Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review
June 22, 2013
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program.
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 Written by IVN Washington, DC
The U.S. Department of State is celebrating the 10 th Anniversary of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program. The YES program was started in the in the wake of 9/11 to bring youth from Muslim communities around the world to the U.S. for a year-long secondary school exchange.
To date, over 6,000 high school students from more than 45 countries have participated in the YES program. In 2009, the Department of State began the YES Abroad program, to send American students abroad to countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, South Africa, and Turkey. Both programs promote democracy, civic engagement, and national security by building long-lasting ties with the next generation of young leaders.
During their stay, YES international exchange students live with a volunteer American host family, engage with their communities, attend high school, share their culture, develop leadership skills, and learn about American society. Current participates come from around the world, including Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, Gaza, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank, and Yemen.
Over 850 current students will join alumni, host families, and NGO-partners at events at the Department of State in the coming weeks to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the YES program. On June 20, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will host a formal reception at the Ronald Regan Building with remarks by Ambassador Adam Ereli, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and John Milewski, managing editor and host of Dialogue at the Wilson Center.
Follow the celebrations using #KLYES10 on Twitter
IBM Helps Women's Cooperatives in Tangier Become More Profitable.
Published: June 14, 2013 By IBM CASABLANCA, Morocco, June 14, 2013 — /PRNewswire/
A team of IBM (NYSE: IBM) specialists completing a month-long pro bono consulting assignment, today presented business management strategies to Tangier-area non governmental organizations that promote economic development, cultural preservation and sustainable development.
9-person IBM team, from 8 countries, was the fourth group since 2010 to provide assistance to Morocco as part of IBM's Corporate Service Corps, which provides problem-solving support to educational institutions, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies in the developing world and emerging markets.
Tangier is Morocco's second most important industrial center after Casablanca, with diversified industrial sectors and hosts Morocco's biggest and most modern harbor, Tanger-Med. Tangier also has free trade zones and industrial areas that boost the region's industrial development.The IBM team worked with Tanger Med Foundation for Human Development (Fondation), which runs women's cooperatives as part of its mission to promote development through education, vocational training and healthcare initiatives.
IBM provided guidance for a Fondation women's center to become more productive, self-sufficient and profitable by creating a clear business plan.The IBM team assisted the center's women to effectively address issues of pricing, negotiation, managing quality, packaging, maintenance and inventory, and use economies of scale, finance, partnerships and bookkeeping."The IBM team did a great job providing us with an adaptable business plan for more productive and self-sustainable cooperatives. We wish to replicate this successful experience they had with the women's community center in El Haouma to many other cooperatives," said Jamal Mikou, President of Tanger Med Foundation for Human Development.
The IBM consultants also worked with the Tanger Al Madina Foundation (FTAM), a foundation dedicated to preserving and raising awareness of Tangier's old Medina, its historical nucleus of culture and history.IBM helped FTAM with a clear strategy for a sustainable growth and clear benefits for the community of the old Medina in Tangier. The team recommended the use of modern technologies to make collaboration and stakeholder engagement easier and more effective, as well as the adoption of an online fundraising model based on a new website.Another team worked with the Moroccan Association for Sustainable Environment (AMED), a university-based group active in sustainable development. The team helped AMED create a new organizational model, with clear strategic plan as well as communication plans. The suggested framework will allow the association to optimize its internal procedures, promote its image externally, and access more funding.
"This experience was truly collaborative. The team learned a great deal about the important role that local non-profits play in this unique community. The success of these non-profit groups will ultimately help the region continue to grow and succeed in the global marketplace," said Abdallah Rachidi Alaoui, CGM IBM Morocco.IBM's Corporate Service Corps deploys IBM employees from around the world with expertise in technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, human resources, law, and economic development. Issues they address range from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and health care.
By year's end, approximately 2,400 IBM employees based in 52 countries will have been dispatched on more than 187 Corporate Service Corps engagements, and undertaken 850 team assignments in 34 countries since the founding of the program five years ago, in 2008.
Since that time, Corporate Service Corps has provided more than $70 million worth of skilled, pro bono consulting services. Over the last five years, the program has sent more than 638 employees on 56 teams to 11 countries in Africa, a growing market for IBM.
Follow IBM's Corporate Service Corps on the CitizenIBM blog at www.citizenIBM.com and on Twitter at @citizenIBMContact(s) informationAri Fishkind IBM Media Relations 1 (914) 499-6420 firstname.lastname@example.orgNadia Kallel IBM Media Relations +21698485358 email@example.com
Smaller citrus harvest 2012/13 confirmed
Research published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) during the last month on the citrus cultivation in Morocco confirms a predicted decrease in harvest. The total citrus harvest this season is 1,494 million tons - about 20% smaller than the previous year, as mentioned on the German website, Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI).
The harvest of 2012/13 suffered from the heat wave in the months of May and July 2012. The region Sousse-Massa was hit the most and, out of the fruit varieties, the harvest of the orange Maroc-Late suffered most from the heat. The export was about 357,000 tons, about 18% less than the exported quantity of last season.
The harvest expectations for the 2013/14 season are very optimistic. The quantity of rain in the Winter (September-April 2012/13) was 28% more than average and up to now the climatological circumstances were favourable with the result that an increased harvested quantity for the 2013/14 season is expected again.
The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music wrapped up last week after eight days of events designed to promote openness and reconciliation between peoples. The event has become a must-see gathering for lovers of spiritual music and those who support diversity. The festival turns the country's spiritual capital into a focal point for peace, dialogue and creativity, according to both the organisers and experts.
This year, the 19th edition of the event wrapped up June 15th and attracted a constellation of artists from different parts of the world as well as leading thinkers who highlighted the need to promote a culture of acceptance.
The French philosopher Edgar Morin raised the alarm by saying that diversity was increasingly threatened. To preserve it, he said, it was vital for humankind to show collective strength.
That view was shared by the Moroccan Culture Minister Mohamed Amine Sbihi, who highlighted the need for the kingdom to realise the importance of diversity. A broad-based approach encompassing education, culture, the media and public life must be adopted if this goal is to be achieved, he said. "This will fulfil the desire to preserve national culture and openness towards the wider world," the minister asserted.
Morocco must make great efforts to foster a culture of tolerance and openness in the face of the various conservative movements that promote narrow-minded thinking, according to sociologist Samira Kassimi. To that end, the media must play a big role by broadcasting television programmes that attract children and young people in particular, she argued, adding that the education system also has a major part to play. "Syllabuses which teach children the values of openness and diversity need to be included from nursery school onwards. At present, the efforts being made fall short of expectations," Kassimi said.
Political analyst Redouane Bachiri agreed that particular attention must be paid to promoting cultural activities. "Culture is an important way of fostering tolerance and tackling extremism. The Fez Festival of Sacred Music helps to spread many universal values among the population, especially young people. Through the various guests, the festival helps to bring civilisations and cultures together," he said. He added that he would like to see more events of this kind being held, with pride of place to be given to children.
Many members of the public value the festival highly. Hamza Raji, a young bank employee, has not missed it once in the past five years. He said the event was a clever mixture of spiritual music including Sufi chanting and debates about very important topics related to globalisation. "I am seeing more and more young people within my social circle taking an interest in this kind of cultural event," he told Magharebia. http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/features/2013/06/19/feature-03
Morocco’s central bank held its key rate steady at 3.0 percent, saying inflation is expected to remain in line with the bank’s price stability objective and the risks are balanced. Bank Al-Magrib also said it would implement a new program to encourage banks to lend to very small, small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly industrial companies that are export-oriented due to a continued deceleration in non-agricultural activity and bank credit.
The program, with a minimum duration of two years, provides banks with liquidity collateralized mostly by private securities issued by such businesses, the Central Bank of Morocco said.
Bank Al-Magrib trimmed its inflation forecast for 2013 to 2.1 percent from a March forecast of around 2.2 percent and maintained its forecast that inflation would be around 1.6 percent in the third quarter of 2014, averaging 2.0 percent over the forecast horizon.
Morocco’s inflation rate rose to 2.4 percent in April from 2.2 percent in March for an average rate of 2.4 percent in the first quarter, in line with the bank’s forecast from March. Core inflation rose to 1.6 percent in April from 1.5 percent in March, mostly due to the dissipating effect of a cut in communications prices in 2012. Due to lower commodity prices, industrial producer prices fell by 4 percent in April after a 1 percent fall in March.
Morocco’s central bank has held its key rate steady since March 2012 when it cut rates by 25 basis points. Morocco’s economy is forecast to bounce back this year after growth of 2.7 percent in 2012 due to an 8.9 percent fall in agriculture valued added and a 4.5 percent fall in non-agricultural GDP.
This year, agricultural activity is benefitting from good weather while the non-agricultural sector will be impacted by the economic downturn in partner countries, mainly the euro area. Gross Domestic Product growth this year if forecast to range from 4.5-5.5 percent – up from a March forecast of 4-5 percent – with non-agricultural output rising 2.5-3.5 percent, which means the output gap remains below zero and the absence of inflationary pressures from domestic demand.
The central bank said the international environment was still characterized by a “continued worsening of economic activity and the persistently high levels of unemployment,” particularly in the euro area. “These developments, couples with lower commodity prices, contributed to keeping inflation at moderate levels, particularly in partner countries, which suggests the absence of significant external inflationary pressures on the national economy in the coming quarters,” the bank said.
Hassania Engineering School (EHTP) is one of the best engineering schools in Morocco which has formed in 41 years more than 4000 high qualified engineers so as to face the challenges of an open economy and invest in national and international fields. From this perspective, EHTP is distinguished by the "Personal Initiative Project (PIP)" which aims at teaching engineering students entrepreneurial initiatives in order to prepare them to be creative and self-confident. Amongst these students, eight future engineers interested in the development of the craft sector in Morocco have decided to adopt the promotion of Moroccan handicraft as the topic of their project “Moroccan Bazart”.
The Android application "Moroccan Bazart" is a new tool that draws its identity from the secular heritage of Moroccan handicraft. An innovative concept that stimulates the commercial dynamic of tourists and increases their awareness of Moroccan products’ art, in order to highlight the innovation and creativity of Moroccan artisans.
The "Moroccan Bazart" application is addressed to people who are passing a few days in a Moroccan city, those who are seeking a relaxing time through the magic of texts and visual sequences depicting the deep origin of traditional art.
Visitors of the "Moroccan Bazart" application are invited to stroll through the bazaars of Morocco based on the essential and practical information (handicrafts shops, international trade fairs ...) to find products which will stay reminiscent of their pleasant trip in Morocco.
"Moroccan Bazart" is an effective and ergonomic tool providing a nice user interface. The user discovers the various branches of Moroccan handicrafts (decoration, furniture, architecture, clothing, jewelry and organic products), admires artisans shaping matter with body and soul through various video clips, learns about the international events linked to Moroccan handicraft (trade expositions, trade fairs, ...) and locates a range of handicrafts shops in several Moroccan cities through a powerful search tool.
To benefit from the services offered by the "Moroccan Bazart" application no permanent internet network is required. Additionally, this new application is multilingual and freely available on https://play.google.com/.
Thanks to the "Moroccan Bazart" the precious handicraft of Morocco will have no secrets for you!
Published by: LAHLOU Ghizlane
Read more about Morocco News Mirror by www.moroccomirror.com
Moroccans torn between consumerist drives and moral ideals
By Youssef Sourgo Morocco World News Casablanca, June 19, 2013
Most of us do not feel compelled to choose between clinging to our moral principles versus relinquishing them for consumerist attitudes. It is at this very moment that we become subjugated by our own consumerist drives. In Morocco, consumerism has gradually molded to underlie the fundamental layers of our distinctive Moroccan, day-to-day life. Our moral and ethical standards, on the other hand, are gradually wearing thin before our brand-new, acquired instinct: to consume. ……………..
Morocco and its African roots: a foreigner’s perspective
By Erin Geneva Morocco World News Rabat, June 21, 2013
On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to be taken by a few of my co-workers to a portion of the Rabat Africa festival. I couldn’t more strongly recommend attending this festival.
Not only was I impressed by this festival, I was also surprised by its existence. Basically, before arriving in Morocco I had expected to only encounter Arab culture. However, in many ways (especially by interning at an association concerned with preserving Amazigh culture) I’ve realized that this was a false expectation.
Although I know that a lot of African migrants come to Morocco from more Southern countries to study or work, or simply to stay until they can make their way into Europe- I did not realize until I got here how many of such migrants there would actually be. As life must have been tough enough for these people to decide to leave home, I’m sure it didn’t get any easier when they found themselves in a strange country, without their families, potentially unable to speak the local language and unfamiliar with Moroccan culture. I was impressed to see there was an event to give them recognition……….
Read more: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/06/95155/morocco-and-its-african-roots-a-foreigners-perspective/
Morocco says aims to cut subsidies - if commodity prices allow
Sunday 16, June 2013
Morocco will cut subsidy spending by 20 percent to 42 billion dirhams ($5 billion) or less in 2013 - depending on international commodities prices, the general affairs minister said on Friday, as an IMF delegation audits the country's finances. The Islamist-led government has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to start reforming its subsidy system in 2013, but Rabat has delayed the issue because of its political sensitivity.
Last August, the IMF approved a $6.2 billion precautionary line of credit for Morocco over two years while urging action to reform the country's subsidy and pension system.
An IMF delegation is visiting the North African kingdom during the first two weeks of June to scrutinize its finances and see if it is still meeting the criteria of the precautionary credit line. "We have agreed to ease the subsidy spending and will be at the limit of amount fixed by the national budget as it forecasts 40 or 42 billion dirhams" General Affairs and Governance Minister Mohamed Najib Boulif said in a statement carried by the state news agency.
The amount of the 2013 subsidies will also depend on commodities prices on the international markets and fluctuations in local demand, the statement added.
"If the prices on the international markets are steady, the government will spend less than what it plans" Najib Akesbi an economist at the Hassan II institute of Agronomy Science in Rabat said. "The government is not reforming, it is betting" he added.
The board of the subsidy fund said subsidies burned up 53.36 billion dirhams in 2012 or 6.4 pct of Morocco's GDP, including 32.4 billion for oil, 15.8 billion for gas and 5 billion dirhams for sugar.
The political establishment around King Mohammed is anxious to avoid a drop in living standards and prevent a return to street protests for political and economic reforms that he managed to stifle in 2011 with social spending, harsh policing and constitutional reforms that paved the way for the ruling party to come to power in a coalition.
Morocco's junior government party is threatening to quit the coalition unless Islamist prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane moderates plans for sweeping cuts to subsidies on food and energy. Benkirane insists the reforms will go ahead.
In Morocco 39% of the territory is made up of dry or partly-dry areas - the main cause of a number of social and economic problems, notably massive urbanization forcing tens of thousands to leave their homes every day and move to major cities along the coast to seek a better lifestyle, Moroccan High Commissioner for Water and Forests Abdeladim El Hafi told the local Map news agency in an interview marking World Day to Combat Desertification on Monday.
The territory's progressive desertification is a complex problem, he said. Morocco has been trying to deal with it for a while now but today, considering the results so far achieved, the country needs to tackle them with a different approach and method. Confronting this issue however means implementing measures to boost development by taking into account the diversity of each region.
'Finding technical and scientific solutions is not enough', said the high commissioner. 'It is most important to implement them considering the socio-economic peculiarity and potential of each region in order to avoid any imbalance in the eco-system'.
El Hafi went to the heart of the problem, calling for the need to reassess a national plan against desertification kick-started in 2001 which, he admitted frankly, gave great results but also registered evident failures.
Updating the programme, a step which is deemed necessary, will enable authorities to embrace a new approach in view of the high commissioner's ten-year programme which will come into force in 2014.
The national programme will focus on a number of indicators to follow up on progress of public policies in each region and abide by the principle of sustainable development. The new strategy of the Moroccan government will thus vie for economic development while safeguarding the environment, social justice and territorial solidarity. (ANSAmed).
Morocco May Encounter Increasing Financing Needs in 2014.
By Souhail Karam - Jun 20, 2013 12:01 AM GMT+0100
Morocco’s financing requirements may rise in 2014 while its debt-to-GDP ratio is already approaching the “danger zone” after a surge in borrowings since 2011, the chief of the country’s planning agency said in an interview yesterday. “The pace of borrowing we have seen since 2011 is reminiscent of the difficult years of the 1980s,” Ahmed Lahlimi, chief planning commissioner told Bloomberg News at the agency’s headquarters in Rabat. “We are getting closer to the danger zone,”
Last month, Finance and Economy Minister Nizar Baraka said the debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 59 percent in 2012 versus less than 48 percent in 2009. The North African country last month sold $750 million in dollar-denominated bonds. The $100 billion economy is forecast to grow 4.6 percent this year after 2.7 percent in 2012, said Lahlimi whose 2013 forecast is below the central bank’s 5.5 percent estimate.
Ruled by the Arab world’s longest-serving dynasty, Morocco opened its coffers when protests started sweeping the region in 2011, raising subsidy spending, public-sector wages and pensions, leading it to post a 7.5 percent budget deficit in 2012, the highest in more than two decades.
Its current-account deficit hit 10 percent the same year, the highest since the 1980s when foreign lenders imposed a painful restructuring plan that stoked social pressure and led to the monarchy allowing greater political participation.
IMF Liquidity Line
Rabat was granted a $6.2 billion liquidity line by the International Monetary Fund last year. The government pledged to reform its subsidy, tax and pensions systems and bring the deficit down to 3 percent by the end of 2016. Lahlimi said that a 25 percent reduction in subsidies would ratchet up inflation rate by 216 basis points. Consumer inflation stood at an annual 2.2 percent in May, he noted.
Morocco imports all its oil, gas and coal needs and relies on foreign sugar and wheat to meet domestic needs. Those imports accounted for 60 percent of the trade deficit in 2012, which stood at 197 billion dirhams or 23 percent of GDP.
Lahlimi forecasts the current-account deficit to ease to 6.8 percent in 2013 before rising again to 7.4 percent in 2014. “It’s based on the assumption that no curbs will be put on consumption, that savings will not increase and that competitiveness will remain an issue,” Lahlimi said. “Maybe a reform of subsidies can help, but so will a reprioritization of investments and letting the private sector play a bigger role in the economy, he said. ‘‘We have to reduce consumption to boost savings and compensate the decline in liquidity caused by growing deficits.’’
To contact the reporter on this story: Souhail Karam in Rabat at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrea Snyder at email@example.com
Mohamed was a high school student. Like many other students of the village, he used to go to school only because his parents wanted him to attend school so that they could talk about him in front of the neighbors, friends, and relatives.
Despite his poverty, his father wanted him to learn English after having met an American lady when he was fighting with the French Army during the Second World War. Si Brahim still regrets that golden opportunity, as he had not been able to communicate with that American lady he had met during the wartime……………
Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/06/94974/mohamed-and-the-american-tourist-short-story/
Monsieur Ibrahim and the Jewish Boy: A Story for Teachers
By Abdallah Zbir Morocco World News Chicago, June 21, 2013
Every day, we take our kids to schools so they can learn and grow. Every day, dads and moms hold their kids’ hands and walk them to their schools where they can open their eyes to the world. Every day, a teacher’s lecture will inspire them and lead them forward in their journey of learning. Every day, a classmate’s smile will bring comfort and peace to their minds. Hope is great, and so are our expectations that one day teachers will work hard and try harder so every one of our beloved children gain more strength to continue their ways with confidence. This hope grows because of great people around us like Monsieur Ibrahim, a man of love and a man of wisdom. He is a man of a great story and a man who changed the life of a troubled and lost child with his heart………………
Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/06/95112/monsieur-ibrahim-and-the-jewish-boy-a-story-for-teachers-2/
Merzouga Rally: Morocco Rally is becoming more and more international
From South Africa with Dakar protagonists Darryl Curtis, Riaan Van Niekerk, Brett Cummings and Glenn Grundy to Australia with National hero Ben Grabham, Garry Connel and Garry Whyttly on SSV, from Canada with Patrick Trahan to England with the most successful desert rally teams such as RallyMoto, RallyRaid UK, DesertRoseRacing and Wilderness Wheels, the Merzouga Rally speaks English. ……
Read more: http://www.marathonrally.com/news/merzouga_rally_morocco_rally_is_becoming_more_and_more_international.23322.0.html
Morocco will begin deregulating prices for some basic goods in the next two weeks, its first step towards reducing subsidies, its general affairs minister told Reuters. The Islamist-led government has delayed reforms to subsidies and pensions recommended by the International Monetary Fund because of their political sensitivity.
"We will activate automatic price adjustment in the next two weeks - before Ramadan - for energy products and sugar, except cooking gas," General Affairs and Governance Minister Mohamed Najib Boulif said in an interview late on Thursday. His comments came a few days after an IMF team visited the North African kingdom to audit its public finances.
The shift will allow the government to cut spending on subsidies by 20 percent, to 42 billion dirhams ($5 billion) or less, the minister said. That is within the limit fixed by the 2013 budget, which is based on an oil price of $105. Coming just before the start on July 10 of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that often involves heavy spending for millions of Moroccans, the move may be controversial. "The adjustment will be in both directions. When (oil) prices are less than $105, that will let Moroccans consider that it is not necessarily a bad thing," Boulif said.
Subsidies burned up 53.36 billion dirhams in 2012 or 6.4 pct of Morocco's GDP, including 32.4 billion dirhams for oil, 15.8 billion dirhams for gas and 5 billion dirhams for sugar.
The minister said prices would not be fully liberalised, however, and that maximums would be set. "(The figure) is not public yet, I can't say it," he said. "The government will help the process by price hedging to anticipate fluctuations of commodity prices in the international markets."
Last August, the IMF approved a $6.2 billion precautionary line of credit for Morocco over two years while urging reforms of its subsidy and pension systems.
Boulif said the move had been agreed by the coalition government, which a junior party had threatened to quit unless prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane moderated plans for sweeping cuts to subsidies on food and energy. Benkirane insists the reforms will go ahead. "We have agreed the move," said Boulif, a member of the prime minister's islamist Justice and Development Party. "For the structural reform of the subsidy fund, we expect to reach a compromise by the end of the year and we can put it out with the 2014 national budget.
"The government's global reform is technically ready, which contains direct aid for the poorest and some measures to help the middle classes."
(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Catherine Evans, John Stonestreet)
Rights group slams Moroccan justice system
Published: June 21, 2013 By PAUL SCHEMM — Associated Press RABAT, Morocco
Morocco's justice system overly relies on coerced confessions in politically-tinged trials and needs serious reform, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Friday.It describes six cases which the group said didn't follow international norms of due process and allegedly involved confessions coerced from defendants and judges who ignored claims of torture."There is a complicity between the judges and police," said Eric Goldstein, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's North Africa division, describing how police allegedly coerce confessions, then present them to court. "The judges are in a hurry to convict based on that without looking for other evidence."……………………….
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2013/06/21/2772990/rights-group-slams-moroccan-justice.html#storylink=cpy
My first glance of polygamy in Morocco.
By Erin Geneva Morocco World News Rabat, June 14, 2013
As an international volunteer, I am very grateful to be accommodated by a lovely Moroccan host family. They have been very generous and taken me a few different places. Last weekend, we visited a farm where several guests were served a fancy lunch in a big tent.
Besides the entire sheep carcasses served on giant platters, and the experience of being served in a fancy tent, what was also interesting about this particular experience was that the host had two wives. Admittedly, I didn’t pick up on this particular detail until after we had left. As we were leaving, I followed the female members of my host family to make the rounds and thank, and double cheek kiss the female members of the family who had hosted our lunch. The final two women I thanked did seem to have an authoritative demeanor, as if they were in charge of the whole event, and said their goodbyes in almost perfect unison.
As we drove away, the father of my host family pointed out the detail I had missed. The final two women I had said goodbye to were both co-wives of the same man, and their husband was so rich that he could afford both of them.
Judging by the large number of guests, caterers and courses served at the lunch I could see that this man could certainly afford to support two wives. They looked well provided for and even seemed to get along quite well with each other. Essentially, I couldn’t see any evidence to suggest that they were unhappy with the situation and even my host family said that the three of them got along very well and lived happily together.
I found myself feeling skeptical though. Maybe this is just my Westerner’s bias, but I had quite a visceral reaction to the idea of being wife number two…or even wife number one for that matter. Even though it appeared that this husband treated his wives equally, he is after all a human being. This is not the same as having equal love for each of one’s children, I thought that he must surely have a favorite...................
Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/06/94398/my-first-glance-of-polygamy-in-morocco/
Morocco inflation rises to 2.8 pct in May
Rabat, June 20 | Thu Jun 20, 2013 (Reuters)
Morocco's annual consumer price inflation rose to 2.8 percent in May from 2.4 percent in April, pushed up by climbing food prices, the high planning authority said on Thursday. Food prices inflation rose 3.4 pct from a year earlier, non-food index increased 2.4 percent while education costs pushed up by 6.1 pct, the statement added. On monthly basis, consumer price inflation rose 0.5 pct as vegetable prices jumped 6.6 percent while non-food inflation was 0.1 pct.
(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)
The railway line linking this city in eastern Morocco on the border with Algeria to Fez about 300 km to the west will be improved with various projects. The projects were launched Wednesday by King Mohammed VI aimed at providing this major transportation axis with modern infrastructure to enable it to accommodate the substantial flow of traffic in the best conditions of safety and comfort.
The projects, which are a part of the 2010-2015 contracted programme signed between the Moroccan government and the Office of the National Railway (ONCF), involve the upgrading and electrification of the Fez-Oujda railway line and the construction of a multimodal transportation terminal, the second phase of the mega urban renewal project, Oujda Urba Pole.
The Fez-Oujda railway line upgrading and electrification project consists of the renewal of 100 km of track (30 per cent of the Fez-Oujda line), electrification of the Fez-Taza line covering 120 Km, strengthening infrastructure (tunnels, bridges, technical buildings), and setting up of sub-stations.
The 900 million dirham (about US$107 million) project is expected to generate about 800,000 days of work during the construction phase and more than 70 jobs during the operation phase. The 260 million dirham terminal is part of the implementation of the Oujda Urba Pole project, the first phase of which was launched by the king in 2010.
The project provides for the construction of a new-generation passenger terminal, which can accommodate an estimated traffic of 1.5 million passengers by 2020 against 800,000 currently.
The Oujda Urba Pole project is part of the restructuring of the city of Oujda to provide the city with an integrated urban project, which could herald a new high quality urban dynamic.
Botanic Tests Park in Rabat - Royal Will to Promote Education to Environment and Preserve the Capital City's Natural Heritage .
17 June 2013 Rabat
The Royal will to promote education to environment, preserve the capital city's natural legacy and secure integrated and lasting development in all of the Kingdom regions was reflected this Monday in the dedication by HM King Mohammed VI of the botanic tests parts after it underwent major restoration works.
The project falls in line with the Royal message sent to participants in the 7th world congress of education to environment (June 9, 2013, in Marrakech) in which the Sovereign underlined that education and awareness-raising to environment issues are "as essential requisites for a successful transition towards a green, solidarity-based, inclusive, eco-friendly economy".
The Rabat Botanic tests park ambitions to be at the same time a center for education to environment for the public, an ideal location to promote the national ecological legacy, a venue of biological resources for scientific research and a site harbouring vegetal collections geared to preserving bio-diversity.
Set up in 1914 on an area of 17 ha, the project which underwent major renovations at the High instructions of HM the King, boasts a priceless biological wealth. Over 650 ornamental and fruit species from local, tropical, subtropical and desert origins. The Arboretum alone contains a large genetic diversity of 27 families and 44 species. The park is also considered as key in developing the Moroccan fruit trees activity, particularly exotic trees and also in enriching national and world vegetal genetic resources, given its flower riches.
The renovation works, which required 55 million DH in investment, consisted mainly in setting 27 thematic squares, renewing the irrigation system, building an exhibition green house and an eco-museum, revamping a Moorish house, introducing new endemic rare or endangered exotic or economically-interesting species.
Located in the heart of Rabat, the botanic tests park, included in 1992 on the list of national historical heritage list, is a genuine oxygen source for the capital city, considered by the UNESCO in 2012 as part of Humanity universal heritage.
In addition to its initial partners (Wilaya of the Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer region, the Urban commune of Rabat, the National agronomical research institute and the Hassan II fund for social and economic development, the park has established partnership with the Foundation of Islamic culture and the Botanic parks of Singapour, of Albacete (Castilla-la-mancha University), of Lyon and of Madrid.
The Rabat botanic part is also member of the network of francophone botanic parks, and of the network of botanic parks in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. A haven of history, architecture, culture and sciences, the Botanical park of Rabat combines sobriety and modernity to become a venue of leisure and relaxation for Rabat inhabitants and visitors.
In addition to this renovated green space, the leisure and sports facilities in Rabat and Sale will be consolidated thanks to a program of seven stadiums for the practice of skate, roller and petanque.
Projected to cost around 6 million DH, the project, to be completed in five months, will consist in building four stadiums in various neighbourhoods of Rabat, in addition to three stadiums in Salé.
By now the alarm has been sounded throughout society: Our standard American diet (S.A.D.) is making us sick. Only a day after actor James Gandolfini's death of a heart attack at age 51, the media is already commenting on the lifestyle factors that may have put him at risk. Our tendency at such moments is often to look longingly at other cultures with healthier diets, to see what they might be doing right.
Anyone who has ever eaten a Moroccan meal will recall tables laden with colorful salads: carrots seasoned with paprika and cumin, orange slices and onions steeped in rose water. A long-simmered tagine of meat and vegetables is placed at the center, with homemade bread for dipping. The main lunchtime meal (ideally followed by a siesta) is capped off with seasonal fruit. At this time of year, stalls at the local markets are overflowing with honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
In 2010, UNESCO recognized the Mediterranean diet -- characterized by the uses of olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and a moderate amount of meat or fish -- as part of Morocco's cultural heritage. In numerous studies, the Mediterranean diet has been found to promote longevity and excellent health. Yet this diet is not simply a list of ingredients. As UNESCO reports, the Mediterranean diet is also social. It involves living in a society that supports social interactions: communal meals, slow food, and a respect for the earth and biodiversity.
As an anthropologist, I've witnessed the enormous amount of time and labor (usually female) that goes into pulling off a Moroccan feast. But over the past 20 years, things have changed. Many employees and students, compelled to follow a schedule modeled after the EU, no longer take a long lunch break. Enter fast food culture -- a deep-fried potato sandwich purchased on the street can cost as little as 50 cents. An after-school snack for many children involves not a piece of fruit but a bag of chips or cookies from the neighborhood grocer. Supermarkets have sprung up everywhere, and many local markets have disappeared. While on my first visit to Morocco, there were only two McDonald's restaurants in the whole country, now there are somewhere near 30.
Throughout all social classes, the Moroccan diet is changing. Like many developing countries, Morocco is experiencing a "nutrition transition" -- a shift from a Mediterranean diet to one that is heavy in sugar, refined flour, and fat. Recent studies have found that 65-67 percent of women's diets are made up of carbohydrates, and more than half of all women in Morocco are categorized as overweight or obese, a rate that has tripled in the last 20 years. These changes are common as countries become more integrated in the global economy. In emerging markets, increased investment, participation in the global food trade, and marketing have dramatic effects on everyday diets. Even in very small Moroccan towns, people now have access to energy-dense but nutrient-deficient packaged foods.
Traditional Moroccan lunches are still a feature in many households. Yet most diets hardly represent a textbook case of the Mediterranean diet. In interviews that my Rollins College students conducted this summer with a group of 25 university students in the city of Fes, many of us were struck by their responses. They loved their grandmothers' cooking the best. Most of them did not know how to cook. And for most, a fast food lunch had become a normal experience of their busy school days.
There is not an easy way to change this. No one should expect Morocco to remain outside the global economy. But as many people around the world are beginning to realize the detrimental effects of a standard Western diet, an effort should be made to hold on to traditional foodways as much as possible. Because once those Moroccan grandmothers are gone, a deep repository of cultural knowledge goes with them.
Morocco in Political Deadlock After Ruling Coalition Collapses
By: Mohammed Boudarham for Al-Monitor Posted on June 19.
Although Morocco has been living through an unprecedented government crisis for more than a month, the palace is taking its time addressing it. Where is the kingdom of Mohammed VI heading?
Has the Moroccan political class gotten the message? The country is going through a serious crisis after Istiqlal (Independence Party), the second most-powerful political force in parliament, withdrew from the government. But the king seems to have to have ignored the matter. After returning from a long visit to France, where he had been since May 10, his first public activity was to attend the June 15 school graduation ceremonies at the Royal College, which his son, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, and his daughter, Lalla Khadija, attend………………….
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/morocco-political-deadlock-ruling-coalition-collapses.html#ixzz2WlOl3ot4
Mohamed Lahna removes the prosthetic he uses for everyday activity, attaches another to his right leg worn specifically for running, then takes off around the bright blue track at the College of San Mateo among all the lunch-hour walkers and joggers.
Tucked away in the hills with a spectacular view of San Francisco Bay below, Lahna hustles along for several laps before stopping to stretch his left leg on a hurdle. A paratriathlete for five years, the 31-year-old native of Morocco has his sights set on the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro — a longtime goal……………
Read more here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/after-years-of-thinking-about-paralympics-moroccan-mohamed-lahna-strives-for-2016-rio-games/2013/06/17/2ccab57a-d78b-11e2-b418-9dfa095e125d_story.html
Wonder said he'd fly to Marrakech to celebrate with delegates if they strike a deal.
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