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Morocco Week in Review 
August 16, 2014

US-Morocco Framework for Cooperation.
Created on Thursday, 07 August 2014 Written by State Department
Washington, DC

The United States hosted a delegation of Moroccan Government officials in Washington, D.C. for the U.S.–Africa Leaders Summit. Today, the United States and Morocco signed a Framework for Cooperation on Training for Civilian Security Services.

The goal of the framework is to develop mutual expertise in the areas of crisis management, border security, and terrorism investigations to strengthen regional counterterrorism capabilities and to deny space to terrorists and terrorist networks. The framework outlines steps to identify and further develop a cadre of Moroccan training experts, jointly train civilian security and counterterrorism forces in partner countries in the greater Maghreb and Sahel regions, and measure the effectiveness of these trainings. The first joint training is scheduled for September 2014.

Morocco Shines as Key US Business and Security Ally at US-Africa Summit.
Aug 08, 2014 WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ (MACP) --

Numerous Agreements Signed with US on Investment, Counterterrorism

Led by Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane, more than a dozen high-ranking Moroccan officials and business leaders made a strong case for Morocco's key role in promoting economic development and stability in Africa at the just-concluded US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, which featured three days of official meetings, side panels, and one-on-one discussions. The Moroccan delegation attended more than 70 events that resulted in a number of public statements and signed agreements in the areas of business, education, counterterrorism, and more.

"The Summit proved to be a golden opportunity for African countries to showcase their diversity, strength, and dynamism," said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel. "Morocco, with its stability and remarkable economic growth at home, and strong, established relationships throughout the continent, shined as the ideal partner for the US as it seeks to build on the Summit's success and increase its engagement in one of the fastest-growing areas of the world."

A significant step was President Barack Obama's announcement during the US-Africa Business Forum on August 5 that this year's Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be held in Morocco. Now in its fifth year, the event is an extension of President Obama's emphasis on entrepreneurship as a pillar of US global engagement, and serves as a platform of exchange between global business leaders and entrepreneurs

At the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce on August 4, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Mamoun Bouhdoud and President of the Moroccan Confederation of Businesses Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun delivered keynote speeches on the theme, "North Africa: Challenges and Opportunities in a Time of Transition." On that same day, Morocco's Minister of Industry and Trade Moulay Hafid Elalamy; Attijariwafa Bank CEO Mohamed El Kettani; and Casablanca Stock Exchange CEO Karim Hajji participated in a panel discussing The Atlantic Council's latest brief: " Morocco's Emergence as a Gateway to Business in Africa." Coauthors Dr. J. Peter Pham and Dr. Ricardo Rene Laremont wrote, "Morocco is well-suited to serve as a bridge for American commercial diplomacy into the continent... and it is in the United States' strategic interests to further deepen economic and commercial cooperation and cultivate stronger political and security partnerships with Morocco."

Also on August 4, Mr. El Kettani signed a memorandum of understanding with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Wells Fargo to expand lending to small and medium enterprises in Morocco. Today, one in two loans in Africa is made through a Moroccan bank, as Attijariwifa Bank has an established presence in 12 countries in Africa and is continuing its expansion on the continent.

On August 5, Executive Director of Morocco's National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) Amina Benkhadra signed a memorandum of understanding with US companies Kosmos Energy and Chevron to provide training to engineering students at Morocco's Ecole Mohammadia and National School of Mineral Industry.

In a strong show of Morocco's important security role on the continent, Morocco, represented by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mbarka Bouaida, signed a Framework for Cooperation on Training for Civilian Security Services with the US to identify and support Moroccan security training experts and, beginning in September, provide joint training for civilian counterterrorism forces throughout the region. Several members of the Moroccan delegation were invited to speak on security issues throughout the week, including at The Atlantic Council, which hosted the event, "Designing Sustainable Solutions: A Roundtable on West African Security."

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. For more, please visit

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.|
SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy

Morocco Targets Social Inequality
By Hassan Benmehdi 11 August 2014 Casablanca

During his Throne Day speech on July 30th, the Moroccan monarch called for a national study of intangible capital to be carried out with a view to rectifying social disparities. "It is not so much the balance sheet and the figures that matter, but above all the direct impact in terms of quality that achievements have had in improving living standards for all citizens," King Mohammed VI said.

The task of carrying out the study, which will cover the 1999-2013 period, has been entrusted to the Economic and Social Council (CES) and Bank al-Maghrib. The aim is to assess the real impact of public policy on people's daily lives, according to Hassan Horrani, a member of CES.

"The main goal is to measure the contribution of all factors, which are generally not included in standard indices, to the improvement of people's living standards," he said on the side-lines of the first meeting of the CES on the subject, which was held on August 1st in Rabat.

On the same occasion, Professor Driss Guerraoui said that the goal of this study, which will go beyond numbers, is to give meaning to the concept of human development in Morocco. "It is a break with our way of assessing and evaluating achievements in terms of economic, social and cultural progress," he explained in a media statement.

Specifically, the president of the CES, Nizar Baraka, underlined that the intangible capital survey would seek to enable Moroccans to learn about tools and means of creating wealth and job opportunities.

The CES announced that in order to carry out the study, it created standing committees, each with a different area of focus, to assess developments in terms of intangible capital and to make practical recommendations.

The governor of Bank Al-Maghrib, Abdellatif Jouahri, said it was too early to talk about any particular methodology "because we're at the very beginning of the process". He added that a tailored methodology would have to be used because, as he explained, "the differing situations in each country mean that you can't apply the same model to all of them."

Moroccan analysts noted that this initiative had two dimensions, which are difficult to quantify but of fundamental importance.

The first relates to the even distribution of the country's overall wealth, and the second relates to the degree of social cohesion.

"While Morocco has made tangible material or physical progress, the fruit of the wealth that has been accumulated is not benefiting all Moroccans equally," said Zakaria Abouddahab, a professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat.

Othman Abouomar, a journalist who specialises in analysing political speeches, told Magharebia that the policy aspect of this study was important for a new social covenant in Morocco. "This study will highlight a delicate issue, which is most often controversial, namely the creation of wealth, but above all its even distribution," Abouomar said.

Morocco To Host Climate Change Conference

The 4th edition of the Climate Change and Development Conference (CCDA-IV) will convene in Marrakesh from Oct 8 to 10 under the theme "Africa Can Feed Africa Now: Translating Climate Knowledge into Action".

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in announcing the hosting of the meeting by Morocco, said the selection of the theme was in recognition of 2014 as the year of agriculture and, as such, the conference would focus on climate knowledge opportunities which could transform agricultural production systems to feed Africa sustainably.

Fatima Denton, the Director of the UNECA Special Initiatives Division, said the strong participation of civil society was a critical part of this series of meetings. "They bring on board the realities, opportunities and challenges faced at the grass-roots level so that policy makers and researchers in attendance can begin to design interventions," she added, noting that the targeted vulnerable groups included farmers, women, the youth and pastoralists.

The overall objective of the conference is to provide a platform for deliberating how Africa can utilise climate knowledge to transform agricultural production systems in order to sustainably feed itself and improve the socio-economic wellbeing of its people.

SPANA in Morocco: Donkey car parks, deep wounds and strangles
Sophia Heath 8 August, 2014

In April we announced that SPANA have been chosen by readers to be H&H’s charity of the year. As part of our partnership with the charity, I was invited to go to Morocco to see the work they do first hand. I spent three days with the country director Professor Hassan Alyakine visiting three of SPANA's centres to see how they help improve the welfare of working equines in the country.

A different sort of car park

On my first morning in Morocco I was taken approximately 40km outside of Marrakech to a souk (open-air market) in the town Ourika. The market happens every Monday bringing people, mostly men, from all the surrounding villages. SPANA’s mobile clinic attends every other week and provides veterinary, farriery and saddle making services to donkey owners that bring their animals.

The souk is the “real Morocco” and is a real contrast to the shiny hotels of Marrakech.  The “donkey car park” is a pretty surreal sight with more than 60 animals being left tied in the dirt while their owners shop (see video below).  It was a stark realisation of the very real role that equines play in working life in Morocco.

Pretty soon after arriving at the car park a man brought his 15-year-old donkey over to the SPANA vets. The most obvious sign of distress were bald bloody patches on the back of the animal’s legs. The patches had been caused by mange (see pic below). The donkey was also poorly shod with long toes and had a large lump under her stomach from her girth.

Sorry that I can only refer to this donkey as “donkey” but a majority of owners do not name their animals.  It is another reminder that they are seen as machines rather than personalities.

The donkey was given a dose of worming medicine, her mange was treated and the she was re shod (see video above). The owner was also recommended to change the girth to stop the rubbing.  Having undergone her “MOT” the donkey was back on her way about 20min later.

The vets and farriers at the car park were not short on work with many owners taking advantage of the free service. This is the only mobile clinic that the charity still runs as it now has such a strong reputation that it relies on people bringing their animals to its centres.

Marrakech centre

From the Souk we went on visit SPANA’s centre in Marrakech. It is not the biggest of its six centres in the country, but is one of the busiest.

The centre — which normally has two full time vets working — runs an open clinic every morning where they expect to see more than 30 patients. The worse cases can be admitted into its hospital where they can keep horses for months if necessary to recover.

One of the first cases that I watched the vets deal with was a grey mare called Mabrouka (which means Fortunate). She had fallen because she was carrying to heavy a load, causing deep wounds to her fetlocks, knees and face.

Perhaps it was the similarity with the fall in Black Beauty (call me sentimental), but it was extremely sad to watch.

The vet and staff did a great job at cleaning the wounds and bandaging up the mare and she was sent home with strict instructions to be brought back within three working days to have her bandages changed.

After the mare had been sent on her way, the vets moved on to treating to youngsters that were both suffering from strangles. The elder of the two’s condition had got to such an extent that the lymph nodes had ruptured.

Strangles is a real issue in the area because owners do not understand how easily it is spread.

Once open surgery had finished, the vet Dr Boukber El Mouhaine took the time to show me around the whole centre to meet the inpatients.

There was a complete range of cases, but common issues were lesions and infected wounds.  One of the most extreme cases was a horse that lesions had got so big that he had been left with a gaping hole in his hind quarters where they had been drained (see pic). I am not a particularly squeamish, but the horse’s wounds were enough to make me feel physically sick.

First day thoughts…

The work that the vets undertake with limited facilities is impressive. It is clear from spending time in the centre and the mobile clinic what a vital lifeline SPANA provides to the community.

Although overall the condition of the animals on the street is not that bad, it is a world away from the way we pamper our ponies at home. The reality is that to most people in Morocco their horse, donkey or mule is a piece of machinery.

A majority of the mistreatment appeared to come from misunderstanding, rather than malice, but that didn’t make it any easier to see.  I can understand why SPANA has its work cut out to make owners understand the importance of basic welfare


SPANA in Morocco: Buttons, dentistry and Lancelot the loan
Sophia Heath 10 August, 2014

In April we announced that SPANA had been chosen by readers to be H&H’s charity of the year. As part of our partnership with the charity, I was invited to go to Morocco to see the work they do first hand. I spent three days with the country director Professor Hassan Alyakine visiting three of SPANA's centres to see how they help improve the welfare of working equines in the country.

Rural life

On my second day in Morocco we travelled to the rural town on Chemaia where another SPANA centre is based. The centre is much smaller than in Marrakech and does not have the “luxury” of an operating theatre.

However, Dr Younesse El Ouasbi and his assistant Dr Kamal Lamhibi are not put off by the basic facilities and perform some impressive operations and achieve some amazing recoveries.

The centre did not have that many inpatients as it was due to be shut for August. Two of the patients — a horse and a donkey ­— were recovering from bite wounds from other horses. Dr Younesse explained how he has used buttons in both cases to help them heal. He uses the buttons to help to hold together stitches when there is dead skin.

The centre was also running its morning open clinic and had several dental cases in. Dr Younesse explained that is a big problem in the area because often owners do not understand that the animal is suffering. Both of the horses were rasped so that they could eat again in comfort (see video).

Practical solutions

A big character at the centre is Lancelot the donkey, who is part of the charity’s loaning scheme. The idea is that if an owner cannot live without his animal, while it recovers they can be lent Lancelot so that they can carry on with their work.

However, Lancelot was looking a little bit porky so maybe he was in need of a bit more work!

The centre also runs a very successful bit replacement scheme. This means that owners can exchange their bits — which are often either unnecessarily severe or sharp — for a simple loose ring straight snaffle.

Dr Younesse estimates that he exchanges around 30 bits a month saving the equines from mouth sores and lacerations. I looked through a box of some of the bits which had been handed in and they were horrific.

Moving through the country

After leaving Chemia we travelled the 250km north to Casablanca. What was startling about the journey — which passed through large rural areas of Morocco — was just how many working equines we passed.

It is slightly scary to think what happens to the animals which are not near a SPANA centre and made me realise why people are prepared to travel such long distances to use the service.

Read Sophia’s first blog from Morocco

A work in progress.
Aug 14th 2014, 14:08 by E.B. | FEZ

MOROCCO’S children have had a better lot since King Mohammed VI succeeded his father as ruler 15 years ago. More that 88% finish primary school, up from 62% at the end of King Hassan’s reign in 1999. Children’s rights organisations have proliferated and the government often funds their projects.

Rural children have benefited in particular. Better transport and boarding facilities for those from far-flung villages have made schools easier to reach. Since 2008 the education ministry has given satchels with pens and exercise books to millions starting primary school. Modest cash allowances for parents of pupils have helped win over families.

The UN’s children’s organisation, UNICEF, helped to reduce the number of children working in the handicraft sector—an area excluded from a labour law of 2004, which laid out limited working hours, paid holidays and a minimum wage for workers in most sectors. In the mid-2000s the organisation had some success in persuading artisans in Marrakech and Fez not to employ children under 12 and to release older children for at least a few hours schooling each week. The authorities raised the fine.

Still, for all Morocco’s progress, problems persist. Rural families are often unaware, says Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby, that all children under 15 must attend school. And this legal requirement, introduced in 2000, is not strictly enforced. The school dropout rate rises steadily between the ages of 11 to 14.

In the cities boys as young as ten can still be found toiling in districts such as in Fez’s Ben Souda where metal parts are stacked high in front of car body shops. Accidents are common. “The employer just takes the child to hospital, pays off the police and that’s the end of the story,” says a worker. Over in the ceramics neighbourhood of Ain Noqbi, a man explains that a child's earnings are necessary to help keep a family afloat since most fathers—the breadwinner in most families—earn just six or seven euros a day.

Local organisations have turned their attention to village girls brought to the towns by middlemen to work as live-in maids. Far from their families, usually illiterate, and sometimes as young as eight, they work all hours and are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Domestic work was also excluded from the 2004 labour law so inspectors are powerless. But the predicament of the “petites bonnes” has caught the attention of the media. Parliament is due to debate legislation when it returns to work in October, after the summer break. Local NGOs are lobbying to include a minimum age of 18. In sum, slow but steady progress.

Applications for 2015/16 Chevening Scholarships now open in Morocco. 
PR Newswire August 8, 2014 LONDON, 8 August 2014 PRN Africa

Chevening Scholarships, which are funded by the UK Government, will support students from Morocco who wish to study for a Masters in the UK. Applications for Chevening Scholarships, the prestigious global scholarship programme of the UK government, are now open.

The Scholarships, which are funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, operate in over 100 countries worldwide, and this year will support about 600 students. The Scholarships are awarded to exceptional individuals with leadership potential, who wish to study for a one-year Master's degree at any British university, starting in September 2015.

The Scholarships aim to support UK foreign policy priorities by creating lasting positive relationships with future leaders, influencers and decision makers around the world. Chevening alumni have an excellent record of rising to positions of leadership across a wide range of fields: including politics, business, the media, civil society, religion, and academia.

The successful candidates from Morocco will be personally selected by the British Embassy in Rabat. The Embassy is looking for applicants who wish to study in one of the following areas:

Economic development (including sustainable development and environmental issues)
Good governance and transparency
Security and justice
Human rights
Media and communications
International relations
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said:

‘The Chevening programme provides a unique opportunity for leaders of the future to build a global network of continuing professional significance. It enables talented individuals to establish social, cultural, academic or commercial partnerships with the UK. We hope that this year's Chevening Scholarships will continue to attract the very brightest and best.'    
SOURCE UK Department for International Development

Newcastle girls arrange music night to fund community work trip to Morocco
Aug 14, 2014 By Mike Kelly

The Sacred Heart RC High School sixth formers will help build much needed irrigation system in remote village. A group of teenage girls from Newcastle are looking to raise cash to carry out community work in Morocco - with a little help from their friends.

Read the rest here:

Morocco pledges help for expat community.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 13/08/2014

Integration into Western societies is no longer a problem for Moroccans living abroad (MREs), according to Migration Minister Anis Birou. The focus now is on strengthening their ties to the kingdom. Speaking August 10th in Rabat at an event marking National Migrant Day, the minister noted the "services this generation of immigrants has rendered to Morocco". "We have decided to pay tribute to the first generation of Moroccan citizens living abroad, who have endured the hardships of alienation and have overcome the linguistic, cultural, and natural barriers," MoroccoWorldNews quoted Birou as saying.

The government is making great efforts to address the demands of Moroccans living abroad, the minister said.

As part of the annual celebration of MREs, the ministry also organised its sixth "Summer University". More than 200 Moroccan expats between 18-25 years of age benefited from the initiative in Casablanca, Agadir and Tetouan.

The August 2nd-13th event aimed to reinforce cultural, religious and linguistic links between the Moroccan diaspora and the kingdom. Language and culture were on the training menu, in addition to debates and conferences. Participants also benefited from cultural visits, talks on the economy, crafts and other artistic activities.

MREs are hoping that the government will pay particular attention to employment, both for those who find themselves in difficulty in host countries and those who wish to invest in Morocco.

Brahim Chahli, who lives in Spain, told Magharebia that he would really like to start a business in Morocco. According to Chahli, a one-stop office needs to be created for overseas Moroccan investors, in order to the large number of intermediaries.

Overseas Moroccans are citizens with full rights, and the government is willing to offer them as much support as it can, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said.

But as sociologist Anas Chandouli noted, the MRE community, which has grown to 5 million, has changed considerably in recent years. As a result, "new policies that are in step with the changing expectations and aspirations of overseas Moroccans, especially the new generation, need to be implemented", he said. With this in mind, Migration Minister Birou said that his department had adopted an outreach policy for the Moroccan diaspora.

In addition to their socio-economic grievances, Moroccan expats are also hoping to be represented in elected bodies in their home country, chief among them the Chamber of Representatives. Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) chief Driss Lachguer has called for MREs to be allocated thirty seats in parliament. A guarantee that the Moroccan diaspora will be represented in the legislature will enable MREs to play an important role in the promotion of parallel diplomacy, he said.

Morocco budget focuses on solidarity
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 15/08/2014

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane on Tuesday (August 12th) sent a long-awaited memo to all departments laying out priorities for the 2015 budget. The 2015 Finance Act will focus on four areas: boosting confidence in the economy, accelerating the implementation of constitutional reforms, promoting social solidarity and employment promotion schemes, and continuing with efforts to gradually restore the macroeconomic balance.

The goal is to make the Moroccan economy more competitive by boosting investment and enterprise,. The plan also looks to implement major reforms (in areas such as pensions and subsidies) and regionalisation.

On the social front, the memorandum said it was necessary to lay the foundations for an effective and integrated social and solidarity policy based on all sectors complementing each other and interacting with each other. Special attention is to be paid to the social economy by helping co-operatives develop income-generating activities.

The government has pledged to continue stimulating the job market by launching a national employment strategy based on diversifying and enhancing supply through training and better employment promotion schemes.

To achieve the desired goals, the government says it must continue with its efforts to find extra funds, which have so far made it possible to bring the financial deficit under control.

With this in mind, the framework memorandum highlights the need to cut costs by implementing an energy efficiency scheme, using alternative energies and controlling spending on government buildings and accommodation.

The budget priorities are realistic, but only if the resources needed to achieve the stated goals are in place, economist Samir Chahdi said. Among other things, he cites the difficulty of implementing reforms in areas such as pension schemes and subsidies. Then there is the problem of curbing unemployment, he said.

"Boosting employment and implementing reforms are ambitious goals, but they are difficult to achieve. As for maintaining macroeconomic balance and boosting the national economy, the current indicators are reassuring and promising," he explained.

Trade union federations say they want to be involved in the process of preparing the draft budget. The secretary-general of the Moroccan Labour Union, Miloudi Moukharik, said that trade unionists agreed with the government to hold talks before the draft Finance Act is drawn up so that proposals on social aspects such as boosting families' incomes can be made.

Dialogue between employers and the unions must be resumed as soon as possible, he says, so that unresolved issues can be discussed and so that the decisions taken can be incorporated into the future budget.

Many members of the public were sceptical. The government claims every year that it is very interested in the social dimension, but so far, no tangible results have been observed in people's everyday lives, accountant Karima Chaoui told Magharebia. "The priorities in the framework memorandum on the draft Finance Act focus on improving people's daily lives. I hope that this time, concrete steps will be taken to help people, especially the middle class and the poor, who have suffered from the rise in the prices of fuel and other items," she said.

This view was shared by Hakim Chantal, an employee, who said that the government needed to adopt concrete measures to boost youth employment. "The goal of tackling unemployment features on the government's agenda every year. I hope it will be able to achieve it in 2015," he said.

New Price Regime To Be Introduce In Morocco.
August 11, 2014-

A new entry price system for imported fruit and vegetables to the EU has sparked concern among Moroccan producers and policymakers in recent months.

As part of the latest changes to Europe’s Common Agricultural policy, the new price-fixing regime – which will be applied starting in October this year – reforms Customs clearance rules with the aim of introducing more transparency in Customs duty collection for imported fruit and vegetables. The move also implements Customs valuations for the produce, raising the cost of exports to the region. Strawberries and garlic Although these changes will apply to all imports from third countries (non-EU members), Morocco will see a significant impact on its agricultural exports and has been particularly vocal about its worries over the new rules. On the one hand, and according to various sector operators, the move will negatively affect the competitiveness of exported Moroccan produce due to tariff hikes, while on the other hand it conflicts with the multiple cooperation agreements signed between the kingdom and the bloc.

“The European Union retains the right to legislate on these issues, but Morocco finds itself deprived of a number of advantages it previously benefited from,” explained Nabil Boubrahimi, economics professor at Université Bnou Toufail in Kenitra quoted in local media.

Europe has long been Morocco’s primary and largest trade partner and has benefitted from advanced status with the EU since 2008. In 2000 the Association Agreement entered into force, followed in 2012 by the Agricultural Agreement establishing a free trade area between both parties for industrial and agricultural products.

Under this last arrangement, Morocco was granted new preferential export quotas allowing it to export 55% of its products – namely tomatoes, cucumbers and oranges – without paying Customs duties, as opposed to 33% under the previous agreement. The new entry price system, however, would invalidate the terms of Morocco’s deal, taking away these fiscal advantages. In response to the discontent and lobbying from Morocco, the EU agreed in June to adjust entry prices for certain crops, notably strawberries, garlic, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

Agricultural exports

Agricultural goods represent about 12% of the overall value of Moroccan exports and constitute a key source of foreign exchanges earnings. Exports to Europe comprise a significant portion of economic activity, and in spite of the economic difficulties faced in recent years, the continent remains Morocco’s main trade partner, accounting for 63% of total agricultural exports.

Boosting exports of high-revenue crops is one of the main pillars being implemented under the government’s ambitious Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV), launched in 2008 to enhance sector performance and address issues constraining growth. The new entry conditions of Moroccan goods to European markets may, however, stand in the way of achieving this goal as the Moroccan Federation for Fruit and Vegetable Producers claims that the newly imposed regime could see the potential for Moroccan agricultural goods to Europe decline by 130,000 tonnes, resulting in the loss of up to 150,000 jobs. In 2013 the agricultural sector accounted for 39.4% of total jobs in the country and 72.7% of rural employees.

The tomato dispute

Tomatoes are one of the strategic crops to which the new EU import rules will apply starting from next October. A top revenue earner, tomatoes comprise Morocco’s main exported crop. Between 1998 and 2011, exports increased by 4.9% on average a year, with the EU absorbing the biggest share (90%).

EU tomato imports from Morocco are expected to reach 400,000 tonnes in 2014-15. While exports have evolved over the years, so have tomato varieties, ranging from the simple standard round tomato to include a broader, often higher-value selection, such as cherry tomatoes, of which the EU imported around 70,000 tonnes in 2013, up from 300 tonnes in the late 1990s.

European producers have therefore demanded that the Customs valuation system of tomatoes, the standard import value, which has remained unchanged for 15 years, be updated to take these new factors into account. This would mean higher costs for Moroccan producers who have already threatened to call upon the European Court of Justice to take legal actions against these measures, which they claim are in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.

A compromise satisfying both parties is still yet to be achieved and the dispute is ongoing, putting a strain on other negotiations with the EU. One of these is the fisheries agreement – signed in 2013 – which still awaits ratification as the kingdom remains reluctant to allow European fleet back into its waters until the fruit and vegetable issue is resolved. Reaching a compromise will be vital in safeguarding jobs, securing the creation of 1.15m new opportunities planned under the PMV by 2020, and ensuring social peace in a context of regional instability stirred by rising unemployment.

Morocco mulls funds for poor.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 07/08/2014

Morocco may soon provide direct financial aid for poor families. The idea, which emerged during the Justice and Development Party (PJD)'s 2011 electoral campaign, has been put back onto the agenda by a parliamentary committee.

Lawmakers recently adopted a report on the Subsidisation Fund, calling for an effective targeting system to be put in place by June 2015.

According to Driss Skalli Adaoui, who chairs the Public Finances Monitoring Committee in the Chamber of Representatives, implementation of the strategy is now up to the government.

In 2012, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane promised to give direct financial support to the most vulnerable segments of society. While presenting a mid-term review of his government's achievements to MPs on July 23rd, Benkirane acknowledged that the measure had been delayed.

Experts say that providing financial aid to the poor will not be easy. Opposition parties argue that the measure is motivated by electoral considerations and that the PJD is trying to win votes, political analyst Samira Chafi told Magharebia.

Allocating the funds will be difficult, given that programmes to assist Morocco's low-income population are already in place, the analyst added. She pointed to Tayssir, which gives direct aid to families in rural areas (between 60 and 100 dirhams per child per month) so that they can send their children to school. It has benefited 825,000 pupils this year, while RAMED, which provides medical insurance to the poor, has helped more than 6.5 million beneficiaries. "We should also think about supporting the middle class, which will suffer from the removal of subsidies on basic necessities and petroleum products," she said.

"The removal of subsidies in order to introduce direct aid for poor families could impoverish the middle class, which is already close to suffocating," agreed teacher Karima Hafi. According to Hafi, citizens' spending power has eroded in the past few years, due to the increase in prices and the freeze on wages. "If the withdrawal of subsidies is added to this situation, the middle class could disappear," she warned. Some people on low incomes also voiced doubt about the proposal.

"We're hoping for direct aid, but if prices rise because subsidies are withdrawn, we'll be back to square one. The money that we will be given will only serve to subsidise the high prices," underlined Rahma Zamti, a 42-year-old unemployed widow and mother of four children.

Slimane Chaamouti, who is unemployed and disabled, said that the amount of direct aid for poor families must be enough to cover rent and other expenses. "But we're hearing talk of an amount between 500 and 1,000 dirhams. That's nowhere near enough to meet our needs and live a dignified life," he said

Moroccan Sojourn, Part 2: Artisan Empowerment.
Xanthia Tucker Artisan Connect August 2014

This is the second in a series of three posts examining different facets of artisanship in Morocco: a grand tour, an artisan collective, and a craft.

The following interview with Anou’s Founder Dan Driscoll and Technical Director Tom Counsell illuminates their innovative approach to energizing Morocco’s artisan sector through artisan-led technology. Read more on the Anou blog.

XT: How would you describe the Ait Bougemez Valley where Anou was started to someone who’s never been to Morocco?

DD: The valley is in the middle of the High Atlas Mountains, so most houses aren’t on paved roads and don’t have running water.

XT: Not very hospitable!

DD: But in contrast to the surrounding terrain, the bottom of the valley is actually quite fertile. Every village in the valley is built around a water well, “anou” in the local Berber dialect, which gave us the name for our organization. Just as these wells are sources of growth and life throughout the valley, Anou hopes to become a similar source of vitality for the artisan community.

XT: Tell me more about that community. What is the artisan sector like in Morocco today?

DD: Handicrafts are one of Morocco’s oldest and strongest traditions. But with the rise of manufactured goods, especially those from abroad, artisan crafts are in rapid decline. I’ve heard unofficial statistics that suggest the artisan sector in Morocco is decreasing by 15% a year. While I can’t confirm this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. It’s a very fragmented industry, and artisans are paid abominable wages. However, the demand for artisanal products domestically is growing. According to the Ministry of Handicraft, today only 8% of all Moroccan artisan sales are exports.

XT: Did either of you have an inkling you would get involved with artisans when you first came to Morocco as Peace Corps volunteers a few years ago?

DD: Absolutely not. My background was in environmental policy — which at the time I considered very remote from people’s livelihoods. But my first year in Morocco introduced me to a group of woodcarvers called Association Ighrem (whose president, Brahim El Mansouri, is now Anou’s Director). These woodcarvers had connections to a whole community of artisans who would later be the key to Anou’s enterprise.

XT: What insights did that experience offer you? 

DD: It comes down to one question: who does the work in the operations of the artisan organization? If it’s not the artisans, it won’t have a long-term effect. That’s why we decided to make every bit of our work artisan-led. If a different organization were to come in and try to do this work for them, the artisans would remain dependent. They would only be labor.

XT: So what are the tools and platforms Anou provides to the artisans? 

TC: First and foremost, our software allows artisans to directly manage their sales. But it also gives them a window to the market trends and forces so they can adapt their product. Suddenly you have a woman weaver in a rural village who doesn’t have to wait for a design consultant to tell her what to make. She can find out herself what’s trending and what’s not. That’s how Anou artisans are starting to use Instagram: they can post pictures of their products and see how many people like it.

XT: So what exactly does an artisan see when she uses your software?  

TC: When our artisan trainers first start working with artisans, they put a link to Anou’s website on the home screen of their phone. They can add products and view sales broken down by category. The artisans also manage all parts of shipping. When a product sells, the artisan gets a text message with their customer’s address. They confirm product availability, which triggers our server to email their customer tracking information.

XT: Did you experience any challenges developing software for this community? 

TC: In western countries, you have websites like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. But these tools require a high level of literacy. So instead, we’ve developed language-free icons. For instance, a rolled-up carpet represents a product.

It took us some time to adapt our cultural design mindset. One of the first icons I made to represent money was a stack of coins. I thought coins were pretty universal — plus, a pile of bills just looks like a pile of paper. But when I showed the artisans my icon, they all said it looked like a stack of bread, because in Morocco, bread is round and flat and kind of a brown-gold color.

XT: What did you settle on?

TC: We ended up choosing the very last thing that either of us thought would work: the US dollar sign. No one uses dollars here, but there isn’t a symbol for Moroccan currency, the dirham. Even though $ literally means dollars to Dan and me, to our artisans it just means money.

XT: What are the long-term prospects for Anou’s artisans?

DD: We want to accomplish two things: for our artisans to be self-sufficient and capable of adjusting to a changing environment. If artisans have the experience of building Anou themselves, they become the ones who know how best to evolve their craft in changing market conditions. They no longer have to depend on somebody else — even Anou.

Check the Anou blog for an upcoming post about the organization’s leadership structure.

At the end of the summer, Anou will be open-sourcing all of its software, so anyone in the world who wants to start a similar program can have their interface and set-up for free. Once released, it will be available at

Morocco to foster digital culture.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 04/08/2014

A new report out of Morocco calls on schools to use technology to promote culture in the classroom. The objective is to encourage pupils to be creative and develop their individual and collective abilities, enabling them to take a critical approach to culture and create cultural output themselves, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) said.

The council on July 24th adopted a report aimed at enacting a partnership between the private and public sectors to improve training and education as they pertain to new technologies, MAP reported.

It noted that there was an obvious interaction between schools, technology and culture and that it was difficult to imagine an education system without a cultural basis or to fully consider the slow speed of cultural change compared with the incredibly rapid development of new technologies.

It is for this reason that the council has decided to pay "particular attention to the cultural roles that education and schools can play in a context of continual change generated by new technologies as tools for learning and the acquisition of knowledge, and as new types of mediation to produce cultural processes and practices".

Among CESE's recommendations was the need to suggest ways in which young learners can derive maximum benefit from the environment into which they are born, where all the knowledge of the world is available at the click of a mouse.

"What should we teach them to make sure they do not get lost in cyberspace and do not lose their culture and their intellectual heritage? How can we harness the wonderful potential of these tools to help them to learn better and enter a globalized world without losing their identity?" the report asked.

Fatima Tajini, a sociologist, said that promoting culture in schools was very important and likely to have a positive effect on society. According to Tajini, children should be taught how to use ICT properly from an early age so that they do not go too far and are not indoctrinated by extremists or outsiders. "The exploitation of the internet by extremists requires governments to think about how they can immunise young people and children against radical and backward thinking," she told Magharebia.

Many young people highlighted the need to pay particular attention to culture and new technologies in schools. Hamza Zainoubi, a 19-year-old student, said that children and young people were left to their own devices when it came to the massive amount of information online. "If we introduce a well thought out ICT curriculum in schools, this will be as beneficial for society as it will be for pupils," he said.

This view was shared by Hala Chikhi, a 20-year-old legal science graduate. The education system in Morocco, and public schools in particular, pays little attention to promoting culture through new technologies even though this is an extremely important issue and could arouse children's curiosity, she explained. "As the Economic, Social and Environmental Council highlighted so well in its report, we need to promote a clear strategy to foster digital culture in Morocco and develop subject-specific websites that offer young people textual and audio-visual content that supplements the knowledge they gain in school and at university," she said

The Twin Missions of a Moroccan Scientist
Benjamin Plackett / 23 Jul 2014

Behind a dark wooden desk, in a small office on one of the more drab streets of Rabat’s wealthy Agdal district, sits one of Morocco’s most progressive scientists.

From her window you can see a row of buildings, which were once painted white, but now boast the sort of chipped façades that hint at a more celebrated past. The inside of her office is as nondescript as the view. The only real embellishment is a framed photo of the scientist, Zoubida Charrouf, with the King of Morocco, who very much approves of the social change she and her research have brought.

She spends half of her week in this room, where she manages her commitments to the women employed in at least 30 cooperatives, which produce argan oil in the south of the country.  The oil is sold to cosmetic companies and the sales allow the women and their families a measure of economic independence. This project has brought her equal parts praise and criticism. What’s left of the week she’ll spend two kilometers away in a faded but well-kept laboratory at Mohammed V University-Agdal. Here she studies the plant species that yields this sought-after and fashionable oil, which is often used in beauty products or applied to the skin and hair in its pure form. On a fairly regular basis she also travels down to the semi-arid desert in southwestern Morocco, where the tree grows.

Making sure the cooperatives run smoothly and understanding the science of the oil they produce makes for an arduous work schedule. “I work until midnight everyday and then I like to start at 8 a.m. or sometimes 8.30 am the next day,” she says.

Charrouf’s professional life is driven by an intertwined mix of belief in gender equality and scientific research. “She’s very easy to get along with as long as you agree with her,” joked Dominique Guillaume, a French organic chemist at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardennes. Guillaume has collaborated with Charrouf for 20 years and together they have penned many research papers and a book about the argan tree and its oil.

Her students agree that while she may be a pleasant and caring character, she isn’t one to suffer fools gladly. “If a student isn’t curious, they’re not going to get along with Zoubida,” said Hanae El Monfalouti who got her Ph.D. in 2013 under Charrouf’s supervision. El Monfalouti’s husband, Badreddine Kartah a current Ph.D. student of Charrouf’s, nods in agreement.

Charrouf is polite and considerate—though perhaps not gregarious. She was generous with her time, a commodity in short supply for her, and granted a lengthy interview. Her responses to questions were remarkably succinct; she always answered a question in full and never digressed.

Charrouf grew up in the rural outskirts of Rabat with her parents, four brothers and two sisters. She remembers that her father, who died when she was young, would tell her stories about his time herding sheep. Two of her brothers followed her into higher education but both of her sisters play more traditional female roles at home.

Charrouf’s research centers on the argan plant, which takes about 50 years to produce sufficient fruit for harvesting and can live in excess of 200 years. The thorny tree also lays claim to an ancient genetic lineage dating back millions of years.

By the time Charrouf was about to get her doctorate, the tree was threatened by a diminishing habitat. The species is native only to forests in southwestern Morocco and a stretch of land in Algeria. But back in the 70’s, these regions were experiencing desertification and deforestation. “Morocco was loosing 600 hectares of the forest per year,” explained Charrouf.

Charrouf had researched the argan tree for her thesis and had a hunch that the species’ survival depended on making it economically important. She figured that if people saw a chance for income from the argan tree, they’d have to care about the health of the whole forest too—and this is where the oil comes in. Back in the 70s and 80s, argan oil was typically extracted by hand through a painstakingly laborious manner and it was cheap and done by women on the streets. “One liter took 20 hours to extract and was worth about 3 euros ($4),” she said. In Agadir’s souk you can still see older women kneading the oil out of argan pulp. The oil wasn’t easy to get hold of either: “You needed to have family in the South,” said Charrouf.

Charrouf saw not only the ecological predicament of a fading forest, but also social and economical issues at play alongside it. “I wanted to know how we could transform this environmental problem into an economic solution to rejuvenate the forest and empower women.”

Charrouf had looked at other case studies across the globe and drew inspiration from work done with the jojoba plant in Egypt. Before the 70s, jojoba had been largely ignored, but it was beginning to enjoy recognition as a useful ingredient in beauty products. When the cosmetic industry realized that jojoba oil had an economic purpose everyone was suddenly interested in the plant, said Charrouf. “The solution was clear,” she said, “we needed to give argan oil value.”

For that to happen, Charrouf needed to both scientifically prove the oil’s worth and organize the women in Morocco’s rural south. Many people at the time didn’t approve of the idea of women working in cooperatives. “Men would tell me that I’m disrupting their home and that the women should return to their place,” she said. These reactions weren’t limited to the poorer countryside. “It would make me feel very sad when young people from Casablanca would say similar things,” she said.

“It is frankly amazing what she’s able to do with so many people wanting her to fail,” said Guillaume.

Despite a less than warm reception to her idea, Charrouf teamed up with Guillaume to get the ball rolling on the research part of her proposed solution. One of the first things they set out to do was determine if the quality of argan oil was altered by the introduction of extraction machinery. “We needed to prove that all of the good stuff can be obtained by mechanical presses,” said Guillaume. They compared the quantities of various compounds in oil extracted by the traditional method with that of the machine method. “We demonstrated that if you use presses you actually have better argan oil,” said Guillaume.

The second important thing they did was to develop a certification process for the oil. They wanted to reassure potential wholesale buyers that they could be confident that they weren’t being swindled.

A compound called campesterol forms a minor part of argan oil. The certification method that Guillaume and Charrouf developed, which is used by cosmetic companies before they export the oil, detects the correct concentrations of this compound.

Charrouf’s hard work began to pay off. “She has been published not only in Moroccan journals, but also the highly prestigious American journals,” said Guillaume.  “She has been able to take a primitive argan oil industry and turn it into a science.”

But scientifically justifying a more sophisticated production method proved to be the easy part. It was much harder for her to convince women (or more accurately, their husbands) that they’d be better off in organized cooperatives with modern machinery.

Charrouf did eventually cobble together a group of 16 women, but it wasn’t until 1996; all were either divorced or widowed. Without a man to veto their decisions, they were able to form the first cooperative. But the slow pace of progress got to her. “She would sometimes tell me she’d been depressed for a number of months because of the constant negativity, but she would always rebound eventually,” said Guillaume.

In the mid and late nineties, Travis J. Lybbert, an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics, from the University of California, Davis, went to Morocco to study the impact of Charrouf’s economic activism. “In those first years she was taking a lot of heat from her critics, who were convinced she had a financial interest,” said Lybbert. “She always felt as though she was being mistreated and became almost obsessive about her image.”

It was at this point that Guillaume advised Charrouf to give up and save her energy. “I never thought she’d get enough women to break the stronghold of the men, but she refused to give in,” he said.

Ultimately, however, she triumphed. “There’s no doubt that her cooperatives can be called a success too,” said Lybbert. “Without her I believe the argan industry would have still evolved to what it is, but I doubt it would have been founded around the interests of women.”

Juggling her commitments to cooperatives and science has taken its toll. “She’s overworked and always tired,” said El Monfalouti. Charrouf herself acknowledges that she may one day have to choose between the two careers, insisting that when the time comes she’ll opt for the lab.

Guillaume worries that she’ll never be able to make the decision either way, “She can’t choose. She should, but she can’t. She believes her science and social work is good for Morocco, for her it’s patriotic.”

Argan oil now has a wholesale price of between 25 and 30 euros ($33 to $47) per liter. But it was only after the success of the first 16 women became known that people came around to Charrouf’s idea. “Men began coming to the cooperative to ask if their wives could join,” says Charrouf, laughing.

The backlash that Charrouf received has begun to abate and she has met her King four times. He’s helped her to raise money and cut the ribbon to open one of the cooperatives.

“Things are much better now, but there’s still a lot to do,” said Charrouf.

Bringing Moroccan Farmers Access to Affordable Animal Feed.
Posted Jul 31, 2014  by Belinda Richardson, Summer Research Associate

Last year, D-Lab Scale-Ups completed an in-depth needs assessment in partnership with microfinance institutions Al Amana and Grameen-Jameel Microfinance. The initial assessment identified the high cost of animal feed as a major concern of Moroccan farmers. This summer, Gwyn Jones and I have been in Morocco’s Tiflet region over the summer to follow up with farmers and evaluate the area’s meat and dairy value chains in order to evaluate the potential of technology interventions to increase farmer income.

From our preliminary conversations with small-scale dairy producers, a clear picture emerged: the high cost of cattle feed is a limiting factor for increasing milk production, subsequently limiting potential income for the poorest farmers. Particularly during the dry season, when the green pastures available during the spring are no longer a viable feed source, farmers are forced to rely on expensive commercial feeds. Milk production drops significantly during this time and farmers struggle simply to maintain a healthy weight for their cows.

To address this problem, we are exploring low-cost alternatives to expensive commercial feeds. The current leading option is to make and store rain-fed silage - a preserved, more nutritious alternative to the current feed available in the dry season. Farmers could implement this approach primarily with the current resources on their farms and access to a silage chopper. Silage choppers currently exist in small numbers throughout the region but are largely out of reach for smallholder farmers. Because of the relative familiarity with silage compared to other approaches, there is a potential entrepreneurial opportunity in making silage expertise, harvesting equipment, and storage solutions available, and enabling access to these services via financing products.

Gwyn and I are utilizing our time in the field to complete in-depth farmer and stakeholder interviews, allowing us to identify opportunities and constraints in helping to lower the cost of production for small-scale dairy farmers, with a specific focus on the high cost of feed. We are in the process of trying to account for the inputs that make up livestock production in the region – such as seed, fertilizer, feed, hired labor, and farm equipment - in order to evaluate the possibility of a truly advantageous and cost-competitive silage solution.

So far we have visited 30 farms in the Tiflet region and selected 20 for further, more detailed interviews. We also met with various entities participating in the value chain of small-scale dairy production. From university professors, to milk collectors and processors, and all the way back to farmers, everyone is eager to discuss the possibility of decreasing the cost of feeding cattle and thinking big about the future. Our translator, Youssef Khalfaoui, has been instrumental in understanding and interpreting local context and relating our project goals and methods to the farmers and other stakeholders.

The small-scale farmers and livestock owners that we have interviewed have been more than patient in answering all our questions, especially given that we are visiting them during the especially hot month of Ramadan. We have shared meals and laughs as we try to ascertain what makes the small-scale dairy industry tick. We are meeting new stakeholders every day: the Animal Production Department at the Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II; agricultural extension services in the region of Rabat-Sale; COPAG, a milk processing cooperative in the Sous Valley with an impressive high-tech facility and technology transfer to farmers; Danone/Centrale Letaire, whose farmer outreach and training programs we will visit this week; the small milk collection centers, or “associations,” notable for their entrepreneurial spirit; and of course, the farmers who share their stories with us.

Given what we have learned since the project’s start and where we find ourselves today, D-Lab's next step is to help develop some of the missing links between institutions with technical resources and microfinance clients. D-Lab will apply its expertise in appropriate technologies to the technology problems in providing access to rain-fed silage, while also facilitating the integration of existing resources in collaboration with the partners and stakeholders described above.

We have two more weeks of interviews with farmers and other stakeholders before we return to MIT to rejoin the rest of the team to analyze the data. Based on our analysis related to silage and other processes, the team will make a recommendation for an intervention that provides a low-risk and low-cost option for farmers to feed their cows, increase production, and ultimately improve their livelihoods. Our next project phase will be to pilot this intervention with a group of approximately 50 farmers. Meanwhile, we will be working with our microfinance partners to design financing products to enable access, and in general working to help design a complete and inclusive value chain around the technology.

Top science students from Morocco see city.
VIVIAN SADE The Journal Gazette August 8, 2014

Thirteen high school students from Morocco spent a day this week laughing and splashing around in Cedar Creek searching for macro invertebrate to study in a biology lab at Metea Park. The students arrived somber and serious as they prepared to take part in the biology lesson. Well, some were not quite prepared. Those wearing nice or expensive shoes traded them in for flip-flops – spares that Allen County Parks Department staff keeps on hand – and some of the girls twisted their hair on top of their heads.

The students grew more relaxed outside as they laughed and doused each other with mosquito repellent before hiking through the woods to reach the creek.

The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Plus students are in the U.S. for three weeks as part of the partnership between Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast and the European Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship Education, which helps students find opportunities that correspond to their fields of study, skills and wishes.

The high school juniors and seniors attend El Maarji, a private high school in Beni Mellal, Morocco, about about 2 1/2 hours from Casablanca. The students are members of the STEM Plus Africa camp – the first of its kind at Ivy Tech-Northeast – and will spend three weeks in Allen County, learning about STEM education and related career fields.

The students were selected based on scores from an oral test and their level of English proficiency, said Hamza Moustadraf, a senior at El Maarji. The terrain of northeast Indiana is somewhat similar to Morocco, but “it’s a bit more humid here,” he said.

The teens are staying at a Fort Wayne hotel, and when not involved in STEM Plus activities, spend their evenings together – often playing the board game Twister, Moustadraf said. They also enjoy playing card games, said Khadija Elamraoui and Nassira Najimi, as they followed the trail to Cedar Creek alongside Moustadraf. But not American card games – only “Moroccan games,” the girls said, laughing.

Chris Barlow, an assistant professor of biology at Ivy Tech, and Jeff Ormiston, a naturalist for Allen County Parks, guided the students through collecting, sorting, identifying and analyzing the macro invertebrate in order to generate the creek’s pollution tolerance index rating.

The students are on a tight schedule, and Barlow was with them only for the afternoon. “It’s such a great opportunity for these kids and such a good time,” Barlow said. “I would like to spend more time with them.”

Throughout their stay, the students and their four chaperones will participate in a variety of activities, including chocolate-making (chemistry) at DeBrand Fine Chocolates; an industry tour of Sweetwater Sound; building and soldering robots (robotics); and Lego programming (engineering). They will also have cultural-immersion activities, including visits to area high schools and trips to a TinCaps game and a high school football game.

On Wednesday, the students received a VIP tour of Science Central led by Executive Director Martin Fisher. They explored exhibits, including Science On a Sphere, and toured the building’s historic west side followed by a demonstration presented by Science Central educators.

“The need to enhance STEM learning experiences to foster interest in technical careers is not just an issue we face in the United States,” Fisher said. “Other countries around the globe, including Morocco, also face challenges in engaging students in STEM topics and career paths. We’re delighted to partner with Ivy Tech-Northeast to help show these students some of the ways we enhance STEM learning here in Fort Wayne.”

The eight female and five male students in the camp are some of Morocco’s most gifted students. Their school has a history of achievement, most recently coming in second in their nation for academic performance.

Moroccan exchange students get a sweet lesson
By Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel Friday, August 8, 2014 -

Exchange students from Morocco got a “sweet” lesson in chemistry Thursday morning at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast.

The lesson was the chemistry of chocolate. The 20 high school students – 12 from Morocco and eight American ambassador students – got a lesson in acids and bases, just why chocolate won't dissolve in water and why chewing gum is dissolved by chocolate…………………..

Morocco to Foster Digital Culture
By Siham Ali August 2014 Rabat

A new report out of Morocco calls on schools to use technology to promote culture in the classroom. The objective is to encourage pupils to be creative and develop their individual and collective abilities, enabling them to take a critical approach to culture and create cultural output themselves, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) said.

The council on July 24th adopted a report aimed at enacting a partnership between the private and public sectors to improve training and education as they pertain to new technologies, MAP reported.

It noted that there was an obvious interaction between schools, technology and culture and that it was difficult to imagine an education system without a cultural basis or to fully consider the slow speed of cultural change compared with the incredibly rapid development of new technologies.

It is for this reason that the council has decided to pay "particular attention to the cultural roles that education and schools can play in a context of continual change generated by new technologies as tools for learning and the acquisition of knowledge, and as new types of mediation to produce cultural processes and practices".

Among CESE's recommendations was the need to suggest ways in which young learners can derive maximum benefit from the environment into which they are born, where all the knowledge of the world is available at the click of a mouse.

"What should we teach them to make sure they do not get lost in cyberspace and do not lose their culture and their intellectual heritage? How can we harness the wonderful potential of these tools to help them to learn better and enter a globalized world without losing their identity?" the report asked.

Fatima Tajini, a sociologist, said that promoting culture in schools was very important and likely to have a positive effect on society. According to Tajini, children should be taught how to use ICT properly from an early age so that they do not go too far and are not indoctrinated by extremists or outsiders. "The exploitation of the internet by extremists requires governments to think about how they can immunise young people and children against radical and backward thinking," she told Magharebia.

Many young people highlighted the need to pay particular attention to culture and new technologies in schools. Hamza Zainoubi, a 19-year-old student, said that children and young people were left to their own devices when it came to the massive amount of information online. "If we introduce a well thought out ICT curriculum in schools, this will be as beneficial for society as it will be for pupils," he said.

This view was shared by Hala Chikhi, a 20-year-old legal science graduate. The education system in Morocco, and public schools in particular, pays little attention to promoting culture through new technologies even though this is an extremely important issue and could arouse children's curiosity, she explained. "As the Economic, Social and Environmental Council highlighted so well in its report, we need to promote a clear strategy to foster digital culture in Morocco and develop subject-specific websites that offer young people textual and audio-visual content that supplements the knowledge they gain in school and at university," she said.

The New Age of Media Literacy.
Friday 15 August 2014 By Ismail Elouafi

Throughout the history of communication and information acquisition, the process of being informed has been a complicated task that requires critical thinking skills on the part of the public– or consumers – to deal with multimedia messages.

From printed materials in China to the latest inventions of Web 2.0 and smart devices, the whole society is bombarded with millions of media messages that contain information and concepts which may or may not be true.  According to Dale Peskin, Co-Director of The Media Center, “there are three ways to look at how society is informed. The first one, people – consumers- are so na ï ve and will read, watch, and listen to anything. Secondly, people are always in need of an intermediary tool to inform them. Last but not least, people are smart enough to distinguish between what is correct and what is not if the necessary means are given to them.” [We Media, By Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis]

When individuals look at the media messages, they fail to appreciate that these messages, which may represent the only source of information available to them, influence them in powerful ways. Consequently, they become passive consumers in the way they take for granted what they consume from media. For this reason, media creators and advertisers create their messages with subtle hints to seduce consumers to buy products, or believe a lifestyle or ideology.

Learning how media messages are created and the other crucial aspects of media institutions that dominate the multi-media culture will provide an effective monitoring of these messages for individuals to live freely. Moreover, being able to understand the core concepts of media messages will result in better ways of understanding and interpreting each piece of news and information that individuals receive.

In the last recent 40 years, media literacy has become an important means for people to help themselves cope with media messages or media products. More precisely, media literacy is a “fundamental competency for literate citizens” (National Communication association [NCA, 1998]) which empowers citizens to actively engage with media messages and fully participate in media culture (Jenkins, 2503). Moreover, it provides the competence in using various media and the ability to think critically about them.

Morocco  has been effective in promoting media literacy among Moroccan teachers and university students. The University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdillah, the Sais-Fes faculty of arts and human sciences with the collaboration of a number of organizations such as the UNITWIN, the UN Alliance of Civilization and the Doha Center for Media Freedom organized a training session on media and information literacy for teachers on February 18-19, 2014, in Sais-Fes. The purpose was to promote media literacy skills among twenty-four teachers and ten university students from the Sais-Fes faculty. These latter have since participated in an exchange program about the same topic in the university of Barcelona.

Throughout the history of storytelling, people have enhanced various ways of conveying their messages via different channels. From historical cave paintings to TV and smart devices, people receive a huge amount of information every moment. Although the medium may have changed, the desire to convey a message remains the same. Media literacy ws developed in 1980 as an efficient tool to help individuals avoid all the transmitted values and beliefs of media creators. Furthermore, media literacy is highly recommended for individuals to participate freely in democratic societies, enhance their personal growth, and reproduce well informed media content.

Moroccan Za’Alouk fish supper with couscous
(Serves 4)

6 medium aubergines, 4tbsp olive oil,
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, 2tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp ground cumin, 400g tin chopped tomatoes, 1tsp harissa paste, 4 x 150-175g skinless, boneless white fish fillets (cod or haddock), 2tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves. Salt and pepper

For the Couscous: 250g couscous, juice of 1 lemon, 2tbsp olive oil. Salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C/gas mark 7.


Cut four of the aubergines in half lengthways. Put them on an oven tray and rub the cut sides with two tablespoons of olive oil and some seasoning.

Cut the other two aubergines into big, bite-sized pieces, toss in a tablespoon of olive oil and spread out on a separate oven tray. Pop both trays in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the flesh of the aubergine halves are soft and the smaller pieces are crisping up. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, cook the garlic, paprika and cumin for a minute, then add the tinned tomatoes and harissa paste. Stir over the heat for another minute. Now scrape the flesh out of the halved aubergines into the tomato sauce, season and stir to completely combine. Keep the aubergine pieces to one side.

Put the fish in a large, ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce. Pop back in the oven for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the fish cooked through. In a large bowl, pour 350ml boiling water over the couscous. Cover and leave for five minutes. Fluff with a fork, season and dress with the lemon juice and olive oil. Serve the fish on top of couscous, scatter over chopped mint and aubergine pieces.

Moroccan-Inspired Soup and More Mediterranean: North Africa & the Middle East .
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 by MicheleAnna.Jordan

In today’s Seasonal Pantry, I explore the Mediterranean diet, which is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. You can read that article here. As promised in that column, here are links to some Mediterranean-inspired recipes from the Pantry’s archives. This post focuses on flavors of North Africa and the Middle East and is the second of several posts. There will be more soon.

Preserved lemons, easy to make at home, are essential in many North African cuisines, especially Moroccan.

Chickpeas with Toasted Bread & Yogurt


Homemade Hummus bi Tahini

Chickpeas with Cilantro & Mint

Making and Using Preserved Lemons

Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad

Carrot Salad with Black Olives, Pecans, Pomegranates & Goat Feta

Eggplant with Pomegranate, Yogurt & Tahini

Moroccan-Inspired Soup with Spring Vegetables, Preserved Lemons & Cilantro Sauce  Use this soup as a template and vary specific ingredients based on the seasons

Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil, Scallions & Parsley

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons & Green Olives

Chicken Marinated in Yogurt

Tom Cruise heading to Morocco for "Mission: Impossible 5".
August 12, 2014

American actor Tom Cruise will arrive in Morocco in early September to play the starring role in "Mission: Impossible 5," media reports said. The production teams of the hit saga are already in Morocco preparing the locations for this fifth episode, to be shot in Marrakesh, Rabat and Casablanca, the weekly TelQuel magazine reported.

In Casablanca, Morocco's economic capital, the district chosen for the shoot is the Jewish ghetto, or "mellah," in the Old Medina quarter.

Cruise will again play Ethan Hunt, while Jeremy Renner will repeat as William Brandt and Simon Pegg will be back as Benji Dumm, the weekly magazine said in a story posted on its Web site.

The filming of foreign productions in Morocco, particularly those featuring Hollywood stars, are cloaked in secrecy and little filters out about the screenplay, the celebrities involved, or any other details. Even extras must sign pledges not to reveal either content or situations of the movies or series in which they are involved.

Visiting Morocco in 2014 for various shoots have been director Clint Eastwood and actors Bruce Willis and Tom Hanks, among others, to take part in some of the 10 foreign films and series whose filming is scheduled for Morocco this year. EFE

Energy: Morocco's clean windfall
By The Africa Report Monday, 11 August 2014

Morocco is steaming ahead with its plan to generate a substantial load of its electricity from renewable sources. The first 44 of 131 wind turbines at one of Africa's largest wind farms in Tarfaya, southwest Morocco, went on line in April.

The project is a step in the plan for the country to generate 42 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020. A total of 88 turbines have so far been erected at the 10,000 hectares site along the southern Atlantic coastline.

Work on the €500m ($685m) Tarfaya project began in early 2013, and the remaining turbines are due to become operational in October, 2014. The Tarfaya wind energy farm is expected to produce up to 300MW at full capacity. Moroccan company Nareva Holding and France's GDF Suez are constructing the wind farm.

Read the original article on : Energy: Morocco's clean windfall | North Africa
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Jobless youth tally rises in Morocco.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 11/08/2014

Morocco's young graduates are faced with a growing jobless rate. Figures from the High Commission for Planning (HCP) on Tuesday (August 5th) highlighted a rise in unemployment between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014, particularly among youths.

The number of jobseekers in Morocco has reached 1,114,000, a rise of 65,000, with 39,000 living in urban areas and 26,000 living in rural areas. The unemployment rate rose from 8.8% to 9.3%. Unemployment remains high among certain categories of the population, especially graduates and young people aged 15-24.

While the rate among non-graduates is only 4.1%, it is still high among medium-level graduates at 15.5%, including those with vocational qualifications (20.9%), and higher-level graduates (20.3%), especially graduates of university faculties (22.5%).

As for young city-dwellers aged between 15 and 24, the unemployment rate is 35.2% for men and 40% for women. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of unemployed people have been without a job for over a year.

These latest figures from the HCP require action from the government, which must speed up the roll-out of its new employment strategy, experts said.

The government has not yet done anything concrete to boost youth employment even though the parties that make up the coalition government led by the Justice and Development Party (PJD) pledged to limit the impact of unemployment among young people in particular, according to sociologist Mounir Chahid.

They are suffering more and more from unemployment, he said.

It is necessary to think about boosting the professional skills of young people, particularly university graduates, so that they can find work in the private sector, especially now that the government has restricted employment in the public sector, he added.

The courts recently backed the prime minister's decision to ban direct recruitment, which drew a lot of bitter criticism, he explained.

Political analyst Mohamed Bandri noted that the recent verdict of the appellate court, which dismissed the action brought by unemployed graduates, should put an end to the controversy that raged for months after Benkirane refused to implement the previous government's decision to recruit 4,000 graduates without holding competitions. "That will encourage young people not to expect a miracle solution from the government and to seek further training so that they can find work in the private sector or set up their own businesses," he told Magharebia.

Many young people are sceptical.

Karim Maalouk, a legal science student, said that morale among students at state universities was flagging because they knew that the degrees they would earn would not enable them to find work. University education and the curricula offered should be revised, he added.

"The long-term unemployed should be offered suitable training so that they can live with dignity while they look for a job," said Salma Khyati, who earned a degree in Arabic literature eight years ago. Khyati struggled to find a job despite the various internships she completed with companies and in schools. "In the end, I gave up looking for a decent job after four years. I got married. But I am not satisfied with my life without a job and my financial dependence on my husband," she told Magharebia with great disappointment.

Look to Morocco for rich and powerful décor.
Vicki Payne Charlotte Observer

Morocco — simply saying the name inspires images of an exotic and exciting location. I don’t know of a single other place in the world that has that same effect for me. And I am not alone. Walking through the airport recently, I saw posters promoting the allure of Morocco. Casablanca, Marrakech — can you get any more romantic? Many of us will never have the opportunity to travel to this intoxicating land, but we can bring Morocco to us.

Designers are using Moroccan furniture and accessories to create a look that is luxurious and to bring a touch of the exotic into our lives. The effect of Moroccan designs can be powerful and soothing. The country of Morocco absorbs elements of surrounding cultures: France, Spain and Portugal. It is also strongly influenced by proximity to the Mediterranean, Africa, Persia as well as traditions of Islam. When all these cultures, colors and traditions mesh, a unique style emerges.

Color and craftsmanship are the two defining elements of Moroccan decor. The colors are designed to punctuate the surrounding sea, sand and sky of the country. Light is an essential element of the Moroccan style. Natural light floods into Moroccan homes. Lighting fashioned from metal, colored glass and wood creates a romantic mood within the interiors of Moroccan residences. Craftsmanship is evident in even the smallest accessory.

Textiles are influenced by lush, rich, beautiful saturated colors. But the weight of these fabrics is light and airy, providing a sense of floating through space. The rugs are soft and patterned with tribal motifs or simple light-colored prayer mats.

The furniture is powerful and alluring. The intricate use of mosaic patterns, inlaid with stones, shells, glass and ceramics, are unique to Moroccan furnishings. Place a Moroccan table in a room and it demands your attention. Of all the reasons to love Morocco, for me it’s the furniture. Unlike some other design styles, it is happy to play well with others. Just one piece can accomplish so much.

Moroccan lighting casts a spell like none other. The light pattern created by the tiny pierced holes in the metal or wood shades sends thousands of little sparks of light dancing on the walls, ceiling and floors. Add colored glass to these fixtures and the effect is magical.

Mosaic tiles are one of the most recognizable aspects of Moroccan art and architecture. The colorful designs are busy and work best when used as the only accent in a space. Keeping the surrounding surfaces neutral and unadorned allows the true beauty of the tiles to explode.

Decorating with a touch of Moroccan design is like taking a wonderful summer vacation without leaving home. Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at
From The Detroit News: ---------------------------------------------------

The Not So Moroccan Exception.
Thursday 7 August 2014 - Mohamed Jassim
Vancouver, Canada

 Not one day passes by where we are not reminded by the Arab Spring. This wave of uncontrolled protests and organized anarchy has not failed either of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria or Yemen, and has left many Arab leaders with a very strong sense of insecurity. It has come to my attention that many chose to describe the repercussions of this wave on Morocco, Jordan, and some of the Gulf Monarchies as a notorious exception. With all due respect, I don’t like to see Morocco in that pile, that is not an exception for us, but sheer normality.

I would like to begin by expressing that the term ‘Arab Spring’ does not anyhow apply to our Berber identity, and therefore is inacceptable in referring to whatever occurrences have taken place in Morocco. Though I am an Arab myself, I have peacefully and proudly come to terms with the idea that the original inhabitants of our country are the Berbers. The significant presence of Berbers in the Moroccan and Algerian populations distinguishes us from the rest of the Arab World. I will however make a historical reference as to why Algeria may be more attributed to the ‘Arab Spring’ description.

It appears as though the Middle-East has since the beginning of time been a breeding ground for revolts. Reconciliation in the Middle-East and the notion of Pan Arabism are nothing more than an overly optimistic idea, as the dynamics of the region will never be able to accept reconciliation. Far too many betrayals have occurred, and vindictive nature has become indoctrinated in our cultures. It is only in the Arab World where we see the creation of a political conflict between two powerhouses over a soccer game, Egypt and Algeria. However, they are not to blame as the political Arena has only become accessible to them in 1916, beforehand all the decisions were made in Constantinople.

The Arab revolt against the Ottomans in June of 1916 is only the beginning to an ever-ending cycle of power struggle. As many fail to view the big picture, the ex-Ottoman colonies in the Arab world are still amid transition. It is not easy to put behind a 500 year authoritarian rule, wake up, and shout democracy. The establishment of Monarchies directly after the collapse of the Ottoman rule may now be seen as a shortcut to Jordan and the Gulf monarchies; they merely experienced a change in ruler, not political system. Many states however fell in the trap, where betrayal found itself playing a role again, such as in Libya, Egypt and Iraq, where the authoritarian political systems remained the same under Gaddafi, Mubarak and Saddam, but with the addition of merely a label: democracy, all to gain public approval. The source of the current problems in the Middle-East now is the addition of that label, thus the selfishness of the three aforementioned rulers.

Morocco is not an exception, because in spite of its geographical location, it has never really politically been part of the Middle-East since the early 1500’s. History allows a better understanding of the nature of political power and International relations. Morocco under the rule of the Saadis’ and Alaouites has never pleaded allegiance to the Ottoman Empire. As a matter of fact, notable battles happened between the Moroccans and the Ottomans, and perhaps this has led to Morocco’s political isolation from the East. It is noted that Suleyman I of the Ottoman empire once addressed Muhammad Al Mahdi of the Saadi dynasty as ‘Sheikh Al Arab’ (Leader of the tribes), supplicating for the withdrawal of the Moroccan military siege on Fes, only for Al Mahdi to address him as ‘Sheikh Al Hawwata’ (Leader of the fishermen and boats).

Such tensions between the Moroccan dynasties and the Ottomans lead to fierce battles such as that of the three kings, as well as most importantly the fall of Tlemcen where the Ottomans emerged as victors. Suleyman I came to the realization that confrontation with the Moroccan dynasties is more costly than initiating mutual respect, and thus directly after the battle of Tlemcen, he exhorted all Ottoman Algerian governors to not fiddle with Moroccan political affairs. Though the Ottoman military and political power was substantially stronger than that of the Moroccan dynasties and Berber tribes, never did one bow to another. This resulted in a constituted respect to one another, whereas the Ottomans and Moroccan dynasties acknowledged one another’s high religious status.

The purpose of this historical review brings to light the previous bipolar distribution of influence and power in terms of contemporary International relations. The Moroccan colonization of parts of the Iberian Peninsula, and the Ottoman conquest of Eastern Europe as well as their mutual interest in the sub-Saharan region portrays the political competitiveness, the bipolar character and regional importance of both entities. The fall of Tlemcen in 1517 marked the loss of western Algeria for the Moroccan dynasties, and this is why Algeria currently remains common ground between post-Ottoman ground, and contemporary Morocco. This is also represented by their immunity to the Arab Spring occurrences.

Though the media may be a great mediator between opinion and behavior nowadays, Morocco is up to date a haven of stability as opposed to the near and far east. The Arab Spring is nothing more than a phase in the lengthy transition of post Ottoman-States, from purely Islamic Authoritarian to somewhat democratic secular. The spreading of radical Islam that many Moroccan political groups are beginning to harbor may be a door to instability for us, especially as we see what is currently happening to the likes of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. As a proud Moroccan however, I can do nothing but express my gratitude for his highness King Mohamed VI’s stance with regards to the explosive cocktail of religion and politics. The King’s newly established policy banning all religious figures from participating in politics deserves a standing ovation. Perhaps the exception we do have is not having pleaded allegiance to the Ottomans.

Lonely Planet guide: Top five things to do in Morocco.
by: Lonely Planet From: Escape August 10, 2014

FROM high mountains, sweeping desert, rugged coastline to ancient medina cities and souqs, Africa’s most-diverse country offers everything the intrepid traveller could want.


From Saharan dunes to the peaks of the High Atlas, Morocco could have been tailor-made for travellers. Lyrical landscapes carpet this sublime slice of North Africa like the richly coloured and patterned rugs you’ll lust after in local co-operatives.

The mountains – the famous High Atlas but also the Rif and suntanned ranges leading to Saharan oases – offer simple, breathtaking pleasures: night skies glistening in the thin air, and views over a fluffy cloudbank from the Tizi-n-Test pass. On lower ground, there are rugged coastlines, waterfalls and caves in forested hills – and the mighty desert.


The varied terrain may inform your dreams, but it shapes the very lives of Morocco’s Berbers, Arabs and Saharawis. Despite encroaching modernity, with motorways joining mosques and kasbahs as features of the landscape, Moroccan people remain closely connected to the environment. Nomadic southern “Blue Men” brave the desert’s burning expanses in robes and turbans, mobile phones in hand.

Traditional life continues – with tweaks – in the techniques of Berber carpet makers, in date co-operatives, in medina spice trading, and in the lifestyles in mountain hamlets and ports like Essaouira……………..

Read the rest here:

Moroccan parties display a new mood
Aug. 11, 2014

July 29 marked the third anniversary of the adoption of Morocco’s new constitution, the most prominent outcome of the protests led by the February 20 movement.

The 2011 constitution (drafted by a committee whose members were appointed by the king) sought to empower the country’s political parties to reduce the king’s authority. For instance, Article 7 states that parties “concur in the expression of the will of the electors and participate in the exercise of power.” The same article goes on to state that the “the organization and functioning of the political parties must conform to democratic principles,” aiming to address the lack of internal democracy within most parties that had weakened their ties to voter bases and society at large. These constitutional changes, together with the people’s renewed interest in politics – ushered in by the protests of 2011 – were meant to strengthen Morocco’s political organization. But it appears only one party has benefited so far, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), which is increasingly becoming the most powerful political group in the kingdom.

Morocco’s political system is still evolving, but the broad outlines of what has changed since 2011 are visible. The new atmosphere of political activism and outspokenness among the public encouraged political parties’ voter bases and their local officials, including those who participated in the February 20 demonstrations, to press more insistently for their rights within their respective parties. These demands have in turn pushed party leaders to increase the number of members in their leadership bodies and strengthen communications with their local branches. ……………….

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Morocco Argan Oil Hair Treatment Is Now Available at Discounted Price While Stocks Last
One of the biggest natural hair treatments on Amazon has now been made available for a discounted price
New York, NY -- ( SBWIRE ) -- 07/29/2014

A lot of Hairdressers are now recommending to their clients they use natural hair products due to all the research that has taken place, which found some hair products are damaging hair. Over the years research has found that women who use lots of different hair products that do not contain natural ingredients are damaging their hair, this has resulted in women losing their hair, the hair becoming weaker as well as the hair losing its colour. Now thanks to Morocco Argan Oil Hair Treatment, women can revive their hair and properly maintain its health.

Morocco Argan Oil , which has become one of the fastest selling hair products on Amazon, is found in Moroccan Argan trees. It brings many benefits to the hair where studies have found it can be used to moisturize hair, increase hair shine, and give the hair against ultraviolet ray protection as well as reducing the frizz.

When hair has been damaged, it is important to choose a product that has natural ingredients and which can bring their hair back to life and rectify any damage that has been caused. As research has shown, Morocco Argan Oil is that product. Instead of the hair looking damaged and in poor health, the natural ingredient product, which contains natural antioxidants and vitamin E, restores the overall hair health and strength.

To celebrate the success of Morocco Argan Oil, which is available from Amazon , it is now being made available for a limited time at the reduced price of $14.99

There are many benefits to using Morocco Argan Oil for hair, this includes knowing that the product will not cause any damage to the hair, speeding up styling by 40% and dealing with and treating split ends. The natural hair conditioner has become one of the biggest hair selling products on Amazon.

For men and women who are interested in learning more about the benefits of using Morocco Argan Oil and how it can help with making hair look and feel healthy, please visit

About Morocco Argan Oil
Morocco Argan Oil has become an important natural health product for hair, allowing men and women who use the product to improve the quality of their hair without any side effects.

Media Relations Contact: Chantelle Ellis Media Relations Headlineplus 01472319008

US green lights Moroccan blues.
Thursday 31st July 2014,

Aphis said the small volumes involved would not impact on domestic producers

Fresh blueberries from Morocco have been cleared for shipment to the US. A decision by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Aphis), which takes effect from 29 August, means commercial shipments will be permitted provided certain phytosanitary conditions are met.

Moroccan officials say fresh blueberry exports to the US could reach 163 tonnes a year, with shipments taking place in July and August. Even though this overlaps with the US production season, which runs from April to August, the small quantities involved would not have a significant impact on domestic producers, Aphis said.

As a condition of entry, the blueberries must be produced under a systems approach employing a combination of mitigation measures for two quarantine pests, Ceratitis capitata and Monilinia fructigena, and must be inspected prior to exportation from Morocco and found free of these pests. Only blueberries treated with one of two approved postharvest treatments against C. capitata will be permitted.


According to the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture, citrus production for the 2013/2014 season increased by 47% over the 2012/2013 one, registering a record of 2.2 million metric tonnes (MT) on a planted area of about 118,900 ha and a productive area of 92,000 ha with an average yield of 24 MT/hectare.

The planted area in the Country increased by 6,200 ha compared to last year. Official Moroccan estimates for 2013/2014 total citrus production were revised in September 2013 from 2.025 million MT to 2.20 million MT with the final official numbers to be published during the Summer. Small citrus production was estimated at 1.160 million MT, fresh orange production was estimated at 1 million MT while lemon and lime was estimated at 42,400 MT. This is 47 percent higher than the previous season and 37 percent higher than the average production of the last six years. 2013/2014 saw an overall increase in terms of domestic consumption due to the excellent production. Morocco’s consumption for oranges for will reach 847,000 MT with a per capita annual consumption estimated at 19 kg for oranges, 11kg for small citrus, and 1.3 kg of lemon/limes.

In 2012/2013, Morocco’s domestic consumption of small citrus was estimated at 355,000 MT and the consumption for oranges was estimated at 661,000 MT, while the consumption for lemon/limes was estimated at 43,000 MT. Morocco’s orange juice consumption is currently estimated at about 50 million litres, of which 20 million litres come from local processing of fresh citrus, while the rest is imported juice and concentrates. According to the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture, from October 2013 to mid-May 2014, total citrus exports reached almost 557,000 MT, about 10 percent higher than the quantity exported during the same period in 2012/2013. As of May 2014, Ministry statistics shows that small citrus exports totalized 479,670 MT, marking an increase of about 36% compared to exports during the same period in 2012/2013 while orange exports totalled 73,600 MT. Exports of other citrus, mainly lemons, are projected to reach 10,494 MT, which are almost three times higher exports compared to the previous year. The total exported citrus volume was forecast to reach 560,000 MT by end of May 2014 and about 573,000 MT by end of the season.

It should be noted that in February 2012, Morocco and the European Union concluded long negotiations of a free trade agreement that went into effect August 30, 2012. The new agreement will increase Morocco’s small citrus fruit export quota by 22 percent, going from 143,700 MT to 175,000 MT. However, this quota increase is not expected to have a significant impact on Morocco’s overall citrus exports to the EU, since Moroccan citrus quotas have remained partially underutilized in previous years.  In 2013/2014, Russia maintained its position as the top destination for Morocco’s citrus exports, followed by EU markets. Morocco’s citrus exports to Russia from October to mid-May 2014 totalized 293,300 MT, 260,000 MT of which were small citrus varieties, 25,260 MT of orange varieties and the remaining 8,040 for other varieties including lemon and lime. During 2013/2014 Morocco’s small citrus and orange exports to Russia increased by about 40 percent compared to the same period the previous year

Morocco launches vocational baccalaureate
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 23/07/2014

Beginning this September, Moroccan high school students will be able to choose a baccalaureate tailored to the job market. Degrees will be offered in industrial maintenance, mechanical and industrial engineering, the aircraft industry and agricultural management.

The new school year will also see a bac in Spanish, and three schools in Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier will also offer accredited classes for a baccalaureate in English. The new degrees are designed to deliver employment options and open up Morocco to the global economy, according to Education and Vocational Training Minister Rachid Belmokhtar.

The training aims to ease young peoples' transition from school to work, "especially as the business areas covered by the degrees are growth areas for Morocco", Belmokhtar said July 3rd at the programme's launch event in Rabat.

It will also ease future baccalaureate holders’ integration into the labour market, while still offering them the possibility of pursuing higher level studies, he told government officials and representatives from the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM).

The minister pointed out that the training was set up in response to a request by industries for candidates with a clearly defined set of skills, Belkmokhtar said. The new bac has three main components: general education classes at secondary schools, practical classes in vocational training centres, and internships.

Businesses have been involved in the scheme. An agreement was signed between the government and the CGEM aimed at supporting the national education ministry in its introduction of the vocational curriculum.

According to CGEM chief Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, business leaders will ensure that employment opportunities are promoted. "The human element remains fundamental to business development," she said.

Hind Chaibi, 15, is among the high school students eager to pursue the new bac. "I'd like to study aircraft construction," she told Magharebia. "My goal is to learn the theory, but also to get some practical skills, especially since this industry is growing,"

Young people are worried about unemployment once they get to secondary school, her friend Zainab Chahadi said. This vocational baccalaureate option could be very attractive to high school students who fear what the future may hold, the 16-year-old said. "The branches of study will prove to be very important, and will allow us easy access to the labour market," she noted. "I hope the training will be rolled out to other sectors," she added.

Moroccan government misses growth targets as opposition grows
Author: Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) Posted July 23, 2014

The Moroccan parliamentary opposition criticized the performance of the government, led by the Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD), describing it as “disappointing and far from the aspirations of the citizens in the economic, social and human rights fields,” after two and a half years of its five-year mandate.

Summary: Poor growth, a rising unemployment rate and discontent from poor and middle-class voters pile on the pressure for Abdelilah Benkirane's Cabinet.

Author Mohammad al Charqi Posted July 23, 2014
Translator(s)Pascale el Khoury
Original Article اقرا المقال الأصلي باللغة العربية

Two days ago, heads of parliamentary blocs delivered speeches stating that the government did not meet their expectations in terms of developing a business environment, bringing in foreign and domestic investments, creating more job opportunities for young people and improving the living standards of the middle and the poor classes. These classes have borne the burden of the economic crisis associated with the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the global financial crisis [of 2007-09]. It's worth mentioning that growth in Morocco dropped from 4.8% in recent years to only 2.3% during the second quarter of 2014, while the debt doubled to reach around 80% of GDP. Therefore, repaying the deficit in the state accounts became partially dependent on foreign debts.

Some interventions confirmed that the government tried to reform the economic situation and social funds by raising the prices of basic goods and services, ensuring the rights of workers and wage-earners, taking out foreign debts to fill the budget deficit and abiding by the recommendations of the international financial institutions. According to these institutions, supporting the economy is linked to lifting subsidies on prices, which led about 3 million people into poverty and increased the number of vulnerable people to about 30% of the total population.

The government is expected to raise prices of water and electricity early next month to about 50 billion dirhams ($6 billion) worth of investments required by the National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water between 2014 and 2017. Observers expect the decision to stir a strong reaction among the poor, who are most affected by the price rise, which previously affected the middle and upper classes.

MPs said the government exaggerated the figures and indicators for political reasons, as revealed by national statistical institutions.

The latter believes that the forecasted growth figures are exaggerated. Moreover, according to the Central Bank of Morocco the expected growth rate will range between 2.6% and 3% by the end of 2014. This is at a time when Morocco needs a growth rate higher than 5% to counter youth unemployment, which rose to an alarming rate and now accounts for more than 20% of the active category. The national unemployment rate is estimated at 10.2% compared to 9.4% at the end of 2013.

On another note, the opposition accused the government of distorting information and misleading public opinion by providing incorrect data in a political attempt to hide its failure to manage the economic and social issues. This was the heaviest criticism suffered by the Cabinet of Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, since its formation in the end of 2011 in the midst of a constitutional amendment in Morocco.

Hakim Benchimach, head of the Authenticity and Modernity Party, said, “The government is unable to solve economic and social problems and difficulties but justifies its failure by accusing others of obstructing its work.”

The parliamentary majority also commended the performance of the Benkirane Cabinet, which has just completed half of its mandate, and stated that [the government] tackled sensitive matters and sectors that no previous government dared tackle. This was in reference to the reduction of price subsidies by cutting the expenses of the compensation fund and reviewing the status of the retirement fund. Both suffer a shortage of resources in light of an increase in expenses and they declared a war on corruption and the rentier economy.

According to analysts, the growing criticism of the government is because the middle and the poor bear the cost of the social-economic reform, estimated at tens of billions of dirhams, and the future generations bear the burden of reimbursing internal and external debts, in light of the failure to achieve the economic objectives set three years ago during the Arab Spring wave. These objectives included registering a 7% growth rate, reducing the unemployment rate to 8% and eliminating poverty and vulnerability by transferring part of the financial surplus to the most vulnerable groups in society.

The failure to achieve these objectives may be one of the direct causes for the growing opposition against the government, in addition to the diminishing effect of the Arab Spring, the declining influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in more than one Arab country and the reservation by some European capitals about the Islamic economic choices of the Arab Spring countries .

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Tea, mint send taste buds to Morocco
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Although she grew up in England and moved to the U.S. in 1971, Judy Larkin, also known as “The Tea Lady” is versed in teas from all over the world. Here’s what the owner of The Larkin Tea Co. LLC, an online business based in Martinsburg, W.Va., had to say about Morocco’s love for tea:

Morocco is one of the world’s largest tea importers.

Drinking mint tea is a major part of everyday life, but unlike the British, Moroccans do not have a set time for tea. The minted-and-sweetened preparation is a national emblem of sorts, as a drink of ritual and hospitality. Etiquette guides warn that a host will be offended if you don’t drink at least two cups.

One school of thought contends that tea arrived in North Africa in the 13th century by the trading routes created by Genghis Khan. Others believe it came with the British tea trade in the 18th century.

In Morocco, there is a special kind of green tea known as “gunpowder” tea. When the green leaves are harvested in China, the whole leaf is rolled into tiny balls and dried. It is believed to take its English name from the fact that the tea resembles grains of black powder. It’s an “assertive” tea that holds up well against the strong flavors of mint.

Fresh, reviving Moroccan mint tea is prepared to drink hot throughout the day, and tastes equally good over ice. And though many tea purveyors actually sell already blended “Moroccan mint,” nothing compares with the aroma and taste of homemade tea.

The Moroccan teapot is an important piece in every Moroccan home, but it is really an ornate teakettle because it goes directly on the stove. Inside the “teapot,” there are tiny holes in the spout that filter the tea when pouring it. If you don’t have a Moroccan teapot, use a small strainer when pouring the tea from a saucepan.

While mint can appeal to the palate, it also serves as a repellent.  According to the Herb Society of America, mint is a useful and inexpensive herb that, in fresh or dried form, repels flies. Mint also helps keep away mosquitoes, ants and mice. You can keep crushed mint leaves in a shallow bowl to keep flies away. You also can fill muslin tea bags with dried, crushed mint leaves and keep them in infested areas.

Moroccan mint tea
5 cups water
1 tablespoon green gunpowder tea
Handful of spearmint
2 tablespoons sugar (see cook’s notes)

Boil water. Add 1 tablespoon of gunpowder tea to a saucepan. The leaves will be filtered out later, so a pan works fine and will allow the leaves plenty of room to unfurl. Add 1 cup of boiling water to the pan and swish around. Pour the water into a large cup and set aside. The water will be reused, because it contains the core tea flavor. 

Add another cup of boiling water over the tea in the saucepan and swish around. You will discard this water, but not the tea leaves. This step is to clean the loose tea.

Add a large bunch of mint leaves and 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar to the pan. Moroccan mint tea is very sweet, but the sweetness can be adjusted to your taste. Now pour the cup of tea-flavored water, which was kept on the side, back in the teapot. Then add 3 to 4 more cups of boiling water. Place the pan on the stove and simmer for five minutes.

Before serving, strain the tea into a teapot. Taste to ensure the sweetness level is to your liking.

Hold the pot high over a glass to get that special Moroccan mint team foam. (To create a foamier tea, you may also pour the water in and out of the pot a few times before serving it to your guests.) Moroccan tea glasses are traditionally small (about the size of a juice glass), necessitating repeated servings and prolonging the social aspect of the tea tradition.

Cook’s notes:

Sugar is the least precise and most taste-based of the ingredients in this recipe.

To create a Middle Eastern afternoon tea experience, purchase small honey pastries in a Middle Eastern food shop. Ask for baklava. In Morocco it is called Kab El Ghzal. Allow one or two pastries per guest. Place them on a platter lined with a paper doily and eat off dessert plates with forks.

Moroccan mint granita

Wonderful when the weather is hot, this is a refreshing afternoon delight and a surprising palate cleanser, as well as a delicious dessert.

2 cups water
1 ½ teaspoons green gunpowder tea
¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
Mint leaves, for decoration

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the tea and mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain into another container, and blend in the sugar to taste. The flavor should be quite sweet. Let cool to room temperature.

Pour tea mixture into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and place it in the freezer. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer and stir to break up the ice crystals. Return to the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes over a period of 1½ to two hours, until the ice acquires a firm, smooth consistency.

To serve, scoop into glasses or demitasse cups and garnish with mint leaves. For the best flavor, serve the granita the same day you make it.

Serves four to six.

Mint-tea couscous
3 teaspoons green gunpowder tea
3 teaspoons chopped fresh spearmint leaves
½ cup boiling water
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon raisins
½ cup canned chickpeas
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked couscous or orzo

Steep tea and spearmint in boiling water for five minutes. Strain. Set aside.

Sauté onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until golden. Add tomato, raisins, chickpeas, cinnamon, saffron and salt. Cook for five minutes. Add strained tea and simmer another three minutes. Combine mixture with couscous or pasta, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

Cook’s note: The green gunpowder tea used in these recipes is available locally at The Fine Arts Co., 18031 Garland Groh Blvd. in Hagerstown; Kitchen’s Orchard & Farm Market, 1025 Kitchen’s Orchard Road in Falling Waters, W.Va.; and online at
 Judy Larkin, owner of The Larkin Tea Co. LLC

CD: Benjamin Taubkin - Al Qantara - The Bridge
Unlikely fusion of Brazil and Morocco is surprisingly delicious
by Peter Culshaw Saturday, 09 August 2014

Taubkin: A Brazilian among the Moroccans

Geoff Dyer’s book on jazz But Beautiful predicted the future of jazz would come from places like North Africa and this is a perfect example. Southern Morocco has become a hothouse of cultural fusion, partly due the number of foreign musicians playing and working with Moroccans at the huge Gnawa and Timitar festivals. This is one of the best attempts and came about after top Brazilian jazz pianist Benjamin Taubkin was asked to appear at the Timitar Festival in Agadir and became fascinated by the local music.

The result is not an attempt at a 50/50 split between Morocco and Brazil – you won’t find versions of sambas or bossa novas here. Instead, we have a delicately balanced mix of fine Moroccan players on oud, gimbri and percussion and a quartet of Brazilians: including Taubkin, an accordionist, bass and percussion. Particularly satisfying are the tunes introduced by the Moroccan contingent like "Hamdoucha" or "Salsible" which then have Taubkin and Brazilians reacting to the lines and weaving their way through.

There are some initially startling gear switches between the very different cultures when "Berma Sosanbi" is jammed up against "Adeus Mue Lirio Verde" as though you were walking on the beach in Agadir and were suddenly magicked by a genie to Ipanema. In general, the predominantly southern Berber and Gnawa flavours mix with the Brazilians unexpectedly seamlessly to produce something laid back with more than a touch of mystery. ##########################################################

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