngelson, started ProWorld twelve years ago with the vision of creating sustainable change by working closely and collaboratively with local communities to connect them with global volunteers. ProWorld volunteer abroad opportunities are also offered in Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, and Thailand, and focus on important global issues: health, environment and social/economic development. To date, ProWorld volunteers have logged more than 800,000 hours of volunteer service and injected more than $7 million of needed capital into local economies. ProWorld’s mission is to empower communities, promote social and economic development, conserve the environment, and cultivate educated compassionate global citizens.About ProWorld
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