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Morocco Week in Review 
December 21, 2019

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Moroccan Diplomats Should Arrange for King Mohammed VI to Meet Trump

Although Moroccan officials have portrayed Secretary of State Pompeo’s visit to Rabat as a success, questions about the United States positions in the Western Sahara conflict and the reasons behind the absence of a Royal trip to Washington remain unanswered.

By  Hassan Masiky  - Hassan Masiky was born in Kenitra, Morocco, and is based in Washington as a blogger and freelance writer.
Dec 17, 2019 Washington D.C

The incapacity of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to arrange so far for a Royal visit to President Trump’s White House exposes the limits of Morocco’s lobbying efforts in Washington. Rabat remains too afraid or uneasy to engage with the current American administration.
The Moroccan public clearly views a Royal visit to the White House as high diplomatic achievement, an endorsement of Rabat’s policy in the region and a recognition of its weight and importance to Washington.  The inability of Moroccan officials to secure such trip speaks volume about the fundamental shortcomings of Morocco’s diplomatic and lobbying efforts in Washington and the need for a fundamental change in the way Rabat conducts business in the American capital.

Ivanka Trump Wears Traditional Moroccan Cape in Doha

Some news outlet mistook the cape for Moroccan kaftans.

By  Safaa Kasraoui  - Safaa Kasraoui is a journalist at Morocco World News. Dec 16, 2019 Rabat

Ivanka Trump, daughter and advisor to the US President Donald Trump, appears to be fond of Moroccan traditional dresses. During her trip to Qatar, Ivanka wore an elegant navy velvet cape likely inspired by her official trip to Morocco in November. Ivanka visited Qatar to take part in the Doha Forum, which took place on December 14-1

The Journey of an Average Student to Become Best Arab Inventor

Growing up in the streets of Rabat, Youssef El Azouzi never expected that he would one day be named the Best Arab Inventor.

By Yahia Hatim  - Dec 14, 2019

“Never let the fear of poverty stop you from following your dreams. Always have humility when approaching a potentially novel idea. Never stop asking questions, because the first step to knowledge is the good question. Ideas don’t fall from the sky, they come from the passion to investigate and search for the truth.” These inspirational words come from Youssef El Azouzi, a Moroccan doctor who defied all obstacles to become the best inventor in the Arab world, with a groundbreaking invention to help patients suffering from cardiac diseases. On Friday, November 8, Doctor El Azouzi won the Grand Final of Arab Stars of Science Season 11, a television show dedicated to Arab youth who feel they can develop technology that will improve the lives of their communities.

Fez Festival Uproots Tradition and Preserves Aissaoui Art

Fez hosts the first annual National Festival of Heritage and Aissaoui Art preserving Aissawa tradition as spiritual and meditative art. 

By  Caley Koch  - Originally from Washington DC, Caley is an aspiring writer and editor who is currently attending DePaul University in Chicago for her Bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Dec 14, 2019 Rabat –

Stepping off the train in Fez, I asked the locals if they were looking forward to the first annual National Festival of Heritage and Aissaoui Art. However, I did not receive the enthusiastic smiles that I was expecting. Instead, I was met with blank stares and hesitant questions.“What festival? Aissawa? I haven’t heard of any festival… in Fez?”  Trying to jog their memories, I showed them the festival’s poster with the location “I don’t know where that is. Are you sure it exists?”  I couldn’t hide my surprise and disappointment: In one of the largest cities in Morocco, the city that nurtured the very spiritual roots of Aissaoui art, nobody seemed to have heard of the festival. Perhaps I had got the date wrong.

Surge of Foreign Movies, TV Shows Choose to Shoot in Morocco

K Films and Kasbah Films are two Moroccan studios that have benefitted from the country’s tax rebate.

By Morgan Hekking - Dec 6, 2019 Rabat

Thanks to Morocco’s 20% tax rebate on foreign films the number of foreign movies and television series shot in Morocco continues to rise. According to the Moroccan Cinema Center (CCM), the total foreign production spending in Morocco grew from $32 million in 2017 to $50 million in 2018. As of November 2019, foreign production spending stands at $80 million.

Morocco Ranks 121st, Below Gaza in 2019 Human Development Index

Nearly one-quarter of pregnant Moroccan women do not have any prenatal visits, and 13% give birth without any “skilled health personnel” present.

By Susanna Spurgeon - Susanna is an editor at Morocco World News. Dec 9, 2019 Rabat

The UN Development Program’s 2019 Human Development Index has ranked Morocco as the 121st most developed country out of 189 countries. Although two places above its previous ranking, the new ranking puts Morocco two places below the state of Palestine, including the Gaza strip.
With a score of 0.676, Morocco has “medium human development.” Elsewhere in the Maghreb, the UNDP considers Algeria (82nd globally) and Tunisia (91st globally) to have “high human development,” along with six other African countries that ranked above Morocco.

Morocco's Gnawa musical culture is now added to Unesco’s heritage list

Friday, 13 Dec 2019 RABAT, Dec 13

Gnawa culture, a centuries-old Moroccan practice rooted in music, African rituals and Sufi traditions, was yesterday added to Unesco's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Gnawa refers to a “set of musical productions, fraternal practices and therapeutic rituals where the secular mixes with the sacred”, according to the nomination submitted by Morocco.

Apple Features Morocco’s Amazigh Women in Gallery on Instagram 

Details that might be overlooked are brought to life by Apple’s camera feature “Deep Fusion” in its gallery of Morocco’s Amazigh women. 

By Caley Koch - Originally from Washington DC, Caley is an aspiring writer and editor who is currently attending DePaul University in Chicago for her Bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Dec 14, 2019 Rabat

Technology corporation Apple posted gallery photos on Instagram of Amazigh (Berber) women captured with the camera of the iPhone 11 Pro with the new feature “Deep Fusion.”  Commissioned by Apple, photographer Robbie Lawrence commented on Apple’s Instagram gallery, “The workshops of the Amazigh women provided a deep, low light that reminded me of Baroque period paintings. I was able to capture intimate details with the incredible depth and quality allowed by Deep Fusion.

Seedstars Startup Bootcamp in Casablanca Helps 20 Startups

Seedstars Summit MENA is the last regional stage of the Seedstars World competition, before the global finals in Switzerland in April 2020.

By Yahia Hatim - Dec 17, 2019 Rabat

Casablanca hosted the 4th Middle East and North Africa Seedstars Summit for startups between December 10-12. Seedstars is an investor in emerging markets’ startups. The three-day event aims to facilitate business and investment opportunities in the MENA region, and serve as a step for startups from all over the world to compete in the Seedstars World competition. The competition is an international contest aiming to fund the most promising startups from all over the world. The summit started with a growth Bootcamp by the Seedstars Investment team to teach the 20 participating startups, coming from 15 different countries, how to scale up their businesses.

Live like a local in ... Morocco

16 Dec, 2019  By: George Fenwick George Fenwick is an entertainment writer for The New Zealand Herald.

Morocco is a beautiful, intense country, brimming with sights, smells and experiences that fight for your attention. You could be getting lost in the bustling medinas of Fez or Marrakech (which I say less as a recommendation and more as a warning - you really don't want to get too lost), or breathing in the sweeping, empty magnificence of the Sahara Desert. Whichever path you take, Morocco is a feast for the senses.

Morocco’s Draa Valley Among NYT’s 10 Most ‘Idyllic’ Destinations

The valley is surrounded by breathtaking Atlas Mountains adorning the earthy-colored land in scenic fashion, with several long palm trees looking down at the valley.

By Safaa Kasraoui is a journalist at Morocco World News. Dec 15, 2019 Rabat

The New York Times Style Magazine has listed Morocco’s Draa  Valley among the 10 Most Idyllic Destinations to visit in 2019. The publication said that it travelled to a set of lands that give birth to “some of the world’s most ancient cultures from Morocco’s Draa Valley, once ruled by Berber Kings, to Ithaca, Greece.” Sitting deep in southern Morocco, the valley is home to green plains, and long palm trees that look down at the river, Draa, considered Morocco’s largest.

Rabat Needs More Transparency on City Planning of Beloved Public Spaces

Why do some public projects actually make places worse rather than better?

By Brian Edward Coffman  - Brian E Coffman is an American architect in Rabat specializing in sustainable building design and urban planning. Dec 15, 2019 Rabat

At first glance, Place Pietri in Rabat seems somewhat barren and dry. But after spending time there, one realizes the beauty of the open and simple space.  During the day office workers enjoy breakfast and lunch on its sunny terraces. During the evenings, children play while their parents relax and watch the sunset while drinking tea. The plaza is one story lower than the surrounding streets and sidewalk which sets up dramatic views of the art deco architecture across the plaza. Last month I saw a construction sign for a project which would cover the plaza with an immense roof. I shared a photo of the sign with my Moroccan colleagues who agreed that this would ruin the plaza. The terraces will be in shadow, and the open views across the plaza will be blocked.

American Singer Wows Arab World by Beautifully Reciting Quran

The singer, who converted to Islam in 2013, is married to a Moroccan man.

By  Safaa Kasraoui  - Safaa Kasraoui is a journalist at Morocco World News. Dec 18, 2019 Rabat

Beautiful American singer Jennifer Grout has mesmerized the Arab world again after she appeared in a video reciting a verse from the holy book of Quran. Grout recited the verse of Al Kuri, known as the Throne verse in English.  The verse is the 255th verse of the second surah of the Quran, Al-Baqarah.

Dr. Zohra Elomari: In Memoriam

Dr. Zohra Elomari, a well-known medical doctor, passed away on Saturday November 23, 2019 in Béni Mellal main hospital, after a short incurable illness. Her death saddened all the inhabitants of Midelt, where the deceased had worked for decades.


Dr. Zohra Elomari was a competent general practitioner with a virtuous social and scientific posture who had a great impact on the community. 
Dr. Zohra Elomari was an eminent personality who made multiple contributions to the well-being of society. She was a doctor, a painter, a civil society activist, and a mother of three sons.She worked as a lead physician at the Midelt hospital in the maternity center. Before that, she worked for a short period in Ouazzane hospital. Her career as a doctor was very distinguished because of her dedication to her medical mission and her ability to communicate with patients and their families, which left a good impression on the general public not only in Midelt but also in the whole region.

Expression Through Art: Rabat Students Paint their Feelings

Founded in Mexico, Proyectarte Internacional shows vulnerable Rabat students that “they can achieve anything” through painting.

By  Caley Koch  - Originally from Washington DC, Caley is an aspiring writer and editor who is currently attending DePaul University in Chicago for her Bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Dec 8, 2019 Rabat

Young people are adding more color to Morocco than the traditional red and green of the nation’s flag. In an environment where young people may feel unable to express themselves, it is not difficult to imagine that they may feel constrained and trapped by their emotions. However, there are ways other than through words to express what they feel. Founded in Mexico, Martin Olivier Gonzalez, 18, introduced his project, Proyectarte Internacional, to the Mohammed Ben Abdesalam Sayah middle school in the Rabat Medina. Meaning “express yourself,” Proyectarte aims to empower young people who have suffered through art, specifically painting.

How Concern Can Lead to Professional Development

As my process illustrates, being concerned is a path that leads to professional development.

By Youssef Bounaji  - Youssef Bounaji is a teacher of English with the Ministry of Education and a business English trainer in Morocco. Dec 7, 2019

Teaching reading comprehension has always concerned me. How can I track my students’ understanding while they are reading? In grammar, we, as teachers, can check understanding through exercises to have an idea of  how well students grasp the grammatical structure. However, in teaching reading and asking comprehension questions, we might have an idea about the “product” (answers to comprehension questions), but we have no idea about the process. How do we measure and check students’ thinking while reading? I wanted to have a process that leads to the right product. This concern made me start searching for solutions and trying different strategies to see which one would enable me to track my students’ understanding and, at the same time, which one is suitable for the Moroccan context.

10 Photos to Inspire a Winter Trek of Morocco’s Mount Toubkal

These stunning photos of Morocco’s winter wonderland will inspire hikers and armchair adventurers alike.

By  Morgan Hekking  - Nov 20, 2019 Rabat

Mount Toubkal in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains boasts the tallest peak in North Africa at 4,167 meters. As one of the world’s top hiking destinations, Mount Toubkal attracts hundreds of tourists to its rocky slopes every year.  While summer hikers report that the ascent is doable even for inexperienced climbers, harsh winter conditions on Mount Toubkal pose a significant challenge—and even risk—to those brave enough to face them. 
Reaching the ceiling of North Africa in the winter is not for the faint of heart. But if you’re well-equipped to safely handle the challenge, here are some pictures of Mount Toubkal’s winter beauty to inspire your next adventure.

How to Make Qrashel, Moroccan Sesame Rolls

Qrashel are delicious, brioche-like rolls, flavored with anise and sesame seeds.
By Layla Dahamou - Dec 8, 2019 Rabat

Qrashel, also known as Lgorss, are sweet and delicious Moroccan sesame rolls. A traditional recipe, the ingredients do vary from region to region but today I will show you how we make them in my home. My children love to start the day with these delicious sweet bread rolls, smothered in cheese and dipped in olive oil. These sesame flavored rolls are sweet and fluffy, like French brioche, but have an extra flavor kick from the anise seeds.
Qrashel are best served with tea or coffee with olive oil and honey for dipping.

How to Make Harsha, Moroccan Semolina Bread

Harsha are fluffy muffin-like rolls of semolina goodness. Dipped in olive oil or stuffed with cheese, they are an ideal afternoon snack or breakfast.
By  Layla Dahamou  - Dec 8, 2019 Rabat

Bread is a staple in every Moroccan household and, while there are several types of delicious and different wheat flour and semolina bread in the canon of Moroccan cuisine, Harsha is a family favorite.  Harsha is a delicious bread made from fine semolina, oil, and milk. Shaped like an English muffin, it can be stuffed as a savory treat or served with honey for those with a sweet tooth.  The little bites of semolina bread make perfect additions to the breakfast table but are also an ideal evening snack

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