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Morocco Week in Review 
November 2, 2019

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Meet an American woman who has decided to stay and live in Morocco (video)

In Arabic

Lonely Planet Ranks Morocco Among Top Ten Destinations for 2020

The new ranking comes as a range of travel guides and rankings have ranked some of the beautiful Moroccan cities as top international tourist destinations.

By Safaa Kasraoui- Safaa Kasraoui is a journalist at Morocco World News. Oct 22, 2019 Rabat

Travel guide website Lonely Planet has listed Morocco among top ten destinations for 2020. The list of the ten best destinations for 2020 features Morocco as the ninth most beautiful destinations in the world ahead of Uruguay, the tenth on the list. “Morocco is having a moment, with time-honoured attacked by sustainable-yet-stylish lodging, restaurants serving up seasonal produce and coastal wellness retreats mixing up yoga and surfing.”…..
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Great collection of beautiful photos of deep forgotten eternal Morocco with meaning and nostalgia.

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Debate Over Sexual Freedoms in Morocco Rages On.

Moroccans are divided into two clans and expressing their opinions through online petitions. While the first is fighting for sexual freedoms, the second “absolutely condemns sex outside of wedlock, adultery, homosexuality, and abortion.”

By Yahia Hatim - Oct 23, 2019 Rabat

Moroccan non-profit organization “Mawadah,” concerned by social and family development, published an online petition against “pornographic liberties,” on Saturday, October 19. More than 5,000 Moroccans have already signed the digital document. The organization entitled the petition “Statement About the Demands of Individual Freedoms.” The document contained five paragraphs, each expressing an opinion concerning the ongoing debate about individual freedoms in Morocco. ======================================

The Moroccan market where women rule

October 23, 2019 Why We Wrote This

How can women best profit from their labors? One answer, our reporter found, lies in a bustling Moroccan rug market: by cutting out the middlemen. Actually, most men.

By Taylor Luck Correspondent

At a rug market in the plains below the Middle Atlas Mountains, women are the shearers, weavers, mediators, sellers, and distributors. There is no room for men in their business model – and they like it that way. The market is in Khemisset, a bilingual town of Berbers and Arabs. It has long been a natural trading post where Berber farmers and craftswomen from the mountain villages and rural hinterlands sell to urban, mainly Arab clientele.

Anyone wishing to fill their tourist bazaar, hotel, or travel bag with the intricate Berber rugs on sale here must first go through the merchant matriarchs who run the market. Every Tuesday, dealers from Fez, Rabat, and Marrakech make their pilgrimage to Khemisset armed with a budget, empty vans, and patience. For the women of Khemisset know more than carpets; they know how to bargain.

The market isn’t a charitable or government initiative to help rural women. It is a grassroots product of local residents and shared interests that has evolved over three decades. How successful is it? Morocco now has two similar, smaller women-run markets in the plains surrounding the Atlas Mountains.
Khemisset, Morocco. The carpet palace is at the far end of the bustling, dusty, weekly outdoor market here.

Past heaps of wheat and grain, mounds of clothes, and piles of sandals and animal feed is a rust-colored structure with vaulted archways and bushels of thread and fabric. But visitors drawn by the allure of Berber rugs of every hue must abide by one important law: Inside this palace, women rule. For here at Khemisset’s zarabi souk – literally “rug market” – women are the shearers, weavers, mediators, sellers, and distributors. There is no room for men in their business model – and they like it that way. Moroccan connoisseurs know their straight-from-the-source products: the minimalist, black-and-white geometric weaves of the Beni Ourain; the colorful reds, blues, yellow symbols, and wavy lines of the Azilal tribe; patchwork confetti-like Boucherouite rugs of leftover textile scraps; the blue-and-red, lightweight, tightly-nit kilims………………….

Haj Ahmed Ezzarghani from Marrakech tells the story of The Successful Trader.

What is The House of Stories? The Home for Storytelling on the Web: Storytelling traditions
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Marrakech: One of the World’s Most Beautiful Cities, Top Destination in Morocco.

Nearly 7.544 million tourists visited Morocco by the end of July 2019, with Marrakech seeing an 8% increase in arrivals.

By Morgan Hekking - Oct 18, 2019 Rabat

Flight Network, a Canadian-based online travel company, has named Marrakech one of the top 50 most beautiful cities in the world. To gather the data, Flight Network asked more than one thousand travel writers, bloggers, and agencies from around the world to name the best cities they have visited. Marrakech and Cape Town are the only African cities on the list; meanwhile, the only Middle Eastern city Flight Network mentions is Dubai. 

The company selected Marrakech for its rich history, which is evident in the ochre city’s beautiful old palaces, gardens, and mosques. “You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a movie while you walk through the Old City, and then feel transported back to today when stepping into the New City,” the Flight Network article states. As Morocco’s top tourist destination, Marrakech is often the recipient of international praise.  The city’s Royal Mansour Hotel was voted the best in Africa and sixth in the world, and two Marrakech riads won Trip Advisor choice awards in 2019.

How to Make Preserved Lemons Moroccan-style

Preserved lemons are a key ingredient in a range of delicious Moroccan dishes, including baked fish and chicken tagine. The unique, tangy taste gives an extra boost to the already aromatic flavors of Moroccan cuisine.

By Layla Dahamou - Oct 13, 2019 Rabat

In Morocco you can pick up preserved lemons at any hanout or spice stall for a very low price, but in European countries there a bit harder to come by. If you’re craving the taste of Morocco you can preserve lemons at home in a kilner-jar and sample the flavors of North Africa at your leisure! In Moroccan cuisine preserved lemons are used in a large variety of fish and chicken dishes, as well as tagines. A particular favorite of mine is a chicken tagine with green olives, preserved lemons, and a pinch of saffron. For a lighter meal, you can use preserved lemons to flavor baked or steamed fish or even a basic tray bake with chicken thighs, potatoes, and some fresh ginger.

In Morocco, French is Here to Stay.

I cannot help but feel a strange mix guilty and grateful, since learning French in post-colonial Africa is not without implications.

By Wouter Ijzerman - Wouter IJzerman works as an intern at Morocco World News, focusing on the relationship between the Netherlands and Morocco. Oct 20, 2019 Rabat

With President Macron’s ambitious plan to sink millions of Euros into making French the third most spoken language in the world. Given the expected quadrupling of the African, Francophone population before the turn of the next century on account of a decreasing mortality rate, in many ways one could say: For better or worse, French is here to stay.

As Paris was caught in the morning fog, with bakers and window cleaners welcoming the day, my father and I made our way to the Notre-Dame to attend the early mass on Sunday. Though a sixteen-year-old in the heavily secularized West, I found myself rather dumb-founded to stumble upon a practically empty nave as my father and I took up our seats in a rear pew. As the priest opened the sermon in French, a thin and invisible veil lowered between myself and the rest of the congregation, as usually happened whenever I found myself in exclusively French-speaking company. It did not matter. Even as a stoic atheist back then, I could do little else but sit there with an open mouth and gaze in awe of the seemingly never-ending ceiling of the church. ……

Morocco: Journalist’s pardon for ‘abortion’ reflects societal split

Hajar Raissouni was jailed for an abortion she has always denied. Her pardon this week was a small victory for women's rights activists across the region who, despite recent gains, still face serious resistance. After Morocco’s king pardoned her for the crimes of having an “illegal abortion” and premarital sex, journalist Hajar Raissouni on Wednesday made a victory sign with her fingers. The moment has come to symbolize a win for her and civil rights activists, who have campaigned for her release. King Mohammed VI overturned her one-year sentence and conviction, which was handed down on September 30 in order to “preserve the future of the two fiancés who planned to found a family in line with our religious and legal precepts, despite the error they made,” the justice ministry said…………..

Despite journalist’s royal pardon, Morocco is far from legalising abortion


Under the weight of international pressure, Morocco’s monarchy on Wednesday granted journalist Hajar Raissouni a pardon after she was sentenced to a year in prison over allegations of illegal abortion and extra-marital sex. Professor Aboubakr Jamaï spoke to FRANCE 24 on whether her victory could spur social change.
Hajar Raissouni, 28, was sentenced to one year in prison late September on charges of "illegal abortion" and "sexual relations outside marriage”. She was sentenced along with her fiancé Rifaat al-Amin and doctor Mohammed Jamal Belkeziz, both for alleged complicity, in a case she denounced as a “political trial”.
Morocco’s King Mohamed VI pardoned all three on Wednesday, October 16 following protests and international calls for Raissouni’s release. The decision to grant a royal pardon was motivated by the monarchy's "compassion" and "concern" to "preserve the future of the engaged couple who intended to start a family in line with religious precepts and the law, despite the error they allegedly made", the Ministry of Justice declared in a statement.

Morocco Launches Mobile Library in Ben Guerir to Promote Reading.

Volunteers running a new mobile library say they hope to encourage students to start cultural clubs and book clubs in their schools.

By Susanna Spurgeon - Susanna is an editor at Morocco World News. Oct 25, 2019

Residents around Ben Guerir, a city 70 kilometers north of Marrakech, may spot a small truck outfitted with a library making a tour of schools and settlements in the coming days. The mobile library, also called the Caravan Reading Bridge, is conducting reading workshops and providing schools with an interactive reading program, reported state-owned media outlet Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). The mobile library began operating in Ben Guerir on Wednesday, October 23, as a part of the National Initiative for Human Development’s (INDH) multi-year development plan to increase human capital in Morocco through education. The truck’s presentation was also part of the official launch of a national awareness campaign about early childhood education from October 21 to November 4. …..
More here: ======================================

Morocco’s Date Palms Bring in MAD 2 Million Per Year

Dates are an important revenue-generator at Morocco’s Saharan oases as well as being traditional symbols of good luck.

By Susanna Spurgeon - Susanna is an editor at Morocco World News. Oct 25, 2019 Rabat

The date palm industry in Morocco generates MAD 2 billion ($207 million), the Ministry of Agriculture announced. The ministry gave the statement on the occasion of the International Date Fair, also called the Guetna Festival, in Erfoud, an oasis town in eastern Morocco, reported state-owned media outlet Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). Dates play a central role in the economic activity of oases. Revenue from dates make up 60% of agricultural income at oases, the ministry noted. More than 2 million people work in the date industry in Morocco. ……………..
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Djinns, Shame, and Taboos: Opening Up About Mental Health in Morocco

“You have come a long way when you are sitting at a dinner table with family and friends and say ‘I’m seeing a psychiatrist.’”

By Wouter Ijzerman - Wouter IJzerman works as an intern at Morocco World News, focusing on the relationship between the Netherlands and Morocco. Oct 26, 2019 Rabat

In the wake of this year’s World Mental Health Day organizations around the world are launching new initiatives, in a bid to further promote the importance of mental health. In Morocco, the Danish residency opened its doors to welcome the Moroccan Ministry of Health, representatives of medical science and several stakeholders. 

Raising awareness
Solely dedicated to the treatment of brain diseases, Lundbeck is a Danish pharmaceutical company active in the MEA-region, spanning from Morocco to South-Africa and from Sudan to Iran. Managing Director Henrik Agerbaek-Larsen spoke to Morocco World News about the role of Lundbeck in bolstering treatment for mental health issues. “Over 700 million people suffer from brain diseases globally, 50% of them do not receive their proper medication.” Said Agerbaek-Larsen.
“Of course, there are some countries where the discrepancy between the availability of medicines and patients who are in need of them is higher. But, on a global scale we see an enormous number of people who have to bear up with their mental health issues, while not receiving their medication,” the director explained. 
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Why Tourists in Morocco Shouldn’t Look Away from Poverty,

Tourists traveling in Morocco often say the economic disparities make them feel “uncomfortable.” Here is why we should look the ugly side of Morocco in the eye.

By Madeleine Handaji Oct 28, 2019 Essaouira

The Lonely Planet recently listed Morocco among the top 10 most beautiful countries in the world. The beauty of Ouarzazate, Ifrane, the Atlas Mountains, and the architecture of cities like Fez and Marrakech is undeniable, but behind the awe-inspiring, mesmerising facade of beauty lurks the ugly side of Morocco. 
To be clear, I love Morocco, and it is beautiful, but, over the past three years, I have had to learn to embrace the not-so-beautiful side. This morning, for example, as I sat sipping my first coffee of the day at a picturesque cafe in the countryside outside Essaouira, from the roof terrace I gazed over miles of open space, of Argan trees, goats, and sheep roaming free in the morning sun. Then, an old man wearing a traditional jellaba rode past on a donkey. Idyllic, stereotypical Morocco, you might be thinking…..

Olives, Dates, and Pomegranates: Daily Life in Morocco’s Skoura Oasis.

Located near Ouarzazate within the Atlas Mountains, Skoura is a regional hub where tourism meets daily life in a Moroccan village.

By Wouter Ijzerman - Wouter IJzerman works as an intern at Morocco World News, focusing on the relationship between the Netherlands and Morocco.
Oct 19, 2019 Rabat

Though the town itself has a population of 2,800, the population of the villages scattered throughout the Skoura oasis in the Atlas Mountains is as many as 23,000 people. Many of the residents work as farmers. Their interaction with the oasis and its ecosystems is indispensable in their daily lives.
But life in Skoura is not limited to growing olives, dates, and pomegranates. Tourism is rife in the stunning oasis. Travelers visit the local sites and hear what locals have to say about their remote government and the future of Morocco.

Morocco’s Education Minister Says New Bill Will Deliver Quality Education

Despite ongoing criticism from mostly conservative circles, Morocco’s education minister is adamant that the new education bill will help raise standards and deliver social equality.

By Morocco World News - Oct 18, 2019 Rabat

Morocco’s Education Minister is optimistic about the prospects of the series of new reforms initiated to improve performance at Moroccan schools,. The minister says that the broader goal is to boost teaching quality and equal opportunity. According to Minister Said Amzazi, the North African country is poised to be a respected participant in the worldwide scramble for state-of-the art innovation and scientific research. But to do so, he said, there is a need to invest in “quality education for all.”  Amzazi’s comments came on Thursday, October 17, as he presented,  the accompanying vision of the recently passed education bill, Law 51.1, at an event in Fez. In his presentation, the Moroccan minister invoked his usual sticking points. ……………
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Morocco energy boss: We need to build electricity bridges between Europe and Africa

By Benjamin Fox |  ‎Oct‎ ‎18‎, ‎2019

The solar thermal complex at Noor Ouarzazate in the Atlas mountains is at the heart of Morocco’s renewable energy drive, producing over 580MW of electricity. Mustapha Bakhouri explains the country’s plans to develop its renewable energy programme and build energy connections with Europe.

Mustapha Bakhouri is the president of the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN). He spoke to EURACTIV’s Benjamin Fox.

The Moroccan government has set ambitious targets of increasing their share of energy from renewables to 42% in 2020 and a 52% share by 2030. Are these feasible targets?
Not only these targets are feasible, but we have the ambition to go beyond the levels set for 2030. As of today, production from renewables exceeds 35% with additional capacities under very advanced stages of development (NOOR Midelt Solar Complex, Koudia Al Baida and Taza wind farms) or under construction (Midelt Wind farm).

How much further can the Ouarzazate complex grow? How is the rest of Morocco’s sustainable energy ecosystem developing, and what is its impact on the wider economy? ...

Side-by-Side: A Green New Era in the Age of Fossil Fuels

“Mother Earth doesn’t look at individual countries or regions, it’s the overall picture and the current system simply doesn’t work.”

By Mark Mahon - Mark Mahon served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer near Errachidia (2013-15). Oct 19, 2019 Rabat

There is so much good news. The momentum towards more sustainable development models and their associated patterns of living is being driven in part by a confluence of critical factors: pollution from mass urbanization, ground and soil degradation, de-forestation, global warming, endangered natural habitats, retreating glaciers, growing social justice movements, and more.

 The 2016 Paris climate accord was a foundation for collective global action. The accord was part symbolism, allowing global political leaders to rally their respective populations (and private industry) to the climate cause, and partly a general blueprint for a necessary pivot away from the burning of fossil fuels. 
The 200 or more signatories committed to actions that would limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrialization levels while “pursuing efforts” for a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Three years later, skepticism now abounds about the ability to even reach the modest 1.5C goal. But work continues. There is progress nearly everywhere……
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Morocco’s 2019 Literature Awards Reward Moroccan Writers

More than 190 publications from different genres and fields competed for the awards.

By Yahia Hatim - Oct 21, 2019 Rabat

Morocco’s 2019 Literature Awards (Prix du Maroc du Livre) ceremony took place on Friday, October 18, at the National Library, in Rabat. Ten Moroccan authors received an award at the ceremony. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the national literature awards. The ceremony was organized by the Ministry of Culture. A number of public figures attended the event. Senior adviser to King Mohammed VI Andre Azoulay, Moroccan historian Abdelhak Lamrini, and other big names from the fields of politics, culture, and academia all attended the ceremony. The ceremony was an opportunity to “put a spotlight on the efforts of the different laureates in the domains of creativity, literature, research, and translation,” according to the event’s organizers.

The Laureates of Morocco’s 2019 Literature Awards. The winners of the awards in the poetry category were Mustapha Melh for his collection of poetry “I Blame Nobody” (in Arabic), and Rachid Khaless for his book “Total War” (in French). The narrative award went to Abderrahim Jiran for his work “The Stone and the Blessing” (in Arabic), while Moulaid El Adnani earned the Amazigh literature award for her book “The Recall of Nights” (in Amazigh). Mohamed Said Soussan won the children literature prize for his work “A Mermaid From the Sky” (in Arabic). In the field of social sciences, Ayad Ablal and Khalid Zakri jointly won the award.  The first earned the reward for his book “Complex Ignorance, Religion, Religiosity, and Religious Issues in the Arab World” (in Arabic), while the second earned it for his work “Arab Modernities, From Modernity to Globalization” (in French). The award for literature studies went to Ibrahim Al Hussein for his book “Caricature in Morocco, Irony and the Issue of the Forbidden” (in Arabic)…….

American Model Chrissy Teigen Reminisces About Her Moroccan Trips, Tagines

Several Moroccan cities have emerged as top destinations for A-list stars and celebrities.

By Safaa Kasraoui is a journalist at Morocco World News. Oct 22, 2019 Rabat

American model and public figure Chrissy Teigen was thrilled to introduce her latest kitchen product inspired by her trips to Morocco. On Monday, October 21, Teigen showed her fans her little Craving by Chrissy Teigen tagine featured at US retailer Target. The celebrity shared videos with her fans of her cooking with her ceramic tagine. …………

Using Moroccan Stereotypes to Find our Humanity

“Civility is lost but it can be found,” said UN patron of the Wilderness Ben Fogle. In a world of extremes and polarization, how can we find our humanity and kindness?

By Madeleine Handaji - Oct 21, 2019 Essaouira

When we are ignorant about another culture, we search for stereotypes to fill the gaps, and, increasingly, turn to fear and hatred. The anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-difference rhetoric that currently presides over Western politics like a heavy cloud of populism and nationalism uses stereotypes to promote fear. It is a powerful force. But there is another way. In any given situation, as humans, we make presumptions about each other; we draw our own conclusions; and we like to categorize people. This makes us feel comfortable. As a foreigner living in Morocco, I feel myself being categorized and reduced to stereotypes on a day to day basis.  When waiters presume that because I am English, I must, like 75% of British people be unable to speak a language other than English, I smile. When they stubbornly reply to my fluent French in broken English, I am so accustomed to it that I am no longer annoyed. ………..

Moroccan Gaming: Can Niche Become Mainstream?

Video games have gone from a pastime for adolescents to a multi-billion dollar industry. But, will Morocco be able to hop on this speeding train before it’s too late?

By Yahia Hatim - Oct 26, 2019 Rabat

Since the moment my father introduced me to a computer, almost 20 years ago, I have loved playing video games. I used to spend long hours with my back hunched over the screen, immersed in my favorite games. The more I played, the more I wanted to play. My naive child’s mind dreamed of a life where people could play video games for a living.

No longer a naive dream
Fast-forward to 2019, the video game industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, netting more revenue than the music and movie industries combined. Gaming, or the act of playing video games, has turned from being the favorite pastime of introverted adolescents into a social activity that connects people from different backgrounds all over the world. Almost a third of the world’s population plays video games, and, in 2019, people all over the world are paid to play them.  The exponential growth of the gaming industry gave birth to the sub industry of Esports. Esports, also known as Electronic Sports, are the practice of video games in competitive settings, and on different scales. Many countries, including the United States, already consider Esports players as professional athletes.

‘Stop wasting your time’
Older generations in Morocco have, for a long time, perceived playing video games as an exclusive activity for children and a waste of time. If an adult is playing video games, it is seen negatively….

More Than 23,000 Sub-Saharan African Students Graduate From Moroccan Universities

This year, 12,000 students from sub-Saharan countries are enrolled at Moroccan universities.

By Yahia Hatim - Oct 24, 2019 Rabat

The president of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation, Mohamed Methqal, announced that more than 23,000 students from sub-Saharan Africa have graduated from Moroccan universities in the last 20 years. The official also stated that there are more than 12,000 sub-Saharan students enrolled at Moroccan universities this year, 2019-2020, from 47 different African countries. The Moroccan official made his statement today, October 24, during a conference in Sochi, Russia, under the theme “Russia-Africa – Science, Education, Training, and Innovation for Economic Development.” During his participation at the event, Methqal laid out Morocco’s efforts towards becoming a major education hub in Africa. The official also expressed Morocco’s willingness to collaborate with Russia in development projects that benefit African countries and their economies. Methqal added that since King Mohammed VI visited Moscow, in March 2016, Morocco and Russia have developed a strategic partnership.

Rabat to Host International Conference on Sex Education in Africa

Sex is still a taboo subject in many African countries, including Morocco.

By Yahia Hatim - Oct 24, 2019 Rabat

The Moroccan Association for Family Planning (AMPF), in collaboration with Mohammed V University in Rabat, is set to host an international conference on sex education and reproductive health in Africa. The conference will take place in Rabat’s Faculty of Education Sciences (FSE) between October 30 and October 31.
The event aims to shed light on the importance of sex education as a research topic, through scientific debates on the matter. The conference also aims to give young students and civil society a platform to share their ideas and suggestions on how sex education can be improved in Morocco, and in Africa more widely.
The conference will also provide an opportunity to review the African Union’s (AU) Maputo Plan of Action 2016-2030. The Maputo plan, which Ministers of Health of the AU first adopted in 2006, aims to put a continental policy framework for sexual and reproductive health and rights. The reviewed plan of 2016-2030 was approved by heads of states at the 2016 AU assembly in Kigali, Rwanda. The updated version reinforces the objective of universal access to sex and reproductive health services in Africa. It also aims to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those of good-health and well being, and gender equality.

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