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Morocco Week in Review 
February 25 2017

Morocco Music Festival coming

Ticonderoga schools will host the MoroccAmerican music event
by Lohr McKinstry  February 22, 2017 3:00 PM

Music students at George Washington Academy in Casablanca, Morocco who will be coming to Ticonderoga High School on March 9 for the MoroccAmerican Music Festival.

Ticonderoga High School will hold the MoroccAmerican Music Festival with students from Casablanca, Morocco playing alongside local musicians. Ticonderoga alumnus Megan Walls is currently working at George Washington Academy in Casablanca, Morocco, Ticonderoga High School Music Teacher Michael E. Iturrino said. “Over the course of this school year, (music teacher) Jolene Harrigan, Megan and I have been working on putting a transcontinental music festival together,” he said. “Megan is bringing 19 of her students, nine high school and 10 middle school students, over to Ticonderoga to perform with select students from Ticonderoga Middle School and Ticonderoga High School.”

On Thursday, March 9, they will offer a one-day music festival starting at 9 a.m., similar to an all-county music festival, with the Moroccan students and Ticonderoga students.
In addition, there will be a free public concert in Ticonderoga High School auditorium that day at 7 p.m. featuring the ensemble. The concert will be directed by Walls, Iturrino and Harrigan.
Walls is a member of the Ticonderoga Class of 2006. She is now a music teacher at George Washington Academy, an American pre-kindergarten to grade 12 school in Casablanca, Morocco.
“Jolene and I have been talking about doing something together for a long time, whether it was pen-pals or doing a music festival,” Walls told The Sun. “We were talking this summer and it just seemed like a good year to go for it.”

Walls said she and her students are coming to the states just for the festival. “By ‘transcontinental’ music festival, Mike means kind of like an all-county festival, but just between our two schools,” she said. Walls said George Washington Academy is a private, tri-lingual school in Casablanca, Morocco, that teaches an American curriculum and has classes in French and Arabic as well.
“While most of the students are Moroccan, we have 49 nationalities represented at the school,” she said. “The school is about the same size as Ticonderoga, about 900 students. We’re bringing 19 students in grades 7-11, with multiple nationalities, including French, Swiss, Indian, Moroccan, Canadian and American.”

She said Casablanca is a city of about five million people, so it’s a bit of a jump to 5,000 in Ticonderoga. “I’ve been taking the kids on international trips for a long time and I’m really looking forward to ‘bringing them home,’” Walls said. “Multiple members of the Ticonderoga community will be opening their homes to the GWA students, and the students will also get to see what going to school and living in Ticonderoga is like.”

They’ll also visit other sights while in the states. “Students are super-excited for the festival and they’re looking forward to seeing the places I’ve talked about, especially the Hot Biscuit Diner,” Walls said. “I wear my HBD t-shirt quite a bit, and many of them can quote its ‘well butter my biscuits’ logo. “We’ll also be spending a day in New York City and visiting a few colleges in the Albany area, including my alma mater, the College of Saint Rose, during our visit.”

Five Dishes You Must Not Miss In Morocco

Travelers Today       By    FG DullinFeb 22, 2017 MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

It takes more than just simply learning how to spend less than $60 per day in Marrakech to fully enjoy one's vacation experience in this country. As said from the popular quote derived loosely from the 19th Century French physician (Anthelme Brillat-Savarin), 'you are what you eat.' Hence, you need to know what generic local dish is worth the meal while stopping by at Moroccan bistros and cafes. The fascinating fact about Moroccan dishes is that they represent the finest fares produced by the Arab world. From the ancestral Berbers that inhabited the Saharan region to the modern contributions of the British and French influences, traditional Moroccan food was thousands of years in the making. Until today, passionate chefs and foodies continue to recreate versions of some of these notable Moroccan dishes:

Tagine This dish got its namesake from the traditional earthenware used to cook a myriad of traditional Moroccan food in a form of soup or stew. From chicken curries to heavily spiced veggie stews, the tagine is a very common street dish served along the souks of Marrakech, Fez, Tangiers, Tangiers, and Rabat.

Harira This traditional Moroccan dish is served every evening break of the Ramadan vigil month. The 'harira' soup is made from tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils and lamb. This light main course always goes with a pretzel side dish called 'chebakkiya.'  

Couscous Among the many Moroccan dishes introduced worldwide, the 'couscous' proves to be the most popular in many western countries. Made from fine ground semolina (pasta), this staple grain is sprinkled with water and formed into small pellets to be mixed along with meat and vegetables.  

B'stilla This Moroccan pastry is very well known in Fez. This cinnamon-laced pie is stuffed with a sumptuous mixture of baked pigeon, eggs, and almonds. The crust is daubed with sugar icing, saffron, and ground coriander.

Mint Tea Every great dish has a fine beverage that completes the meal. The most popular traditional drink served in Moroccan bistros and cafes is the mint tea. This beverage is also known as 'Moroccan whiskey' due to its very strong herbal flavor.

Time machine of Morocco

Sandip Hor, Feb 19, 2017 Marrakech

Winston Churchill once said, “If you have only one day to spend in Morocco, spend it in Marrakech.” He fell in love with the 1000-year-old city when he went there in the early 1930s for a painting holiday. Later, when in Morocco again during World War II, he took time off from an important summit to show the then president Roosevelt his cherished destination.

However, Churchill is not the only one smitten with its charm...

One of the four imperial cities of the North African nation, Marrakech was founded in 1062 by the Islamic Almoravids from neighbouring Sahara and soon became the capital of a great empire that stretched from Algiers to Spain.

This historical city stands out because of many striking features, the prominent one being the reddish hue of its buildings, which comes from the use of tabia, the red mud from nearby plains. The redness in the architecture, when combined with the colours of the city’s spices, the green of palm trees, the whites of the distant mountain snow and the blue of the sky creates a spectacular vista.

The city’s culture oozes from a melting pot of traditions and lifestyles of the native Berbers, Saharan warriors, African slaves, Arab traders and French colonisers. Over a millennium, they marked their footsteps in this arid land, tucked between the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains. They powdered the cityscape with mosques, madrasas, palaces, tombs and other monuments, many of which exist in older part of the city as silent witnesses to the domain’s heyday. The Koutoubia Mosque, Kasbah Mosque, Ben Youssef Madrasa, El Badi Palace, Saadian Tombs and Bab Agnaou, a monumental gateway, are regarded as architectural masterpieces. They reflect the best of Moorish architecture, which emerged in the Iberian Peninsula during the Islamic period.

Although Marrakech now has a modern part, the old city draws visitors more. A densely packed urban settlement survives there with a way of life as seen centuries ago. The only signs of change are the use of electricity and mobile phones. Most buildings lining the city’s alleyways are dilapidated but brim with history. Some are studded with gorgeous doorways and tiled façade marked with calligraphy.

The place to be

Jemaa el-Fna is the ideal venue to discover why Marrakech is celebrated as the most magical place in Morocco. This triangular, paved area has thrived as a space for open-air markets and entertainment, dining under the stars, and even public beheading of criminals, though this ended in the early-19th century!

The day begins early here, and with that the markets open, followed by the arrival of orange juice vendors. Soon they are joined by soothsayers, henna artists, dubious dentists and snake charmers. Traditional water sellers, iconic from the old Arabic world, rescue visitors from the heat. Seated around the corner are storytellers who try to build a crowd by narrating the land’s heritage. As soon as the prayer call is heard from a nearby mosque, everything halts. People wash their hands and feet, and start praying.

Dusk signals the beginning of an enchanting hour — the area starts crawling with humanity. The atmosphere becomes frenzied with more performers arriving. Lanterns are lit around hundreds of makeshift food stalls where self-proclaimed ‘master chefs’ serve typical Moroccan dishes — from merguez sausages and harira soup to snail stew and lamb or chicken slow-cooked in tagine pots. Smoke coming out of the ovens engulfs the area, while aroma of the food fills the air. Dining beneath the stars and beside people is part of Moroccan tradition. This is how locals break social barriers and make new friends.

The night entertainment generally includes some type of circus, theatre and music. Acrobats thrill the crowd by building human pyramids, while cross-dressed belly dancers bring alive the spirit of the Arabian nights. The Gnaoua musicians play drums and castanets, and sing to hypnotise the crowd.

Being a patron

Everything is free, though tipping is necessary as performing arts is the livelihood of many who have inherited artistic skills from their ancestors. This 1,000-year-old carnival takes place every day of the year! Though a major attraction for tourists, it’s meant to be for locals to keep alive their past recitals and various human collaborations. In 2001, UNESCO recognised the carnival’s significance and declared the daily happenings as an outstanding example of world’s Intangible Cultural Legacies. One wonders how it’s possible for anyone in the 21st century to stop time and stay so lively with the past.

Obstruction of Rights Group: Government Defies Administrative Court Judgments

 (Tunis) February 20, 2017:

Moroccan authorities have carried out a two-year campaign of prohibiting and obstructing activities of the country’s largest independent human rights organization, Human Rights Watch said today. The harassment shows no signs of a let-up despite at least four administrative appeals court rulings in favor of the organization. The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) said that authorities have blocked 125 of its meetings, conferences, and other events in public and private spaces throughout the country since July 2014. The authorities either prohibited the events directly or indirectly, such as by putting pressure on the managers of meeting spaces.
“The widespread and consistent nature of the measures against the AMDH is a clear indication of a campaign ordered from above to weaken an outspoken and nationwide voice on human rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Founded in 1979, the AMDH now has 96 local branches, making it Morocco’s largest independent human rights advocacy organization. The group said that the authorities have also interfered with the registration of 47 local branches and the group’s head office in Rabat by declining to complete the formalities when the branches file documents that they are legally required to submit periodically. The Law on Associations in article 5 requires the authorities to issue a receipt when the documents are filed. Without a receipt, a branch faces obstacles to carrying out many essential functions, such as opening a bank account or making withdrawals, said Abdelkhalek Benzekri, AMDH director for international relations.

Several branches and the head office have sued the government over the non-issue of receipts and blocking of gatherings. In November 2014, the Rabat Administrative Court issued a finding that the government had erred when prohibiting the AMDH from organizing a conference and ordered the government to pay damages. In another case, the AMDH headquarters in Rabat sued the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the administrative court for prohibiting the organization from using a ministry facility for an event. The court ruled in the group’s favor in January 2015, and ordered the government to pay damages. The government appealed and lost both these rulings, but has yet to implement the judgments.

In 2015, the Administrative Appeals Court ruled in AMDH’s favor against four government appeals of lower court rulings over the failure to provide receipts. In 2016, the administrative court in the first instance held on two other cases that refusing to issue the receipts to AMDH violated the law. In only seven of the 125 cases in which meetings were blocked did the authorities provide a written notice, the AMDH said. The 125 cases included both internal meetings limited to staff, and events open to the public, including meetings, conferences, and workshops in both public and privately owned venues. The meetings were to cover topics such as women’s rights, workers’ rights, and the overall human rights situation in Morocco.

Activists from the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) demonstrate after local authorities prohibit them from fholding a planned training workshop, Rabat- Morocco, December 2014.
AMDH said that in other cases, the government pressed owners of private event locations who had agreed to hold the events to call them off. In other instances, AMDH members arrived to find the doors padlocked. Youssef Raissouni, the AMDH administrative director, said the group has been able to relocate blocked meetings to its own offices and to the premises of friendly organizations.

Moroccan authorities have imposed restrictions on other domestic and regional rights groups. Khadija Ryadi, the president of the Coordination for Maghreb Human Rights Organizations (CMODH) who was formerly the president of AMDH, told Human Rights Watch that authorities refused to let the CMODH file the required documents relating to its recent internal elections. In October 2016, the Rabat Administrative Court ordered the government to accept the filing of CMODH.

Morocco’s 1958 Law on Public Assemblies, as amended in 2002, requires organizers of public meetings to notify the authorities in advance. However, article 3 exempts from the notification requirement “associations and groups that are legally recognized whose purposes are specifically cultural, artistic, athletic, as well as the meetings of associations and entities providing first aid or charity.”
Benzekri told Human Rights Watch that in the past, as a matter of policy, neither the AMDH’s central bureau in Rabat nor its local chapters had notified the authorities in advance of their public or internal events because it considered itself exempted under article 3, an interpretation that the Rabat Administrative Court has upheld. Lately, in an effort to prevent authorities from blocking events, the AMDH and its branches have been notifying authorities more regularly of upcoming public and internal events, in some cases seeking written approval from the local authorities.
The restrictions on AMDH gatherings went from being rare to frequent around July 2014, when Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad attacked some human rights organizations, accusing them of obstructing the government’s counterterrorism agenda, according to AMDH.

In June 2015, the government expelled two Amnesty International researchers from the country and has not approved any of its research missions since then. In September 2015, it banned Human Rights Watch researchers from conducting research missions to Morocco or Western Sahara. “The Rabat Administrative Court has now issued several rulings in favor of the AMDH,” Whitson said. “The government should comply with the courts’ rulings, allowing the AMDH once again to organize meetings and events freely.”

Examples of Prohibitions in 2016
According to information provided by the AMDH, authorities prevented 26 events during 2016, including workshops, conferences, and internal meetings. Although the majority of cases involved publicly operated venues, authorities on several occasions prohibited meetings, including internal meetings, scheduled for private venues such as hotels, Benzekri said. He said that authorities pressured these businesses to reject requests from the AMDH to conduct events there.

In one such case, according to AMDH, on October 9, 2015, the head office, in partnership with the Justice Ministry, held a seminar on disability rights in Rabat. Although the Al-Majliss hotel had agreed to provide accommodation, meals, and a meeting room, the hotel management said after the event began that it would provide accommodation and meals only, and canceled the planned workshops. The hotel told the group that the authorities had instructed it to cancel the activity, AMDH officials said. Padlocked gate of Bouhlal Center of the Ministry of Youth and Sports after authorities prevented the Moroccan Association for Human Rights from conducting an event, Rabat- Morocco, Septemeber 2014. 
© 2014 The Moroccan Association for Human Rights

Tinghir Branch
Khadija Haddan, president of AMDH’s Tinghir branch in Draa-Tafilalet province, told Human Rights Watch that on December 17, 2016, local authorities prevented the organization from using a public meeting hall for a planned conference on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Haddan said it was the first time authorities prevented the branch from using a public hall in Tinghir. She said that the AMDH branch on December 14 had notified the local representative of the Ministry of Interior of the subject of the conference, and its date and location. Haddan then asked the head of the Federation of Development Associations in Tinghir to use one of its halls for the event, but was turned down on the grounds that they first needed the approval of local authorities.

Haddan said she went back to the ministry’s local representative, who asked her to delay the conference. Since it was too late to postpone, Haddan moved the event to a private hall owned by the mining company Managem. Haddan said the group did not notify the authorities because it was the weekend, but conference participants arrived at the hall to find that authorities had prohibited it. In the end, AMDH Tinghir held the conference with a reduced number of participants on its own smaller premises that day.

Temara Branch
Najia Lebrim, president of AMDH’s Temara branch, in Rabat-Salé -Kenitra province, said the organization submitted a written request to the ministry’s local official on October 16, 2016, to use a public hall for a roundtable on the future of public schools. In the past, Lebrim said, the group had received oral approval from the representative’s office and a request for payment. The office approved the use of the hall, but without a request for payment.
But on October 22, the day of the event, the hall’s door was locked and security forces prohibited participants from entering, Lebrim said. The branch moved the event to the local offices of a political party.

Administrative Court Rulings

Temara Branch
The AMDH’s Temara branch is one of 47 AMDH branches facing obstacles in obtaining a receipt from local authorities proving that they have complied with their reporting requirements, according to a list provided by AMDH. Lebrim said that AMDH filed suit on October 26, 2015, at the Rabat Administrative Court, after local authorities refused to accept AMDH’s periodic submission on the branch’s governing structure. The Rabat Administrative Court ruled that the local authorities’ decision violated the law and canceled the government’s refusal to accept the filing.
The government filed an appeal, but on June 29, 2016, the Administrative Appeals Court affirmed that the government wrongly failed to issue the receipt. Despite the ruling, the government has yet to issue the receipt, Lebrim said.

CMODH Ruling
On July 27, 2016, directors of the Coordination for Maghreb Human Rights Organizations (CMODH) appealed a decision by the Rabat Governorate to reject the papers that the CMODH filed concerning changes to its governing structures. In its suit, CMODH said that the refusal to accept the organization’s submission for renewal violated the group’s right to freedom of association and resulted in financial and moral damage, as it prevented members from carrying out activities, including meetings and conferences. CMODH requested 40,000 dirhams (US$4,000) in compensation for sustaining moral damage and 10,000 dirhams ($1,000) for financial damage.

The government responded that it had rejected CMODH’s original submission for non-compliance with formal requirements, most notably a failure to list a legal representative and discrepancy in the addresses it listed. The government also said that the group did not comply with several requirements of the Law on Associations, including the fact that 16 out of 26 organizations within CMODH were foreign organizations, making CMODH a “foreign organization,” and a failure to formally notify local authorities of the group’s intention to organize a constituent meeting before conducting it.
On October 28, 2016, the Rabat Administrative Court ruled in favor of CMODH, saying that the rejection had resulted in financial and moral damage to the organization and ordered the Interior Ministry to pay 20,000 dirhams (US$2,000) to compensate the organization. CMODH President Khadija Ryadi, who was formerly the president of AMDH, said that the authorities have appealed the administrative court’s decision and have yet to issue a final registration receipt to the CMODH.

OMPIC: 75.000 Businesses Created in Morocco in 2016

By Chaima Lahsini - February 24, 2017, Rabat

A total of 74,807 companies were created in Morocco in 2016, including 39,896 legal entities and 34,911 private companies, according to a report presented by the Moroccan Industrial and Commercial Property Office (OMPIC) in Casablanca on Tuesday. 12,847 trademark applications were submitted to the OMPIC, marking a record year for the office. The indicators for the 2016 fiscal year show an acute evolution of its various services, which will enable Morocco to improve its international business positioning and achieve the expected objectives in terms of rankings.
2016’s growth is illustrated notably by the historic high rate of brand creation. OMPIC said it had received about 12,847 trademark applications in 2016, registering an increase of 7% from a year earlier.

According to Adil El Malki, DG of the office, this evolution is certainly an encouraging step forward, particularly considering the relatively high proportion of applications from Moroccan companies. The share of Moroccan applications registration was 56% (5,636 requests) in 2016, an increase of 17% from a year earlier. Thanks to this evolution, Morocco was able to come 42nd in the 2016 edition of the industrial property indicators belonging to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The presentation of the 2016 report of the OMPIC which took place Tuesday February 21 in Casablanca proves that Moroccan companies are integrating brands into their development strategy.
One of the key strengths of this historic growth is the rate of renewals, as 30% of the brands that were created in 2006 were renewed in 2016. Moroccan companies are also leading in terms of design. Of the 1,385 applications for registration of designs registered in 2016, 821 are of Moroccan origin. This increase in demand for Moroccan designs by 5% consolidates the positioning of Morocco, which is currently at the 22nd place on the international scale.

A record has also been made for patents. The number of filed applications increased in 2016 by 21% to 1,240, 20% of which are of Moroccan origin (237), an improvement of 6% from a year before. Foreign patent filings improved by 26%, with 1,003 patent applications in 2016. Morocco has taken a big step with regards to native-origin patents, from a share of 17% in 2014 to 38% in 2016. Innovation still comes more from outside of Morocco than from within, but a decisive increase in the quality of patents is encouraging. “We can rejoice at the quality of our patents,” stated El Maliki at the conference. “They are of better quality and meet the international patentability criteria. This is one of the objectives that we set ourselves during the reform of the law on industrial property and which entered into force in 2014.” He added that OMPIC would continue to encourage these new and inventive patents with a view to securing them international exposure.

Morocco Might Be Part of NASA’s Major Discovery

By Morocco World News -  February 21, 2017 Rabat

NASA will hold a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present “new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets,” announced the space agency on Monday.
The event, which will be aired live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, has already caught the attention of Media and scientists giving hope that NASA could find a planet able to hold life.
A few hours after the announcement, the Observatory of Oukaimeden (South of Morocco), affiliated with Cadi Ayad University, in Marrakech announced via its Facebook page that Morocco is “taking part in an important discovery in the field of exoplanets.”

“Rehearsing the excellent success of the MOSS Telescope, which as soon as it was installed in 2011, had discovered four new comets and four new geo-cruising asteroids,” wrote Zouhair Benkhaldoun, Director of the Observatory, on his Facebook page. Benkhaldoun went on to add that with “more than a million measurements sent to the Minor Planet Center, of the International Astronomical Union, the Oukaïmeden Observatory ranks among the 10 best in the world in the discovery of small bodies Solar system. It was also ranked” 7th in 2016 and 37th of all time on more than 500 observatories.”

Further details have not been revealed yet to confirm if there is a match between these announcements. The discovery will be announced in a press Conference on February 23 in the University’s Headquarters. The only information revealed thus far, is that the Moroccan discovery “was carried out thanks to the TRAPPIST-Nord telescope installed a few months ago at the Oukaïmeden Observatory.”

From teary eyes and bitter smiles, to carefree laughs and hopeful dreams, a video by the NGO Les Citoyens captures the heart of what it is to be Moroccan.


Launched in February 2016, the NGO has set itself the goal of promoting individual freedoms and encouraging social dialogue in a country where traditions are deeply rooted and where more than 15.5% of the people live on US$3.1 a day. “Today we all share a sense of concern about what is happening in our country.” said Abdellah Tourabi, a journalist and member of Les Citoyens, in the pages of the weekly Tel Quel. “And this movement was created to reflect and think about change.”

The video regroups testimonies of Moroccans of every shade and color, from different parts of the country, from different social classes. In Darija, French and Tamazaghit, they all had something to say:
“It’s very difficult to make a life for yourself in Morocco.”
“We only criticize our country because we love it.”
“Wherever you go, you are oppressed, in the hospitals, the court, the administrations, everywhere!”
“Everybody is free in Morocco, you can do whatever you want!”
“We don’t want Morocco to change, we want Moroccans to change.”

A colorful palette of people, candide and sometimes poignant testimonies of everyday Moroccans, some just like us, and others forgotten in the deep mountains of the country. Love, education, poverty, happiness, family, Moroccans tell it all in a beautiful explosion of emotions. A hopeful youth dreaming of a better future, and bitter regret of a generation who couldn’t pull out from a society riddled with poverty and illiteracy. Through the video, we get to take a peek at the open heart of Moroccans, our people, ourselves. We get to hear about their dreams, their hopes. In a beautiful canvas of raw emotions, a heartening display of empathy, and the deep love we all carry for our land, this video might just move you to tears, as it did me.
“Happiness can be created through anything”
“Did you love the man you were supposed to marry? No.”
“I wanna study, I wanna be able to read. I want to learn.”
“We have a lot to say, and we should be able to say them. Otherwise, our unspoken words will rot and die inside of us.”

Photo Exhibition: The “Germinal” of Moroccan Mehdy Mariouch

By Youssef Igrouane -  February 20, 2017

Casablanca’s L’Uzine Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Moroccan photojournalist Mehdy Mariouch, entitled “Snippets of Life,” a series of documentary photographs portraying the daily life of miners in the Middle Atlas and east of Morocco. The exhibition will run until March 20.“Snippets of Life” may remind viewers of “Germinal,” the classic novel by French author, Emile Zola, which portrays the misery of coal miners in France. However, Mariouch, focused his camera’s lens on very original human stories.

10.3 Million Tourists Visited Morocco in 2016

By Chaima Lahsini - February 21, 2017 Rabat

A total of 10.3 million tourists visited Morocco in 2016, an increase of 1.5% compared to 2015. The number of foreign tourists (TES) decreased by 0.9%, while arrivals of Moroccans living abroad (MRE) increased by 4%, according to statistics published by the Observatory on Tourism in Morocco for December 2016, citing data provided by the General Directorate of National Security.
Spanish, Dutch and Belgian tourist arrivals increased by 2%, 3% and 2% respectively, while arrivals from the United Kingdom, Germany and France have decreased by 6%, 2% and 1%. While at the end of 2016, the Chinese and Russian markets increased by 32,329 and 23,921 additional arrivals compared to 2015.

Quoting data provided by tourist accommodation professionals, the Observatory  noted that total overnight stays in classified accommodation establishments increased by 4.5% compared to the end of 2015, registering a 1.4% increase in non-resident tourists and an 11% increase in residents. The two tourist centers of Marrakech and Agadir accounted for 60% of the total overnight stays in the past year, registering increases of 6% and 4% respectively, the Observatory said. Other destinations posted contrasting results, with a 6% growth in Casablanca and 9% in Tangier, while a considerable decrease was registered in Rabat and Fes with -6%.

At the end of 2016, revenues generated by the tourist activity of non-residents in Morocco amounted to MAD 63.24 billion against 61.15 billion in 2015, marking an increase of +3.4%.
The Observatory also disclosed that during the month of November 2016 the number of tourist arrivals at border posts increased by 11.2% compared with 2015 (+14.4% for TES and 7.4% for MREs).

Morocco Morocco Launches Environmental Police

By Morocco World News - February 24, 2017 , By Amira El Masaiti Rabat

The Ministry of Energy, Mining, Water, and Environment organized a ceremony to launch the environmental police on Thursday, 23 February in Rabat. The ceremony, which was led by Hakima El Haite, the Minister Delegate in Charge of the Environment, will involve the handing over of environmental inspector’s cards and the presentation of technical monitoring equipment and vehicles for the environmental police.

The creation of regional environmental brigades to protect against environmental damage was first announced in September 2013 by the General Directorate of National Security. The missions of the environmental police, set by Decree No. 2-14-782 of 30  on May 19, 2015, include the raising of awareness of environmental issues and the inspection, research, investigation, verbalization and detection of environmental infringements.

The offenses that the environmental brigades will police are as numerous as its mission: deposits of waste on private or public land, possession obsolete products or contraband drugs, transport of dangerous goods without authorization. Offenders may face fines ranging from MAD 100 to MAD 2 million as well as possible imprisonment. Once the infringement has been established by the environmental inspector, this latter is responsible for determining the seriousness of the infringement and the penalty for the infringement.

According to the decree, environmental police officers “perform their functions voluntarily, or at the request of the governmental environmental authority, or as part of a national environmental supervisory board set up for purpose of environment protection.“ The national control plan in particular aims to identify “sectors and industries, environmental activities, which must be submitted as a priority to environmental control,” adding that an annual report should be sent to the Head of Government.
Since November 2013, a brigade of 14 environmental police elements have been deployed in Casablanca, Rabat and Mohammedia. From January to July 2014, 414 offense tickets were registered.

Understanding Morocco’s Business Culture

By Morocco World News - February 21, 2017 ,By Karthik Krishnan Rabat

No two countries have the same exact business culture. Some are overly ambitious and rake more risks while others tread with caution. One way to prove this is to look at the banking policies of different countries. Compare homeowner loans of the UK and those of Morocco for instance. You will see a wide variation of the two. According to the Hofstede 6-D Model, the deep drivers of Morocco’s cultures in respect to Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long Term Orientation, and Indulgence are as follows:

Power distance
Hierarchy in an organization is a reflection of inherent inequalities. Centralization is common, and subordinates expect guidance and direction on their roles.  The ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat.
Morroco is a hierarchical society. This means that people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and in which there is no need for further justification. This hierarchical pedigree is, however, less obvious in Morrocco in comparison to other countries.

 Morocco is a collectivist society. It manifests itself in the close long-term commitment to the group a person belongs to based on loyalty and trust, which overrides other societal rules and regulations. Moroccans are strongly dependent on relatives and to a lesser extent on friends, in certain settings such as family and tribe. Moroccans tend to be more collectivist. But in a business environment, individualism prevails. Another interesting aspect is the perception of offense. In collectivist societies offense leads to shame and loss of face.

A masculine society (high score) gets drive from competition, achievement, and success. It starts in school and continues to prevail in other organizations. On the other hand, a feminine society (low score) is a society in which people care most about the quality of life. Morocco gets an intermediate score of 53 on this dimension.

Uncertainty avoidance
Countries exhibiting high uncertainty avoidance maintain rigid codes of belief and behavior and are intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas. In these cultures, there is an emotional need for rules (even if the rules never seem to work), there is resistance to innovation, and security is an important element in individual motivation. Morocco has a very high preference for avoiding uncertainty; it scores two times higher than Asian countries. I think that it is mainly due to the role religion plays in Morocco.

Long Term Orientation
With the very low score of 14, the Moroccan culture is clearly normative. People in such societies have a relatively small propensity to save for the future and a focus on achieving quick results.
Although Moroccans prefer working with past acquaintances, they do not emphasize at the beginning on establishing a long-term business relationship. Contrast this with the Chinese culture where long-term orientation is a crucial part in carrying on a successful business deal, and only time can help establish trust in business relationships.

Morocco has a culture of restraint. Restrained societies have the perception that their actions are restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong. The only difference that I can highlight is the fact that the Moroccan restraint has its roots in religion rather than simply social norms and tradition, as in other restrained countries.

Agriculture: A Dangerous Bacterium Threatens Morocco

By Chaima Lahsini - February 21, 2017 , Rabat

Although Xylella Fastidiosa has not affected Morocco, the bacterium poses a great threat to 350 plant, tree, ornamental, and forest species in the Mediterranean region. On Monday, February 20, the National Food Safety Authority (ONSSA) organized a study day in Rabat in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under the title, “Xylella diseases, a very serious phytosanitary risk for the arboricultural sector in Morocco.”

This day is part of the regional technical cooperation project with FAO dedicated to strengthening national capacities to prevent the introduction and spread of Xylella Fastidiosa in North Africa and the Near East. It aims to inform and sensitize stakeholders on the phytosanitary risk linked to Xylella fastidiosa, the factors of its spread, and the danger that it poses for plant species.

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mohammed Sadiki, presided over the official opening of the National Awareness Day on the bacterium Xylella Fastidiosa, in the presence of the FAO Representative in Morocco, Mr. Michael George Hage, Representative of the Moroccan Confederation of Agriculture and Rural Development (COMADER), Mr. Rachid Banali, and representatives of the professional organizations and heads of the Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Sadiki pointed out that this disease does not affect Morocco, but in order to avoid the spread of the disease, the commitment of all actors operating in the import sector is necessary. “This meeting is organized in a very precise context, marked by the increase in trade between Morocco and many European countries from which our country imports important quantities plants that are hosts of the bacterium”, he added. In early February, the bacterium was detected on the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean. Accordingly, the National Office of Food Safety (ONSSA) implemented a proactive strategy based on a series of preventive measures.

Xylella fastidiosa is a highly epidemic disease, potentially transmitted by many insect vectors, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement. In the absence of methods to control this bacterium, “only uprooting and total destruction of plants are recommended to cope with it and eradicate the disease in contaminated pockets,” adds the same source.

ONSSA is thus very vigilant and ensures close monitoring of the evolution of the phytosanitary situation. The technical services of the office are deploying extra efforts by raising awareness among farmers and agricultural professionals so they can quickly identify the symptoms of Xylella fastidiosa and mobilize the necessary means of control. Xylella fastidiosa swept through several regions in the world, including the United States and Canada, Central America, Asia, and Europe. It has been reported in Italy in 2013, France in 2015, and Germany and Spain in 2016.

Moroccan Economic Leadership: Bonanza for Africa, Morocco and the West

By Mohamed Chtatou - February 21, 2017 Rabat

Albeit the nemesis Algerian government and its traditional cronies in the African continent i.e. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, etc., the whole world is applauding king Mohammed VI relentless efforts to set a purely African south-south cooperation scheme with the honest intent of creating wealth and sharing it equally within the African continent.

The World Is Changing Rapidly
Trump’s America is more interested in surrounding itself by walls than building bridges of exchange and understanding with the world at large and is currently, instead, making of international trade a lethal weapon and not a magic stick to create jobs and happiness around the world. Old Europe, which, once upon a time, reached out to the south for manpower to rebuild after the devastation of WWII, is, now, scared to death of migration that might change irrevocably the human geographical map of this continent forever. While the West is shaken to the roots by doubts and fears and, consequently, is retreating into populism, bigotry and xenophobia, and, by so doing, burying reluctantly its recent creation called “globalization,” China is on the rise. It is attempting to control the world by means of commerce and its immediate target is the south where it is duly spreading its tentacles and influence.

Moroccan Economic Leadership
In the midst of international fear, doubt, racism and protectionism, King Mohammed VI, riding his steel horse (Boeing 747) is tirelessly going from country to country in Africa proposing beneficial cooperation schemes within honorable win-win ventures. The concept is simple; Morocco will bring fresh capital, expertise and willingness to create wealth and jobs for everyone with no strings attached to it in return for administrative and economic facilities. So far, the response from the concerned parties has been tremendous.

In a report written for the Trump administration by Robert Satloff[i] and Sarah Feuer[ii] of the prestigious Washington Institute For Near East Policy[iii] entitled: ‘Strengthening stability in northwest africa – Ideas for U.S. Policy toward Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia,’ these two respected experts argue, quite rightly, that: “In recent years, King Mohammed VI has sought to expand the kingdom’s economic, diplomatic, and security-related influence across Africa. The strategic repositioning has been reflected in efforts to establish Morocco as a financial hub for African investment, the decision to seek to rejoin the African Union after years of boycotting the organization over its stance on Western Sahara, reforms aimed at training the region’s religious leaders to counter extremist ideologies, and participation in regional security initiatives such as the TransSahara Counterterrorism Partnership. The United States should welcome, encourage, and support these initiatives. Such support could range from efforts by the Commerce Department to highlight Morocco’s role as a continental hub for U.S. businesses to bolstering the U.S. participation a high-profile events such as the Marrakesh Security Forum, an annual gathering of African security and diplomatic officials.”  Other governments around the world welcomed the Moroccan attempts to create positive partnership venues in Africa, seeing in this enterprise a courageous move to help and benefit mutually in the good spirit of: ”scratch my back, I will scratch yours,” and away from any form of hegemony or control.

Aspects of Economic Cooperation
The Moroccan public and private conglomerates are moving en masse to invest in Africa and create beneficial economic opportunities for both sides. Moroccan companies have, indeed, accounted for nearly 9 percent of the business transacted in Africa.[iv]  Some of these companies are as follows:
– Fertilizer conglomerate: OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates) will create plants in several countries and share expertise;
– Banking institutions: Moroccan banks such as: Banque Populaire, Attijari Wafa Bank, BMCE have taken over failing African banks and are managing them into profit anew and have, also, created their own banks for business and investment in the continent;
– Insurance: The big insurance company Saham is extremely active in the insurance business in many countries in which it managing profitable business;
– Telecommunication: the huge Moroccan telecom company Itissalat al-Maghrib has subsidiary companies in several countries and boasts over 30 million customers;
– Mining: Moroccan economic holdings are very active in the mining sector  in several countries;
– Infrastructure: Buzzichelli Maroc is present in electrification projects and Addoha in building cement plants;
– Water and power: the Moroccan public company ONEE (Office National de l’Eau et de l’Electricité) is responsible for many national African companies; etc.

Probably, the biggest Moroccan project in Africa so far is the future oil pipeline that will bring Nigerian oil to the Mediterranean coast to make it available for the European continent for use.
For the Atlantic Council,[v] in spite of the fact that Morocco has to grapple with many regulatory daunting obstacles in African countries such as: capital controls, complex hiring and firing processes, and an unwieldy property registry, yet the indicators are compelling: in the 1990s, Moroccan trade with sub-Saharan Africa amounted to an average of US $300 million annually. Since 1998, it has averaged US $529 million annually and reached US $1 billion in 2008.

The Atlantic Council has called on the US government back in 2014, in a report on Moroccan economic positive incursion in Africa, to strengthen cooperation with Morocco:
“Morocco is a long-standing US ally and a burgeoning regional power on a critical continent. And it is in the United States’ strategic interests to further deepen economic and commercial cooperation and cultivate stronger political and security partnerships with Morocco. Given its unique socio-cultural heritage, Morocco also operates comfortably in the Arab, European, and sub-Saharan—particularly, but not exclusively, Francophone— African contexts, and its extensive cultural and commercial relationships with those regions makes it well-suited to serve as a bridge for American commercial diplomacy into Africa. King Mohammed VI, throughout his tours of Africa and in recent addresses to international forums on Africa’s economic development has articulated a clear and reasoned rationale for his commitment to Africa’s growth—calling for example for triangular aid projects to build sustainable programs utilizing regional talents and resources.”

Moroccan Economic Beachhead in Africa
King Mohammed VI skilful economic diplomacy, since his accession to the throne of Morocco in 1999, has efficiently established an economic beachhead onto the African continent for the good of the African people, Moroccan economy and Western business interests. It must be said that this triangulating effort is undoubtedly good for all the sides concerned, bearing in mind that Africa is a true gold mine waiting to be exploited comprehensively by all parties that will come on board and its windfall will be great for the development of the African continent and the wellbeing of its valiant and proud people.

A Dispatch from the Casablanca Book Salon

Ursula Lindsey / 20 Feb 2017 Casablanca

Last week Morocco’s biggest and busiest city—hosted the 23rd edition of the Salon de L’Edition et du Livre, the country’s national publishing and book fair. More low key than the Cairo International Book Fair, which I attended and wrote about for Al-Fanar Media last year, the Casablanca salon is nevertheless an important date on Morocco’s cultural and intellectual calendar. It is usually marked by the publication of a number of significant works, and this year is no different.

For example, Asma Lamrabet, a prominent Moroccan public intellectual and feminist, has two new books dealing with the status of women and Islam: Croyantes et feministes, un autre regard sur la religion (“Believers and feminists, another view of religion”) (Edition du Sirocco) and Islam et femmes, les questions qui fachent (“Islam and women, the annoying questions”) (En Toutes Lettres).
Lamrabet is a medical doctor and the director of the Center for Women’s Studies in Islam in Rabat whose views owe a considerable debt to the work of the late sociologist, Fatema Mernissi. In her book Islam and Women, she says her goal is “to clear up the confusion between the spiritual message of the sacred Text and institutionalized, interpretative orthodoxy. To rectify the great number of sexist and sometimes defamatory prejudices that have been transcribed into the Muslim tradition in the name of divine precepts. And to denounce what a patriarchal culture has forged in the spirit of Muslims: the devalorization of women.”

Book fairs are one of the best places for readers in the Arab world to find a wide, affordable selection of publications. And one of the reasons they are so important is that book distribution networks are very weak—both across borders and within each country. In Morocco, there is much talk of “a crisis of reading.” A recent survey by a Moroccan cultural association found that 85 percent of Moroccans do not have library cards, and 64 percent have not bought a book in the past year. Print runs are very modest, many towns have no library or even bookstore, and writers and publishers struggle to make a living.

Today in Morocco, “it’s not the reader who searches for the book, but the book who is searching for a reader,” says Abdeljalil Nadem of Editions Toubkal, one of the country’s best-known publishing houses, founded by a group of academics and intellectuals 30 years ago. Toubkal publishes translations into Arabic of notable writers like the French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes; books by Moroccan scholars such as Abdelfattah Kilito; and works of literature, literary and art criticism, and linguistics. Nadem says he has been told his catalogue is just for “the elite.” But as a publisher, he says, he makes his choices “individually and historically,” both out of personal passion and “for future generations.”

The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Human Sciences and Islamic Studies—a Saudi-funded association and library dedicated to encouraging research in the Maghreb region—has just issued its second report on publishing in Morocco. The report catalogued 3,304 new publications in 2016, including 497 academic journals (it excluded textbooks, manuals and publications in the hard sciences). Literary works make up the highest percentage of the publications (25 percent), followed by writing on the law (14percent) and religion (10 percent). About a quarter of all books are self-published, and 86 percent of the authors are male.

The share of Arabic-language publications has steadily increased, reaching over 80 percent of the book market today. The book fair features a large official stand for books in the recently recognized Tamazight language (a standardized version of the Berber languages spoken by over a third of the country), but the report found that only 2 percent of publications were in this language.
The Casablanca salon is a remarkably polyglot, cosmopolitan affair. It’s not just that panelists have the common North African tendency to toggle back and forth between French and Arabic in the span of a single sentence; several events this year highlight the connection between Spain and Morocco, and a number of new translations from Spanish to Arabic. The work of Edmond Amran El Maleh, the Moroccan Jewish writer and committed anti-colonialist and communist activist, is being celebrated on the 100th anniversary of his birth. And the salon’s main focus this year is on African literature, with authors invited from countries across the continent to discuss questions of pan-African cooperation; the contribution of women writers; immigration and alternatives to globalization; and “the end of the post-colonial era.”

Of course the question of writers and readers—and their absence—is intimately tied to education. Morocco’s National Human Rights Council is one of several associations offering its own schedule of public debates. At a panel on youth and universities, the speakers and the audience were unanimous in their view of the higher education system as failing, and their concern over the growing gap between public and private universities.

If university education used to be “a social elevator,” everyone seemed to agree it has now broken down. Hamid Elafdil, a prominent investor and head of an association that aids talented, impoverished students, spoke of the need for “positive discrimination” to provide not equality, but at least an “equality of chances.” Another speaker suggested that it would take a generation to find a solution. In the meantime, about 200,000 Moroccan college graduates enter the labor market every year.

These graduates may be motivated to continue their learning by investing in books. But it is easy to see why the million or so young people aged 15-24 who are neither working, studying nor enrolled in any kind of training might see little reason to attend a literary salon, or to spend the average cost of 61.10 Moroccan Dirhams (about $6) on a book.

Morocco: Social Dialogue Has Endorsed Social Character of Morocco's Constitutional Monarchy - HM the King

Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat) Rabat

HM King Mohammed VI underlined that social dialogue, which has been adopted and institutionalized as a strategic option for Morocco, has endorsed the social character of the country's constitutional monarchy.
"Social dialogue is a principle and an approach that, since my accession to the throne of my glorious ancestors, I have been urging all stakeholders to adopt and institutionalize as a strategic option for our country which, since the 1962 Constitution, has endorsed the social character of our constitutional monarchy," the Sovereign noted in a royal message to the participants in the 2nd International Parliamentary Forum on Social Dialogue, which kicked off Monday in Rabat.

"Accordingly, I have been keen to strengthen and further develop the social dialogue achievements made during the reign of my late father, His Majesty King Hassan II," HM the King said, adding that "the creation of the Economic and Social Council, provided for in the 1996 Constitution, was one of the strategic decisions he made." The Sovereign stressed that on several occasions, he has urged successive governments to promote consultation between social parties, adopt suitable approaches for the establishment and organization of professional relations and consolidate and develop social dialogue mechanisms and approaches.

To put this course of action into effect, the legislative body has introduced a significant number of laws, following royal guidelines, in order to launch a series of consultation, negotiation, conciliation and dispute-resolution mechanisms, the monarch pointed out, noting that a number of councils and committees have also been created to facilitate dialogue between production stakeholders.
The national social dialogue system has therefore been consolidated thanks to various mechanisms for collective bargaining and dialogue provided for in the Labor Law, the Sovereign said, noting that the efficiency of the social dialogue mechanisms may not be measured by their mere existence, nor by how regularly they work, as they must have a tangible effect that produces good practices and helps promote social peace, economic growth and sustainable, inclusive development for all social categories, in order to reach the ultimate goal of achieving social justice.

One of the main challenges facing all parties involved in the process of social dialogue is how to manage the transition to a new generation of mechanisms, HM the King stressed. "In this regard, I would like to point out that our country's constitution reflects our shared aspirations and brings realistic and effective responses to this practical challenge," the Sovereign said, adding that "a number of constitutional provisions offer invaluable opportunities that need to be intelligently and innovatively exploited by legislators, as well as by all stakeholders, local councils and civil society in order to achieve advanced institutionalization of social dialogue, as one of the components of the national model for social justice." Optimal use of such opportunities, however, requires appropriate answers to a number of practical questions, HM the King noted, adding that when looking for answers to these questions, four challenges closely linked to the process of building a Moroccan model for social justice must be taken into consideration.

The first challenge is the institutionalization of social dialogue mechanisms which have simple procedures and clear approaches and can include all parties, while the second challenge "is the need to enlarge the scope of social dialogue to include new issues, which are at the heart of my concerns and part of our country's constitutional and conventional commitments, namely effective equality, the fight against gender discrimination at the workplace and the fight against child labor," the Sovereign explained.

The third challenge is the need to build a new social dialogue system, taking into consideration the prerequisites for gender equality and the respect of human rights, along with Morocco's commitments in accordance with the International Labor Organization's conventions and with the requirements for sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions, HM the King underlined, adding that the fourth challenge is to consider the institutionalization of social dialogue as a major gateway to achieving social justice and sustainable development.

"These requirements must be taken into consideration not only to ensure the methodological coherence of the new social dialogue system, but is also because they are at the heart of the course of action resolutely adopted by our country, with a view to changing to a new sustainable development model which is fair and comprehensive. This model should achieve social justice and set the conditions for a decent life, which are fundamental for laying the foundations for a solidarity-based society, as described in the preamble to the Kingdom's constitution," the Sovereign said.
In this regard, HM the King asked the House of Advisors to pursue the participatory construction of a Moroccan model for social justice, through the organization of thematic and sectoral debates, forums and consultations with the relevant actors and to make use of their results to prepare future sessions of this parliamentary forum.

Exploring the History of Wine in Morocco

By Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

While many travelers to Morocco return home with treasures from the souk (marketplaces) and stories of stays in luxurious riads (palaces) in Marrakech or tent camps in the Sahara, few bring back tales of local wine. Most meals there, especially those eaten outside hotels or high-end restaurants, are accompanied solely by Maghrebi mint tea.

Winemaking in this North African nation dates back to Phoenician times, and the tradition continued through the Roman era. The art of enology was lost here in the 7th century due to Islamic bans on alcohol, but French colonization in the 19th and early 20th centuries heralded the return of both winemaking and social drinking.

By the 1950s, Morocco was one of the largest wine exporting countries in the world, but after the country gained independence in 1956, many vineyards were abandoned or plowed over. In the 1990s, King Hassan II appealed to French investors and wine experts to return the industry to its former glory. Despite the notion of Morocco as a hot country with a desert climate, most vineyards are in the foothills of the coastal Atlas Mountains. The relatively high altitudes and the cooling effect of the nearby ocean preserve acidity in grapes and help create balanced wines. Today, the country produces about 40 million bottles of wine annually, but only about 5 percent is exported. There are seven wine regions containing a total of 14 AOGs (guaranteed appellation of origin) and 2 AOCs (controlled appellation of origin).

Morocco's February 20 movement: 'Demands still alive' Not much has changed since the movement's inception six years ago, activists say.

By Ahmed Zakarya Mitiche 22 Feb 2017  Rabat
Moroccans once again rallied under one banner on February 20 to protest corruption and demand employment opportunities [Reuters]

Over a thousand protesters marched through Morocco 's capital city on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the country's 2011 wave of protests, known as the February 20 Movement, that was inspired by the Arab uprisings taking place in Tunisia and other Arab countries. Protesters, representing a myriad of political affiliations, rallied under the banner of the February 20 Movement and called for an end to corruption, better housing and employment opportunities, and an end to privatisation of schools, among other demands.

As the marchers made their way to the Parliament building, chants began to turn towards the government. For four months, Morocco's Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane has struggled to agree on a coalition for the national parliament, essentially leaving the country without a functioning government. Moroccans have called this 'the blockage'.

Nabila Mounib, general-secretary of the Unified Socialist Party, who openly supported the February 20 Movement since its inception, said that Benkirane did well to fight corruption and extortion and faced many obstacles, but was not a strong enough leader these past five years to bring about the needed coalition. "We have gone full circle in our effort to bring about true democratisation with strong and independent parties," Mounib told AL Jazeera.

Mounib became the first woman to lead a major Moroccan political party when she took up her post in 2012. When the breakout of protests in 2011 led the King to announce a referendum on a new constitution, she was among those who called for a boycott of what she said was inadequate reform. "Many things have changed [in the past six years], but not in essence. The constitution failed to fulfil the major demand of the movement, the transition from an executive monarchy to a true parliamentary monarchy. For this reason, protesters have continued to march. The February 20 Movement's demands are very much still alive."

Other activists concur. For Oussama El Khlifi, who was a 23-year-old unemployed cyberactivist when the movement erupted, not much has changed since then. "Today, we call for the end of corruption and tyranny, true democratisation, and that power be to the people. As of now, none of these demands have been met."

It is a movement for everything that is wrong in Morocco" Mounia El Hamdaoui, an undergraduate, Mohamed V University

The movement, unique in its diversity, initially brought together various factions of the secular Left, independents, and youth from Morocco's largest Islamist association - the Justice and Charity Group - which is officially banned by the Moroccan monarchy, and which left the movement after only a few months. The split was made clear this weekend. A Leftist-led march was organised Sunday morning while another, separate, march was organised by the Islamist Justice and Charity later that afternoon, the latter producing the far larger crowd.

Hamza Haddi, a 26-year-old leader in the Leftist march and member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, said that no animosity existed between the groups. "The February 20 March was a popular movement, and they [Justice and Charity] have their specific demands and we have ours, but in the end, we all want the same thing, to end corruption and bring about a more just and fair society."

Sammy Badran, a Fulbright researcher and PhD candidate from the University of Kansas who studies the movement, says that the ideological differences among the various factions within the movement were not, however, without effect."While they worked together initially, there were disagreements and falling outs between Justice and Charity and some Leftists prior to [Justice and Charity's] withdrawal from the movement. The fact that they demonstrated separately attests to that."

Besides these two main contingencies, the February 20 Movement was often times a rallying cry for broad-based reform covering a wide range of concerns. "It is a movement for everything that is wrong in Morocco," says Mounia El Hamdaoui, an undergraduate at Mohamed V University. "I am here because we are living under 'hogra'," a phrase often used to mean oppression and unfairness.

Love Moroccan Interiors? Meet Dublin-based Dar Sol

24 Feb 2017 By IMAGE Interiors & Living

Discovering a rich craft heritage while on assignment in North Africa, photographer Daniel Holfeld was inspired to create Dar Sol, Dublin’s first Moroccan lifestyle store. In conversation with Jillian Bolger.

I first travelled to Morocco about seven years ago on a photography assignment. I’d been used to travelling around Europe within my comfort zone, so in Morocco it felt like all my senses had been awakened. Not only to the rich culture, heritage and tradition, but also everything is illuminated in this amazing sunshine. I started going back every two years, with commercial assignments. I always brought items home in my hand luggage and my friends would say, “Oh that’s amazing!” That gave me the confidence to think that people in Ireland will like this.

The relationship Ireland has with craft is very similar to Morocco: the same types of weaving, the same rural communities. In Ireland, they’d have been in the West and Donegal; in Morocco, they’re in the Atlas Mountains. I didn’t think about this until I started Dar Sol (Dar means “house” or “land” in Arabic and Sol represents the universal term for sun). When sourcing stock, I decided to do it ethically. The rugs and soft furnishings come from a co-op where the women are hired directly and get paid per square metre of whatever they weave. They’re earning more money from Dar Sol than if they sold to a local Moroccan selling to tourists in the souk.

The pouffes and leather goods are made by a family whose craft has been passed down through generations. It’s all Moroccan goats’ skins dyed with natural oils. Seeing them work the stitching and embroidery is wonderful. My grandparents were weavers and I grew up around looms, so I respond quite well to that. Coming across a family-run business is a very personal thing for me.
My uncles took on my grandparents’ mill when they passed away. They have been really helpful, checking the fabric, the weight and weave. They are vetting everything I bring back, and it’s nice to have their opinion.

The wooden pieces are all antiques and difficult to find. The man at the co-op, a local Berber, was wondering where I sourced such great pieces. Berber doors, used in the coffee tables, are becoming hard to find. Berber communities have moved on, their buildings have changed, and they’re selling these pieces on. The coffee tables are made of cedar wood and once that’s gone, I’ll never find that one again. When I unpacked them in the showroom, they filled the air with the scent of cedar oil.

With Moroccan design it’s all about natural materials. Less is definitely more. Invest in one key piece – a mirror, a rug, a pouffe – and let that be enough. You don’t want overkill. Pull back on the colours too. My collection has lots of neutrals, which customers can easily work into their homes. Dar Sol is quite new, and I’d like to grow the brand. Alongside the Dun Laoghaire store, I’m talking to people about a pop-up and have had a few interesting suggestions. The stock will evolve too. There’s ceramics I want to get in from new Moroccan designers who are winning a lot of acclaim in Morocco. I’m still testing the formula, what people like, what colours work, so want to fine-tune that before the pop-up.

Finding Easier Ways to Communicate Across Cultural Lines.

By Morocco World News - February 14, 2017  By Dahmani Hicham Rabat

The speech one uses in a daily exchange is either direct or indirect in accordance with the cultural devices one belongs to. The emergence of pragmatics in the sixties and seventies created the necessity for cross-cultural awareness to communicate effectively amongst cultures within the same device and across different social realities.

Possessing little or no awareness of other cultures will lead to complicated communication between individuals holding to divergent cultural norms. Putting it differently, a person will face difficulties while communicating, to the extent that he/she may not be able to demonstrate what is meant, compared with what is said. Stereotypes, for example, are widely held beliefs about a group of people which can bring unnecessary complexity to cross-cultural communications. For instance, an Asian man points out, “My wife and I went to a shopping mall to buy some cosmetics when we were in America. After comparing several products, my wife decided to buy a brand which is a kind of expensive. When she went to pay for the cosmetic, the salesclerk saw our Asian faces and we also probably looked like students.” She said “You can’t buy this. This is over one hundred dollars” (Martin & Nakayama, 2010, p. 55).

One may infer from this quote that some Americans construct a belief, springing from a lack of cross-cultural awareness, that Asian people experience harsh poverty, especially students, and can’t afford to purchase expensive goods. By using the word “can’t” the salesclerk pre-supposes that Asians are unable to pay a higher cost for such products. This is unacceptable behavior in terms of cross-cultural communication. It is better not to measure the actions or behaviors of other according to one’s own cultural norms, beliefs, or ideologies.

Some insensitive expressions are perpetuated widely by well-known western media outlets, particularly when the talk is about religion or eastern culture. It generally indicates negative stereotypes about Muslim people in western countries. They may, for instance, regard Muslims as violent, terrorists and/or extremists, as well as barbaric and backward people. They also use phraseology that indicates they consider Islam to be a religion which oppresses and devalues women.

This barrage of judgments manifests two main points. First, people who propagate these thoughts are culturally unaware, or; second, they are spreading this propaganda intentionally to falsify Islam. By doing either, these media outlets have a direct hand in misleading their audiences by controlling and shaping their thoughts and attitudes regarding Islam, despite the principles of Islam offering proof to the contrary.

As a member of this small world, I believe we don’t have the right to hold passive beliefs about a group of people, their cultures and beliefs, whatever they may be. I must at least respect people’s cultural norms and customs that differ from mine, thus creating an atmosphere where love and peace cover a multitude of people under the one umbrella. Negative beliefs or stereotypes, which are expressed either directly or indirectly, verbally or non-verbally, lead to cross-cultural miscommunication. In short, these unfavorable prejudices suspend the use of common sense in the cross-cultural interaction between nations and communities.

It is assumed that one cannot be entirely aware of the world’s cultures to communicate effectively without boundaries. It is simple, however, to identify some differences among a person’s own culture and the well-known cultures of Africa, America, Asia or Europe. It does not hurt, therefore, to respect the cultural patterns of other nations across the world though they are different from one’s own, for the sake of better global communication.

Accordingly, one may excel in one’s relationships with all kinds of people around the world, overcoming miscommunication and stereotyping. If meeting someone from Turkey, Japan, or maybe from Egypt, it is not necessary for a person to be aware of their cultural patterns to communicate effectively. Instead, it should be obvious that the other’s cultural patterns are different. This indicates that anybody should respect another person’s cultural devices without judging them, and treat them as if they belong to his own culture.

Summing up, people with different cultural backgrounds may face difficulties while taking part in an exchange, which affects the “give and take” rule. Cultures are different and they will stay different. Respecting these differences is an appropriate solution to keep living in this world peacefully with peoples of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Casablanca, Morocco

A large metropolis of 4 million inhabitants,the economic and financial capital of Morocco, a more modern city where thousands of foreigners come from all over the world not only to visit the city, but also to work and live. Behind these realities is a city full of history with an architectural heritage, ancient and recent, a dynamic city, proud of its past and confident in its future.
Read more here:

Natick Resident Completes Research Project in Morocco

Julie McLarnon, of Natick, was a part of the hands-on research project titled: 'Website Development for Association Solidarite Feminine.'

By Jamie Wilkins (Patch Staff) - February 21, 2017

From Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Julie McLarnon of Natick, Mass., a member of the class of 2018 majoring in biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), was a member of a student team that recently completed an intense, hands-on research project in Morocco. The project was titled Website Development for Association Solidarite Feminine. In their project outline, the students wrote, "The purpose of this project was to create a website for the Association Solidarite Feminine organization (ASF) by understanding the mission, outreach, the client base, and the constituents.".

At WPI, all undergraduates are required to complete a research-driven, professional-level project that applies science and technology to addresses an important societal need or issue. About two-thirds of students complete a project at one of the university's more than 40 off-campus project centers, which are located around the world. A signature element of the innovative undergraduate experience at WPI, the project-based curriculum offers students the opportunity to apply their scientific and technical knowledge to develop thoughtful solutions to real problems that affect the quality of people's lives-and make a difference before they graduate.

"The WPI project-based curriculum's focus on global studies brings students out of the classroom and their comfort zones and into the global community to apply their knowledge to solve real problems," said Professor Kent Rissmiller, interim dean of the WPI Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. "Students are immersed in all aspects of a different culture, from the way people live and work to the values they hold to the foods they eat-all valuable perspectives for surviving and thriving in today's global marketplace. They also learn the meaning and magic of teamwork; make a real and meaningful difference in their host community; and gain a competitive edge for any resume, or graduate or professional school application."

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Projects Program. There are more than 40 WPI project centers throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

Now blooming in the desert: Morocco's grand dream of energy independence

PRI's The World February 21, 2017 By Chris Bentley

A vast array of curved mirrors at the Noor Concentrated Solar Power plant near Ouarzazate, Morocco, is shown here. The massive facility is part of an aggressive effort to develop renewable power in Morocco.

The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate sits on a dusty, red-earth plateau where the Atlas Mountains begin to descend into the Sahara Desert. Its dramatic landscape has made it a popular setting for movies and TV shows, from Middle Eastern epics like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Mummy” es.” But Ouarzazate’s location also makes it a perfect spot for a different kind of outsized production: Morocco hopes to get more than half of its energy from renewable sources in less than 15 years. This part of the country is one of the sunniest places on Earth, so it was a natural site for a sprawling complex of solar power plants named Noor, the Arabic word for "light."

From a sleek new observation tower, you can see rows of gleaming, 20-foot-long curved mirrors stretching out in every direction across the barren plateau — about 500,000 in all.
The curved mirrors concentrate the sunlight like lenses, focusing a huge amount of heat onto long rows of metal pipes filled with molten salts, heating the liquid up to more than 700 degrees. That heat is then used to boil water, make steam and spin turbines, just like a regular power plant.

The technology is called concentrated solar power, or CSP, and as with the photovoltaic panels of more conventional solar power plants, the mirrors here follow the movement of the sun, from its rise over the desert in the east to sunset over the mountains to the west. The concentrated solar power (CSP) technology at Morocco's Noor plant uses thousands of curved mirrors like these to focus the sun's heat on tubes carrying a molten salt solution, heating the liquid up to roughly 700 degrees Fahrenheit. That heat is then used to generate electricity. When it's completed, the Noor plant will be among the largest solar power plants in the world.

But what sets this technology apart is that the power can stay on even after the sun has gone down.“After the sunset, the hot salt is giving back the thermal energy to the heat transfer fluid, and it goes to produce steam during the night,” says Youssef Stitou, a senior project engineer for Morocco’s renewable energy agency, or MASEN. The ability to store some of the sun’s energy for up to three hours after sundown addresses a common criticism of solar energy: that it's useless when the sun doesn’t shine.

CSP is hardly a new idea — the first CSP plant was built in California more than 30 years ago — but the concept is starting to get a lot more traction. And it’s potentially transformational for countries like Morocco that have huge renewable energy resources.

Many countries are investing in renewable energy, but few are doing so as aggressively as Morocco. The first phase of the plant, Noor 1, started generating power in 2016, and by 2018, it could become the largest plant of its kind in the world. But CSP is also expensive. Just the first phase of this three-part project cost nearly a billion dollars. And it could be a risky investment, according to some renewable energy experts.“Whether they bet on the right technology, they will find out in the years to come,” says Christian Breyer, a professor of solar economy at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland.

Morocco is pumping up its solar capacity fast, but Breyer says it might not be fast enough to keep up with the speed of innovation in the industry. Photovoltaic panels and batteries to store their output have improved so quickly that they threaten to outshine concentrated solar plants like Noor.“From that point of view, we will see a race between these two technologies,” says Breyer. “It’s really the question how to get the technology cost-competitive, and for that, they have to grow very fast.”

Morocco is hoping its huge investments in Noor will help bring down prices for concentrated solar technology around the world. But the country is running another kind of energy race, too. Twenty years ago, only about half of Moroccans had electricity. Now, almost everybody does. And the country’s population and economy are growing fast.“Everyone starts to have his own smartphone, PC, laptop, TV,” says Samir Rachidi, a project manager at MASEN. Rachidi says if Morocco doesn’t aggressively develop renewable energy, “then our economic growth would be in hostage of foreign fossil fuel.”

Morocco still gets most of its energy from imported fossil fuels, but with so much sun and wind, King Mohammed VI has declared that by 2030 more than half of the country’s energy should come from renewable sources. The king also promised to tamp down demand by making the country 20 percent more energy efficient.

The government is hoping the Noor plant will help it meet those goals. It’s also hoping the project will help kick-start a domestic renewable energy industry that could one day be able to sell cheap renewable electricity to its neighbors. But royal decrees only get you so far. Morocco’s renewable energy revolution will ultimately have to survive on market economics. And Rachidi says, so far, the numbers don’t always add up.“Actually, now we are importing like 16 percent of our needs from Spain because they have overcapacity,” he says, “and sometimes it’s really much cheaper to get electricity in Spain than to produce it in Morocco.”

That kind of competition will help determine whether Morocco’s big bet on concentrated solar power will pay off. Rachidi and others here hope that by 2030, they’ll be able to look back on the Noor plant as the laboratory that made Morocco a solar superpower, and not just an expensive mirage in the desert.

Casablanca to Host Jazzablanca Festival

By Morocco World News - February 24, 2017 By Safaa kasraoui Rabat

The annual Jazzablanca Festival, which is set to take place from 8 to 16 in Casablanca, will feature many Moroccan and international star performers. Since its inception in 2006, more than 400 artists have performed in the Jazzablanca Festival, making it one of the most important events for Jazz music. The program of the 12th annual edition will be marked by the presence of several jazz, soul, rock and funk artists.

To start off the festival, American singer, Laura Pergolizzi will be performing on April 8th at Casa-Anfa Racecourse. Pergolizzi has long preferred to work as a song co-writer, authoring songs for renowned stars such as Rihanna for ”Cheers”, Christina Aguilera for her ”Beautiful” people song. The second performance will take place at Jazz Club on April 9th by American singer Robyn Bennet, who proposes original compositions with Bag Bang band. Bang Bang band and Bennet will perform jazz, country, blues and country music during their show.

Festival goers will also have the opportunity to meet up with Marinah Y Chicuelo on the same stage. Marinah and, guitar player, Chicuelo will perform their musical adventures through revisiting different styles of music. The band is made off Carlos Sarduy the trumpet, Keyboards and congas, Javis Martin on bass, and David Dominguez on percussion.

American Jazz trumpeter Christian Scott, and Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca will also take part in this event.Fatima Zahra Sedkane, also known as Faty S, will perform at Jazz Club with Daniel Escatcott, a Canadian pianist on April 10th

Moroccan artists will be also present in Jazzablanca Festival. Meryem Aboulouafa will perform on April 11th. Aboulouafa draws her inspiration from the artistic collaborations she undertakes. She began collaboration in 2015 with Italian composer and pianist, Francesco Santalucia. Aboulouafa has also performed covers of very well-known stars such as Nina Simone for ”Feeling good”, John Lennon ” Jealous guy”.
Raggae, Soul and folk rock artist, Jihan Bougrine will also take part in this event on April 13th.

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