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Morocco Week in Review 
October 13, 2012

Morocco's 'liquid gold' liberates Berbers.
From Leone Lakhani and George Webster, CNN
October 9, 2012 Agadir, Morocco (CNN)

In Agadir, the arid heartland of Morocco's indigenous Berber population, a quiet oil boom is gaining momentum, one drop at a time.

Argan oil, crushed from the seeds of the short, spiky argan tree, has been used for centuries as a medicine and staple ingredient in local cooking -- drizzled on salads and couscous or mixed with almonds and honey to make amlou, a dip for bread.

But now the oil is generating buzz as a high-end commodity in the lucrative global cosmetics market. Rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it's believed to help all sorts of skin conditions -- including acne, psoriasis and age-related wrinkles.

Argan trees, which are well adapted to drought and other extreme weather conditions, are endemic to the southwestern part of Morocco around Agadir.

As such, the rise in demand has turned Agadir -- famed for its beautiful beaches and laid-back culture -- into a hive of small-scale worker co-ops, each dedicated to squeezing oil from the notoriously hard-shelled argan nut.

Traditionally, it was uncommon for Berber women to work outside the home. But times have changed, and according to the Argan Oil Society, all the co-operatives are now staffed and run by local women.

"When we started in '96 we had got only 16 women who believed in our project. Most of them were divorced or without a husband," said Zoubida Charrouf, a university professor who helped found one of the first cooperatives in the region.

Ethnic Berbers -- the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa whose culture predominated in the region prior to the 7th century Arab invasion -- were among Morocco's earliest inhabitants, and government figures show that at least one third of the country's population of 32 million speak a Berber dialect.

However, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency, Morocco's Berbers also face habitual cultural discrimination. It was only last year that the state finally recognized Tamazight, the Berber language, as an official language alongside Arabic.

Charrouf says that the new-found international popularity of argan oil -- which she describes as "liquid gold" -- has not only provided about 5,000 jobs for Berber women across 170 co-ops, but also an important social lifeline. "We've started relying on ourselves," said Ichou Aisha, a co-op worker. "Now, we can provide for our children on our own."

Argan oil hasn't just improved the region's economic and social standing, Charrouf says it's played a vital role sustaining its ecology too. "The purpose of this work is to preserve the argan tree, because it was in decline," she said.

Indeed, 30 years ago, extensive deforestation left the tree on the brink of extinction. Today, UNESCO has designated the 26,000 square-kilometer Argan-growing region as a "biosphere reserve."

Besides the Argan tree's various human uses, UNESCO notes, it has had an historical role as a buffer against northern expansion of the Sahara desert. Charrouf says it's for all these reasons that 60,000 new trees are now planted each year.

The co-op women certainly have their work cut out. It takes about 20 hours to produce just one liter by hand. First they use jagged stones to crack the shells. They then place the kernels between two rocks, grinding them into a brown, peanut butter-like paste. This is then kneaded to extract the oil, leaving a solid block that is sent off to a mechanical press where even more oil can be extracted.

To match the pace of global demand, however, many of these processes have become mechanized. But as yet, there is no machine that can do a better job at cracking open the argan nuts than the women.

For now at least, the work is steady. "I am very happy," said Charrouf. "Economically, (because) the price is increasing; socially, because the women can get outside the house and learn; and environmentally, because we can plant these trees."

Follow the Inside the Middle East team on Twitter: Presenter Rima Maktabi: @rimamaktabi, producer Jon Jensen: @jonjensen, producer Schams Elwazer: @SchamsCNN, writer George Webster: @George_Web and digital producer Mairi Mackay: @mairicnn.

Morocco rainfall has farmers hopeful.
By Hassan Benmehdi 2012-10-08

Autumn rains could boost the output of Morocco's main economic driver. The rainfall in late September was good news for Moroccan farmers after a long stretch of high temperatures in some areas, where highs exceeded 40 °C, leaving dry farm lands.

The weather situation, with the arrival of the autumn rainfall, is starting to change, explained Mohamed Belaouchi at the National Meteorological Directorate. Rain has reached 24mm in the city of Tan-Tan in the south (the equivalent of the monthly average in this region).

This rain has had a positive impact on the land and has encouraged many farmers to start plowing.

Rahhal, Jilali and Haj Driss, three livestock farmers from the El Haouz region in Marrakech, expressed their happiness to Magharebia but also their desire to have more rain to forget the trying agricultural year of 2011-12 and start fresh. "These high temperatures that lasted for weeks and months forced many farmers either to stop their activities or to run into debt to be able to buy fuel and butane gas and buy water for their crops," El Haj Driss said.

For Rahhal, rain is a good thing for everyone involved in farming: "This is even more true when it falls at the right time."

Jilali pointed out that the first fall rains help make the land more fertile: "It's essential for the crop in terms of quality as well as quantity."

For agricultural engineer Abdelkader El Hachmi, it's a well-known fact in the agricultural sector that the first autumn rainfall is fundamental to the plowing and the preparation of the agricultural season.

Agriculture in Morocco is crucial to the country. As Moroccans say, "When it rains, it works."

Agriculture Minister Abdelaziz Akhannouch said that cereal production in the kingdom dropped almost 50% compared to 2010-11 due to the scarce rain during the 2012 winter months. "This decrease of production affected economic growth, a projection then lowered by the Benkirane government - bringing it for 2012 from a 4.8% growth last year to 3%," he said.

On September 26th, his counterpart, Economic and Finance Minister Nizar Baraka specified while on television that rain had a major impact on the growth forecast for this year's financial laws.

The agricultural sector in Morocco provides jobs for one out of two economically active people; in other words 45% of the economically active population of the country and about three to four million people in the agricultural field. It also ensures work for the 60,000 to 100,000 workforce in the food processing field.

Agricultural growth can contribute to the decrease of poverty through the increase of income for farming families. The sector however also suffers from several constraints, particularly illiteracy and weather hazards that impact roughly 90% of the useful farming surface.

Morocco predicts decline in citrus prediction

Morocco's national citrus output is expected to decline 25% next year as a result of bad weather in 2012, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The news comes at a time of an overall global fall in output.

A 25% drop would represent a fall of 1.5 million tonnes. The ministry says the resultant prices would be similar to those of the previous campaign, but would increase towards December. The campaign usually starts in October and runs until July.

The ministry said tangerines and oranges production should fall by 24 percent and 27 percent to 675,000 and 763,000 tonnes respectively. Production of grapefruit, lemon and pomelo is expected to rise 38 percent to 62,000 tonnes.

Morocco is Africa's third largest citrus exporter, after South Africa and Egypt. last season the country exported 550,000 tonnes of oranges and over 100,000 tonnes of orange juice, the bulk of which was destined for European markets.

In July, the U.S. Agriculture Department said global citrus production dropped 7 percent from the previous year to 51.1 million tonnes.

Morocco plans to raise citrus exports to 1.3 million tonnes by the end of 2018.


God’s Call, (Short Story)
By Rachid Khouya Morocco World News Smara, Morocco, October 11, 2012

Five children are surrounding their sick mother, making a circle around her. She is at the center, as she has always been their center. “Our mothers are our centers,” said one of the children, responding to a question as why they are encircling her. She spent more than twenty five years in bed…twenty five years of talking about a call she had been waiting for……….

Bank Al Maghrib Cautious about Opening to Foreign Islamic Banks
By Flah Loubna Morocco World News Casablanca, October 9, 2012

The possible entry of well established Islamic banks to the Moroccan banking sector seems to have engendered a mood of disquietude among the local banks that have the monopoly over the Moroccan financial market. Bank Al Maghrib, Morocco’s central bank abdicated its enthusiastic tone to a more composed and cautious attitude surrendering to the pressure exerted by national banks.

According to the Moroccan daily Al Massae, the Moroccan Central Bank will issue only two licenses to the Islamic banks that had submitted their application request two months ago.

This precautionary measure aims at shielding the national banks from the competition they are likely to face especially with the growing appeal of Islamic banking.

Bank Al Maghrib remains alert to the risks posed by a sudden entry of well established Islamic banks to the Moroccan financial market. Therefore, it opts for a prudent approach in granting  licenses to foreign Islamic banks.

Sources close to Al Massae disclosed that the governor of Bank AL Maghrib, Mr. Abdelatif Al Jawahiri, is rather apprehensive about a potential decrease in the performance of national commercial banks once the Islamic banks start to operate in Morocco. He argues that a gradual overture to these banks will also give time to local banks to develop more knowledge and acquaintance with the Sharia compliant transactions.

Four Islamic banks from Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had submitted their application two months ago to the governor of Bank Al Maghrib in order to operate in the Moroccan banking sector.

Standards and Poor’s, a leading provider of financial market intelligence, warned against the unpredictable impact of unrestricted overture to Islamic banks. Al Jawahiri said that Morocco is not bound to grant a large number of licenses in a short of time.

Faisal Islamic bank is likely to be the first bank to receive a permit to open new agencies across the country.

In the light of this agreement, the governor of Bank AL Maghrib scheduled several meetings with the aforementioned bank in order to discuss the legal framework regulating Islamic transactions as well as the geographical distribution of new bank agencies.

Foreign Islamic banks expressed their apprehension about the restrictions issued in the new Banking Law regulating the proceedings of Islamic banks that will operate under the name “Associative Banks.”

Sources close to the daily Al Massae said that there are  intentions to prevent the expansion of Islamic banks in Morocco, especially that the international agency Standard and Poor’s predicted a notable increase in Islamic finance in international markets in the period between 2011 and 2015.

Stewart Anderson, The regional manager for the Standard and Poor’s in the Middle East said “The global financial crisis that devastated the financial market nurtured growing interest for Islamic banking.”

Indeed, the appetite for Sharia compliant baking products has been growing steadily in the midst of the global battering marked by market volatility. Islamic banks diverge from conventional banks in the concept of “interest” and the type of relation established with the client. In conventional banking, the relation between the bank and the client is that of creditor and debtor, whereas in Islamic banking the relation is that of partners, investors and trader, buyer and seller.

To dodge the illicit aspect of interest and to ensure their viability on the financial market, Islamic banks offer a wide range of products like Musharakah and Ijarah.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

Facebook as a TEFL Tool: A Focus on Attitudes
By Fouad Boulaid Morocco World News Ifrane, Morocco, October 9, 2012

Today’s new generation of students are often said to be a digital generation of Web 3.0 users. Most of them are active and advanced users of Social Networking Sites (SNS), particularly Facebook (FB). The latter has erected itself around educators in a few years. Students can now be entertained, socialize, send and receive e-mails, browse for information, produce and preserve wall pages by filling them with photos, videos, and hyperlinks.  They are also able to broadly work on team projects using synchronous and asynchronous FB chatting and, subsequently, improve not only their internet competence, but also their language skills as well as their sense of creativity and life skills on the whole……

Read more here

Microsoft Launches New OS Windows 8 in Amazigh Language
By Larbi Arbaoui Morocco World News Taroudant, Oct 6, 2012

Microsoft announced the preview release of its new operating system Windows 8 that supports Amazigh language, says Saturday, a statement from the American multinational Computing. The release will take place within the framework of the visit of Jean-Philippe Courtois,  the president of Microsoft International, to Morocco next Wednesday and Thursday in order to strengthen the multinational bond with Moroccan partners of public and private sectors.

During the celebrations of the International Organization for Science and Culture of the mother tongue in the United Nations on 21 February, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be available in 14 new languages, including Tamazight.

Microsoft has not yet officialized the retail price of Windows 8 Pro, but the Verge (website) says that Microsoft’s Windows 8 Pro software will be priced at $199 after a promotional price of $69.99 that will expire on January 31st 2013, and Microsoft users are to be offered Windows 8 Pro upgrades online for $39.99.

The official release of Microsoft Windows 8 is scheduled for October 26.

Two keyboards are available to type Amazigh language: the Latin alphabet used in Algeria and the Moroccan Tifinagh alphabet with two input methods (Tifinagh-based alphabet keyboard, and extended keyboard. The Tifinagh keyboard is the one used by IRCAM (Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture in Morocco).

The visit of the president of Microsoft International to Morocco will coincide with the announcement of the new edition of the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and all the programs that Microsoft has specially set up for Moroccan students like Youthspark, as well as the announcement of a new service in the field of Cloud Computing in Morocco.

Nobel Prize to Morocco-Born Jewish Physicist From France, American From Colorado
10 October 2012 Haaretz, Associated Press (October 10, 2012)

Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist who was born in Casablanca, Morocco, has won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States.

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 went to the scientists "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems," the website of the Nobel Prize said. According to the BBC, the pair developed solutions to pick, manipulate and measure photons and ions individually, allowing an insight into a microscopic world that was once just the province of scientific theory.

Haroche, who was born 68 years ago in Casablanca, Morocco, told Le Figaro that he "had a hard time understanding" the news when a representative of the Nobel Prize committee called him on his cellular phone to say he had won what is considered the highest form of recognition of scientific excellence.

Haroche, of Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize Committee with Wineland, a researcher at the Maryland-based National Institute of Standards and Technology and at the University of Colorado.

Le Figaro quotes Haroche as saying he was walking with his wife down the street when he received the call from Sweden. He said he had to sit down on a bench before passing on the news to family.

Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella organization of France's Jewish communities, told JTA: "The achievement belongs to the scientists, but a small part of me is also proud today." Mutual friends described Haroche to Prasquier as "a truly brilliant thinker, known for his creativity," Prasquier said.

Prasquier noted that Haroche had worked closely with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - also a French Jew of North African descent - who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997.

Haroche and Wineland, both 68, were honoured for pioneering optical experiments in "measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems," the Nobel Physics jury said in its citation. "Their groundbreaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of super-fast computer based on quantum physics," it said. "Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century."

Wineland cautioned on Tuesday such a super-computer was "a long, long way" off. "I think many of us feel that it will eventually happen," he said in a pre-dawn phone interview recorded and posted on the Nobel committee website.

The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day caesium clocks, it said.

Haroche said the award was "fairly overwhelming. I was in the street, passing near a bench, and was able to sit down immediately," he told journalists via a live link to Stockholm. "I was walking with my wife, when I saw the Swedish area code, I realised. I think we will have champagne," he added.

Wineland said he was wakened in the middle of the night at his home in Boulder, Colorado with a phone call from the committee in Stockholm. "I was sleeping and my wife got the call and woke me up," he said, adding that it was "a wonderful surprise, of course."

French President Francois Hollande praised Haroche for his win, calling it a "source of pride for our country."

Specialists in optics, the two scientists worked independently of each other to trap particles, enabling the quantum state to be examined and manipulated at ultra-low temperatures. Jim al-Khalili, a professor of physics at Britain's University of Surrey, said the research had taken quantum out of the realm of "science fiction or, at best, the wilder imaginations of quantum physicists."

Both Wineland and Haroche specialise in quantum entanglement, a phenomenon of particle physics that has been proven by experiments but remains poorly understood. When two particles interact, they become "entangled," which means one particle affects the other at a distance. The connection lasts long after they are separated. In entanglement, particles also go into a state called superposition, which opens the way to hoped-for supercomputers.

Today's computers use a binary code, in which data is stored in a bit that could be either zero or 1. But in superposition, a quantum bit, known as a qubit, could be either zero or one, or both zero and one at the same time. This potentially offers a massive increase in data storage, greatly helping number-crunching tasks such as running climate-change models and breaking encrypted codes. But many technical hurdles remain to be overcome.

Haroche and Wineland's achievement has been to measure and control these very fragile quantum states, which were previously deemed inaccessible, so that the particles can be observed and counted, the jury said. The Institute of Physics society in London hailed the award. "Haroche and Wineland have made tremendous advances in our understanding of quantum entanglement, with beautiful experiments to show how atomic systems can be manipulated to exhibit the most extraordinary coherence properties," said Peter Knight, the institute's president.

Haroche is a professor at College de France and Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, while Wineland is a group leader at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado.;_ylc=X3oDMTBucmhobGR0BF9TAzM5ODMwMTAyNwRhYwNkZWxNc2dz&mid=2_0_0_1_227878_AGviimIAAJtYUHbuhgg7%2FHHdFJM&fid=Inbox&sort=date&order=down&startMid=0&filterBy=&.rand=145988326&hash=f08e33480d308bb465ad6b4a1cc68faf &.jsrand=922676

Do Moroccans Speak Arabic?
By Matt Schumann Fez, October 11, 2012

After my Fulbright grant ended last July I traveled to America to visit family and friends for about two months before returning to Morocco to study Arabic. Of all the people I saw, I looked forward the most to reuniting with my undergraduate advisor, a professor in the Religious Studies department at Rice. For three years, he was my guru, especially in Arabic. He guided me through Classical Arabic, its broken plurals, irregular masdars, ma / min constructions, and instilled in me a great appreciation for the language in its most intricate forms.

Continues here…..

Hyper-polyglots and the sublime delight of learning a foreign language
By Larbi Arbaoui Morocco World News Taroudant, Morocco, October 11, 2012

The purposes and uses of foreign languages cannot be limited to the need for cross cultural communication. Some students study foreign languages for the purpose of finding a rewarding career in the international marketplace. Others are interested in the intellectual challenge, cognitive benefits and social status that accrue to those who master multiple languages. Still others study the others’ languages as a means to exhaustively understand the humane behavior and the culture of that community. Sadly, in our schools, nearly all students learn foreign languages simply to meet a graduation requirement. Yet, there are some people who experience a personal delight in learning more languages; so their appetite cannot stop at three, six or even……

More here:

Clinton highlights Morocco’s “major” constitutional reforms under King Mohammed VI
Washington, October 12, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted, Friday in Washington, the “major constitutional reforms” implemented under the leadership of King Mohammed VI. The reforms culminated in the adoption of a new constitution that “expanded authorities for parliament”, Hillary said in an address during a conference on “The Maghreb in Transition: Seeking Stability in an Era of Uncertainty”. She recalled that after the adoption of the Constitution by a referendum, elections were held, which resulted in the formation of a Justice and Development Party-led government. Hillary also raised the Strategic Dialogue between Washington and Rabat, highlighting Morocco’s willingness to forge “a broader partnership” with the United States.

The U.S. Secretary of State had, during the opening of the strategic dialogue, paid tribute to HM King Mohammed VI’s leadership, which made Morocco “a leading, model country”. In her address, Hillary also mentioned Morocco’s “strong condemnation” of Benghazi attack last month, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed

In Moroccan Village, Students Leave Public School for the Mosque
By Rachid Khouya Morocco World News Smara, Morocco, October 13, 2012

Inhabitants of the village of Toutlin, near Gulmim in southern Morocco are preventing their children from attending public school and instead sending them to study in the local mosque. The principle reasons were a lack of teachers, the futility of the educational system, multi-level classrooms with only one teacher and, above all, the indifference of the Ministry of Education.

The decision is being seen by many people as a first, an attempt to entomb the public school and to take Morocco and Moroccans backward. However, according to some sources from the village, “this decision comes after years of empty promises and waiting in vain for the smallest signs of change to take place.” They said that “the feeling of indifference and closing of eyes and ears on the part of the Ministry of Education is going to give birth to more aggressive and fundamentalist reactions from the side of the people.”

Parents think their students learn nothing from the school as the conditions do not permit teachers to teach or learners to learn. Despite the promises of the current government and Minister of Education, the people of Toutlin find themselves forced to keep their students from going to primary school. For them, it is like a “local prison cell” for their kids. “It is better to learn the Koran than to learn nothing at all” said one father. He went on, asking, “How can a teacher teach two levels of students at the same time? How can small students learn in this noneducational atmosphere?”

This has been described by many people as a slap in the face of the new government and its Minister of Education. Against all the speeches and the good intentions of reviving the reputation of Moroccan public schools, here is a good example and a good response on the part of a marginalized village in the South of Morocco. Here is a collective “NO” to the continuing marginalization and indifference.

In my opinion, changing Moroccan schools will never happen as a result of good intentions or dogmatic speeches alone. Real initiatives have to take place to stop this collective exodus from other public schools. It will require actually answering people’s needs and questions, not just listening to them by telephone and with the Minister’s meaningless appearances in videos.

A day At a Qur’anic School, (Short Story)
Mourad El Hanafi Morocco World News Oujda, Morocco, October 11, 2012

Frequent tinkling hand-claps mixed with Qur’anic hums were emanating from somewhere. It was lmqdem who was roaming the corridors of the school to awake students.  “It’s about the dawn, shine and rise!!!” lmqdem regularly cried. The laziest students were still tucked up in their dimly lit rooms–indulged in their slumbers as they had not heard the hand-claps/ “Has the meuzzin announced for Alfajr prayer or not yet??!!’ they asked each other in vanished tone, seeking the possibility to snatch extra minutes’ sleep before Lfqih came and woke them by banging at doors. Lmqdem who volunteered to run the school had to be patient-more than what patience means, to cope with some stubborn mentalities of students, especially during small hours, for they kept attributing their restless sleep to his disturbing hand-claps. But lmqdem seemed to enjoy his work though, judging by his credible performance of the affairs of the school and of students alike….

Read the rest here:

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