The mineret that takes you home

About Membership Volunteer Newsletters Souk Links

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review 
October 1, 2016

5.1% of Moroccan Population Is Disabled (Census)

By Morocco World News - September 26, 2016 Rabat

Nearly 5.1 % of Morocco’s population was disabled (1,703,424 people) in 2014, the High Commission for Planning (HCP) said. The prevalence of disability is relatively higher in rural areas (5.5%: 727,833 people) than urban areas (4.8%: 975 591 people), the HCP noted on the basis of data collected during 2014 General Census of population and housing. There are no significant differences in prevalence among women (5.1%: 859,965 women) and men (5%: 843,459 men), the source added. Among the disabled population, 46.5% (791,264 people) are aged 60 and over, 45.6 % (776,778 people) aged 15-59 and 7.9% are under the age of 15 years (135,382 people), according to the same source. According to the HCP, about 46.5% (791,328 people) of people with disabilities are married, 29% are single (493,546 people), 21.6% are widows (367,824 people) and 3% are divorced (50,726 people). About 66.5% (1,133,615) of people with disabilities have no education against 35.3% among the non-disabled people. The rate is higher among women (79.5%) than among men (53.4%). The unemployment rate among the disabled population does not exceed 2.7 %, against 5.7% for non-disabled people.

Moroccan Fog-Water Harvesting Project Wins United Nations Award

By Barrett Bilali - September 29, 2016 New York

The United Nations has awarded on Thursday in Bonn (Germany) a climate change prize to a Moroccan fog-water harvesting project, considered to be The world’s largest operational fog-water harvesting system.

On the edge of Morocco’s Sahara Desert, more than 400 people from five villages will have running water in their homes. No wells or springs or new oases. Instead, their water is in constant flow from the sky. The desert dwellers are the benefactors of the world’s largest operational fog-water harvesting system which is the winner of a United Nations climate change award.

Dar Si Hmad, an NGO based in Morocco, designed and installed the fog-water harvesting system in the village of Ait Baamrane in Southwest Morocco.  Before the project, most women spent more than three hours a day fetching water from a distant and off times depleted wells. “Berber women bore the laborious task of carrying water from distant wells – a burden that greatly limited opportunities for young women,” said Dr. Jamila Bargach, Executive Director of Dar Si Hamd.

Fog harvesting uses specialized mesh, hung between poles, to trap the water droplets in fog. The wind pushes fog through the mesh, where droplets are trapped, condense, fall and amass in a container placed at the base of the unit.  Drop-by-drop, they constitute a substantial amount of water. The project includes 600 square meters of specialize mesh netting, seven storage reservoirs, 6 solar panels and over 10,000 meters of piping. “The fog project should not simply be reduced to the story of technical and success: there are more complex and intertwined stories to tell,” said Bargach.  “One narrative is that of curiosity and aspiration; one of motivation and quest for dignity; and one of rigor and determination.”

The project has been awarded the prize under the Momentum for Change Women for Results focus area for its women-led climate adaptation initiative, providing an environmentally-friendly water source to combat the effects desertification. “It is impressive to see so many original and creative ways to tackle climate change,” said UNFCCC Spokesman Nick Nuttal.   “It’s also great to see a winner from Morocco, this year’s host of the United Nations Climate Change Conference.”

Six Things Students of Arabic Should Know before Starting Their Language Journey

By Morocco World News -  September 26, 2016 By Slitine Alaoui Ismail Rabat

As any other language in the world, Arabic also has its own characteristics and features that set it apart from other languages. Sometimes, new students of Arabic find it difficult to distinguish between these features, especially when it comes to spelling and dictation. The following features are what every new learner of Arabic should know before she or he starts his journey of language learning.

The first feature that makes Arabic special and someway a confusing language to learn is its dots. First sessions of Arabic are dedicated to teaching the alphabet, which is profoundly different from the alphabets that many have been familiar with for a long period of time. So, when you start learning this alphabet, try to make sure that you are putting dots in the right place. Otherwise, you will completely change the meaning of the words that you are about to write. For example, (qul; say) and (ful; a very famous type of flowers) are two words that share the same pattern, but they are grammatically different. This first word is a verb that is conjugated in the imperative form; whereas, the second is a word that refers to a type of flower. It is crucial to know that the dots have the potential to change the meaning of words.

Right to left
Unlike Spanish, French, and English that are written from left to right, Arabic takes the opposite direction. So, whenever you have a dictation activity whether inside or outside the classroom, you always have to make sure that the margin of your paper you are using is positioned on your right side. It is a very simple move, but it is very necessary. Therefore, do not forget to do it whenever you start jotting downs the words that your teacher has selected.

Emphatic vs non emphatic
Some students get puzzled when hearing some emphatic letters like . This not because they are difficult to learn, but because they have their non-emphatic counterparts. When your ears hear a list of non-emphatic letters (see image), you might have difficulty distinguishing between the emphatic letters and the non-emphatic ones. For example, your teacher might intentionally give you examples like these two words (Sarir/sarir/) the first word with the emphatic (sad) letter refer to a noisy sound that some insects produce, while the one with the non-emphatic letter (sin) means bed. For the sake of avoiding misspelling words that have these emphatic and non-emphatic letters, student ought to practice pronouncing them whenever there is time for that. Practice makes perfect.

Long vs short vowels
As it is known, Arabic has twenty- eight letters alongside some other important symbols and markers. This list of letters includes both twenty-five consonants and three long vowels that function as consonants as well. (aa) (uu) and (ii) are the three letters that play the role of both consonants and long vowels. These long vowels are very important and without them the meaning will not be complete and the possibility of missing them might result in changing the meaning of the given words.
Each long vowel that has been recently mentioned has their short vowels that correspond to it. FatHa correspond to the long vowel, Damma corresponds to and Kasra correspond to. These short vowels share the same importance that their long vowels counterparts have. Studying both long and short vowels carefully and mastering the way they are pronounced will certainly help you avoid any linguistic troubles in the long run. Also, as an Arabic language learner you will not be using short vowels as you progress and reach advanced levels in studying Arabic.
Some words in Arabic are written in a similar manner with the same letters, but the only way to distinguish between them is to use these short vowels correctly. To show the importance of the short vowels, I have selected the picture that is included below.

Initial, Medial, and Final position.
All the twenty-eight Arabic letters takes different positions when writing them. Some of these letters change completely and some of them take slight changes. The perfect way to master writing these letters when they take different positions is to watch some videos that show how these letters are written when they are initial, medial, or final. Also, the picture below from Google will help you.

Connecters vs non connecters
Out of twenty-eight letters, there are six letters that do not connect to any letter that comes after it. The non-connecter letters are: Whenever you come across these letters, make sure that the letter that comes after is not connected to it. The rest of letters connect, but as mentioned earlier, they should be written correctly according to the position they are taking.

This is the list of features that might cause some confusion for new Arabic learners. I hope that listing some of them and explaining them will be of a great benefit to you as a new student of Arabic.

What No One Tells You about Volubilis.  

By Morocco World News -  September 29, 2016 By Nicole DiTolla Meknes

Right outside the rising metropolis of Meknes lies an ancient city. A city uniquely blended with Roman ideals and indigenous culturesVolubilis.

Volubilis is one of the oldest Roman sites in the world. When step onto the site and you physically and mentally travel back centuries. Dating back from 168-169 AD, Volubilis was essential to the Roman Empire in Africa. Its ancestors were responsible for producing and exporting grain in this fertile region. Volubilis also administered contacts with the (Amazigh) Berber tribes, which the Romans never managed to suppress, but who only came as far as to cooperate with the Romans for mutual benefits.

There are traces from every civilization that lived there engrained in the ruins. From prehistory to the Islamic period, you will find traces of each period when you walk through Volubilis’ arches and forum.

But that view. It’s one of the most magnificent views I’ve ever encountered in my life. The land stretches out for hundreds of the miles one direction. In the other direction you see the beginning of a small mountain range. And if you look into the landscape behind you, a small, colorful town is perched on the mountainside. With a sewer system, an enormous forum, and a magnificent arch at the end of the main street, you know that the Romans knew how to construct cities. Cities that would last thousands of years. Cities that blend the cultures inhabited there since the beginning of time. But Volubilis is more than that. It’s the physical manifestation of diversity in Morocco. That’s why this is a treasure for humanity.The magic of Volubilis is impossible to place into words. The only way to live this jaw-dropping experience is to take a visit for yourself!
For more information on visiting Volubilis check out: UNESCO

I Am a Moroccan Woman and I am Sick of Being Catcalled

By Ghita Benslimane - September 28, 2016 Casablanca

It happened yesterday. I was driving back home and stopped at a red light. The man in the car next to me rolls down his window and starts talking to me. Naively, I think I must have forgotten to turn my car lights on. I check. They are on. I think to myself, “Is something else wrong with the car?” So I roll down my window down and listen. “Ntiya ghzala, wallah,” he says. In English, that translates to: “You’re pretty, I swear to God.” I roll my window back up. The light turns green and I drive ahead. He gets in front of me and slows down, blocking me. I switch to the right lane. He switches to the right lane. He slows down again. My adrenaline begins pumping. I speed in front of him and turn into my street. I look in my rearview mirror. He is not behind me. But he could still be turning. He has seen where I’ve gone. I look again. The coast is clear.

As I said, it happened yesterday. But it has happened to me hundreds of times before. And it has happened to many women before me and, sadly, I can see it happening for years to come. Hearing “Psssst,” “La gazelle!” and “Salam a khti, bghit ghir nt3aref 3lik (Hello, I just want to get to know you)” are common occurrences while walking in the streets of Casablanca.

My point in telling these stories — and you have probably seen this coming — is: this shouldn’t have to happen! I should not have to be scared of walking home from my physical therapy session (a 5-minute walk from my house). I should not have to be scared of going out for a run in my native city. I should not have to be afraid to drive home, for fear that a man will follow me in his car, possibly causing an accident.

When I got home last night, I started to question the man’s motives. What did he think was going to happen? Did he think I was going to pull over and yell my number out to him? He would call and I would go out with him and we would get married and live happily ever after? Surely not. Instead, what likely ran through his mind, and what likely runs through many catcaller’s minds when they do this (especially in the presence of their catcaller friends) is that they are having some harmless fun while asserting their masculinity!

So here is a letter to you, catcaller folk: Wow. You read the news? If you read the news, surely you are educated enough not to harass women on the street. But alas. The world is a confusing place. I feel bad for you. Your masculinity must be in really rough shape if you feel propelled to do this.

Wake up call #1: Your actions aren’t harmless. The woman won’t brush it off and keep walking, even though that’s what we appear to do. Instead, the woman you ask to “smile,” and then insult her for not doing so, will just add it to her repertoire of harassment she’s had to endure.

Wake up call #2: We do not have to smile for you. We do not have to do anything for you. We’re too busy heading to the Acima around the corner to cook food for men who still can’t wrap their heads around the idea that women may have a higher purpose besides cooking tagine. You are welcome for that. The more you continue to harass women on the street, the more you’re perpetuating the idea that this is okay, thereby making women feel unsafe. I would ask you how you would feel if other men did this to your sisters and mothers, but I should not have to. And I won’t. All women (not just your relatives) deserve the right to feel safe from your unnecessary, disrespectful and fear-inducing behavior.

I bet you are probably thinking, “But you were wearing shorts! You were asking for it!” No, you prick! I am wearing shorts because it’s hot out. I am wearing a dress because it is pretty and new! Our decision is not about you. I did not wear this to lure you in. I do not even know you. But now that you’ve catcalled me, this will cause me and other women to be scared to wear what they want. Congratulations for changing the fashion landscape of Morocco! Now we will cover up to save ourselves from your behavior! Kind of ironic, don’t you think?

Many people ask me why I would rather live in the States. Though New York has its own catcalling problem, I always respond that it is because I get the freedom to take a walk without ever feeling scared. And let me tell you something: I hate walking! It makes me sweaty and uncomfortable and I would rather drive places. But your incessant daily harassment has made me miss something I hate doing! Think about that!

Japan Donates MAD 9.65 Million for Equipment of Morocco’s National Library

By Morocco World News - September 30, 2016 Rabat

Japan has granted Morocco MAD 9.65 million for the equipment of the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco. The donation is intended for the digitization of newspapers and microfilms archives and the restoration of the Library’s auditorium. Exchange of notes regarding the donation was signed on Friday in Rabat by Minister of Culture Mohamed Amine Sbihi and Japanese Ambassador to Morocco, Tsuneo Kurokawa. The donation is part of a Japanese program intended for supporting Morocco’s economic and social development through the Ministry of Culture. Morocco and Japan celebrate this year the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Morocco Goes Bilingual as King Rounds Off Reforms


Morocco is adopting Amazigh spoken by its Berber community as an official language alongside Arabic, rounding off a reform program launched by King Mohammed VI in 2011. The government adopted bills on the use of Amazigh and on the right to strike, the royal palace said on Monday night. It said the language bill covers “the methods of [its] integration in education and in different sectors of public life” in Morocco. The cabinet also approved the establishment of a royal institute on Amazigh culture. On the labor front, conditions and terms have been adopted on the right to strike, a first in the history of the former French colony.

With the Arab Spring in full swing and pro-democracy protests breaking out in February 2011, Mohammed swiftly drew up a package of constitutional reforms aimed at around 20 laws being passed by the end of 2016 on public and institutional life in the North African kingdom.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 7, after which legislators are to adopt the last two bills.The new constitution in 2011 recognized Amazigh, three dialects of which are spoken in Morocco, as an official language along with Arabic. The Amazigh bill defines its use in the administration, public services, schools, “information and communications, and cultural and artistic creation.”
The Tifinagh alphabet of the Berbers has already started to appear on public buildings, vying for space with signs in Arabic and French, and a Tamazigh-language television channel went on the air three years ago.

According to a 2004 census, eight million people – a quarter of Morocco’s population – speak a dialect of Amazigh. The law on strike actions imposed strict curbs on the right to take industrial action, already banned in a number of public service sectors and limited in others such as health care, transportation, energy and garbage collection. Adoption of the law on strikes could further poison relations between the government and unions who have condemned pension reforms, according to local newspapers

Mortality & causes of death: 2015 vs 2030

By Morocco World News - September 30, 2016 New York

This infographic displays data from the World Health Organization’s “Projections of mortality and causes of death, 2015 and 2030”. The report details all deaths in 2015 by cause and makes predictions for 2030, giving an impression of how global health will develop over the next 14 years. Also featured is data from showing how life expectancy will change between now and 2030.”

Morocco Study Abroad

James Ritchey, Correspondent September 28, 2016

Last summer, myself and 16 other students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) traveled to Morocco to study Arabic. Most of us were GSIS students, and the experience provided us an in-depth view into Arabic and North African culture. Arabic 3 and 4 were offered for students who had completed Arabic 1 and 2, and six cultural study credits were offered to those who had already completed four semesters of Arabic at ERAU. We stayed in the country for about six weeks, and travelled with Dr. Tarek Mahmoud, the Arabic professor on campus.

We lived and studied in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco. Rabat provides both modern, developed areas alongside traditional areas that have existed for centuries in a unique blend. We stayed in a dorm-like residence in the Agdal district, a modernized and developed area preferred by many expatriates, diplomats, and young people. A wide variety of shops and restaurants were within walking distance, and most areas of the city could be reached by taking a short taxi ride. Rabat’s medina, or old city, is still enclosed in walls that are centuries old. Inside, a bustling souk provided an opportunity to barter for trinkets and souvenirs and practice our language skills with shopkeepers.

We took classes at Qalam wa Lawh Center for Arabic Studies, a highly- acclaimed Arabic language school located in the Souissi district of Rabat. Students from all around the world convene at the center to learn or improve their Arabic. While there, we met and interacted with students from Zimbabwe, France, Britain, Italy, and many different American universities. The US State Department sends its future diplomats to Qalam in order to teach them Arabic for their work in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to our normal Arabic language classes, we occasionally took additional cultural classes, in which we learned about such topics as Arabic calligraphy and traditional Moroccan cooking.

Each weekend, we traveled to different cities and sites in Morocco. Highlights included riding camels and camping in the Sahara desert, touring the old palaces in Meknes and seeing the vast medina of Fez. The city of Chefchaouen is a unique and enchanting city high in the Atlas Mountains, and Tangier boasts a beautiful coastline. In Casablanca, we were able to tour Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world.

While in Morocco, we also experienced the dramatic cultural shift during the holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, most of the city shuts down during the day, as practicing Muslims will not eat or drink before sundown. The streets are all but empty around sundown, as most people are eating Iftar, the traditional fast-breaking meal, with their families. After sundown, however, the streets become very busy as people can go out and about in celebration.

Morocco is a very unique country, as it blends Arabic, African, Berber, and European culture. All government buildings are labeled in Arabic, French, and Berber, and all street signs are written in both Arabic and French. Mosques can generally be found every few blocks in populated areas, and each one sounds prayer calls multiple times a day for the community to hear. I would highly recommend studying in Morocco for any students taking Arabic courses or looking for understanding in another culture, as the experience is one I will never forget.

Morocco's Berber could soon become an official language

Morocco has constitutionally adopted a bill to formalize the Berber language, but awaits Parliament to endorse it. A council of ministers adopted a draft bill which could see the language also being integrated in the education system and other various sectors. Activists have called for a clear indication on how the language will exactly be used in everyday life.

Although there are conflicting numbers, experts estimate that as many as eight million people- a quarter of the country’s population – speak one of the dialects of the language. Moreover, despite the country’s Berber roots, the ruling elite have been accused of suppressing the Berber culture, subsequently the language itself for decades following Morocco’s independence in 1956, making it difficult for government to give it much attention. The language, which comes in three main dialects in Morocco was recognized in 2011 as an official language alongside Arabic in the new Constitution. But there hasn’t been movement to officially only until recently.

The Financial Audacity of Moroccan Millennials

By Zakaria Zakri - September 25, 2016 Luxembourg

I recently returned to Luxembourg from one of my regular trips to Rabat to touch base with my parents and friends. Each time any fellow expat or I are heading back to our host countries, there is a sense of oddity with the way the Moroccan economy operates. I have been living and working in the Luxembourg area for exactly three years now and the sight of Lamborghinis, Porsches and all the fancy cars does strike me as somehow indicative of the kind of wealth the Duchy generates despite being one of the smallest nations on earth.

When I, on the other hand, see the sheer number of luxury cars such as Range Rover and other similar SUV models touring my hometown, Rabat, and I look at the local monthly minimum wage of MAD 2570 (approximately $270 ) then it becomes no wonder Morocco is rolling into debt, especially from loans handed to the country’s today baby boomers. The challenge stems from the fact that young Moroccans are faced with financial threats that are far more pernicious than it is being anticipated.

Audacity, in particular, is the danger that looms over their heads and eventually drags them into a dark hole. Sadly enough, somewhere at the very back of their minds they know it but they choose to go along with the debt path, since they might not be empowered enough to behave otherwise. Their parents before them built equity on houses rather than liquidity while the rising generation is enjoying ownership of items that do not build wealth and should this scenario come to an end and it will, then the government will be burdened with bailing them out.

Highly educated and average young Moroccans alike are by and large aware of the recession in countries such as neighboring Spain, Greece and the role of Wall Street in the meltdown of the global economy. At the very same time, I have noticed the bulk of them indulge in audacious and thoughtless behaviors like taking out loans on their unlikely secure jobs to buy brand new cars that lose value the minute you buy them and to remodel flats they do not even own or just go on vacations. They continue to deny, despite all evidence out there, a downtrend would not hit them as hard, especially that there is a strong culture of subsidies.

My wife works as a customer service agent at a French insurance giant that has outsourced its operations to Morocco. My jaw drops at the fact that the majority of her colleagues, including senior ones, would not survive a stress test. Their finances are so riddled with debt here and there that they will not be able to come up with 10.000 DH (approximately 1000 €) should there be an unexpected urgency that would require such an amount.

Quite often, young kids come down with illnesses that require imminent hospitalization and they just cannot come up with the funds to bear those medical costs, usually not included in basic employer-provided coverage. This year, Eid al Adha, which incurs considerable costs, coincided with the back-to-school period that implies buying books and clothes. Young adults are so out of cash that some of them spent El Eid with family members to reduce costs or just gave up buying new clothes for their kids.

Anybody with basic knowledge in economics would agree that this generation of Moroccans is financially underachieving. Moroccan society as a whole has to be well aware that debt is an aura that spins developed and developing countries alike. Young adults or the so-called millennials need to be taught that financial ease is the product of wisely managing assets and thinking ahead of liabilities as well as dire moments.

To its credit, the Benkirane government spearheaded bold efforts to make a significant shift from a subsidized economy towards a context of bearing a more factual cost of consumption. He, for instance, lifted subsidies on fuel and sugar, a step that was understandably met with fierce discord and made the leading party lose momentum. The same thing applies to the elections campaign under way. None of the competing parties has spoken out for educating the public financially. I believe it will be hard for their leaderships to run such risk at the expense of losing crucial votes.

Zakaria Zakri is an independent researcher in geopolitics and energy. He currently serves as a Freelance Training Consultant with the European Parliament. Prior to that, he worked a Communications Specialist with ENI, Italy’s leading Oil & Gas Company.

Tourism: Morocco Keeps Its Vision 2020 Plan in Sight 

MENAFN - Morocco World News - 28/09/2016

On December 14, 2010, the Moroccan Department of Tourism released its Vision 2020 plan. A private presentation was made to His Majesty King Muhammad VI a month before.The goal was set. 'To raise Morocco, by 2020, to be one of the world's top twenty tourist destinations and a model of sustainability in the Mediterranean destinations,' Tourism is integral to the Moroccan economy. It is the second biggest contributor to the Gross Domestic Production and the second largest creator of jobs. Morocco is certainly the top destination in all of Africa. In 2014, 12.2 million tourists arrived in Morocco compared to 9.2 million visitors to South Africa.

But climbing to 20th place worldwide would require a coordination of efforts and strategic execution. Azur 2020 was one of six programs designed to reach the goal set out in 2010. Azur 2020 focuses on strengthening Morocco seaside resort industry both in the Atlantic and Mediterranean shores. It also seeks to develop new tourist destinations in the Souss and Sahara. The other programs include Patrimony/Heritage, Business/Well-being, Events/Sports/Leisure, Biladi, and Eco/Green Sustainability. A showcase for the Eco/Green Sustainability program is the hosting of the COP22 U.N.-sponsored Climate Change conference in Marrakech in November. It will bring in tens of thousands of participants, delegates and visitors to see Morocco's most visited tourist destination.

The climb to 20th in the world is also made difficult by the rising threat of terrorist striks and the declining economies of Europe. European tourists account for the bulk of hotel stays in Morocco. As there disposable income declines, they tend to choose destinations closer to home. Morocco's tourism professionals have sought to offset these roadblocks to success. Earlier this week, Aziz Mnii, representative for Morocco's Tourism Board in Stockholm, announced a social media campaign to attract more Scandinavian tourist to Morocco. In addition, the Moroccan Ambassador to Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding with the Thai Tourism Bureau which would make Morocco a desired destination for Thai tourists.

Europe is not the only goal mine for tourist, and to reach its Vision 2020 goal, the Moroccan Tourism Board is reaching out to Asia to diversify the pool of potential visitors. Morocco is unique in its approach to security for tourists. Through pro-active policies and arrests, there have been no terrorist attacks in the country since 2011. Other Africa nnations, such as Tunisia and Egypt, have seen major declines in their numbers of tourist because of terrorism. There has been a decrease in tourism in Morocco for the first half of 2016, but through innovative approaches and a focus on the Vision 2020, Morocco may yet reach its goal.

5 Things You Should Know before Traveling to Morocco

Travelers Today By Patricia Sim Sep 27, 2016 MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

Morocco--the gateway between Europe and Africa is fast becoming many travelers next dream destination. Being only one of three nations bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the country boasts a rich culture and entices many travelers with its unique cityscapes, ranging from the old city of Marrakesh to the cosmopolitan beaches of Casablanca. Before you start packing your bags, booking your camel rides and exchanging your money to Moroccan dirhams, take note of these 5 important tips from travelers who have gone and seen this beautiful, yet mysterious country.

1. The early bird gets the sale
Souks are local markets that stay busy throughout the day. Besides being one of the centers of a city's small business economy, souks are a shopping haven for tourists to get their fill of souvenirs and local furniture, jewelry and street food. The most popular souks are in Marrakech and Fez, particularly the place near the iconic Blue Gate. Other cities boasting high energy yet less busy souks are those found in the cities of Meknes and Rabat. According to Wanderlust, the best time to visit the souks is before 10am. At this time, stall owners are just beginning to set-up and are looking to bag their first sale of the day. In addition, many tourists will still be sleeping, recovering from their experience of the wild Moroccan nightlife from the night before.

2. Sharpen your haggling skills
In other countries, the act of haggling, even in marketplaces, is frowned upon. In Morroco however, haggling is exactly what makes the souk experience so different and unforgettable. Price points often start at a high mark, and haggling down to 50 percent or more is an acceptable offer. Some travelers though, have reported that due to this haggling phenomenon catching on among tourists, many souks in hotspots such as in Marrakech and Fez have upped their prices even more to confuse travelers with what the acceptable price for an item would be. According to James Rice, Travel Editor of Rough Guides, if one really wanted to purchase an item without the hustle and bustle of the souk experience, a fixed-price shop would be preferred.

3. Don't get too friendly
Another commercial tip for the souk is to beware of very persistent vendors. Although it is good to make friends with the vendors, travelers have experienced very pushy vendors when walking away from haggling over an item, some even ended up tricked by con artists offering fake services as tour guides. Also be wary of street performers and people with animals like snakes and monkeys who offer you to take a picture with. It seems like a good idea for your next Facebook profile picture, but expect a high fee afterwards. Also take note, especially for animal performers, that these animals may not have any official papers and may be victims of animal cruelty.

4. Take note of important cultural traditions
Every culture has its own strange nuances, but one of the strangest in Morocco is the negative connotation of showing off one's foot or shoe. This action sends a negative message to the viewer and will even be considered insulting. In terms of clothing, particularly for ladies, dressing conservatively is the best way to go, especially if you intend to visit mosques. World Nomads suggests bringing a shawl, scarf or hat to cover your neck and hair.

5. Getting lost might be the best part of your vacation
Morocco, in particular Fez and Marrakech are evolved from some of the oldest cities in the world. Naturally, a lot of their streets and walkways are still cobble-stoned and hard to trace on a map.
Besides all the tips on safety, don't forget that your travel here is to give you an escape from the normalcy of every day life. Be adventurous and embrace the excitement of discovering Morocco's cities with your own two feet

Morocco election: Everything you need to know: About 16 million Moroccans head to polls to pick representatives for the 395-seat lower house of parliament.

Ahmed El Amraoui 30 Sep 2016 Rabat, Morocco 

Moroccans head to the polls on October 7 for the kingdom's 10th parliamentary elections since independence in 1956, to define a new political map of the North African country. Around 16 million Moroccans of the country's 34 million are registered to vote. Candidates from 30 parties will compete to win seats in the 395-member Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of parliament.
Campaigning began on September 25. The main battle will be hotly contested between the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) and opposition Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM).
The Istiqlal (Independence) Party, the oldest in the country founded in 1944, is also projected to do well in this election. The PJD, which won the parliamentary elections in 2011 after a turbulent period that saw many of Morocco’s neighbours shaken by the Arab Spring, lost to the PAM in municipal elections in 2015.

So what's the set-up?
Morocco's parliament is made up of two directly elected chambers: the 395-member House of Representatives (the lower house) and the 270-member House of Advisers (the upper house). On October 7, voters from Morocco's 95 electoral districts will elect members to serve five-year term in the House of Representatives. Out of 395 members, 305 are elected in multi-seat constituencies from electoral lists put together by the parties, while 60 seats of the remaining 90 are reserved for a national list of women and the rest 30 seats are at grab by candidates under the age of 35.


Will voters turn out?
Voter turnout is generally poor. On the whole, about 50 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots both in local (municipal and regional polls) and national elections (parliament). Voter turnout in the 2015 local elections was 53.67 percent, up from approximately 45 percent in the 2011 parliamentary vote. Turnout in next October elections will be closely watched for an indication of people's trust in the country's politicians and parties, but projections stipulate that a certain amount of voter apathy is expected this time too.

And who are they voting for?
The multi-party system in the kingdom makes it impossible for any political party to win an absolute majority, forcing any winning party to work with other parties to form a coalition government.
At least 30 political parties are taking part in the upcoming elections, but only six major parties do enjoy strong electoral base. Those six major parties are usually invited to form coalition governments, while some prefer to remain in the opposition.

Those parties are:
Justice and Development Party 
Authenticity and Modernity Party
Istiqlal Party (IP)
Popular Movement (MP)
Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)
National Rally of Independents (RNI)

Does all this matter? Isn't the king in charge?
He is. Morocco is a constitutional monarchy and the king has ultimate authority. King Mohammed VI, Morocco's monarch, came to power in 1999, after the death of his father. The king chairs the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, the National Security Council, and the Council of Ministers, which must approve all legislations. He is also the commander of the faithful, adding religious authority to his political and security ones.


The country's new constitution, which was approved in a referendum in 2011, however, introduced amendments that stripped the king of some of his political powers. The amendments strengthened the authority of the country's prime minister, allowing him/her to appoint government officials and dissolve parliament - authorities previously held only by the king. The new constitution also ensures that the prime minister is selected from the party that received the most votes in election, rather than the king naming whomever he pleases. The reforms also strengthen parliament, allowing it to launch investigations into officials with the support of just one-fifth of its members or to begin a censure motion against a minister with the backing of a third, rather than needing the unanimous approval demanded by the current constitution.

Does social media have any impact on elections?
New media has become an integral part of the political landscape in Morocco as it helped internet-assisted political communications to boom in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring, which challenged the balance of power in domestic politics in different Arab countries. Many government officials and political parties are now positive about using social media too as a channel to bridge the communication gap with citizens.


Social media platforms have become the prime space for Moroccans to discuss their daily issues and to assess the government and parliament works. According to CMAIS and BoldData, two Moroccan agencies specialising in information processing, Facebook is the social media network with the highest market penetration in Morocco with a total of 8 million active users out of 16 million Internet users.

Are the elections fair?
Critics say there is no guarantee of transparency in the elections organised by Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior. Despite some irregularities noted by independent observers, such as buying votes, the voting process is generally carried out close to international standards.

Is there anything else I should know about Morocco?
Bordered on the east by Algeria and on the south by Mauritania [including the disputed Western Sahara region], Morocco has a population of 34 million, with Arabs constituting 70 percent and Berbers making up most of the rest. Sunni Muslims account for 90 percent of the population, but the kingdom also has small Christian and Jewish minorities. The main official language is Arabic. Berber language, which is spoken widely in the north and the south has been granted the status of official language by the 2011 constitution. The law that regulates the Berber language is still under debate in the parliament. Many Moroccans speak French or Spanish as a second or third language. Morocco became an independent sovereign state in 1956, following joint declarations made with France and Spain. Mohammed Ben Youssef, the Sultan of Morocco, adopted the title of King Mohammed V, and on his death in 1961, his son succeeded him as King Hassan II and became prime minister.

Building a bridge between Grand Rapids and Morocco

Marie Nalan Herald Review

Eric Northard is a social studies teacher at Grand Rapids High School, and has visited approximately 63 countries around the world. In a troubled world, tempers are high, and people are quick to generalize and criticize other cultures. That is why it is important to recognize what a difference cultural education can make. For over a year and a half, Grand Rapids High School social studies teacher Eric Northard has been engaging his students in a collaboration with children from Sidi Moumen Community Center, located in a slum area of Casablanca Morocco. The program allows students to connect with each other, make friendships and understand their similarities. “I wanted to build a bridge between our students and students in the Muslim world,” explained Northard.

As part of this program, Northard took a two-week trip to Morocco this summer, to meet the students at the center and give talks. He was also there during Ramadan, which he described as a unique, immersive way to understand how a large amount of the world lives and celebrates. Although he has traveled to approximately 63 countries, he described this trip to Morocco as an experience of a lifetime.

This journey began almost two years ago, when Northard decided to do something about the growing rift between America and the Muslim world. He reached out to a Washington D.C. based initiative called America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, or AUA, which describes itself as “aimed at countering violent extremism before it can take hold, working at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World and in the United States.”

Soon after, Northard and some of his students began to participate in AUA’s School 2 School program, which paired Grand Rapids High School (GRHS) with the Sidi Moumen Community Center. Since then, the schools have been in a virtual communication partnership, where the students from both countries connect with each other through social media and group video chats.

The Sidi Moumen Community Center is world-renowned as a place that denounces terrorism, and promotes peace and understanding across cultural lines. Amazingly, the center operates in one of worst slum areas in Morocco, in the city of Casablanca. The New York Times described it as “one of the Arab world’s most aggressive programs of slum eradication, trying to lure marginalized children away from the troubled paths so often followed by those living in squalor.” “The community is very open there,” explained Northard. “They are very anti-extremist.”

The center teaches children different subjects and languages, and also serves as a community center for kids to play in musical groups and learn sports. The center stands out as a safe, collaborative place for children. Northard finds the center special for the opportunities it grants the children in need. Its passion for anti-terrorist activities and global understanding made it an excellent center for GRHS students to collaborate with and learn from. “It has been amazing for the students that have participated,” said Northard.

He was delighted by the relationships the students have formed, regardless of their differences. According to Northard, his students are learning just how similar all teenagers across the world really are. After more than a year of this partnership, Northard took a two-week trip to visit the Sidi Moumen Community Center. While there, he gave talks on civil engagement, public speaking, and more to older students and teachers. He also taught some English lessons.

According to him, teaching such engaged and aspirational children from a troubled community was a unique experience. “The center has done a great job of empowering their young people to be great leaders,” said Northard. While there, he stayed with a special host family in Casablanca. He described them as very open and kind, trying their best to envelop him in their beautiful culture.
“The people I stayed with were great, we had so much fun,” explained Northard.

While there, Northard was shown the world of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Along with his host family, he would attend huge parties and feasts after long days of fasting. He was thrown into parties with the entire community, unlike ones he had ever seen before. Perhaps most of all, Northard enjoyed meeting the students he had been in contact with through the video chats in his class. His eyes lit up as he explained the similarities he sees between the students in Casablanca and his own. It is clear he has a deep passion for communication across cultures.
“I think their challenges and goals are to help their young people succeed,” he said.

Now that his two-week trip is over, he has had time to reflect on his journey on the other side of the world. He feels extremely blessed to be able to have collaborated with a center that is so life-changing for so many children. “I never imagined I’d have these opportunities,” he said, smiling. Back at home, he is excited to continue the connection between the Sidi Moumen Community Center and his class. He is already at work in organizing short exchange trips for both the Moroccan students and those from Grand Rapids. He thinks it is important for them to meet in person, and to experience the joy he did of truly being immersed in the other’s culture. And as for Northard personally, this recent adventure in Morocco definitely will not be the last of his life. “I can’t wait to go back.”

Morocco Is Hollywood’s ‘Door to the Dessert,’ But It’s Also Much More

Posted 1 October 2016

Morocco has always been one of the most popular filming sites in the world, where many international filmmakers have shot some of their hit movies. The city of Ouarzazate, meaning “without noise” in Amazigh (Berber), has been particularly successful in attracting filmmakers. Movies filmed in Ouarzazate include “Prince of Persia,” directed by Mike Newell, “The Way Back” by Peter Weir, “Mission Impossible” by Brian De Palma, “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra” by Alain Chabat, “Babel” by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and “Gladiator” by Ridley Scott. This has lead to Ouarzazate gaining a reputation as “the Hollywood of Morocco.”….\
check it here:

Illiteracy facilitates corruption in Morocco, so education must be a priority

September 27, 2016 Abderrahim Chalfaouat@chalfaouat

Moroccan governments have invested efforts and finance in the education system in the fight against illiteracy and poverty, or at least to tame their damaging effects on society. Nevertheless, events within and beyond educational buildings reveal the wide divide between public policies and the promised levels of progress in the eradication of both. The kingdom continues to rank low in international education reports. For instance, it stands at 102 out of 144 countries in education quality, as featuring on the Global Competition Report. Meanwhile, at a deeper level, the current situation facilitates hegemony and the exploitation of the poor and the illiterate as shields in political strife.

Despite the incessant reform charters, plans and strategic visions since the 1950s, setbacks within educational institutions can be traced to four sources. The first is the language of instruction. In addition to the bilingual reality of the country, with Arabic and Amazigh as official languages in the 2011 Constitution, schools present French at very early stages and a plethora of other languages later on. The lack of a clear language policy leads the Moroccan student to end up neither bilingual nor multilingual, but rather “ni-lingual”, to use linguist Abdelkader Fassi-Fihri’s term that denounces the country’s mediocre language grades and performances. Another dilemma aggravates this fact. Nearly all of the sciences are taught in higher education in French, even though students study them in Arabic earlier on. Thus, the inability to cope with the language change, or challenge, leads to too many dropping out.

The second element is that of school values. Though some reports lament the increasing rates of delinquency, drug abuse, AIDS and cheating in exams, secular activists often accuse Moroccan schools of breeding extremism. They have frequently taken Islamic Education for a subject that promotes fundamentalist interpretations of religious texts. As a result, the subject’s study hours and coefficients have been reduced. Even the curriculum has been changed several times, to add insult to injury. Somehow, Morocco witnesses a sort of clash of civilisations in its education policy-making that manifests in the conflicting values that textbooks promote. This, no doubt, contributes to an identity crisis or cultural discrepancy which a considerable number of Moroccans undergo, as the Religious Situation Report observes.

The third is the degrading classroom atmosphere. In line with the previous point, the number of students per class has soared unprecedentedly this year. Up to 60 pupils are crammed into classrooms that normally cater for a maximum of forty. This adds to the failure to provide adequate infrastructure, especially during the Emergency Plan (EP) that Ahmed Khchichen, the pre-2011 Education Minister and current mayor of Marrakech, implemented. The EP is notorious for fraud and squandering of public funds, especially on void in-service training programmes and humble facilities. The inadequate number of classrooms is aggravated by insufficient teachers, many of whom retired last year.

The fourth point is the employment terms and conditions of the teachers. Their salaries have been stagnant for the past five years. Promotions have been slow. The medical services that their national fund offers are being reduced. Meanwhile, this year they will have to pay more taxes towards their retirement fund. The effort they make in the classroom is immense, but such a discouraging atmosphere not only creates violence but also tarnishes the image of schools. When society belittles or mistrusts the school as an institution, the outcome is recalcitrant illiteracy that more than one-third of the population suffer from, including youth.

However, illiteracy, especially when coexisting with poverty, proves more than a mere social phenomenon. Certain contexts, such as the run-up to the elections, reveal the ways that corruption and despotism feed upon illiteracy politically. It is common in Moroccan elections for notables in remote areas to “buy” the votes of towns wholesale, relying on a mix of illiteracy, corruption and tribal lineage. However, in the 7 October lead-up, illiteracy deals a blow to democratisation efforts, especially as the Party for Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) and its supporting elements within the Interior Ministry make of it a stepping-stone towards chipping away at the popularity of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD).

The PAM claims to be a progressive, modernist party. The first promise made by Ilyas Elomari, PAM secretary general, after nomination was to fight Islamists. Yet, the PAM mainly wins votes in the countryside, where illiteracy thrives, due to PAM’s links with some Interior Ministry agents familiar with election tactics.

Furthermore, in an anti-PJD rally in Casablanca on 18 September, around 8,000 marchers raised slogans and placards calling for a ban on the “Ikhwanisation” of the state or society. Though the march was an attempt to duplicate the Egyptian counter-revolution that preceded the military coup in Cairo, most participants could not explain their reasons for protesting. More significantly, none of them managed to say what state or society “Ikhwanisation” actually means. To avoid the trap, they revealed that the placards had been written by the “authorities”. Many said that they were taken to Casablanca to protest against causes other than Islamisation or insulting Abdelilah Benkiran, PJD secretary general and current Head of the Government. They were told other stories, but, mainly due to illiteracy, they reacted to the official trick with nonchalance, a customary reaction towards corruption and exploitation especially in pre-2011 Morocco.

For reform efforts to affect the deeper structures of society, prioritising the education sector is inescapable. This should be pivotal in the next government’s work, especially if the PJD leads it.

Moroccan Education Minister Admits to Overcrowded Schools

MENAFN - Morocco World News - 27/09/2016

Moroccan Minister of National Education addressed the problem of overcrowded schools and highlighted its causes. Rachid Belmokhtar, Morocco's Minister of National Education, headed a seminar last Monday, September 21, regarding education in Morocco. The Minister discussed on the issue of overcrowded schools, which has raised questions among social media users due to the current back-to-school period.

The Minister admitted that there are classrooms that are filled beyond capacity, and argued that the issue is brought up every year around the same time: 'Like you said, indeed there are some cases, today, where [overcrowded schools] have reached an unbearable level. You said 60 [students per classrooms] and I can say that in some cases we have 70.' The Minister added that this should not be 'generalized, since this problem is limited considering the average number of students per class at the national level.'

The Minster pointed to a number of reasons behind the Ministry's low performance. The scarcities of human resources and classrooms come in the Minister's statement as important factors. These, he added, are beyond the resources of the Ministry: 'What you should know, and follow with us, is that there are things that exceed our capacity in this field. As far as the human resources are concerned, we now know a problem that is essential, which is the number of teachers who retire. And as you know, once the person leaves service to retirement, he continues to earn his salary.'
The Minister then revealed statistics related to the numbers of students in Moroccan schools: 'There are now 6,900,000 students this year in addition to 430,000 trainees in professional training. The number of students enrolled for the first time in the first grade is 688,000 students with a rise of 3.7 percent,' he said.

The number of schools exceeds 10,800 schools, in addition to 13,000 kindergartens. The number of teachers is around 230,000 teachers, including 8,000 teachers hired this year,' he concluded.

Educational Discourse Is Not Innocent 

MENAFN - Morocco World News - 26/09/2016

Competence, skill, performance, quality, standards, training, assessment, measurements, profession are among the key words of the current educational discourse in Morocco. The choice of this register reveals how this discourse assimilates humans to quantifiable and manageable resources good only to fuel sociopolitical and economic schemes. Maybe these words are also central in other places, maybe have they even been purchased or borrowed from others to cope with the sudden infertility of our mind and imagination or to avoid that they gain in fertility.

Maybe have they been smuggled into our system after some of us had understood that the terminology sifted from cybernetics, medicine and surgery tired out and exhausted its power trying to convince us that all the failures of the chain are our own. Maybe have they just been picked up after their shelf life had expired and they were disposed of in conceptual waste dumps in their homelands…

The human being in this conceptual frame is, therefore, a commodity that can be produced, controlled, used to produce other products, coupled or combined with other resources not necessarily of its own nature, consumed, traded, stored, managed, and discarded, etc… In this dimension, education, including language education which is of most interest to me here, is a means of designing the product, framing it, scaling it, upgrading it, making it capable of digesting other ones and contributing to their transformation and integration in the production process and able to.

Although essentially immaterial in nature, the most decisive components in the supply and value chains of making this product and of making it fulfill the tasks specified for it are also subjected to quantification and measurement which. They include impressions, feelings, emotions, passions, convictions, dogmas, attitudes and perceptions of reality all of which are remote controlled upon request and demand.

There has been, for example, attempts to measure happiness and wellbeing. Defining them in such ways as to measure them confirms also that they, too, are assimilated to services and goods and that they can be treated as not only immaterial. As goods and services, they can be produced, promoted, subjected to advertisement campaigns, sold, exchanged, consumed, expire, etc.. But not only, they can also be possessed and like another possessions, they can be monopolized, distributed unequally, be transformed into privileges to sanction behaviors rewarding or punishing them, be discarded and disposed of.

Owning their means of production creates power over those who wish to enjoy them or who believe that they cannot live without them. One important element in the production process of happiness and wellbeing is education and language education. The more one possesses of them and can maintain possession of, the more access they can have to happiness and wellbeing.

Possession of both and either is, however, ephemeral as they can be modified, withdrawn, recovered or confiscated reverting former owners to states of depression, burn out, unemployment, cognitive puerility, homelessness, broken families, and often to suicide. Cases are not rare of persons ending in social vulnerability, economic hardship and suicide who had invested in a craft and/or in a language or aspect of a language that have unexpectedly become obsolete and lost their currency. Cases of whole countries experiencing a similar shift in status for the same reasons are not rare either.

The spell of the pseudo scientific quantitative approaches grounded in statistics and projection models should, therefore, be dispelled and let go of minds. Intelligence has to be weaned from the inherited dependence on colonial and post colonial ideological discourses. Man cannot be reduced to a quantity, neither to a subject nor to an object, neither to a resource to be used nor to one to be consumed.

Man is at the center, is the initiator, the producer, the user, the consumer, the one who counts, the one who is responsible for creating and enjoying happiness and who deserves wellbeing. Any activity that does not confirm and contribute to this principle is manipulation and alienation and not education.

Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. Published with Permission. This material may not be further published, rewritten or redistributed without Morocco World News permission.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News' editorial policy

Success of Morocco’s Counter Terrorism Strategy Hinges on Comprehensiveness, Proactiveness

September 26, 2016

The success of Morocco’s counter terrorism strategy hinges on the comprehensive approach addressing the root causes of terrorism as well as the vigilance and proactiveness of security, Head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) Abdelhak Khiame said. Speaking to French weekly, Le Journal du Dimanche, Khiame highlighted the results of Morocco’s anti-terrorism strategy, which has been gradually honed since the terrorist attacks that hit Casablanca in 2003. Morocco’s security strategy was fostered with the adoption of a law on terrorism, the introduction of biometric identity cards and the creation of specialized police teams as well as mixed police and army units, he added.

Morocco’s strategy to counter terrorists is proactive, Khiame said. “We arrest individuals before they move into action.” As for those who fight along the ranks of terrorists abroad, Khiame said that these individuals are arrested upon their return to Morocco. “They are interrogated then imprisoned for a period ranging from five to ten years,” he said adding that the BCIJ interventions are made upon instructions from the General Prosecutor. Khiame pointed out to the comprehensiveness of Morocco’s strategy to address terrorism and extremism by addressing multiple religious, social and economic factors as well as launching economic development initiatives in underprivileged areas.

Thanks to this multidimensional approach, Morocco remains a bulwark against terrorist groups and continues to adapt its strategy to changing circumstances. At the international level, the Kingdom continues to cooperate with its partners including France, notably in exchanging vital intelligence enabling the localization and busting of several terrorist cells and individuals as was the case with Abaoud, the mastermind of the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015.

Morocco Resolved to Fulfil Ambitious Plan to Generate 52% of its Energy from Renewables by 2030

Energy, Headlines, Morocco September 26, 2016

Morocco seems firmly resolved to reach the goal it set to cover more than half its energy needs by 2030 from renewables. In this vein, King Mohammed VI, who supervises the national program for the development of renewable energy, chaired on Monday in Tangier a working session devoted to the energy sector in general and to the renewable energy program in particular.

From the outset, King Mohammed VI “underlined the importance of this major program that will enable Morocco to achieve effectively energy independence,” a statement from the Royal Office said.
The meeting was also an opportunity to “take stock of the institutional and operational convergence that should govern the sector,” the statement said. The sovereign took note of the steps taken so far at the institutional level, embodied in the promulgation of new laws governing MASEN, the ONEE and the ADEREE (national agency for the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency.) The laws were published in the Kingdom’s official gazette issued on Monday. At the operational level, it was noted that the renewable energy projects were being effectively transferred to Masen.

The King was informed of the arrangements made by operators. These arrangements “fall in line with the goal to raise the share of renewables in the national energy mix to 42% by 2020,” the statement of the Royal office said, adding that King Mohammed VI reiterated his instructions in order to fulfil the objective to bring this share to 52% in 2030. To fulfil this ambitious goal, “the next step will consist in a strategic programming that will reflect clearly the expected synergies in this area,” the statement said. As part of the effort to reach the ambitious goal to generate 42 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and 52 percent by 2030, Morocco, earlier this year, inaugurated in Ouarzazate Noor 1, the first phase of what will become the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. At completion, the facility is expected to produce 580 MW of clean electricity for more than one million people.

These efforts were hailed by the World Bank, which said that Morocco “is setting an example by designing and embracing green growth strategies across sectors.” The 2016 Climate Performance Index also ranked Morocco among the top 10 countries making the most progress in combating climate change and number one among developing countries.

Surviving the most gruelling desert marathons

Torontonian Paul Borlinha will attempt to conquer a 400-kilometre ultramarathon in the Gobi Desert.
Read more here:


Barbary Macaques Could Gain Protection from Pet Trade

Posted by Jani Actman in Voices for Wildlife on September 26, 2016

The barbary macaque is the most frequently seized, live, CITES-listed mammal in the European Union. Ever heard of it? It’s a monkey found in Gibraltar and the northern African countries of Morocco and Algeria—the only primate (besides humans) that lives north of the Sahara and the only macaque found outside of Asia. Here at CITES CoP17, proposals related to iconic species like elephants and rhinos have garnered much of the attention, but the barbary macaque could be one of the feel-good stories of the convention because the proposal relating to it isn’t likely to be controversial.

With its ginger coat and large, intelligent eyes, lots of people want them as pets. About 200 barbary macaques—mostly infants—are captured and smuggled out of Morocco each year for the growing European pet trade. Some 3,000 are estimated to be held as pets in Italy, Spain, France, and elsewhere. That’s bad news for a species whose population has dropped by about 50 to 60 percent in the last 30 years. Only about 6,500 to 9,100 remain in the wild, where they act as seed dispersers, critical for maintaining forest composition. They don’t do well as pets; they’re prone to stereotypic behaviors such as self-biting and chewing, and they can become aggressive as they age, leading some owners to abandon them.

For these reasons the European Union and Morocco submitted a proposal for this year’s CoP to ban the commercial trade in barbary macaques. Their trade is already restricted by CITES and protected by national laws in Morocco and Algeria, but an Appendix I listing would make it easier to enforce harsher penalties for capturing and trading the monkeys, according to Raquel Garcia, head of public policy at Animal Advocacy and Protection, a Netherlands-based nonprofit group that rescues and advocates for barbary macaques and other animals.

“Morocco is really, really aware that this is a problem,” Garcia said on Sunday when I caught up with her at the CoP in Johannesburg. She says the proposal has been 15 years in the making and that “it’s finally coming together.” My colleague Rachael Bale and I will be tracking the proposal throughout the convention, so stay tuned to learn the details of the debate and find out how the parties vote.

These postings are provided without permission of the copyright owner for purposes of criticism, comment, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and it may not be distributed further without permission of the identified copyright owner.  The poster does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the message, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Return to Friends of Morocco Home Page

About Membership Volunteer Newsletters Souk Links