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Morocco Week in Review 
February 9, 2019

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

 (RPCV/Morocco) Mike Turner: Teaching Darija to Americans: Orienting Pedagogical Approaches for Different Audiences

January 25, 2019January 25, 2019 by Ayoub El Jamal

This podcast, featuring Dr. Mike Turner of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and TALIM resident director John Davison, was recorded on January 4, 2019. Traditional approaches to teaching Arabic in American Universities have focused on bringing students to proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic, a formal register of the language that is used throughout the Arabic-speaking world. In recent years, however, there has been a move toward building proficiency in spoken Arabic dialects as well. While most American students who study an Arabic dialect study either……………….
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Peter Kitlas: Moroccan and Ottoman Contributions to 18th c. Diplomatic Developments

January 30, 2019 by Ayoub El Jamal

This podcast, featuring doctoral candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University Peter Kitlas,  and TALIM resident director John Davison, was recorded on January 10, 2019. Throughout the eighteenth century, the Ottoman and Russian Empires were at war. However, a decisive victory by the Russian Empire helped them assert their influence over both Crimea and the Mediterranean. The Ottomans, wanting to counteract this assumption of power fought to prevent Russian ships from entering through the Straits of Gibraltar, seeking assistance from the Moroccan king Sidi Muhammed Ben Abdallah. In this context, Peter discusses the vibrant developments in diplomatic activity between Morocco and the Ottoman Empire throughout the eighteenth century. The increased exchange of diplomats between these two non-European powers demonstrates how Morocco and the Ottoman Empire responded to changes in international relations during this time period while still maintaining a particular diplomatic ethos…………….

Ryan Fan: Signed Language Diversity in the Arab World

January 3, 2019January 3, 2019 by Ayoub El Jamal

Since the middle of the twentieth century, scientific research has demonstrated that signed languages are full linguistic systems, unrelated to and independent of the spoken languages in their environments. The bulk of linguistic and anthropological research on deaf communities and signed languages has been concentrated in the USA and Western Europe, while hardly any attention has been paid to the Middle East and North Africa. In this talk on signed language diversity in the Arab world, I discuss pathways of signed language migration, the linguistic structure of signed languages, and the importance of language rights as human rights for deaf signing communities……

(RPCV/Morocco) Anny Gaul: “The Cuisine of the City of Tetouan”

December 18, 2018December 19, 2018 by Ayoub El Jama

This podcast featuring American doctoral candidate from the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University Anny Gaul and TALIM Resident Director John Davison was recorded in October 24, 2018. The historical record suggests that during the early modern period, culinary cultures in Egypt and Morocco had far more in common than not. But in the nineteenth century, the way Egyptians and Moroccans ate began to transform. As a result, by the 1950s, the new urban middle classes were developing culinary styles that could be considered ‘national’ for the first time. Today, Egyptian and Moroccan food cultures have little in common.

Morocco to Address Family Law Challenges Moroccan Expats Face

Jan 31, 2019 - Morocco World News  By Tarek Bazza Rabat – Rabat

As part of its strategy to protect the rights of Moroccans residing abroad (MRE), the Delegate Ministry in Charge of Moroccans Residing Abroad (MCMREAM) will organize the 3rd Forum of Moroccan Lawyers Residing Abroad. Morocco seeks through this forum to involve the Moroccan community abroad in a debate on Morocco’s Family Code law, the ministry said in a framing note. The conference will be held February 8-9 in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, the Superior Council of the Judiciary, the Presidency of the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the Association of the Lawyers’ Bar of Morocco.

ELLE Magazine zooms on Morocco’s trailblazing female preaching program

Worldwide style magazine ELLE put Morocco’s female preachers (Mourchidat) under the spotlight, underlining the efficiency of this trailblazing program meant to promote the lofty values of Islam while countering radicalization. The magazine shed light on a number of portraits of Mourchidat who were trained by the Moroccan government and employed as experts in Islamic law and tradition. They are equipped with the power — and a deep knowledge of the Quran — that allows them to promote and defend women’s rights.

Morocco’s twin city blues

Nchimunya Hamukoma 01 Feb 2019 Rabat and Salé

On either side of the river Bou Regreg, on the coast where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean, lie the sister cities of Rabat and Salé. Despite their proximity, centuries of feuding, colonial scheming and well-intentioned housing policy have created two very different urban environments. One, la ville lumiere, the city of light, is the kingdom’s capital, the jewel of 21st century Morocco. It is clean and cosmopolitan, and boasts modern public transport, a stable water supply and constant electricity. elegant avenues are lined with palm trees, and the architecture is a wonderful blend of modern and traditional Islamic aesthetics. It is the epitome of the modern, confident, prosperous image that Morocco presents to international tourists and — more importantly — investors.

Shopping and Art-Hopping in Morocco’s Vibrant Cultural Capital

By Eliza Dumais

Like many New Yorkers, I grew up with the unabashed belief that my city was the city. It was fact: New York composed the finest music, sold the coolest clothes, exhibited the most spectacular art. My city was Culture, with a capital ‘C.’ Marrakech made me think again. When I imagined Marrakech, I pictured the sloping dunes of the Sahara, a bustling tangle of souk-merchants and, of course, 2-for-1 floor cushions on the discount racks at Anthropologie. I wasn’t even close. What I actually found was a city ablaze in color, sheltering the most remarkably progressive arts scene I’ve ever seen up close. Capital ‘C’ Culture, underlined twice, in red. It’s a city of creators revolutionizing Morocco’s artistic tradition, where the shopping, art museums, and music festivals can go toe-to-toe with New York any day.

Morocco in the fast lane with world’s largest concentrated solar farm.

It’s not just on the track that Morocco is aiming to become a world leader in renewable energy. As well as a host nation of a Formula ePrix, the country is also home to the world’s largest concentrated solar farm.

Moroccan refuge where donkeys go to retire

The Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Refuge lies in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains near to Marrakesh.

7 reasons you should consider a holiday in Morocco

By Alex Cowland -  6 February, 2019

Still not quite convinced that a staycation can meet all your vacation needs? Don’t worry you’re not the only one. There are some great deals out there on European holidays. However, we’re looking at somewhere that ticks all the boxes but might be slightly off your normal holiday radar.

Morocco: Health Centers To Meet The Needs Of Underprivileged – OpEd

February 6, 2019 Said Temsamani

The rise in poverty in Morocco as in similar developing countries  is having direct consequences on the health of the population. The difficulties with regard to access to health are growing and people are putting of seeking medical help. These problems affect different social categories and concern all regions of the country.  The right to health has been advanced as one of the key elements to creating pro-poor people-centred health systems. Today, King Mohammed VI inaugurated at the medina of Marrakesh, a primary health care center and an addiction center, two solidarity-based projects in line with the El Mellah neighborhood urban upgrading program.

Report: Moroccans use WhatsApp More Than Any Other Social Media Platform

According to Hootsuite’s annual report, Whatsapp is the most popular social media platform in Morocco, used by 81 percent of Moroccan internet users.


Hootsuite, a social media manager that keeps track of global internet usage, said in its annual report that Moroccans mostly use Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram. As of mid-2018, eighty-one percent of Moroccan internet users between 16 and 64 reported using WhatsApp, 76 percent reported using Facebook, 60 percent reported using YouTube, 45 percent reported using Instagram, and 43 percent reported using Facebook Messenger. ================================================

Video: A Trip to Morocco's High Atlas Mountains

Feb 4, 2019  by CharvatBros

Morocco is actually a kinda special destination. Of course, many people have heard about it, but only a small percentage of them are able to imagine at least a bit of what it really looks like.

When winter hits our homes in central Europe many riders start to think how to survive it. If you want to ride outside and not be freezing along the way you have to travel. That’s for sure. Personally, I like to do things differently than others and I always look for new ways. More than a decade ago, as one of the first Czechs, I have started to travel to the area of San Remo and Finale Ligure to stay in shape during winter months. Now, when the temperature goes below zero, my feed on my Facebook changes to a report site just out of this area. Why not? It's affordable and there are just so many world-class trails, and the weather is usually pretty good for riding all year round.

An honest look at studying abroad

The Denisonian February 6, 2019 JAX PREYER When people think of studying abroad at Denison, they picture new friends, new experiences and an immediate upgrade to their Instagram feed.
Annelise Benshop ‘20 applied to a study abroad program in Morocco in the spring semester of her sophomore year, anxious to see what lessons the country could teach her. Pursuing a double major in international studies and religion, she had always been interested in the Middle East. She was enthralled with what she believed Morocco would present to her: amazing history, gorgeous architecture and the best couscous money could buy.

Germany Grants Morocco over €300 Mln for Sustainable Development

February 6, 2019

Germany is supporting Morocco’s sustainable development efforts with a financial assistance of €330.5 million, including loans and grants. The funds will help the North African country carry out projects in renewable energy, electric power, water supply & storage in rural areas and desalination of seawater. Two agreements were signed in this regard by Moroccan minister of Economy & Finance Mohamed Benchaaboun and German ambassador in Rabat, Götz Schmidt-Bremme.

Archeologists Discover Centuries-Old Mysterious Stones in Western Sahara

The Western Sahara is filled with mysterious ruins and monuments yet to be discovered.

Rabat – Archeologists have discovered stone structures dating back thousands of years on the northwest coast of the Western Sahara in southern Morocco. The stone structures come in various shapes and sizes, and some of them are more than 10,000 years old. Although many of the stones’ functions are not clear, the archeologists suggest that some of them were most likely used as gravestones and burial mounds. Joanne Clarke, a researcher at the University of East Anglia, and Nick Books, an independent researcher behind the discovery, co-authored a book on their work.

Morocco: Marching to a different beat

By Greg Mills• 6 February 2019

Casablanca is just a four-hour flight from Lagos. But it’s a world away.

Instead of paralysing traffic, we move quickly on a multi-lane highway towards Rabat, not a pothole in sight. Instead of sprawling tin and wooden slums, the expressway is dotted with cranes atop new multistorey housing settlements stretching out towards the horizon. Instead of yellow Lagosian danfo taxis clustered at informal stops hindering the flow, Morocco’s roadside amenities and its péage would not be out of place in Europe; neither Casablanca’s surly immigration officers…

Morocco’s ‘Hippie Trail’ Still Pulses With Bohemian Counterculture

From the 1950s to 1970s, thousands of flower children made a spiritual pilgrimage through northwest Africa

By Jennifer Billock February 5, 2019

Last March, I traveled like the vagabonds of yore, jammed into a packed van driving through the mountains and along the coast of Morocco, stopping to visit locals, eat tagine and take surf lessons in sleepy coastal villages. On the third day of the trip, I stopped for lunch at an ancient walled city rising out of the Moroccan countryside like Mont-Saint-Michel emerges from the French tides. And just like that, for the very first time, I encountered a kasbah. A kasbah is a walled city or fortress in nothern Africa dating back centuries. In some cases, it was a single building at a high elevation, from which a local leader would keep watch of incoming guests (or intruders). Other times, an entire village lived within its walls. I was at Tizourgane, a kasbah-turned-restaurant-and-guesthouse dating back to the 13th century. It was built for a Berber tribe, and the locals used it as a refuge during subsequent wars in the area. It took 166 steps to get up into the city, and I was rewarded with a maze of corridors and empty rooms, and a lavishly decorated interior.
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Deconstructing argan oil: Just why is the golden liquid so good for you?

It's become a cult ingredients for many beauty brands, but it's certainly not a new discovery If you have ever visited Morocco, chances are you have come across argan oil, an ancient ingredient extracted from the kernels of the Argania spinosa. For more than 80 million years, the tree has grown exclusively in Morocco, where its far-reaching roots hold precious topsoil in place, fending off the ever-encroaching Sahara . The trees are so critical that, in 1998, the Moroccan government asked Unesco to give the last great argan forests legal protection. The local tribespeople, the Berbers, have used argan oil since the Middle Ages as a beauty treatment and to anoint the heads of babies.

Freedom House: At ‘Partly Free’ Morocco Is MENA Region’s 4th Most Free

Even though Morocco implemented a slew of reforms, in terms of democratic consolidation, the kingdom still has a lot on its plate.

By Tamba François Koundouno - Feb 7, 2019 Rabat

Despite implementing reforms to improve democracy by fighting practices like corruption and censorship, freedom has not been totally achieved in Morocco. The mixed assessment comes from the latest Freedom House report on the state of “Freedom in the world.” The report spoke in somber terms of the global state of democratization and accompanying values like respect of political rights, checks and balances, and political dissent. “Freedom in the World assesses the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals, rather than governments or government performance per se,” the report noted.

Civil Society Matters to the Sustainable Development Goals

By Peter J. Jacques

Life and death for whole communities hang in the balance of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include eliminating poverty, conserving forests, and addressing climate change, passed by the United Nations unanimously in 2015. Take for example, the Indigenous Amazigh people who live in the mountains around Marrakech. They are representative of people who need to be served first by sustainable development.

The High Atlas Amazigh people experience hard lives in small villages. Most work as day laborers and agriculturalists with barely enough income to support their families and heat their homes. Education is a major concern, but is hard to attain for a number of reasons. Sometimes families cannot afford the subsequent costs of backpacks and books, even when the school is open and free. The challenge is especially difficult for girls, because, as one person explained, “How can fathers let their girls study if it is dark when they must travel?”  The effect of incomplete education is profound, and when we asked one 62-year-old man what he thought the greatest threats to the future were for his community, he did not have confidence in his own experiences, noting, “What can I say? I am not read [educated].”

Through a partnership of the University of Central Florida (Orlando), The Hollings Center for International Dialogue (Washington D.C. and Istanbul), and the High Atlas Foundation (Marrakech), we recently conducted field work in the High Atlas Mountains, speaking with the people there who poured their hearts out to us.

The most consistent message we heard from the people of the High Atlas was that the future hinges on water. One group told us that when things are good, it is because the rain is abundant and on time; things are very hard otherwise. They are worried that climate change will affect if the rains come, or that the rain will not “come in its time.” They have good reason to worry because climate change is expected to decrease precipitation significantly, reducing streams, lakes, and groundwater.

Drought is a constant worry. The World Bank estimates that 37 percent of the population works in agriculture, meanwhile production of cereal crops varies wildly due to annual variation of precipitation-- and 2018 was thankfully a bountiful year. Climate change will make the people of the High Atlas Mountains much more vulnerable while they are already living on the edge of survival. In one area, this change in precipitation timing and amount was already noticeable, resulting in a significant loss of fruit trees. In that same area, we were told that there is fear that there will be no water in twenty years, and that for these people who are deeply connected to the land, there will be “no alternatives.”

The High Atlas people are in an extremely vulnerable position. One group noted that they are so desperate for basic resources that they burn plastic trash to heat their water. Worse, they believe they have been left behind by society and that “the people of the mountains do not matter.” They feel that Moroccan society is deeply unfair—there is no help for the sick, little support for education, little defense against the cold, and that, for some, corruption is the greatest threat to a sustainable future.

Consequently, civil society has an important role in achieving the SDGs. The High Atlas Foundation has been working to help people in this region to organize themselves into collectives that decide both what the collective wants, and pathways to achieve those goals. Women have organized into co-ops that they own and they collect dividends from their products together. People in one coop lobbied the 2015 Conference of Parties climate meeting in Marrakech. Men’s associations have developed tree nurseries that not only produce income, but which protect whole watersheds – and therefore some water for the future. They are also participating in carbon sequestration markets. In this regard, the Marrakech Regional Department of Water and Forest provides them carob trees and the authorization to plant these trees on the mountains surrounding their villages.

However, perhaps the most important element of these collectives is that they give each person in them a voice. Leaders of these collectives have formal rights to approach the regional governments about their needs, and this voice would not be heard at all without the formal collective organization. These organizations cannot replace government services, but they do add capacity to the community.

Not only do these collectives lend people some influence over their current and their children’s lives, they love each other and they are not struggling alone. We witnessed profound solidarity. Repeatedly, the collectives told us “We love each other, we are one family,” “We are like one,” “We help each other,” and the conviction that “I will be with you.”The world is decidedly on an unsustainable path, so If we are going to meet SDGs, all the people like the people of the High Atlas Mountains must matter and their voice deserves to be heard.

Peter J. Jacques is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, USA.

The Andalusian-Maghrebi Cultural Bridge

A week spent on the Andalusian coast, looking south, meant that Morocco was never out of sight.  So too it seemed further inland, where the whitewashed hilltop villages look much like they must have looked before the Moors were expelled from Spain half a millenium ago. Based in Estepona, our best excursions were inland, to places like spectacular Ronda – a much-visited outcropping on the edge of a high plateau.  Ronda, where you can visit La Casa Del Rey Moro, with its "secret water mine" of endless steps through a fortified staircase down to the town's water supply……..

Conference Announcement and Call for Presentations Jews and Muslims of Morocco: Uncommon Commonalities

December 7, 2018 by John Davison

Conference Announcement and Call for Presentations Jews and Muslims of Morocco: Uncommon Commonalities June 17-19, 2019 Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th St., New York, NY 10011
The American Sephardi Federation’s Institute of Jewish Experience in conjunction with Association Mimouna and the Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, NJ announce our second annual scholarly and cultural conference.

Tangier Youmein Creative Media Festival — Firas Hamdan and “Cabaret”

October 3, 2018 by Ayoub El Jamal

Today’s podcast featuring Jordanian architect Firas Hamdan and Columbia University anthropologist Audi George Bajalia was recorded as part of Tangier’s fourth annual Youmein Creative Media Festival in August, 2018. Born in Kuwait in 1989, Firas Hamdan lives and works in Amman. Hamdan is a researcher interested in urbanism and in exploring his relationship to different cities. His works focuses on understanding cities beyond their physicality, driven consistently by a curiosity for investigating societal meanings and insignificant events of everyday life.

2018 Youmein Festival Round Table

August 17, 2018 by Ayoub El Jamal

This episode was recorded on August 3 at a roundtable held at the Old American Legation as part of the 4th edition of Tangier’s annual Youmein Festival. In a conversation moderated by Youmein Festival Artistic Director and anthropologist A. George Bajalia, curators Myriam Amroun (coordinator of DJART ’14, Algiers, and founder of RHIZOME) and Laila Hida (founding director of Le 18, Marrakech), discussed how limits are expressed in art, and how limits define the boundaries of an artistic community or the public.

Walking Morocco’s Draa River shows what life may look like when the water runs out

BBC2's Marrakesh to Timbuktu presenter, Alice Morrison describes her 1,200km journey from lustrous groves to arid planes

The El Mansour Eddahibi Dam has provided clean drinking water But the dam has dried out the land, affecting wildlife Alice Morrison shares the incredible insights from her 'old-fashioned expedition' Alice Morrison, is currently walking the length of Morocco’s Draa River to watch the water dissipate – and the wildlife peter out – the further she travels from the El Mansour Eddahibi Dam at its source. The presenter of BBC2’s Marrakesh to Timbuktu is traversing the 1,200km distance to see first-hand what happens when nature’s water supply runs out. Since 9 January, she has already watched luscious green hills descend into barren plains.
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How to find yourself by hiking Morocco's Atlas Mountains

North Africa’s great mountains hide a fascinating world. Liz Hoggard explores on foot

Liz Hoggard

I’m inching along a steep hillside in bright sunshine. The sky is deep blue; the air so fresh it hurts. It’s exhilarating to think it’s snowing back home in London. Even so, I’m nervous. I’m a passionate urban walker but I also like gin and carbs. Will I be able to keep up on our 11km hike in the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains? The hike has been arranged by Kasbah Angour, the boutique hotel where I’m staying. You can choose between leisurely walks or more ambitious trekking to the top of nearby mountain peaks. The best months to hike are between September and May, when you’ll glimpse snow-covered summits but the hotel is well below the snow line and winter days are sunny and warm.

Lust, Addiction & Female Sexuality: Leila Slimani’s New Novel Is Here

Natalie Gil‎08‎ ‎February‎ ‎2019, ‎08‎:‎20

Leila Slimani's "killer nanny novel", Lullaby, became a bestselling sensation when it was published in the UK last year. Slimani was lauded for her fearlessness in dealing with the thorny topics of infanticide and the uncomfortable tension between nannies and their middle-class employers. Now, a new novel from the award-winning French-Moroccan author and journalist dives headfirst into another taboo: sex addiction.

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