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Morocco Week in Review 
September 27, 2014

Morocco’s Argan oil story: Feminism, food and encroaching deserts
By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+ , 22-Sep-2014

The Moroccan government and export markets are finally sitting up and paying attention to the country's argan oil production, according to the founder of a network of all-female co-operatives….
Read details in the link:

8 Reasons Morocco Should be Your Next Travel Destination
By Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki, Journey Beyond Travel | September 25, 2014

Check it here:

A journey into the magical cuisine of Morocco.
Adria Kelly on Wednesday, September 24

Considered one of the most influential cuisines in the world, Moroccan food combines flavors that are seen around the globe. Professional chefs salivate at the mention of its warm grains and complex spices. They long to achieve the depth in flavor that these dishes traditionally offer. Although I can’t help you feel out the perfect balance of herbs, this article will guide you through the complex and wonderful cuisine of Morocco.

The first step is to outfit your kitchen with the staple ingredients in every Moroccan kitchen, and that means taking a long trip down the spice aisle. There are a lot of herbs in this cuisine. The most common include classics like onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, coarse salt, black pepper, cinnamon and sesame seeds. Also seen in most Moroccan kitchens is ground ginger, white pepper, hot and sweet paprika, cumin, saffron threads, anise and bay leaves.
Along with those better known spices, there’s the local selection. Ras el hanout, meaning “head of the shop,” is a spice blend made from the best ingredients the store has to offer and is used in some daily cooking, but often is saved for specialty dishes. Lastly for the spice cabinet is what I consider the most exotic of the bunch, comprised of chiba (wormwood), salmia (sage), louisa (lemon verbena) and za’atar (wild thyme.) It would be a ridiculous request for most college students to have all of these spices at once so I suggest buying on a recipe to recipe basis. Other staples in Morocco include couscous, sugar, Moroccan olive oil, green tea, orange flower water, rose water, semolina flour, all-purpose flour, dried beans, preserved lemons and olives.

The first dish is called harissa, a hot chili paste found in many dishes in Morocco. Begin by soaking dried red peppers for 30 minutes. A mixture of chile de arbol, ancho chiles and guajillo chiles will provide a medium heat level. When the chiles become malleable, remove the stems and seeds. In a food processor, combine the peppers, garlic, salt and olive oil until it reaches a paste-like consistency. Add caraway seeds, coriander, cumin and paprika and mix thoroughly. This will keep up to three weeks in your fridge and can be eaten as a spread on bread, meat, vegetables and basically anything you can find in your kitchen.
In Morocco, the tagine is both a cooking instrument and a delicious recipe. The tagine as a tool is a large ceramic or clay dish with a large, pointed lid. As a recipe, tagine is versatile. Much like pasta in Italy, there are hundreds of flavor and ingredient combinations that can be presented through a tagine.
This recipe is for a classic and relatively simple chicken tagine. Combine finely chopped garlic, ground cumin, ginger, sweet paprika, salt, black pepper, grated Spanish onion and olive oil. Add the pulp from a few preserved lemons to the bowl along with bone-in chicken thighs. Place this mixture into a large plastic bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Although this is traditionally made using a ceramic or clay tagine, a large Dutch oven or casserole dish will also do. Place the chicken with the marinade, cilantro and parsley stems, powdered saffron and some water into whatever dish you are using. Bring this to a boil then lower it to a simmer and cook, stirring semi-regularly, until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pot and move to a serving platter. Keeping the sauce in the pan add the preserved lemon peel from before, olives, parsley and cilantro. Reduce until thick, which should not take more than 5 minutes. Remove the chicken’s skin, pour the sauce over it and serve.

In Morocco there seems to be a national sweet tooth. I’ve even heard rumors of Moroccans adding sugar to their drinking water to make it more appetizing. In the spirit of sweets, the last dish I will present to you is a traditional dessert called Kaab el Ghazal, or Gazelle Horns. These crescent-shaped cookies are eaten with mint tea at a meals end on most special occasions.

Start off by making the almond paste that will fill the pastry dough. Blend the almonds into a paste in a food processor, then hand mix in sugar, cinnamon, orange flower water and gum Arabic powder until the paste is smooth and moist. For the dough, combine flour, salt, eggs, melted butter and orange flower water and knead until silky and elastic. Divide dough into equal portions and cool for at least 15 minutes in the fridge. Lightly dust a surface with flour, roll out the dough until thin but still workable, pipe a sausage shaped piece of the almond paste onto the edge of the dough, a fold into a crescent shape and make sure all edges are sealed. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees and enjoy. For a variation to this recipe, dip the cookies in orange flower water and dust with powdered sugar.

Hop over to the land of spices, diversity and exoticism and recreate these Moroccan dishes in your home. If you succeed you will achieve the dream of professional chefs around the globe.
Adria Kelly can be reached at

Building World Peace, Locally.
Sunday September 21st 2014 By Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir (RPCV/Morocco)

The condition of mutually enforcing bottom-up social development movements and enabling top-down laws, policies and treaties, assist ever more people and groups in coming-together to achieve the change they seek.

It should be clear that if peace is to exist among humanity it is reflected in local circumstances and local conditions.  After all, we as people directly experience the degrees of peace in society, and we affect its presence by our individual and group behavior.

For peace to thrive at the communal level, an age-old paradox needs to be reconciled, namely that the interests of both individuals and groups are not antagonistic, where one is achieved at the expense of the other, but instead are interwoven and satisfied through participatory planning methods and project implementation.

These development methods require third party facilitation, firstly to draw out the perceptions and priorities of the local participants, including young and old, women and men, those who have and those who have less, and secondly to build partnerships with local government, civil and business agencies.

The development projects that emerge from this democratic process assist local people in two ways – by helping to work through their differences (incorporating conflict management approaches), and advancing their socio-economic and environmental goals.

The projects work against people experiencing alienation because they no longer devote their days to activities from which they do not gain justifiable benefits and are therefore inconsistent with their fundamental interests.  Projects promote peace through meeting people’s self-determined needs while satisfying community development objectives.  Social and personal needs having been met in this way, through popular participation in community development, peace is given a framework most favorable to its growth and scaling up.

In the context of national and international conflicts, what is interesting is that the same methodology still applies, but can occur among representatives and leaders of the groups in conflict.  The process, however, does not begin with - but merges into - joint development planning.  At the outset, there needs to be an expression of past experiences and difficulties followed by an acknowledgement of those occurrences and, where appropriate, an apology.  This kind of confidence-building dialogue must, moreover, be carried out in a spirit of reconciliation.

Thus conditions favorable to peace are created whereby the parties can coexist and reap tangible benefits from their mutual contact.  Crucially, in order to promote actual peace, all of this must result in sustainable development for all the people.

Are there Sunnis and Shi’ites whose communities are side by side or are integrated, where these processes could build unity and avoid spiraling of distrust?

Can Israelis and Palestinians meet together and express what they must, acknowledge what they must and advance human development that enables not only Palestinian political but also economic independence?

Can neighbors who are not in conflict but nevertheless are not in communication meet together in a meaningful way to forge an action plan and thereby advance their local development?

The net result of such localized occurrences is the spreading of the umbrella of peace over ever-larger geographical areas - federating upwards.  At the same time, national and global leaders who establish charters that actively encourage and necessitate community meetings and sub-national development based on the popular common will, prepare the way for peaceful conditions on the ground from their top-level positions of responsibility.

Conducive macro policies promote civil society, experiential learning and participatory development training.  Governments, responsible corporations and donors should have funding programs so designed that support the range of educational, health, economic and environmental initiatives that are locally prioritized - with the main criteria being that they are community-identified and driven.

True peace - the kind that steers our present and future and that responds to our hearts’ calling - therefore lies in the hands of all of us since its fruition requires actions at every societal level but which support local community control of projects intended to benefit them.  Moreover - and encouragingly - the goal of world peace can be operationalized, can have a budget, can have training workshops and has commenced. It now only requires a global rallying to support popular participation in the development that will change the lives of individuals and communities.

Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is president of the nonprofit High Atlas Foundation which does development work in Morocco.

Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir President, High Atlas Foundation Tél: +212 (0)5 24 42 08 21 Fax: +212 (0)5 24 42 20 21 E-mail:

Etihad Airways donates to underprivileged children.
Staff Report / 26 September 2014

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has donated more than Dh100,000 to underprivileged children in Morocco.
A senior delegation from Etihad Airways visited Morocco this week to present the donation, which has been raised through the airlines’ various charitable initiatives that took place in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. These initiatives include the ‘Etihad Garage Sale’, the ‘Ramadan Share To Care Vouchers’, and ‘Ramadan Football Tournament’ initiatives. The two day program included visits and donations to three schools in Morocco’s Safro province including Moulay Ismail School, Ayat Tanout School and Ayat Hussein School.

Mohamed Lakhal, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Education in the Safro Province, accompanied the Etihad delegation during their visit which saw the distribution of more than 700 school bags and stationary to the children.

The visit also included a donation to The Royal Moroccan Alawi Organisation For the Blind in Casablanca, Hope Association, and a stopover at the Moroccan Association for The Blind in Salé City, Rabat, where the airline officially opened the Etihad Workshop. The delegation was met by the Mayor of Salé City and Omar Ajbroun, the director of the Moroccan Association.

Khaled Al Mehairbi, Etihad Airways’ senior vice president of government and aero-political affairs, said: “This donation represents the kindness and generosity of our staff and partners, as well as the wider community in Abu Dhabi who participated in this community initiative. The donations also helped in putting a smile on more than 500 orphans at the Hope Association who received new shirts and garments just before Eid Al Adha.”  For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes

Bullying in Moroccan Schools.
Friday 26 September 2014 -
Asmae Nasri Fez

School bullying is a problem that affects children all over the world, regardless of their religion, country, or social status. Developed countries are taking proactive actions and preventive measures against this issue; however, developing countries, such as Morocco, do not even acknowledge its presence.
To start with, bullying is a form of repetitive aggressive behavior, which is usually harmful and deliberate. It is always characterized by an imbalance of social or physical power; that is to say, the bully is more powerful than his victim.

Violence is not necessarily physical; it can be also verbal. Bullying behavior may include name-calling, verbal or written abuse, exclusion from activities, and exclusion from social situations. In this regard, it is worth refering to Haruki Murakami’s point that “violence does not always take visible form, and not all wounds gush blood.”

Another form of bullying which is somewhat similar to verbal bullying is social bullying. It can be defined as any kind of intentional mental abuse. This later manifests as manipulating other’s social lives, friendships and reputation. Spreading rumors, intentional exclusion, or convincing others to intentionally exclude the victim are a few examples of social bullying.

By becoming the subject of aggression, bullied children have difficulty defending themselves and tend to live with anticipatory fear of pain and humiliation. In addition, researchers have demonstrated that bullying has serious consequences and can leave deep emotional scars in the personality of children subject to bullying. Those who endure psychological bullying often have emotional problems that linger for many years after the abuse. Bullied children are more likely to experience anxiety and depression and their academic achievement is more likely to falter. In the U.S., many children have gone so far as to commit suicide after being bullied.

Bullying can happen in any context; at school, on the streets, in the bus etc. It can happen to anyone regardless of age. But arguably, the most dangerous bullying is that which affects children. It is widely accepted that childhood is a pivotal stage in terms of a person’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. Therefore, bullying amongst children is an issue to which we must afford careful attention.

In our culture, we do not care about children’s issues. Their opinions are not taken into consideration and neither are their problems. For many parents, bullying builds a child’s personality. This is true to an extent seeing as life obliges us to deal with all kinds of people, including nasty ones. However, bullying becomes a problem when a child is subject to it repetitively.

Moroccan children and teens along with many of their peers all over the world endure bullying, yet their suffering goes unnoticed. We all remember “Meriam” from Casablanca who committed suicide at 15 after being bullied by her classmates for living in the slums. Our community forgets the presence of hundreds of “Meriams” whose lives are ruined because of bullying. These students are the future of our country. So, how do we attain a better future without raising healthy children in supportive environments?

50% of websites in Morocco do not protect users’ personal data.
Saturday 20 September 2014 - Tarik El Barakah Rabat

The National Commission for the Protection of Personal Data (CNDP) has revealed on Friday that 50% of the websites in Morocco do not respect the legal procedures for the protection of such data. 

In a control operation of personal data that involved 104 websites, the CNDP said that only 22% of these websites provide references to the protection of personal data in accordance with the law. The control campaign identified that 28% of websites show a feature that indicates they are protecting personal data of their users in line with the legal requirements, yet it is “incomplete”.

The commission’s findings also suggest that 71% of websites provide no information on the identity of the website, the purposes of the processing, the recipients of the collected data and other information. 29% of the websites provide only partial information. CNDP concluded that only 1 % of websites in Morocco bother to request for the consent of their users before collecting and processing their personal data, adding that 80% of the websites do not mention it while 19 % carry out random requests.

The CNDP ‘warns’ the websites which do not comply with the legal procedures that in the absence of a positive response the commission will initiate disciplinary proceedings that could take the form of a warning, a reprimand or a file transfer to  justice.

Among the websites controlled there are those of travel and hospitality, employment and recruitment agencies, online sales & marketing, government agencies, banks, transportation & logistics, healthcare, telecoms, and car rentals.

United Nations: Morocco Calls for International Solidarity to Fight Desertification.
Monday 22 September 2014 - United Nations, New York

Morocco called, Monday, for a regional and international solidarity to fight against desertification and climate change.“The objectives to fight this phenomenon would be difficult to achieve without a local, regional and international solidarity,” Minister Delegate for the Environment, Hakima El Haite, at a session on sustainable land management, organized by Morocco, Qatar, Germany and Iceland, on the sidelines of the general debate of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

In this regard, she said that land degradation, erosion and climate change require from all stakeholders to be more vigilant and seriously committed to address this situation and deal with the factors that threaten food security in the world, particularly in Africa. It is important to promote technology and know-how transfer and mobilize the necessary funds to help eradicate these phenomena and take up this “international challenge,” relying in particular on inter-sectoral and comprehensive approach, she recommended.

Referring to the efforts made by Morocco to address the effects of climate change, including desertification and drought, El Haite highlighted the dam policy carried out in Morocco since the 60s. This has allowed Morocco to manage water resources and the increasing demand for this vital source, she said, adding that other policies including the protection of groundwater were adopted.

In the same vein, the Minister stressed the relevance of the Agricultural Plan “Green Morocco” in which several strategies and programs have been implemented for a better management of natural resources.

Etihad Airways makes substantial donation to underprivileged children in Morocco.
Etihad Airways makes substantial donation to underprivileged children in Morocco  September 25th, 2014

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has donated more than one hundred thousand UAE dirhams to underprivileged children in Morocco. A senior delegation from Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates,
visited Morocco this week to present the donation which has been raised through the airlines’ various charitable initiatives that took place in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. These initiatives include the Etihad Garage Sale, the Ramadan Share To Care Vouchers and Ramadan Football Tournament initiatives took place in Abu Dhabi. The two day program included visits and donations to three schools in Morocco’s Safro province including Moulay Ismail School, Ayat Tanout School and Ayat Hussein School.

Mohamed Lakhal the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education in the Safro Province accompanied the Etihad delegation during their visit which saw the distribution of more than 700 school bags and stationary to the children. The visit also included a donation to The Royal Moroccan Alawi Organisation For the Blind in Casablanca, Hope Association and a stopover at the Moroccan Association for The Blind in Salé City, Rabat.  where the airline officially opened the Etihad Workshop providing two tricot knitting machines and two sewing machines as well. The delegation was met by the Mayor of Salé City and Mr Omar Ajbroun, the Director of Moroccan Association.

The Etihad Airways delegation was headed by Khaled Al Mehairbi, Etihad Airways Senior Vice President of Government and Aero-political Affairs, and included Ali Al Shamsi, Vice President of Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Hub, and Moulay Hicham El Kadiri Boutchich, Etihad Airways’ General Manager in Morocco, besides the airline’s commercial and operational based staff in Casablanca who all participated in distributing school bags, stationary, shirts, blankets, eye glasses and white canes to the blind.

Mr Al Mehairbi, who also serves as Chairman of Etihad Airways’ Sports and Social Committee, said: “This donation represents the kindness and generosity of our staff and partners, as well as the wider community in Abu Dhabi who participated in this community initiative. “The donations also helped in putting a smile on more than 500 orphans at the Hope Association who received new shirts and garments just before Eid AL Adha. 

“Our special thanks goes to all parties who supported the success of this trip including The Moroccan Royal Court, The UAE Embassy in Morocco, the Etihad Airways’ team, Abu Dhabi Police, Immigration Department at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi Airports Companies’ staff (ADAC),and Etihad staff at Abu Dhabi International Airport, AL Jaber Optic and Dubai Optics besides Greish Transportation Company in Casablanca. 

“We are delighted to launch this initiative just before Eid AL Adha and hope we were able to make positive impact in these young children’s lives. As the UAE flag carrier, we are pleased to once again reaffirm our commitment to society and always give back to those in need.”

Journals of a Moroccan Fulbrighter in America (5): Homesickness.
Friday 26 September 2014 Ahmed Echcharfi Austin

Why do humans feel homesick? And what is home after all? Why should I feel unsatisfied, socially speaking, by all the nice people surrounding me? Why do I need to fetch for this Moroccan by the name of Abdou, who, I was told, owns a small restaurant in South Austin?

To be sure, this feeling is not caused by any uneasiness about the social environment. Rudeness is a rare commodity in Austin, at least as far as I can tell. The city has nothing of the density of our urban centers or even of some other urban centers in America. When you walk around in its residential areas, you could rarely see anyone outside the house or children playing in the street or women gathered in front of doors.

If it were not for the running cars, you might think that the neighborhoods have been evacuated altogether. Even downtown, the streets are usually empty, except for those standing at bus stops or walking to nearby buildings. The only crowded place I’ve seen so far is the university. It is full of life and reminds me of the hustle and bustle of our city centers. So, there’s no wonder that one rarely, if ever, witnesses acts of violence. The feeling of homesickness that invades me now and then cannot be due to any sort of uneasiness in my current life.

Communities do not have a real existence; not the sort of existence that this table has. They only exist in the minds of individuals who believe in them. Morocco is not a piece of land circumscribed by natural and political borders, and Moroccans cannot be identified by some genetic trait or any other “objective” characteristic………………..
Read the rest here:

In Morocco, it is not about what you know but who you know: "The middle class that often absorbs the shock between the very rich and the very poor is gone".
Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Morocco may technically be in the 21st century, but in some respects it remains in the Middle Ages. Individuals are not recognized for their knowledge, experience and contribution but for their tribal identity: to which big and influential family they belong. Indeed, when you meet people for the first time, in many instances, they will ask you who you are and if you give them your first name only, they will look disappointed and dismayed because you did not satisfy their curiosity about your tribal position in the Moroccan social cartography.

The classification of influential family groups of Morocco are as follows:
1. Makhzen (government and official) families:
These families were traditionally in the service of the Sultan and his government as civil servants or political, financial or military advisers. They were living in the palace precinct because the Sultan could ask for them anytime. The make up of these families saw a dramatic change after the fall of Grenada in 1492 following the reconquista and the exodus of the Andalusians to Morocco and neighbouring countries. On their arrival to Morocco, they immediately offered their services to the Sultan who could not refuse such an offer, so he integrated them in his permanent royal staff instead of the Amazigh (Berber) personnel and this was the beginning of the animosity between the two ethnic groups that is still going on today. Besides the Andalusians, the other ethnic group that rose to prominence, then, were the Jews, who became the financiers and the businessmen of the Sultan. They were to be known as Tujar Sultan (Sultan’s businessmen).

2. Tujar(merchants)families:
These families controlled trade and commerce with the Europeans and had permanent agents in Madrid, Paris and London and also owned ships and financial institutions. They had the money and the power and the friendship of the Europeans, so in a way they wielded lots of power and had access directly to the Sultan. There were times when thy did not see eye to eye with the Makhzen and, as a result, withdrew staple products from the market such as flower, sugar, oil and tea, which led to riots in the cities that were quelled in blood and fire and led in some cases to the deposition of the Sultan."If you give them your first name only, they will look disappointed"

3. 9ouyad (governors) families:
They comprised the governors of the Sultan in the provinces, who wielded lot of power and ruled these areas ruthlessly by the sword and by organized racket. They often amassed colossal fortunes through corruption and coercion. This group included, also, the military chiefs who racketed the population in the name of the Sultan and considered this to be a privilege of their profession and position.

4. Amghar(Berber tribal chiefs)families:
They are the lords of Amazigh tribes, very powerful and pretty charismatic. They are, generally speaking, elected by the different five clans of this social institution, for one of two reasons: wealth based on land and water rights ownership, and/or noble origin, meaning descent from a family of religious scholars and saints known as imrabdhen and, as a result, they are widely respected by all tribesmen. The Amghars are so powerful that they can declare war on any other tribe or decide to kick out anyone from the tribe for insubordination, murder, adultery or thieving.

These family categories were referred to in historical documents by the term khassa, meaning they are very special citizens as a result of their wealth, power, proximity to Makhzen, or religious influence. And the rank and file were called flatly 3amma (commons or the common people.) Because in ancient Morocco, the khassa were powerful and rich, they were known commonly as ahl l7al wa l3a9d, literally those who can make a knot on a rope and also untie it, thus being mirrored as decision makers and problem solvers.

In Modern Morocco, nothing has changed in that regard, only appearances did. The khassa make decisions, exploit the riches of the country, guarantee employment to their offspring and especially inheritance of their government position and all rentier privileges, which means that the power and influence of their genitors will be passed on to them. So, in perspective, Morocco has remained tribal and patriarchal in spite of the veneer of modernization and development and to, a certain extent, that is true across the Arab world, too. And the advent of the ill-fated Arab Spring is the result of this, and so is the resurgence of Salafist movements from the circles of poor and angry 3amma populace.

This division of society into two classes, Khassa and 3amma, then, has a mirror image in today’s society, likewise. Even the tiny middle class that existed in the 70s and 80s of the last century is, by now, history. So the middle class that often absorbs the shock between the very rich and the very poor is gone and turbulence can take place at any moment in the country, that is why the World Bank called on Morocco to work towards the fair distribution of national wealth, to allow the creation of this much-needed middle class that is the true defender of the established order.
"Morocco has remained tribal and patriarchal in spite of the veneer of modernization"

Because the khassa have a pronounced predator mentality, they have always preyed on the poor to take their little money, humiliate them (7ogra) by exercising on them their unlimited inherited power and at the same time racket them to add riches to their colossal fortunes. Thus, they institutionalized corruption. You want a service, you pay for it and, as a consequence, corruption became a normal practice to access so-called rights. Ultimately, there were no more rights, only privileges, in a way. Rentier privileges of the Khassa also bred another immoral practice: that of nepotism which is the result of the famous tribal belief of « me and mine first ». Nepotism has almost become a constitutional right in the sense that ministers, today, when they take office, get as a welcome pack five job opportunities to offer to their family, friends or ultimately sell in the black job market.

If you want to get things done in any circle of everyday life, you need to have a piston (known in the Middle East as wasaata (intermediary)), who is a khassa, who can yield power to make things happen to get your request fulfilled in no time and to your heart’s desire. That is why when people ask you for your family name, they want to know if you are important enough in society to request your help as piston, if need be.

You can be a doctor, or an engineer or a professor or else, but if you are only a 3amma, you can be of no use to the population at large. Morocco, and by extension Arab countries, will remain tribal and undemocratic as long as they don’t recognize people by their merit but by their descent, position and wealth.

Delicious Moroccan skewers
Friday's Domestic Diva Silvena Rowe shares her recipes for delicious Moroccan skewers – perfect for spicing up your weekend brunch. Photos by Oliver Gordon
By chef Silvena Rowe September 14, 2014

Beef kebabs

Serves 4
Prep time 1 hour Cooking time 30 mins

750g beef porterhouse steak, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
1 large yellow pepper, cut into chunks
Cherry tomatoes, a few
3-4 large mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil spray

For the marinade,
mix together
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. In a glass or a ceramic bowl, toss the beef with the marinade until well coated. Season with salt and pepper, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Now skewer the beef, onion, pepper, tomatoes and mushrooms and grill until the beef is cooked, spraying with olive oil during cooking as necessary.
3. Cover the kebabs with aluminium foil and set aside for about 5 minutes before serving.

Ground chicken kofta kebabs
Serves 4
Prep time 45 mins Cooking time 10 mins

500g ground chicken
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup grated onion
2 tbsp finely chopped red chillies
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Ground cloves, a pinch Nutmeg, a pinch Olive oil, for frying
1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season and mix well.

2. Divide the mixture into 8 portions. To form the kebabs, wet your hands, then place one portion of the chicken mince mixture on your palm and place a skewer over it. Press gently so the mixture is evenly moulded around the skewer. Repeat until all the kebabs are ready.
3. Place the kebabs in a single layer on a platter and cover loosely with cling film. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up.
4. Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan, drizzle in a little oil and swirl the pan
around to coat the bottom. Cook the kebabs for about 2 minutes on each side or until done.
5. Serve with a dip and salad.

Skewered beef chipolatas
Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 mins Cooking time 10 mins

1 red onion, sliced
4 large mushrooms, quartered
8 yellow cherry tomatoes
8 red cherry tomatoes
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
8 wooden skewers, soaked in water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
24 beef chipolatas
Chopped chives, to garnish

1. Preheat a grill to medium high. Thread the vegetables on to four skewers, brush with half the oil and grill until slightly charred. Keep warm.
2. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and spices. Cook until the spices release their aroma, then add the sausages to the pan. Fry the sausages until golden brown and cooked through. When cool enough to handle,
thread on to half of the skewers.
3. To serve, arrange the skewers on a large platter and scatter with chopped chives.
Spicy prawns
Serves 4
Prep time 10 mins Cooking time 10 mins

400g prawns, deveined
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
8 yellow cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, cut into chunks
8 wooden skewers, soaked in water

1 lemon, juice of
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika

1. Place the prawns in the marinade, season and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill to medium high.
3. Remove the prawns from the marinade and thread on to the skewers, alternating with pieces of vegetable. Grill for 10 minutes, turning to ensure even cooking. Serve with rice and peas.

Chicken kebabs
Serves 4
Prep time 30 min, including marination time Cooking time 15 mins

500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces

For the marinade, mix together
1/4 cup skimmed yogurt, whisked
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Add chicken to the marinade and toss well until all the pieces are well coated with the mixture. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavours to get absorbed.
2. Skewer the chicken cubes and grill until the chicken is no longer pink in the centre, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
3. Serve hot with spinach rice or qubz.


The Myth of Reform: Why is Moroccan Education Deteriorating?
Saturday 20 September 2014 - Youssef Laaraj Fez

The alarming degradation of the Moroccan education system has caused considerable controversy while the situation remains dismal according to NGOs’ reports.
After decades of continuous downturns on diverse fronts such as economics, employment, social justice, and even sports, Moroccan education has also reached its crisis peak.

UNESCO has unmasked the continued miserable state of Moroccan public schools as Morocco was ranked amongst the least effective educational systems worldwide. A very similar dim picture was revealed in 2011 and 2013 reports (Almassae; January 4, 2014). These reports indicate that the country must undertake major, comprehensive reform measures to restore and strengthen the system.

Despite the 5% of the country’s GDP devoted to education and the grand facilities of the Moroccan ministry, the level of Moroccan education is no better than much poorer countries. The recent report has ranked Morocco in a belated position among Arab countries in graduation and schooling rates. This dreary situation persists despite vows of educational authorities to reform this sensitive sector.

After his allegiance ceremony in July 1999, King Mohammed VI’s gave an official discourse in parliament on August 8, wherein he indicated the significance of reforming the Moroccan education. In the same year, the Moroccan Ministry of Education published a report following a thorough analysis of the Moroccan education system, following an order of former King Hassan II. The National Charter for Education and Training has been considered a momentous catalyst in Moroccan educational policy-making promising deep reforms of the deficient educational system. It has underlined a set of reform measures and mechanisms intended to promote Moroccan education’s quality.

The National Charter was a revolutionary reform plan aimed at matching the economic, political, social, and educational novelties Morocco was witnessing then, after several crises in the system of education. Overall, the Charter has set a plan for quality education through an inclusive series of goals emphasizing good teacher-training, syllabus review and re-planning, language instruction enhancement, and human resources adequacy, to name a few. However, 15 years later, the actual status of education has gone through a palpable degradation, which puts into question the state’s political intentions in dealing with the issue.
The White Book -another official education document- has named a series of tenets for education reform in Morocco. It affirms that the curriculum should not simply be a mere combination of subjects but an essential component of an educational strategy for reform (White Book. introduction p:1). It also emphasizes that school should play the leading role in producing well-trained, educated, and independent individuals. In addition, it draws attention to the empowerment of democracy and human rights, which are indispensable for opinion, knowledge, creativity, and initiative to thrive in educational settings. It accentuates the preservation the Moroccan identity along preparing the learner to be an active and influential player in the aspired renaissance.

Similarly, and among other measures, the Moroccan administration has adopted an educational policy referred to as ‘school map’, intended to pass students in the early and middle stages of schooling to advanced levels despite their lack of primary education skills. Worthy of note is that experts attribute this defective policy to international partners’ intervention in the Moroccan financial affairs to control their fundraising for improvement of state sectors, of which education is major component.

The reform processes has brought about a hustle and bustle in the media as well as for the public. Another official reaction to the dire human resources’ shortage and critical education situation was Latifa El Abida’s ministry introduction of ‘The Emergency Plan’. It was an emergent model of reform which cost a colossal budget in an attempt to make up for human resources’ shortage, enhance in-service teacher-training, limit high drop-out rates, equip classrooms with teaching materials, etc.

However, the results of the Emergency Plan demonstrate palpable failure. Education establishments are still short of human resources, especially teaching staff. Dropout rates are still very high: between 350 and 400 thousand leave school each year before the age of fifteen. In the long-term, dropping out has serious consequences such as high illiteracy rates, unemployment, theft practice, affiliation to crime gangs, and the like.

Also, imitation of the French system in regards to cycles, streams, grades, and even content continues to stir controversy among education stakeholders. Given the conspicuous incompatibility between Moroccan and French educational environments, the copying of the French system has generated public discontent among educators, students, and their parents. Many deem it a continued form of subservience to France, which aims to maintain its colonialist control over Morocco.

Today, Moroccan schools produce unqualified literates; ill-suited for the job market, and unable to function well in service to their country. The state’s ad hoc measures to raise the quality of education is manifested through policy change along with change of people in charge of this vital department. For instance, when Mohammed El Wafa took office as minister of education, he immediately cancelled The Emergency Plan and fired the official in charge of it, contending that a colossal budget was fruitlessly spent for the program. El Wafa has adopted a new policy addressing educational issues; a philosophy the appointed technocrat Rachid Belmokhtar seems to despise. This indicates that educational policy-making is dependent on personal perceptions or political ideologies rather than the country’s overall policy guided by national identity and the pursuit of sustainable development.

Interestingly, Moroccan education’s deterioration continues while official discourse on education grows tenser through parliamentary debate, media programs, and so forth. In this respect, King Mohammed VI gave a speech on August 20, 2013, whereby he alluded to the mediocrity of the educational system and stated an effort to review language instruction policy.

Meanwhile, he announced the creation of The Higher Council for Education, which will serve as a specialized body able to provide sound views and suggestions on education policy. The King’s speech was interpreted as returning back to the use of foreign languages in instruction in lieu of Arabic, which asserts that Arabization was another facet of a failing education.

Considerable efforts have been made to rescue our education. However, reform attempts have veered off the central principle which is the empowerment of human resources and catering to their needs. In this respect, teachers and students continue to face increasing difficulties as reform plans seem to have no positive impact on their personal or professional endeavors. On the one hand, teachers still endure myriad problems such as slow promotions, low salaries, artificial textbooks, poor students’ grades, many working hours, lack of teaching materials, etc.

These problems surely have an adverse effect on teaching quality inasmuch as teachers are stressed more and more and resent the state for inadequate working conditions. The state has not only suspended promotion of professionals holding academic and professional degrees but even violently reacted to their 2013 protest marches through arrest, verbal affronts, and other forms of maltreatment and humiliation.

Students, on the other side, are no longer interested in the Moroccan public schooling due to its disgraceful atmosphere , boring lessons, large classes, lack of and absence of teachers, etc. According, the 51st issue of Educational Sciences Journal, Moroccan education is featured by absence of modern teaching techniques and the ongoing adoption of boring and unattractive teaching styles, which adversely affect students’ excitement and motivation to learn while they are immersed in a technological revolution; as a result, the rate of failure in standardized exams has accrued significantly. Similarly, the rate of drop outs has alarmingly escalated in Morocco in the recent years according to officials as well as independent figures.

Today, the Moroccan education system continues its critical decline on many fronts: low schooling rates, high illiteracy, high drop-out rates, mismatch between education contents and job-market requirements, etc (Education Science Journal, Issue 51, p58). Undeniably, all stakeholders have a part to play in the improvement of education quality and revival of the lethargic school life. Action, not words, irrespective of political or ideological backgrounds, is necessary in order to bring back to the Moroccan education the value it had throughout its long history.

Reform is not possible unless the main concerned parties are included and their views are well-considered. Schools need to be equipped with necessary teaching and learning materials in addition to adequate human resources to cater educational needs. Curricula need to be reviewed and updated to suit students’ interests and meet their aspirations. In sum, discourse remains a mere bare bone awaiting enforcement to add flesh and eventually effectuate the reform Moroccans have long anticipated.

Morocco to Boost Higher Education.
By Siham Ali
18 September 2014 Rabat

People should stop calling Moroccan universities unemployment factories, according to Higher Education Minister Lahcen Daoudi. Universities are not responsible for the jobless rate for young graduates, which has reached 24%, he said at a MAP forum in Rabat on Tuesday (September 16th). Instead, the minister blamed the national economy. "To boost employment, we need a stable rate of growth between 7% and 8%. Until we reach that percentage, unemployment will continue," Daoudi said. Moroccan universities have a better image outside the country than inside it, he continued, noting that his department was considering a large number of measures to improve university education.

There are two main areas of focus for reform, the minister explained. The first is a restructuring of higher education by grouping big universities together into "hubs", in order to increase their visibility across the region and the continent. The second is the promotion of university scientific research. The minister lamented the neglect of this aspect by previous governments.

Several research projects are currently under way, thanks to national and international partnerships. The minister wants to see Morocco move up from fifth place in Africa in terms of scientific research to second place behind South Africa within two years. Universities should not receive all of the blame for the failings in the higher education sector, he said, adding that the entire education system should be reviewed from the primary level upwards.

This view was shared by sociologist Samira Kassimi, who said that the system as a whole needed to be reviewed and that precise targets needed to be set. According to Kassimi, curricula, language-learning and skills need to be rethought. "You get the impression that Moroccan education is floundering from primary level up to higher education level. The learning model needs to be revised to address current and future challenges," she explained. "With regard to higher education, we are still awaiting the launch of a study of the needs of the job market. Without this survey, we can't adapt higher education and successfully create a strong link between university education and the business world," she told Magharebia.

Students mostly want to see job prospects improve. "The government must forge partnerships with businesses to make it easier for students to access jobs in the private sector," 19-year-old economics student Najat Bachir said. "It's not enough to say that universities aren't responsible for youth unemployment. The government must take concrete steps to help university students. Conventional training must be backed up by practical training to improve graduates' skills," she added.

Akram Gouram, a 20-year-old legal science student agreed, noting that advanced training courses should be compulsory for students as a way to supplement their training. "Most students gain their degree or master's degree without having any contact with the business world whatsoever. That's wrong. University education can't be improved unless it includes a practical and work-based aspect," he told Magharebia.

Morocco for Food Lovers.
Silvia McCallister-Castillo, September 23, 2014 Originally published at

While Morocco is justifiably famous for breathtaking scenery, Islamic architecture and a rich history of arts and crafts, the country truly stands out as a paradise for foodies. Diverse peoples, including Berbers, Arabs, Sephardic Jews and Muslims from Andalusia, and Spanish and French colonizers, brought their own culinary traditions and ingredients to the kitchen. This is combined with the marvelous variety of foodstuffs produced in the country´s different regions. The quality of beef and lamb in Morocco is outstanding. Fish is popular, especially in port cities, and there is an astonishing array of fruits and vegetables.
Of course, no tour to Morocco arranged by an in-country operator would be complete without sampling couscous, tiny grains of semolina pasta served with stewed carrots, zucchini and other vegetables, with or without meat. Rabat is especially famous for its couscous aux sept légumes (couscous with seven vegetables), in which an enormous mound of couscous is beautifully and carefully adorned with vegetables and served with a small bowl of broth on the side. Another famous variant of the dish is couscous tfaya, topped with caramelized onions, raisins and chickpeas. Couscous was traditionally eaten on Fridays after the midday prayer, but is now often enjoyed by extended families over the weekend.

Tagine refers to both the traditional Berber stew and to the earthenware dish and tall conical lid in which it is cooked. Tagines range from simple, hearty stews prepared for daily consumption to rich, elaborate dishes for special occasions. They usually contain a base of meat or fish, plus vegetables or dried fruit, such as plums and apricots. Morocco is the world´s largest exporter of canned sardines, but fresh sardines, grilled or fried, are common near the coast. Fans of salty-sweet combinations should sample bastilla, a flaky, sugar- and cinnamon-dusted pastry traditionally filled with stewed pigeon and almonds.

There are many delicious meals to be had in the markets, including brochettes, or skewered grilled lamb, and kofta, minced beef patties served with warm bread. On cold nights, nothing can beat a steaming bowl of harira, traditionally served at ftour, the first meal after the daily fast during Ramadan. Recipes vary from region to region, but the dish usually contains chick peas, lentils, tomatoes, parsley and coriander. You´ll find stall after stall of places in the Djemaa el Fna serving bowls of harira every night to locals and tourists alike. 

Another popular soup is bsarra, which is made of fava beans or split peas and garlic and often eaten at breakfast. Braver food enthusiasts might try snails. Boiled in an aromatic broth that includes anisette, laurel and garlic, they are said to have medicinal properties. Those squeamish about eating snails can purchase a cup of the delicious broth instead.

Traditional Moroccan desserts are usually loaded with nuts and honey, like chebakia, beautiful folded cookies made of deep-fried sesame dough soaked in honey, or bachnikha, which is similar in taste, but looks like little bundles of rope. French-inspired pastries, like cornes de gazelle (gazelle´s horns) are ubiquitous and popular for breakfast. Those too full after a large meal to eat a heavy dessert can opt instead for fresh figs, dates, pomegranate or prickly pear.
by Journey Beyond Travel. This article was written by Silvia McCallister-Castillo and originally published at

Travel Photography in Morocco: How to Capture a Sense of Light, Place -- And Maybe Even a Wife.

In Morocco, I met the woman I eventually married. Sometimes I blame it on the light. No, that's not correct. Sometimes I credit the light for having shown -- er, shone -- her to me right.

We were part of a muster of youth activists meeting in Morocco, in a desert (and nearly deserted) village outside of Ouarzazate, the notable but small city on the open plateau just south of the High Atlas Mountains. To reach and later return from the distant village, we spent a full day hiking across the sun-blanched highlands, donkeys weighed down with our backpacks, the landscape broken by surprising "ruins" from the film sets of Kundun. Or was it The Mummy? …………….
See the pictures and the rest of the article here:


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