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Morocco Week in Review 
April 16, 2016

US-Morocco Business Conference Focuses on Manufacturing, Energy, Doing Business with Africa.
April 12, 2016

Hundreds of Moroccan and American business people are meeting in the Moroccan capital as of this Tuesday to participate in the Business Development Conference, established to foster economic exchanges between the two countries. This private sector complement to the third Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue, launched since 2012, will focus on renewable energy, manufacturing, automotive industry and doing business with Africa, all areas in which Morocco is both a regional and international leader.

This year’s program is designed around the reality that better information and direct contact with potential partners will greatly encourage trade and investment decision-making, said Jean R. AbiNader, Executive Director of the Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center. Moroccan participants, including industry leaders, key government decision-makers, representatives of trade and investment promotion authorities, and industry specialists, will provide data on specific opportunities in Morocco, where more than 120 American firms are already established.

“From an American company perspective, Morocco’s diverse business community and environment are key attractions for doing business. From start-ups, to SMEs in the supply chains in the industrial sectors, to large multinationals based in the industrial estates that dot Morocco’s business and technology parks, there are potential partners in both scale of business and company specialization,” stated Jean R. AbiNader in a recent press release announcing the event.

The plenary sessions, panel discussions, and presentations by companies operating in Morocco will give participants ample opportunity to meet with their counterparts and gain insights into how their companies can take advantage of Morocco’s geography, skilled human resources, and government incentives to do business across a range of opportunities. Whether for export to the EU, Middle East, and Africa, or for importing innovation technology for water and energy management, enhanced agricultural production, or supporting the industrial estates, Morocco is a welcoming host for US companies, MATIC Director said, adding that Morocco is the only country in Africa with a Free Trade Agreement with the US and has a business center, the Casablanca Finance City Authority, dedicated to promoting trade and investment with Africa. This is not the first time that the United States commends Morocco’s growing role as a vital gateway to Africa, as the North African country stands among the top African nations investing in African countries.

The conference features B2B meetings between Moroccan and US operators and site visits mainly to several industrial zones beaming with great investment potential, such as Tangier on the Atlantic coast that hosts the Tanger-Med Port, the new leader in transportation and logistics facilitation in the region, as well as Tanger Automotive City and other sites in the north. Those interested in renewable energies, in addition to meeting with companies in Rabat, will have the opportunity to visit the Ouarzazate Noor 1 CSP Solar facility, the largest in Africa.

A number of big American company names including Ford, General Motors, Kosmos Energy, Chevron, and General Electric are taking part in the conference. Some US officials on top of whom the US Assistant Secretary of commerce for Industry and Analysis, Marcus Jadotte, are also attending the conference. The Strategic Dialogue between the United States and Morocco was launched in September 2012 as a mechanism to strengthen bilateral cooperation and advance policies and programs throughout the region and elsewhere where both nations share common values, goals, and interests.
http://northafricapost.com/11756-us-morocco-business-conference-focuses-manufacturing-energy-business-africa.html
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Masdar on track to complete Morocco electrification project
ABU DHABI, 7 days ago

Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar said it has installed 50 per cent of the solar home systems as part of an innovative project to electrify rural Morocco. The installation of 9,000 out of 17,670 systems across 940 villages comes only a year after the partnership agreement was signed between Masdar and Morocco’s Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE).

The project is expected to be fully completed by the second half of this year. All of the 290-watt solar home systems are designed, supplied and installed under a project that is being executed by the Masdar Special Projects team. Along with other local initiatives, the full installation will result in 99 per cent of rural Morocco having energy access by the end of 2017, said a top official.

"The Kingdom of Morocco is a mature market for utility-scale renewables, but the country has also made exceptional progress in electrifying rural areas," remarked Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi.

"The UAE and Masdar are pleased that our partnership with Onee is realising one of the largest and most innovative solar home installation projects, which is having a transformative impact on hard-to-reach communities throughout the country. This project advances the Global Goal of delivering sustainable energy for all, and is another remarkable achievement for Morocco as it prepares to host COP22 at the end of this year," he stated.

The solar home systems are bringing energy access to those rural areas that still lack access to the national grid. Each of the installed systems consists of 290-watt solar panels and batteries with sufficient storage capacity for three days, thus ensuring uninterrupted power supply. In addition, the systems include energy-efficient appliances such as LED lamps and a 165 liter refrigerator, he stated.

Masdar Special Projects director Khaled Ballaith said the uniqueness of its special projects unit lies in the team’s ability to deliver customised renewable energy solutions to remote, rural communities, often under challenging conditions. "The systems we designed for rural Morocco are adapted to the particular geography, and various technical elements, such as the mounting frames and three-day storage capacity, help the systems function even under snowfall," he added.

The UAE and Morocco have strong bilateral ties and both are renewable energy pioneers where clean energy ambitions are supported with strong solar- and wind- power potential. Morocco is considered one of the Middle East and North Africa’s most promising renewable energy market, with the government already committed to securing 42 per cent of nation’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.-TradeArabia News Service
http://tradearabia.com/news/CONS_304557.html
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Gnaoua Music Festival kicks off 12/5 in Morocco: 3 days of African rhythms, jazz and 'world music' in Essaouira
13 April, 13:20 (by Olga Piscitelli) RABAT

The Gnaoua World Music Festival will this year run from May 12-15 in the picturesque Atlantic coastal town of Essaouira and will focus on the musicians that made the town famous. For the third consecutive year, Africa is at the center of the international event on the traditional Gnaoua (Gnawa) music, that also includes jazz, pop, rock, and contemporary world music. The opening performance of this, its 19th edition, will be dedicated to Mahmoud Guinea and the Senegalese percussionist Doudou N'diaye Rose, as well as the Sahara musician Rachida Talla. Other performers will be Randy Weston with his cross between African music and American jazz, known for his duets with Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Thelonius Monk, as well as the legendary jazz-funk artist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, who has accompanied Carlos Santana, Ornette Coleman and Jeff Beck. Newer stars include the trumpet player Christian Scott, who will be playing in Morocco for the first time.

Fans of the Gnawa genre - which arose in the desert and was spread by the slave trade in the late 19th century - will also discover Hoba Hoba Spirit and Ghana-born Blitz the Ambassador, leader of a new style that mixes African rhythms with hip-hop. As part of the festival there will also be the fifth Human Rights Festival, entitled 'African Diasporas: roots, mobility, anchorages', with a panel of meetings and discussions. An exhibition called 'Colors of Gnaoua' will be dedicated to Hassan Hajjaj, known as the 'Andy Warhol of Morocco'. The festival will end with homage paid to Tayeb Saddiki, among those who revolutionized Morocco music in the 1970s, alongside Nass El Ghiwane, Lamchaheb and Jil Jilala.
www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/culture/2016/04/13/gnaoua-music-festival-kicks-off-125-in-morocco_e39c74b7-a7e0-4f64-b209-119918fd0ae7.html
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Amazigh Civilization: A Lesson in How to Treat Women.
Monday 2 February 2015 -El Houssaine Naaim Marrakech

In contrast to many other cultures and societies in the world, Amazigh women hold a high status in traditional Amazigh society in Morocco. Historically, women have been accorded varying levels of respect in different historical periods and different cultures and religions. In the pre-Islamic world, for example, women were considered second class human beings, symbols of shame and stigma, and female babies were often buried alive. In the western world, women were considered to be witches, as portrayed by popular sayings such as “Women are closer to the devil than to holy water.” In some Asian societies, women have been considered a symbol of bad luck in some Asian societies. As one Korean saying goes, “If you don’t beat your woman for three days, she becomes a fox.”

In contrast to these societies and cultures, in Amazigh society women have been considered one of the most important members in the North African countries. Women have played outstanding leadership roles including military leaders, spiritual mothers, and even more significantly as one of the Amazigh gods. Women in the parts of North Africa originally inhabited by Amazigh people (Berbers) were called “Tamghart” which is equivalent to the word “president” in English. The brother and sister concepts literally belong to the mother and not to the father. For example, Amazigh people say Ot-Mma (for Sister) or Og-Mma (for Brother) meaning she belongs to my mom or he belongs to my mom respectively.

Throughout history, women were always responsible for the management of economic, social, cultural, or even religious matters and were a source of life and prosperity. Women were never accorded a low status in Amazigh society. A woman’s status in Amazigh society can be noticeably seen in many roles that women have played. Three examples of Amazigh women are illustrative of the status of women in Amazigh history:  Tanit, Dihya, and Tin-Hinan.

In contrast to many societies in the world, women were venerated not just as ordinary human beings, but also as goddesses.  Amazigh people in Carthage, now Tunisia, around 400 BC worshipped a woman, named Tanit. She was considered the goddess of prosperity, fertility, love, and the moon. Historians note that the Amazigh military practiced certain rituals in honor of her. They believe that the name of present day Tunisia and the Greek historic city Athens were named after her. Tanit is evident in Amazigh culture and legends through antiques, statues, amulets, monuments, mosaics, as well as Amazigh ornaments. The famous symbol that refers to Tanit is a triangle (sometimes trapezoid) topped with a circle separating the two forms with a horizontal line. The triangle depicted the goddess as a very simple woman.

Tin-Hinan or Tamnugalt as she is called by the native Amazigh in Azawad and surrounding regions (Mali, Nigeria, Libya and Algeria) means in Tamazight “she of the tents” and “president”  She was considered the spiritual mother of the Touareg tribes. Thus, the name Tin-Hinan is interpreted as “mother of the tribe” or “queen of the camp.” Tin-hinan played a great role in protecting her tribes as she was always considered the symbol of social, political, and spiritual stability of Touareg tribes.

Additionally, according to some historians Tin-Hinan was believed to have come from the Tafilalt oasis in the Atlas Mountains in an area of modern Morocco accompanied by a maidservant named Takamat. The pair were searching for an adequate place to settle down where there was water and safety. The body of the queen Tin-Hinan is currently in the Bardo Museum in Algiers.
Besides the goddess Tanit and the spiritual mother Tin-hinan, Amazigh people were led by female military leaders in the 7th century in Numidia which is present day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.

The military leader who marked the history of the Amazigh in North Africa was Dihiya, or Damya or Tihiya, different versions which literally mean “beautiful.”  She lived in 585 /712 AD.  She led several battles against the Romans and Arabs during the 7th century. The historian Al Morakochi Ibn Idhari said about her that “All those who lived in the Africa of Romans (at that time) were afraid of her, as all Amazigh people were obedient to her.” Dihya had defeated the invaders of North Africa on many occasions including the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Arabs. The last battle that she led occurred between her and the Arab leader Hassan ben Nouman who was first defeated and withdrew from the battle in 693 AD. She was called “Kahina” by Arabs as she was accused of sorcery.
Afterward, Tihya did not punish or kill the captives of Hassan ben Nouman’s soldiers who were about the age of 80. Instead, she released them and in one case even adopted a prisoner who he was kind with good manners which resembled the nature of the Amazigh people.

The historian Ibnu Al-hakam said, in his book “Kitab Futuh Misr wa Alamghreb” at page 228, that “Dihya treated her captives well, and released them, except for a man from Bani Abbas, named Khalid Benu Yazid, whom she adopted. Dihya defended her region by adopting the policy of “Burned Land,” that is to say, she burnt all seductive things that Arabs ran after and kept only agricultural fields and pastures. Dihya said that “The Arabs want our country for gold, silver, and metal, but for us, farms and pastures are enough. We have no solution but destroying the land of Africa (North Africa), so that Arabs would despair and lose hope and leave forever.” – Ibn Idhari P 35-36

“[Dihya, the Amazigh knight who marked the history unlike any other woman, she rode horses and sought among the folk from the Aures to Tripoli, taking arms to defend her ancestral land.” – Ibn Khaldun book lessons Part VII, p. 11.

Dihya was buried in Khenchela, a city in modern Algeria. Tanit, Tin-hanan, and Dihya are only a few examples of Amazigh women who brought pride to Amazigh society and contributed to its civilization, a fact unfortunately neglected by official institutions in North African countries. Women have always been an important member in Amazigh families and societies at large. Thus, there are still tribes which pay tribute to Amazigh female saints who are called “lella,” a term used to venerate and honor people with a high reputation.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
References:
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/antaf_0066-4871_1994_num_30_1_1230
Kitab Futuh Messr W’ Alamghreb  http://shamela.ws/browse.php/book-11404/page-2#page-223
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/heritage_floor/tanith.php
Kitab al-bayan al-mughrib fi akhbar muluk al-andalus wa’l-maghrib ” Histoire de l’Afrique du Nord et de l’Espagne intitulée Kitab al bayan al mugrib” http://shamela.ws/browse.php/book-11782/page-27
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/02/149995/amazigh-civilization-lesson-treat-women/
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American Experts Hail Morocco’s Efforts to Fight Global Warming
Wednesday 13 April 2016 - morocco world news Washington

In a paper published by the US Center for American Progress on Tuesday, three American experts hailed the efforts made by Morocco, a bright spot of climate activity throughout the Middle East region to fight global warming.“Morocco stands out (in the Middle East region) for its efforts to diversify its energy sector away from fossil fuels”, Pete Ogden, Gwynne Taraska and Ben Bovarnick, author of the paper said, adding that Morocco is on track to meet its target of reducing its projected emissions by 13 percent below business as usual by 2030.

The country already derives 35 percent of its electricity generation capacity from renewables and recently opened the Noor Ouarzazate Solar Complex, which, upon completion in 2018, will be the world’s largest solar plant, they noted. Thanks to this massive project, Morocco will ultimately provide 18 pc of its annual electricity generation, supply power to 1.1 million Moroccans, and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 760,000 tons per year, they added. With only the first stage complete, the plant can already be seen from space and, when finished, will occupy 45 square miles, the authors underlined, adding that the country is also home to Africa’s largest wind farm: a 301-megawatt facility that began operating in December 2014.
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/04/184202/american-experts-hail-moroccos-efforts-to-fight-global-warming/
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Noor Ouarzazate I Solar Power Complex, Among the Largest in the World.
Thursday 14 April 2016 - morocco world news By Colette Apelian Marrakech

Open only a few months at most on state lands, ten kilometers from Ouarzazate airport and near the desert village of Tiffoultoute in a region of Morocco, better known as stage settings for movies and shows from Gladiator to Prison Break, the plant is about equidistance from Zagora and Marrakesh. A roadway lined with street lighting from photovoltaic panels announces one is near the start of NOOR I occupying over sixty hectares.

Financed in part by the African and World Banks and the European Union, Noor I captures solar energy through the use of curved Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) parabolic mirrors that follow the sun rather than the comparatively less expensive photovoltaic panels. The panels may form the basis for the last plant, Noor IV that with Noor II and III will be constructed over the next few years.
The solar field — linear concentrators of CSPs — captures the solar energy, heating HTF fluid, which ideally does not need to be replaced for about a quarter of a century.  The heat raises the temperature of water, which, as steam, becomes electricity through turbines. Water is piped in from a local dam and reservoir, Mansour Eddahbi and through a water pretreatment center. The mirrors allow for the storage of heat in molten salt for up to three hours, unlike the photovoltaic, which, in small kit form, is used in farming areas to electrify homes.  The heat is then used to create steam to keep the turbines running

Not yet running at full power, Noor 1 will be able to generate 160 megawatts of electricity with a projected annual production of about 500 gigawatts expected to satisfy the consumption needs of up to 600,000 inhabitants in southern Morocco.  Future plants are expected to store the heat up to seven to eight hours. Materials comprising the plant come from United States, Morocco, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and South Korea.

Noor I is an important part of the Vision 2020 or 2030 plan to have Morocco relying upon clean and sustainable energy that can be sold to European nations and power residences and industries that strengthen Morocco’s economy and society. It is projected to employ thousands of Moroccans. About its only downside is that some of its materials may be produced in less than environmentally friendly ways and its environmental impact, if anything, is yet to be discovered.
Noor I is not open for public tours.
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/04/184222/noor-ouarzazate-i-solar-power-complex-among-the-largest-in-the-world/
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In Morocco, a festival to celebrate music

Artists from around the world can sign up to take part in the ‘Visa for Music’ festival, which gathers the music industry and is an opportunity to launch the careers of these musicians.
Marcos Carrieri* marcos.carrieri@anba.com.br Mazned: the event aims at promoting the music from the Middle East and Africa

São Paulo – Registrations for the “Visa for Music” festival, to be held in Rabat, Morocco, from November 16 to 19, are still open for artists worldwide until next Friday (15). The event gathers jurors, representatives of independent and major labels, music critics and agents, among other professionals in the industry. This is the third edition of the event, which was created to promote music and the artists from Africa and the Middle East.

According to the event’s director, Brahim El Mazned, the festival is a showcase for the local music. “Being the first professional market for African and Middle-Eastern music, ‘Visa for Music’ has more than just one main purpose but I would say that it aims at being a sharing platform for the defense and promotion of the music sector of Africa and the Middle East”, said Mazned to ANBA via email.
The director said the event was created from “a paradox”: at the same time that in Africa and the Middle East there are quality artists, the visibility for them to develop and reach international stages is very poor. “Morocco’s example is meaningful as there are more and more qualitative festivals that call on international artists whereas Moroccan artists have difficulty exporting their music partly because of mobility issues”, he says.

During the event, bands and DJs will perform for the jurors. Musical documentaries will be screened. These musical presentations are the opportunity that the artists have to show their work and be eventually selected by a label or agent to perform in other countries and develop their careers. DJs will perform at night, with the same purpose, and the musical documentaries will be screened during the festival. Registrations for the documentaries were closed in March, according to information from the event’s website.

Mazned said that there are, on average, 500 candidates in each of the event’s edition and that, for this year, artists from 65 countries already signed up to participate. They come from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, India and Latin America. Ten bands and artists from Brazil are among them. In the event’s last edition, one of the Brazilians attending was samba singer Adriana Moreira. “African music has influenced many artists over the centuries. That is why we accept applications from any country”, says Mazned.

Not all of those that signed up will be up on the stages of the Visa for Music. In the registration process, the candidates sent their forms and copies of their works. In all, 30 of them will be selected, in June, to perform. Among the documentaries, three of them will be selected for screening. “As an international market for the music industry, we don’t want to miss the music treasures of any region of the world”, he said.

“Visa for Music” Festival
Rabat, Morocco, from November 16 to 19
Registrations until April 15
Further information: http://visaformusic.com/en/
http://www2.anba.com.br/noticia/21871020/arts/in-morocco-a-festival-to-celebrate-music/
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Book review: Youssef Fadel’s Moroccan prison drama
Leah Caldwell April 14, 2016

The Moroccan soldiers who took part in the 1971 coup against King Hassan II did not realize they were participating in an armed revolt. They thought they were “participating in military exercises with live ammunition," writes translator Jonathan Smolin in his introduction to Youssef Fadel’s novel, A Rare Blue Bird Flies With Me. When the coup failed, many of the soldiers were given a year’s prison sentence, others were put on planes and taken to off-the-map desert prisons where they would spend the rest of their lives.

Author and playwright Fadel spent a year in the Derb Moulay Chérif prison in the 1970s and has written three Arabic-language novels set during the Years of Lead, a difficult period of Moroccan history from the 1970s to 80s.

A Rare Blue Bird Flies With Me is the first of those novels to be translated into English – its Arabic version was a contender for the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction – and one of the first titles published by the American University in Cairo’s new fiction imprint Hoopoe. A Rare Blue Bird is a strange novel. Pilot Aziz vanishes soon after his wedding to Zina, a 16-year-old runaway whom he rescues from a life as a prostitute. Zina immediately falls in love with Aziz, but does not understand why her new husband must report to the military base when it’s a holiday. He tells her to just watch for him in the sky. It’s the last time she sees him.

The next two decades of Aziz’s life are spent in a dark cell, passing through “a long line of nights of varying blackness". Zina devotes her life to an all-consuming hunt for Aziz, riding by bus from town to town looking for clues to his whereabouts, but it’s as if Aziz never existed.

Even as A Rare Blue Bird’s plot follows a somewhat predictable route at times, events progress rapidly and with the acute tension of a detective novel. Over the course of a single night and morning, we hear from the roving internal voices of Aziz, Zina, prison guards and even a dog. Aziz’s claustrophobic world is set “near the cracks in the door". He prays not to find God but to pass the time. He follows the movements of rats and roaches and listens to the calls of birds, with which he has a particular affinity. “I have a special relationship with the flying animals," Aziz muses. “I understand their language completely." Aziz is no longer connected to the world outside the prison, just the surreal space shaped by his cell and his maze of thoughts.

It’s tempting to say that the realness of Aziz’s voice is due to Fadel’s own experiences in prison, and this would not be too far off. “You do not know where you are or how long you are going to stay, until one day you do not remember when you entered prison," Fadel told Arabic Literature (in English).

Translator Smolin, author of Moroccan Noir: Police, Crime, and Politics in Popular Culture, also notes that Fadel relied on countless Moroccan prison memoirs to weave “together details from dozens of accounts into a single novel". In Fadel’s fictionalised take on the Years of Lead, the prisoners’ real-life pain morphs into a ghost story, wherein everyone is haunted, especially those most complicit in the system. In the courtyard of the prison where Aziz lays dying, two guards play checkers atop the graves of prisoners, debating whether or not their last prisoner has died. The guards, like the prisoners, are trapped in their own limbo. To Baba Ali, the prisoners are sub-human, not of the realm of the living. But if the prisoners are not of this world, does that make him the guardian of an unearthly realm?

There is never a sense that the novel is moving toward any resolution of the guards’ or Aziz’s suffering, only an escape from it through fantasy and hauntings. “This bird fills the place with questions that don’t exist. With a new air," observes Aziz.
Leah Caldwell writes for Alef Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Texas Observer
http://www.thenational.ae/arts-life/the-review/book-review-youssef-fadels-moroccan-prison-drama
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36 Hours in Tangier
By SETH SHERWOOD APRIL 15, 2016

The Moroccan port city that lured Paul Bowles and Jean Genet is in turnaround mode, but its classic draws — iconic cafes, long beaches — remain.
They all rushed to Tangier. From the 1920s to the 1950s, when the Moroccan port city was a freewheeling “international zone” governed (barely) by a consortium of mostly European powers, Tangier attracted expatriates and travelers seeking illicit substances and activities in a palm-fringed seaside crossroads where Africa almost touches Europe. Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress, and the billionaire Malcolm Forbes built palaces and hosted celebrities. Beat writers, from William S. Burroughs to Paul and Jane Bowles, wrote in a haze of drugs and booze. And the future enfants terribles of Moroccan literature, Mohamed Choukri andMohammed Mrabet, stalked the cafes. Reviled, the Moroccan monarchy let the city decay. By the 1970s Tangier was a seedy has-been.
Today the city is undergoing a turnaround. Prized by King Mohammed VI, who assumed the throne in 1999, Tangier is building a huge new port, a green seafront and Africa’s first high-speed train line. Monuments and museums are getting face-lifts, and the streets of both the centuries-old Moorish medina and the colonial-era neighborhoods are sprouting boutique hotels, design shops and Euro-Moroccan restaurants. There’s even an electro festival, Nuits Sonores Tanger, created in 2013 and held in October. Couple those with classic draws — long beaches, artisanal goods, a thriving cafe culture — and Tangier is ripe for a global return.

​Friday

1. ­ECLECTIC AVENUE, 4 p.m.

Boulevard Pasteur, a.k.a. “Le Boulevard,” begins your unpasteurized plunge into colonial-era Tangier. Lined with Art Nouveau and Art Deco edifices, the bustling thoroughfare is packed with cafes, clothing shops and banks, as well as a scenic esplanade offering Mediterranean views. Side streets like Rue Khalid Ibn Oualidbeckon with antiques and souvenir shops, but the most rewarding stop is Librairie des Colonnes. Owned by Pierre Bergé, the former partner (in business and in love) of Yves Saint Laurent — a longtime homeowner in Tangier — the multilingual bookshop stocks essentials for your Tangier adventure, from street maps to indispensable tomes like Josh Shoemake’s “Tangier: A Literary Guide for Travellers.”

2. ­CULTURAL CAFES, 6 p.m.

Nearby, the venerable Gran Cafe de Paris and the hip cafe in the Cinémathèque de Tanger are windows into the spirit of Tangier, classic and contemporary. The former is a Gallic-flavored institution that fills with the (mostly) older generation of Moroccans and longtime foreign residents, who sip café au lait on banquettes once haunted by Jean Genet and Tennessee Williams. The cafe inside the Cinémathèque, an independent movie theater and archive that took over a forlorn old cinema in 2006, is awash in retro-cool furniture, fresh juices, Moroccan cool cats, arty expats and free Wi-Fi.

3. ­HOOK, LINE AND SUPPER, 8 p.m.

A photograph of King Mohammed VI beams down from a column in Saveur de Poisson, a small, rustic restaurant decorated with folkloric art. Perhaps he can smell the briny bounty, which varies with the season and tides. The day’s fresh fish offerings might include soup, a sizzling dish of calamari and monkfish with spinach, brochettes of baby shark, and a grilled sole. The purple house juice, a mix of pomegranate, fig, carrot and more, accompanies it all. Two hundred dirhams(about $21) per person.

4. ­BEAT STREET, 10 p.m.

Rue Magellan should be renamed Beat Street. Its hotels were favorites of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Burroughs, who was a fixture at the Hotel El Muniriaand its bar, the Tangerinn. The décor has changed (black leather couches, wall-mounted vinyl LPs) as has the crowd (20-something Moroccan hipsters), but Burroughs still haunts the spot. His hangdog face forms a sizable mural, and quotes from him are stenciled on the walls. These days, Tangier’s expat writers, artists and self-styled deviants congregate three blocks away at Le Number One. The friendly dive is festooned with kitsch décor and stocked with Casablanca beer (40 dirhams)and myriad liquors.
Café Hafa is almost a century old. Credit Daniel Rodrigues for The New York Times

Saturday

5. ­TEA AND SEA, 10 a.m.

Another day, another cafe. Before you lose yourself in the labyrinthine medina, luxuriate along the coast at the open-air Café Hafa. A Tangier icon, the almost-century-old cafe is made up of tiers of whitewashed balconies that cascade down a steep hillside toward the Mediterranean, opening panoramic views of the sea and, beyond, Spain. Sip sweet tea with crushed mint leaves (7 dirhams) and gaze at that long-lost Moorish treasure across the strait: Andalusia.

6. ­GOSPEL OF PAUL, Noon

Apostles of Paul (Bowles) can worship the author of “The Sheltering Sky” at the museum of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies. The mansion was given to the United States government by the sultan in the early19th century and long served as a diplomatic headquarters. Today elegant rooms house exhibits related to the American (and European) presence here over the centuries. In addition to a gallery with works by Cecil Beaton, Oskar Kokoschkaand others, the museum displays Bowles’s possessions, first editions and correspondence, along with photos and fan mail. Admission 20 dirhams.

7. ­MEAT AND SWEET, 2 p.m.

If Jane Austen opened a Moroccan restaurant, it might resemble Café à l’Anglaise. The twee tearoom channels the spirit of both Northanger Abbey and North Africa with its mix of European antiques (gilt-edged sofas, shelves of china) and traditional Moroccan design (geometric stained-glass panels). Run by a charming Moroccan family, the cozy spot serves up chicken tajine (a long-simmered stew with olives and candied lemon) and an even sweeter pastilla (a phyllo pastry packed with diced chicken and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon). For dessert, the candied orange peel is a syrupy, sticky, sun-soaked delight. Lunch for two is around 250 dirhams.
A salesman of a shop on Rue Sebou. Credit Daniel Rodrigues for The New York Times

8. ­SHOP THE CASBAH, 3:30 p.m.

The splintering lanes of the medina district beg for a GPS: Global Power Shopper.These tiny arteries are filled with stalls and stores selling artisanal goods. Rue Sebou and Rue des Almohades are havens of traditional items, but the streets in and around the casbah, the walled hilltop fortress, now brim with shops of Moorish-modern design. Rumi 1436 specializes in naturally scented soy wax candles in classic Marrakesh tea glasses. Where SoHo meets the Sahara, Las Chicas is a sprawling emporium stocked with cushions, lanterns, massage oils,tasseled towels and handbags. For big budgets, the eponymous designer Laure Welfling’s boutique offers kaleidoscopic velvety caftans, embroidered evening dresses and other boho-chic garments.

9. ­CASBAH SOCIAL CLUB, 6:30 p.m.

Follow your ears immediately next door to the unmarked storefront across from the Kasbah Museum (undergoing renovations), where live music erupts at 6:30. The tiny space, lined with embroidered banquettes, is the clubhouse of Les Fils du Détroit, a team of master musicians. The Sons of the Strait are now old enough to be grandfathers — after some 40 years of playing teardrop-shaped ouds, tubular drums and violins together — but their free nightly jam sessions always sound fresh as they meld the melodies of Morocco and Spain in an evocative Arabo-Andalusian fusion. (Donations appreciated.)

10. ­SULTANIC SUPPER, 8 p.m.

Whether you’re planning a romantic dinner or an opulent banquet, the restaurant of the exquisite Nord-Pinus hotel can accommodate. The connected salons gleam with sultanic décor — marble columns, chiseled plaster arches, inlaid mirrors — and the kitchen turns out fine-tuned Moroccan classics. Starters include grilled sardine fillets with diced tomato and onion; entrees range from grilled and baked fish to a sublime slow-cooked joint of lamb with stewed fruits and almonds. The house red, a Moroccan vintage, is a smooth accompaniment. Dinner is 350 dirhams a person, without wine.

11. ­THE ARABIAN NIGHT, 10 p.m.

You half expect to glimpse Humphrey Bogart in a white dinner jacket as you enter the chic, neo-Moorish lounge of El Morocco Club, a fetching cafe-restaurant-bar. The speakeasyish space feels like a 21st-century “Casablanca” set teeming with international businessmen, jet-set couples and gilded Tangier youth instead of Nazis and spies. A corner D.J. spins everything from jazz to Moroccan pop, while bartenders serve up mojitos (110 dirhams) and Moroccan red wine (60 dirhams). Still awake? Direct your caravan to Morocco Palace, a classic cabaret with elaborate geometric tilework and a dance floor of flashing colored lights. The sultry dance hall glows as red as the inferno and throbs with the neo-snake-charmer beats from live electric orchestras.
Moroccan spices. Credit Daniel Rodrigues for The New York Times

Sunday

12. ­CAVES AND WAVES, 11 a.m.

According to legend, after separating Europe from Africa, Hercules took a snooze at Les Grottes d’Hercule, a pair of caverns along the ocean to the west of Tangier. (A “grand taxi” from central Tangier should cost between 200 and 300 dirhams, roundtrip.) Recently spruced up, the adjacent grottoes offer somewhat opposite experiences. One is a carnival-like pageant of traditional musicians and gift shops(admission, 5 dirhams). The other (free) is a dark complex of caves with a huge,strange aperture — shaped like Africa, amazingly — that opens to the crashing Atlantic. Peering at the ocean through its jagged outline, you are truly at the crossroads of the continents.

Lodging

Built in 1880, the Grand Hotel Villa de France (Corner of Avenue Angleterre and Rue Hollande; 212-5-39-33-31-11; www.leroyal.com/giftcard/ghvdf) was Tangier’s top luxury palace before falling into ruin. But after an ambitious renovation, the 58-room hotel reopened in 2014. Doubles from 1,225 dirhams.
In the medina, numerous traditional mansions have been converted into boutique B&Bs. Dar Nour (20, rue Gourna, Casbah; 212-6-62-11-27-24; darnour.com) has 10 rooms and suites decorated in chic Euro-Moroccan décor and a sumptuous salon that hosts a nightly aperitif. Doubles from 59 euros.
To be near the medina’s bustling, cafe-filled, boutique-loaded main square, Le Petit Socco, Dar Nakhla Naciria (12w, rue Naciria; 212-6-07-21-69-56;facebook.com/DarNakhlaNaciria) is a simple, friendly, five-room B&B with a panoramic rooftop terrace. Doubles from 50 euros.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/04/15/travel/what-to-do-36-hours-in-tangier-morocco.html?_r=0
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Rude Awakening, When A Young American Woman Moves To Morocco: Emma Tobin decided to take a gap year in Africa to work on women's empowerment issues. Little did she know she was about to join all those women across the world who are little more than objects in the face of a male-dominated culture.
MARRAKESH

I remember a friend saying that gay rights is the issue of our generation, and while I agreed at the time, I can't help but feel that he wasn't entirely correct. As a woman, I fight every day to be respected and treated as an equal. In my middle-class American family, I'm not a second-class citizen, but in the larger world it's very apparent that I am. I now see how naive I was about women's issues growing up. I attended an all-girls school, have two sisters and have been given a plethora of opportunities. So it wasn't until I moved to Morocco that I began to see how segregated and sexist the world really is.

I live in the newer and lower-income section of Marrakesh, and on my way to work I constantly face street harassment. Men of all ages comment on my body no matter how covered up I am, and look at me with eyes that speak volumes about their disregard for anything but my body. Men and boys approach me daily to try to talk to me while I stare straight ahead and ignore them. While walking home one day, a man yelled "nice tits," even though I was wearing shapeless clothes. He continued to follow me while editorializing in crude terms about my body until another Moroccan man stepped in and told him to stop.

Here, I can't be out past 9 p.m. alone. It doesn’t matter to men what I or other women wear. I can be in a hijab and still be harassed because it's not a male responsibility to treat women with respect here. Instead, it's the responsibility of women not to tempt those men.

This obviously isn't an issue limited to Morocco. All over the world women are harshly objectified, and worse, every day regardless of what they wear, how old they are or their socioeconomic background. In a study of 630 women by India's Centre for Equity and Inclusion, 95% reported that they were restricted in public places because of male harassment. A survey by The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women found that 99.3% of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, both physical and verbal.

I came to Morocco to learn about women in Muslim societies and to be involved with some form of women's empowerment. I knew it would be difficult to be a woman here and that I would struggle to be respected simply because of my gender. What I didn't expect was to stare into the face of a man who told me he wasn't going to send his 6- and 8-year-old daughters to school but that he would send his sons to school if he had them. In other words, he believed his girls weren't worth the investment.

What this man and so many ignore is that educated women are less likely to get married and have children at a young age and therefore less likely to die during childbirth. They are better caretakers of the children they have, and are better suited to find work that will support their families. Educated women basically lift entire families out of poverty.

In this very same village of Akrich, just outside Marrakesh, there was a tragic accident that took the life of a local man. His wife is illiterate, which makes it virtually impossible for her to find a job to support her three children. It's a terrible situation — but not an uncommon one. "By acquiring literacy, women become more economically self-reliant and more actively engaged in their country's social, political and cultural life," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said. "All evidence shows that investment in literacy for women yields high development dividends."

Akrich isn't an exception. The ingrained sexism and social expectations for women run rampant across much of the world. How am I supposed to change the way people have been thinking since the beginning of time? How can I convince both men and women that we need to change our ideas about the role of women? How do we adapt whole cultures and religious interpretations to illuminate the archaic treatment of half the population?

Though the world celebrated International Women's Day on March 8, it didn't change the fact that every day girls across the world are forced to marry at staggeringly young ages. They are raped, catcalled, forced to leave school or demeaned because of their gender. The UN has said that it will attempt to reach gender equality by 2030. In which case, we have a long way to go in 14 short years

Read the full article: Rude Awakening, When A Young American Woman Moves To Morocco
Worldcrunch - top stories from the world's best news sources
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http://www.worldcrunch.com/rss/essays/rude-awakening-when-a-young-american-woman-moves-to-morocco/c27s20965/
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Some great Moroccan recipe ideas from Darina Allen
Saturday, April 16, 2016 Darina Allen

There are few really exciting restaurants in Marrakesh perhaps with the exception of al-Fassia, a restaurant run entirely by women. 

FIVE-STAR Michelin and no diarrhoea,” shouts the enthusiastic tout in Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakesh, Morocco, trying to out-yell his competitors to entice customers to eat in his stall.  It’s a crazy scene, everyone seems to be leaping around trying to sell somebody something. The square is relatively quiet during the day but by sunset it springs into a frenzy of activity — snake charmers play their tunes and wrap snakes around the necks of tourists. 

Women grab your hand in a vice-like grip to entice you to have a henna tattoo painted on.

Bellydancers gyrate to a rhythmic beat, everyone is on the make and the energy level is off the scale. 

Row after row of stalls sell offal and sheep’s head soup. 

Harira, the thick soup which Moroccans eat at sunset to break their fast during Ramadan is another popular offering.

Snail-sellers pass bowls of molluscs in broth to adventurous diners. 

I don’t love it, I prefer my snails smothered in garlic and parsley butter in the French tradition. 

We relented and sat at one of the oilcloth-covered tables to enter into the banter, lots of little dishes of mezze arrived, aubergine purée, harissa, fresh tomato purée, Moroccan salad and a basket of the flat bread. This was followed by Moroccan fish and chips, crispy little sole, squid and chunks of an eel-like fish with lots of chips.  It was all perfectly edible but not exactly a gastronomic experience.

I also love the spicy merquez sausages stuffed into a roll and of course, mechoi, the meltingly tender slow-cooked, milk-fed lamb that’s served on a sheet of brown paper with salt and cumin. Seek out Meschoi Alley on the east side of the medina. Here, you can also order a tangia, a earthenware pot with a stew inside.  This is a fascinating tradition, which has endured over many centuries, a poor person would own just one earthenware pot, shaped a bit like a jug without a handle or spout, they would walk around the market from stall to stall, getting a few bits of veg at one, small scraps of meat at another, a glut of olive oil, a few spices many a pinch of saffron, a bit of seasoning and then the pot would be covered with greaseproof paper and secured with string, this was buried in the embers at the hamman and cooked slowly. The flavour is absolutely delicious. 

There are few really exciting restaurants in Marrakesh perhaps with the exception of al-Fassia, a restaurant run entirely by women.  The food is close to home cooking where unquestionably the best food in Morocco is to be found.  Absolutely everything we ate there was delicious.  We were a big family group so we had the opportunity to taste many dishes on their menu.  In fact our lunch was so good that I returned for dinner. 

The mezze of 15 salad dishes was superb and the pigeon bistylla in flaky, home-made warka was worth travelling to Marrakesh. There was a choice of seven tagines, some sweet and others savoury – the chicken with lemon and green olives of course, and another with shallots and almonds. Delicious date ice cream for dessert and refreshing orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar were perfect after a rich tagine or cous cous.  There were also Moroccan pastries of which there is a bewildering selection, but at al-Fassia they serve just one simple biscuit, delicious to dunk in mint tea.

Moroccan Harira Soup

In Morocco this soup is served as an important part of the festivities of Ramadan. It’s the traditional soup to break the fast.  My brother Rory O’Connell shared this particularly delicious version with us and everyone loves it.

Serves 6-8
110g (4oz) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
110g (4oz) Puy lentils
450g (1lb) leg or shoulder of lamb, diced into 7mm (1/3 inch) cubes
175g (6oz) onion, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp each ground ginger, saffron strands and paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
50g (2oz) butter
110g (4oz) long grain rice
4 large ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
lemon quarters, to serve
Tip the chickpeas and lentils into a large saucepan. 
Add the lamb, onion, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, saffron strands and paprika, then pour in 1.5 litres (2½ pints/) water. 
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Bring to the boil, skimming all the froth from the surface as the water begins to bubble, then stir in half the butter. 
Turn down the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 1½ - 2 hours until the chickpeas are tender, adding a little more water from time to time as necessary – it can take up to 900ml (1½ pints) more water or stock, it should be soupy in texture.
Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the rice. 
Bring 850ml (scant 1½ pints) water to the boil in a saucepan, sprinkle in the rice, the rest of the butter and salt to taste. 
Cook until the rice is tender. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the liquid.
To Finish: Cook the chopped tomato in the reserved rice cooking water, seasoning it with salt, pepper and sugar.
It should take about 5 minutes or until the tomato is “melted”. 
Add this and the drained rice to the pot and simmer for a further 5 minutes to allow the flavours to mix. 
Correct seasoning with salt and pepper and perhaps a pinch of salt.
Add the chopped herbs, stir once or twice and serve accompanied by lemon quarters.

Orange Salad with Cinnamon and Orange Water Blossom
This is a classic dessert in Moroccan restaurants.  The combination is a perfect palate cleanser after a rich tagine or cous cous. One could also add a few fat deglet noor dates.

Serves 6
6 large oranges
4 tsp orange blossom water
4-6 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
3-4 sprigs fresh mint
Peel the oranges and remove the pith with a sharp knife. 
Slice the oranges across the equator, flick out the pips and arrange the rounds, slightly overlapping on a circular plate. 
Dot with cinnamon and caster sugar and drizzle with orange blossom water. 
Chill well before serving with shredded fresh mint or mint sprigs sprinkled over the top.

Maronchinos – Claudia Roden’s Soft Almond Cookies

Makes about 30
400 g ground almonds
125-200g superfine sugar
2 or 3 drops of almond extract
2 tbsp rose water
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Icing sugar to sprinkle on
Mix the almonds and sugar. 
Add the extract, rose water, and egg whites and work to a smooth paste with your hand. 
Role into walnut-sized balls, flatten them slightly, and place in little paper cases or on greaseproof or parchment paper on a baking sheet. 
Bake in a preheated 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 oven for 25 minutes. 
Let them cool before dusting with icing sugar.

Tagine of Chicken with Green Olives and Preserved Lemon
Probably the best known and best loved of all Moroccan tagines

Serves 6
1 free range and organic chicken, jointed
2 onions chopped
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp coriander leaves
1 small cinnamon stick
½ preserved lemon, cut into dice (optional, depending on size, leave whole)
175g (6oz) green olives, rinsed and stoned
Juice of ½ lemon
Marinade:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of saffron strands
½ tsp grated ginger
½ tsp freshly ground cumin, toasted and ground
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coriander leaves
Cous cous
First prepare the marinade. Mix the garlic, saffron, ginger, cumin, paprika, salt, freshly ground pepper and the olive oil in a bowl. 
Spread over the chicken, transfer the meat to a shallow dish, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight to marinate in the fridge.
Next day, transfer the chicken and the marinade to a casserole. Add the onions, parsley, coriander and cinnamon stick and half cover with water. 
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces frequently in the liquid. Add more water if it starts to reduce. 
Cook for a further 15 minutes, partly covered, until the chicken is tender and almost falls from the bone. 
Add half the preserved lemon and the olives and continue cooking for a further 5-6 minutes so the flavours combine.
Transfer the chicken pieces, lemon and olives to a serving dish and cover to keep warm. 
Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Reduce the sauce uncovered until it is about 250ml (9fl oz). 
Add the lemon juice and season to taste with more salt and freshly ground pepper.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with lots of fresh coriander and cous cous.
http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/foodanddrink/darinaallen/some-great-moroccan-recipe-ideas-from-darina-allen-393157.html
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In Pictures: King Mohammed VI When He Was Prince.
Monday 11 April 2016 -
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/04/183526/in-pictures-king-mohammed-vi-when-he-was-prince/
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Tourism in Morocco down amid regional unrest
11 April 2016 By Sheldon Mayer

While the North African nation is considered safe, instability in neighboring countries prompts decline in foreign visitors.As regional unrest results in declines in tourist visits by Europeans, Morocco is attempting to attract more visitors from Russia, China and West Africa.A visit by Moroccan King Mohammad VI to Moscow in March underscored the North African nation’s strategy of attracting tourists from outside European nations that have traditionally been major sources of visitors.The Ministry of Tourism of Morocco is also in talks with airlines to open direct flights to that country from Russia and China.

Safety fears groundless

Tourism minister Lahcen Haddad said Morocco has lost tourists because of unwarranted fears about safety prompted by continuing unrest in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt as well as recent attacks by terrorists in Turkey.“Morocco remains a very safe and secure country,” Haddad said. “But we need to do more to get that message across.”A 2015 report by the Overseas Security Council also declared all areas of Morocco safe for tourists, citing mostly minor thefts as the main risk.

Tourist visits down 1 percent

The country’s tourism industry got a wakeup call in 2015, when total tourism revenues and tourist visits declined after a decade of growth.According to the Treasury and External Finance agency, tourist revenue to hotels and restaurants declined by 1.3 percent during the first three quarters of 2015, following an increase of 3.3 percent a year earlier.The agency said tourist arrivals at Moroccan border posts also declined by 1 percent in 2015 while these arrivals had increased by 2.4 percent to more than 10 million in 2014.

French visits drop by 7 percent

The largest decline has been among the French, who constitute Morocco’s largest source of tourism. French tourism to Morocco declined by 7 percent in 2015. The nation also saw declines in visitors from Spain, Italy and Belgium, while arrivals from the United Kingdom and the United States increased, according to the tourism ministry.Tourism revenue in 2015 totaled about $6 billion, still a significant share of Morocco’s $100 billion economy. The sector employs about 400,000 people. Like other countries in the region, Morocco experienced significant growth in its tourism industry between 2001 and 2011, according to Eurostat. The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010 and spread to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain the following year, prompting varying degrees of unrest and instability that persists in some countries today.

Other countries see steep declines

Morocco has not fared as badly as some other countries in the region.Egypt more than tripled the number of visitors to 14.7 million in 2010, only to see tourism drop by one third. Jordan, while stable, saw tourism fall by 17 percent in 2010 and 2011.
Turkey, hit by terrorist attacks, also experienced steep declines in tourism, which accounts for 15 percent of its gross domestic product.As Europeans stay away, Morocco is pinning its hopes to expand the tourism sector on visitors from Russia, West Africa and China.

King visits Moscow

In March, a visit to Moscow by King Mohammad VI’s included talks about ways to encourage more Russians to visit Morocco as well as talks about providing direct flights to the North African country from St. Petersburg and Moscow.In his first visit to Russia since 2002, the Moroccan king met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss bilateral cooperation in tourism, agriculture and energy. The two countries signed 12 agreements related to tourism.The king also inaugurated an exhibition “Morocco-Russia: A shared ancient history,” which includes bronze objects from ancient Roman sites as well as Roman statues at Moscow’s Pushkin Museum.

Goal is 200,000 Russian visitors each year

Haddad, the Moroccan tourism minister, said the nation hopes to increase the number of Russian tourists five-fold, from 40,000 annually in 2015 to 200,000 by 2019.“Russia offers us a big opportunity,” he said.Haddad said talks are under way with Royal Air Maroc and Russia’s Aeroflot about opening new routes between Marrakesh and Agadir in Morocco and Moscow and St. Petersburg.A 2014 plan to add direct flights between Morocco and China has not been implemented.

Morocco is hub for West African travelers

Meanwhile, Haddad said Morocco is a top hub for West Africans traveling to Europe or other countries in Africa.Haddad said Morocco could attract as many as 160,000 visitors from West Africa if it can entice transit travelers to stay a few nights in Casablanca and visit attractions such as the medina and Hassan II mosque.Morocco’s tourism industry is expected to get a boost later this year with more than 30,000 attendees at COP22, the 2015 global climate conference November 7 – 18 in Marrakesh.Morocco has also started talks with European carriers about offering low-cost flights to Moroccan tourist destinations such as Ouarzazate and Errachidia, Haddad said
http://africa-me.com/tourism-morocco-amid-regional-unrest/
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In Defense of the Rif and the Pitfalls of Parachute Journalism
04/11/2016  Mohamed Daadaoui Professor of Political Science, Oklahoma City University. Author of Maghreblog at: www.maghreblog.com

You can judge a book by its title. Perhaps there is more than a grain of truth in that saying in the recent article by Leela Jacinto in Foreign Policy. The article and its sensationalized title belong to the unfortunate trend of parachute journalism that descends on current events with no prior knowledge, labors to grasp at straws of relevance, but sadly fails to deliver. The author makes a number of questionable blanket statements in its attempt to establish a tenuous link between the recent wave of terrorism in France and Belgium, and the northern mountainous region of the Rif in Morocco, where some of the terrorists claim ancestral homeland. Jacinto goes even farther than this, making the unsubstantiated assertion that the Rif region is the “heartland of global terrorism” - not Molenbeek, Raqqa, or Waziristan.

She writes: “At the heart of terrorist strikes across the world over the past 15 years lies the Rif. A mountainous region in northern Morocco, stretching from the teeming cities of Tangier and Tetouan in the west to the Algerian border in the east, the Rif is an impoverished area rich in marijuana plants, hashish peddlers, smugglers, touts, and resistance heroes that has rebelled against colonial administrators, postcolonial kings, and any authority imposed from above. For the children of the Rif who have been transplanted to Europe, this background can combine with marginalization, access to criminal networks, and radicalization to make the vulnerable ones uniquely drawn to acts of terrorism”

Instead of focusing the article on an analysis of the nefarious effects of marginalization and religious radicalization in European suburbs and banlieues, the author takes a detour to the ethnic and regional background of the terrorists’ ancestral home. What evidence does Jacinto present to substantiate these claims? Notorious terrorists such as Najim Laachraoui and the parents of Salah Abdeslam were born in Morocco in the Rif. That evidence seems thin at best. She, however, does offer the slight disclaimer that the ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdlehamid Abaaoud, didn’t come from the Rif, which should provide an early debunking lacuna in the entire premise of the article: “Laachraoui was Riffian: a Belgian national predominantly raised in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels but born in Ajdir, a small Moroccan town with a proud Rif history. Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam and his brother Brahim, who was one of the Paris attackers who targeted bars and restaurants in the 10th and 11th arrondissements before blowing himself up at a popular Paris eatery on Nov. 13, 2015, were also both Riffian by parentage. (Ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was not of Riffian origin, for what it’s worth — his family came from southern Morocco.)

The article does not offer any analysis of the complex radicalization and indoctrination of these primarily European citizens. Not a single one of these terrorists was radicalized, indoctrinated, or trained in the Rif Mountains. None of them lived, if at all, in the Rif for any extensive period of time. The fact that they, and their parents, were born in one of the most marginalized, poorest regions in Morocco, home to cannabis, contraband smuggling, and violent history with colonialism and the autocratic Makhzen state are indicators enough for Jacinto that the essence of radical religious terrorism gripping Europe and the world today lies in the Rif Mountains.

The general thrust of the article, we are led to believe, is that these Riffians and their parents brought a sort of baggage of alienation and extremism with them to Europe, which facilitated their radicalization, regardless of their early criminal background or individual and communal exclusion in a society that seeks to assimilate them radically as European citizens only.

The Riffian identity and culture, and the “baggage of neglect”, as the article contends without any shred of evidence sociological or otherwise, are radicalizing. Placed in a comparative perspective, the author claims that Turkish Belgians are not as militant as Moroccan Belgians, simply because they are not exposed to Arabic Wahhabi literature. Either Jacinto does not know, or prefers to ignore the fact that the Wahhabi ideology has long been translated to many world languages, including Turkish. Moreover, we know that several of these European Muslim terrorists do not speak Arabic and rely on translated videos and literature of radical Islamism. ISIS has also been more successful in recruiting homegrown European terrorists in their own language. But more devastating to the article is the lack of basic facts about the Rif. Riffians are predominantly Amazigh, who are ethnically and linguistically not Arab, and do not speak Arabic. According to the piece’s argument, they are as foreign to Wahhabi ideology disseminated in the Arabic language as the Turks are.

The author also makes the feeble argument that the secular cultural history of modern Turkey explains the lack of Turkish terrorists in Europe. No evidence is provided of this - only the conjecture of one of the sources in her article. However, we know that there are a number of Turkish terrorists fighting for ISIS. According to the Soufan Group, there are 2,100 Turkish fighters with ISIS, the fourth largest contingency of radical Islamists after Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Russia (not an Arab-speaking country).

Jacinto seems to think that all she needs to do is point out that some of the recent terrorists in Europe are from Moroccan-Riffian descent in order to offer conclusive proof of a Moroccan-Riffian radical gene. That is a dangerously false assertion on a number of levels. First of all, these terrorists are more Belgian or French than Moroccan. Some don’t even speak the Amazigh dialects or associate culturally or cognitively with their land of origin. Their radicalization happened in Europe and their malaise is a European one of integration and assimilation, legitimized by reference to a violent perverted religious ideology. The problem is located more in European societies where the radicalized Moroccan transplants are liminal individuals with a dangerous sense of identity crisis.

One of the major characteristics of religious terrorism is that sense of alienation in one’s society as evidenced by generations of religious extremists from the Christian identity movement at the heart of the Oklahoma City bombing, to the Jewish zealotry of Baruch Goldstein, and the apocalyptic world view of Aum Shinrikyo’s perverted Buddhism in Japan. The sense of marginalization of a great number of Muslims feel at home, be it in the Muslim majority states under the yoke of authoritarian rule, or in European countries facing a divisive dangerous identity crisis. These radical outsiders view themselves at the fringe of their socio-political system, where violence becomes a sacramental act justified by ossified religious principles, and legitimized through a reference to a violent eschatolgy.
The article commits the sin of collectivization and cast the whole Rif region as a region of militancy. Rif is among one of the most disadvantaged regions in Morocco, with a particularly bloody history of state violence. But several regions in Morocco feature the same menu of socio-economic ostracism and pathologies, with little or similar recourse to violence.

The fact that there are, indeed, violent terrorists who are born and radicalized in Morocco is irrefutable. After all, there are more than 1200 Moroccans fighting for ISIS according to the Soufan Group. But the facile assumptions underpinning this article by an “award-winning international news reporter,” and the sensationalized claim that the Rif is the hotbed of global terrorism today are egregious and devoid of any analytical or empirical value. Radical Islamism is not an ethnic issue, it is a complex set of religious, socio-economic, and identity-based problems. ISIS has reprehensibly demonstrated that violent Islamist extremism knows no national, ethnic, racial or social boundaries. Its sources or hotbeds are only a reality in the mind of frivolous journalists looking for sensationalized headlines.
Follow Mohamed Daadaoui on Twitter: www.twitter.com/maghreblog
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mohamed-daadaoui/in-defense-of-the-rif-and_b_9655064.html
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Building a vibrant Cedar Rapids
Barry Boyer, guest columnist Apr 11, 2016

Imagine visiting a country where after knowing you for less than 10 minutes it is routine for people to warmly invite you to their house to share tea and meaningful conversation. In this same country, greeting people with hugs and helping out strangers who speak a different language is common. This was my experience of Morocco, when I traveled there with a group from the Cedar Rapids non-profit, Matthew 25.

The trip had three goals. We’d learn about women-run, organic food cooperatives. We’d experience what it is like to be in a Muslim country that acts as a crossroads between Africa and Europe. And we’d reflect on our Christian faith while being religious and ethnic minorities. For me, the trip had a fourth goal. It was a homecoming. You see, from 1961 to 1963, my dad was stationed on a military base in Casablanca. My passport has Morocco listed as the place of my birth. While I grew up with my parents sharing stories of Morocco, I hadn’t been back since we left when I was 2 years old. When my plane landed in Casablanca, I was on the grounds of the base where I was born.

Words really can’t express the level of hospitality our group felt while in Morocco. From my initial pass through customs as we entered the country, where I was told, “Welcome home,” people were warm and friendly. Everywhere we went, we were able to connect deeply and quickly.

At women-run cooperatives we visited, we saw close-up what empowerment looks like. Women who had little education and lived in cinder block houses without many of the comforts we take for granted were changing society. Through the cooperatives they were learning business skills, bringing running water and electricity to their villages and setting up education programs for their children. These women were achieving economic independence and moving toward social equality.

In one ancient city we visited, we experienced call to prayer resonating through the streets from three-hundred mosques, five times per day. It was not unusual to see men in shops reading the Quran during their down time. You could feel the pulse of faith in the city and it was beautiful. As a Christian, there were many times that I felt like I had much to learn from my Muslim brothers and sisters. As a human, I was reminded of the beauty and importance of diversity.

This trip to Morocco won’t be my last. Matthew 25 intends to continue building strong connections there, in part by supporting cooperatives. Potential exists for marketing goods produced in Moroccan cooperatives here in Cedar Rapids. A variety of learning and cultural exchanges are possible. Who knows, perhaps a sister-city relationship with a Moroccan city is possible.

Most of all, a relationship with Morocco will help Cedar Rapids remain a leader in Iowa in diversity and cultural understanding. As the community with the oldest mosque in the United States, Cedar Rapids knows well what a gift diversity can be. However, during times of fear and anxiety, it can become easy for us to withdraw and seek comfort in familiarity. My encouragement is that we seek to go the opposite direction. As we build for the future, let’s seek out diversity and uniqueness as building blocks of a vibrant city.

Not only did my trip with Matthew 25 accomplish its goals, but it deeply impacted my life. It reminded me once again of what a gift diversity is in my life. It reminds me to lean into the stereotypes and fears that many have regarding Muslim countries. I am thankful for organizations such as Matthew 25 that show us reconciliation and love of neighbor give us strength. I look forward to continuing to build economic and faith relationships with our Moroccan brothers and sisters. I hope others will join with us.
• Barry Boyer grew up in Cedar Rapids and is an ardent supporter of its continued progress. Comments: barryboyer@mac.com
http://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/guest-columnists/building-a-vibrant-cedar-rapids-20160411
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Anti-Semitism in Morocco: A Complicated Issue
Monday 11 April 2016 By Bourchachene Wail Rabat

It’s not strange to find Hitler’s book ”Mein Kampf” sold on Moroccan streets. According to Hamid, a Casablanca book seller, many people come to him specifically to buy ”Mein Kampf.” “People ask for it, even tourists do. We ran out of copies last summer,” he said. Library de France also has multiple copies of Mein Kampf. According to the store’s owner, copies are brought by random sellers from publishing houses in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. It is one of the store’s best-selling books.

In October 2015, videos aired from a mass demonstration in Casablanca in support of Palestinians, which featured men dressed as haredi Orthodox Jews destroying a model of the al-Aqsa mosque before being led as prisoners by men wearing keffiyehs to a fake execution. “These disturbing scenes come on the heels of other expressions of anti-Semitism we’ve seen in Morocco and may have a destabilizing effect not only in North Africa but among the Muslim communities in Europe, where Moroccans make up a large share of the population,” Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of international relations, said.

Samuels also mentioned the presence of anti-Semitic literature such as Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and Henry Ford’s “International Jew” at Casablanca’s International Fair of Publishing and Books in February 2015. This book fair is often billed as the most important book fair in the Arab world. Moroccan authorities, “may wish to appease extremists by turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism,” Samuels said.

Anti-Semitism is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group. The root word “Semite” sometimes gives the false impression that anti-Semitism is directed against all Semitic people. However, the word anti-Semite was popularized in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for the previously-used term Judenhass (Jew-hatred), and that has been its common use ever since.

“This sort of hatred among young people is due to ignorance of the history of Judaism in Morocco, and Moroccan Jewish culture and heritage,” Zhor Rehihil, the director of Morocco’s Jewish Museum, said. The role of the Jewish Museum is to “tell Moroccans about their identity, including Jewish culture, which is one of its main parts.”

Rehihil argues that reports claiming that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Morocco do nothing to help the museum’s mission. “It’s very disappointing, after almost 20 years of directing this museum, to hear such things, about hatred of Jews, as if it was widespread public opinion,” Rehihil said.

The Moroccan Minister of Culture, Mohammed Amine Sbihi, also responded to criticisms regarding the Casablanca book fair in a press conference last April, saying “The books [at the fair] are approved by a special committee that ensures that the books don’t spread hate speech, violence or racism.” Sbihi went on to question the nature of the allegations, implying that they arose because last year’s honored guest at the event was Palestinian.

Omar Louzi is the president of the Moroccan Observatory to Fight Anti-Semitism. His organization “was created to promote cultural and linguistic diversity and strengthen its existence in Morocco and the world” as well as “to fight against anti-Semitism,” Louzi said. Activists in the organization come from a variety of religious backgrounds.

“The Arab-Israeli conflict has always been used by Moroccan pan-Arabists to promote hatred between Muslims and Jews. The role of this observatory is to condemn anti-Semitic actions in Morocco. Our organization’s response to what was done during the march in Casablanca was an example of that. We called on the government to assume its responsibilities and to punish those who want to promote hatred among Moroccan Muslims, Jews and Christians,” Louzi said. The organization is also against physical violence, insults and attacks against Jews, failure to ban anti-Semitic books in Morocco and the continued lack of instruction in Amazigh and Jewish history in schools.

Ahmed Wihman, president of the Moroccan Observatory Against Normalization of Relations with Israel, the organization responsible for November’s march that brought accusations of anti-Semitism, said, “We have Moroccan Jews in our organization, so it’s impossible even to think about being anti-Jewish. Anti-Semitism claims are just a cover to fight the marches against Israel and normalization of relations with it. We, as Moroccans, are proud of Jewish culture and we don’t even think about them as different from other Moroccans.”

In recent years the Moroccan government in collaboration with the Moroccan Jewish community, has restored many Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in Morocco. The Jewish Museum is the only one of its kind in an Arab country. Rehihil, the museum’s director points out that the 2011 Moroccan constitution specifically mentions “Hebraic influence” as a major part of Moroccan culture.
“In my experience as director of the Jewish Museum, when young people begin to learn more about their culture, and the history of Jews [in Morocco], they will show more respect to Moroccan Jews,” Rehihil said.

The caretaker of the Aben Danen Synagogue in Fes, an elderly Moroccan Muslim, said, “Jews don’t find problems with Muslims [in Morocco].” The synagogue was restored in 1999 with help from the World Monuments Fund. The project was done in collaboration with Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and the Judeo-Moroccan Cultural Heritage Foundation. “Throughout history, Muslims and Jews lived with each other peacefully. Of course, they had everyday problems between each other, just like those Muslims had between each other in their own communities as well,” the caretaker said.
In Morocco there are several associations working to promote Jewish history and culture in Morocco and contribute to interreligious dialogue. One such organization is Association Mimouna. Founded in 2007 at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI), Association Mimouna seeks to educate the Moroccan people about Moroccan Jewish culture and encourage harmony between Jews and Muslims. Mimouna members study Hebrew and Jewish history and organize well-attended cultural events.

In September 2011, Mimouna organized a conference commemorating Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust and honoring King Mohammed V for his refusal to assent to the persecution of Jews during the Vichy occupation. The conference was recognized by the New York Times as “the first of its kind in an Arab or Muslim nation and a sign of historical truth triumphing over conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic dogma.”

Armand Lemal is a 72-year-old Moroccan Jewish former professor at Paris-Sorbonne University and musician who also goes by the stage name Jauk Elmaleh. In one of his most famous songs, “Les trois prophetes,” Lemal sings, “Oh! My master Moses and our master Mohammed, sons of my master Jesus, look to our situations and pain today.” “I was born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father. My aunts were married to Muslims, so I see our problems today in Morocco from a very different perspective,” Lemal said.

However, Lemal acknowledges that some degree of anti-Semitism exists in Moroccan society. “We do have mild racism in Morocco against Moroccan Jews. Some Moroccan Muslims use expressions like ‘he’s only a Jew’’ or ‘don’t mind the Jew’ or ‘dirty Jew,’” Lemal said. Lemal believes that the solution to anti-Semitism in Morocco is education. “I said over and over that the solution to the current situation is to educate young Moroccans, both Jews and Muslims, about their cultural identity by bringing them to mosques and synagogues. Not only kids living in urban areas but in rural areas too,” Lemal said.

Michel is an artist and the owner of a Jewish restaurant in Rabat. “Almost all Moroccan Jews are old now and they don’t come to this restaurant because I stopped making kosher food (food that conforms to Jewish dietary law) almost 20 years ago because of the lack of Jews.” According to Michel, most Moroccan Muslims he knows treat him with respect.“I don’t have a problem with Moroccan Muslims. I’m like a musical statue; they all respect me. But, I have problems with some criminals and harassers,” Michel said.

Michel described living with Muslim neighbors in Agdal.“It has been 24 years now since I first moved to an apartment in Agdal, where there are two Jewish families, three families from Europe, and the residents of the remaining 47 apartments are Muslims. We have good relations with them, and we say ‘hello’ to each other each morning,” Michel said.

Said Gafaiti, PhD, is a professor of Hebrew and Hebraic Studies at the University of Fes, Saïs. Gafaiti credits anti-Semitism in Morocco to widespread ignorance of Jewish history and culture coupled with the inability to distinguish between Israel as a state and Judaism as a religion and culture.“Protests against Israeli acts and crimes started by Islamists and socialists play a role in this misunderstanding when they attack Jews [rather than Israel]. Some writers mistake efforts to promote or share Jewish culture for pro-Israel acts.” Gafaiti said.

Like Lemal, Gafaiti also argues that education plays a key role.“Moroccan schools play a huge part in contributing to the ignorance of Jewish culture in Morocco. A lot of Moroccans are surprised when they meet a Moroccan Jew speaking in Moroccan dialect,” Gafaiti said.“Jewish culture is a major component of Moroccan culture, and it’s not less important than the other parts. We need to condemn and put an end to racist acts against Jews. We must teach our children about Jewish history and culture, so that we can guarantee them a country without hate, exclusion or discrimination, where their safety and good living are guaranteed.”
Photos credit: Trey Strange
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/04/184021/anti-semitism-in-morocco-a-complicated-issue/
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Lahcen Haddad Announces New Program to Develop Tourism in Fez’s Old Medina
Tuesday 12 April 2016 -morocco world news Rabat

Local officials, in partnership with the Moroccan ministry of tourism, announced a new program on Tuesday that will promote the preservation of historical buildings and the development of tourist activities in the cultural capital of Fez. A statement released before the meeting said the minister of tourism, two senior officials from the Meknes-Fez region, and the Mayor of Fez held a meeting on the future of a program called Mdinti, which will be carried out in Fez’s medina.

“This program will help the local economy and should lead to inclusive growth and result in the creation of employment opportunities,” Lahcen Haddad told Morocco World News. “Fez is home of the world’s biggest medieval city and the Ministry will spare no efforts to rehabilitate it and turn it into one of Morocco’s main tourist destinations,” he added. In addition to developing new cultural activities for tourists, the plan will preserve, restore and renovate aged buildings in order to improve the urban environment and develop regularly performed shows and information kiosks around key parts of the city.

“In the context of sectoral strategies of tourism, handicrafts, housing and culture, several actions were initiated with the goal of enhancing the cultural and tourist attractions of Fez, in particular through the implementation of thematic channels, rehabilitation of buildings and improving the urban environment,” the statement read.

The program’s goals were established by the Moroccan Tourism Engineering Company (SMIT), which specializes in the creation of the tourism-related events and products. SMIT “will bring the technical assistance for the optimized implementation of projects and oversee the various stages of design and implementation of the program,” the statement read.
In December of last year, several government agencies signed a partnership agreement committing them to building the tourism capacities of 31 Moroccan cities between 2016 and 2025. The Mdinti program stemmed from this agreement.
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/04/184063/lahcen-haddad-announces-new-program-to-develop-tourism-in-fezs-old-medina/
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Renault Group in Morocco Launches New Ecosystem
April 9, 2016 Geraldine Boechat

Renault Group in Morocco has launched a new ecosystem requiring an investment of over one billion dollar at a ceremony held Friday in Rabat under the chairmanship of King Mohammed VI.
The new structural project will consolidate the positioning of Morocco at the world level as a hub for automotive industry, said Minister of Industry Moulay Hafid Elalamy when presenting the broad lines of the project.

This project, which is part of the Moroccan extensive industrial acceleration plan launched in April 2014, will yield an additional turnover of almost $2 billion a year and create 50,000 new permanent jobs, thereby tripling the number of jobs created by the car maker in Morocco, said Moulay Hafid Elalamy, who doubles as Minister of Investment and Digital Economy. The project will develop a global supply platform for the manufacturer which will triple the amount of its purchases of parts wholly manufactured in Morocco, he said.

The Renault Ecosystem will achieve a local integration rate of 65%, a fact likely to encourage major international suppliers to settle in Morocco. “With this integration rate, we will reach the size needed and long awaited by many OEMs wishing to operate in Morocco,” the minister said. Moulay Hafid Elalamy said that thanks to the positive impact of the industrial acceleration plan and the moves made to restructure the industry sector into performing and inclusive ecosystems, Morocco has succeeded to join, in record time, the small club of the 31 countries producing and exporting engines.

Automotive ecosystems anchor more the industry sector in the kingdom’s economy and by 2020, jobs in the sector will jump to about 160,000 and automotive exports are expected to reach over $1.0 billion a year. The rapid development of Renault Morocco group allowed the export of nearly 260,000 units manufactured in the Tangiers-based plant to European and Arab countries in 2015.
This development was possible thanks to the political, social and economic stability prevailing in Morocco, the minister said.

The Renault plant in Tangiers started operating in 2012 with an initial production capacity of 170,000 vehicles a year. In 2015, production stood at 288,000 vehicles and is expected to increase to 400,000 vehicles a year.

Director of Operations of the group for the Africa-India-Middle East Region, Bernard Cambier, hailed the Sovereign’s vision which, he said, made it possible for Morocco to score such a rapid industrialization rate. “The Renault group is happy and proud to have been associated as a partner in this development,” he said. He said all the stakeholders in the Renault Ecosystem are upbeat as to the development prospects which are “very important” and which are “based on the dynamics of the Moroccan market and exports growth potential,” Bernard Cambier said.
He said that the development prospects in sub-Saharan Africa can offer some great opportunities for the tangier-based Renault plant, in addition to the expansion of other sectors such as spare parts and toolmaking industry, engineering at competitive costs and equipment supply. During the launch ceremony, the sovereign presided over the signing ceremony of three conventions related to the new Renault Ecosystem project, to industrial land and to vocational training in the automotive sector.
http://medafricatimes.com/8901-renault-group-in-morocco-launches-new-ecosystem.html
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