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Morocco Week in Review 
October 17 2020

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Moroccan American Network to Celebrate the Sixth Morocco Day Online

The virtual event will see the participation of several scholars and professionals from the sectors of education, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

By Taha Mebtoul -  Oct 14, 2020 Rabat

The Moroccan American Network will host the sixth “Morocco Day” celebration from January 17 to 19, 2021, online, under the theme “Moving Forward & Celebrating Martin Luther King: (I Have a Dream/A Message of Hope).” Morocco Day is an annual observance that celebrates the ties between Morocco and the US. A celebration usually takes place on March 29, but the network changed the date, anticipating ongoing exceptional circumstances. According to the Moroccan American Network, Morocco Day is “an occasion to devote the depth of the historical relationship that binds the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States of America.”

After Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia Justin Wilson recognized Morocco Day, July 25 became the official date for its observance in the D.C. suburb. Washington, D.C. recognizes Morocco Day on July 29. The network chose to honor Martin Luther King Jr during the sixth celebration to deliver a message of hope, and to “strategize, mobilize, and encourage the Moroccan/African American community to move forward post COVID-19.” Moroccan-American entrepreneurs, professors, and digital and innovation professionals will lead discussions during the virtual event on several topics including education, entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, and healthcare. The fifth Morocco Day celebration took place from July 22 to 25 online, also due to the spread of COVID-19 which prevented an in-person gathering. The event took place under the theme of “COVID-19 and Remote Work.”………………..

Morocco Prepares for National Vaccination Campaign Against COVID-19

By Yahia Hatim  - Oct 9, 2020

Morocco’s Ministry of Health is preparing for a national vaccination campaign against COVID-19. Meeting in Rabat on Thursday, October 8, Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb and regional health directors discussed the first steps in developing a national vaccination campaign. In a “very urgent” letter addressed to regional health directors on October 6, Ait Taleb emphasized the importance of having a plan ready when COVID-19 vaccines are available.

The fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Morocco “is a public health emergency to which the Ministry of Health must respond in all aspects, especially through vaccination, which is under development,” the minister wrote. He announced that the ministry has already developed a comprehensive conceptual document for the campaign. The first meeting aimed to communicate the “strategic orientations” of the upcoming vaccination campaign with regional health directors. It also sought to provide regional officials with the opportunity to give their input, in the framework of decentralized decision-making……………………

UN: Morocco Reaffirms Essential Role of Youth in Climate Action

Morocco has long placed youth “at the center of its efforts to accelerate the implementation of sustainable development," the country’s permanent ambassador to the UN said.

By Morgan Hekking -  Morgan Hekking holds a BA in International Relations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Sep 30, 2020 Rabat

The Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN in New York stressed the important role of youth in climate action on Tuesday. Morocco co-hosted a virtual event on the role of youth in climate action to support the 2019 Global Youth Climate Action Declaration on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate action.

Young leaders and parliamentarians representing several countries attended the event, along with the ambassadors of Costa Rica and Portugal to the UN. 
The Permanent Ambassador of Morocco to the UN, Omar Hilale, stressed that the country has always believed that young people hold a key role in the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda. He highlighted innovative youth-led solutions to protect biodiversity, preserve the environment, and promote sustainable production and consumption. “As a globally committed country, Morocco has, for several decades, systematically placed young people and citizens at the center of its efforts to accelerate the implementation of sustainable development,” Morocco’s state media quoted Hilale as saying…………………………………..

UN: Morocco Co-organizes Event on Role of Young People in Climate Action

Wednesday 30 September 2020

The Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations in New York, co-organized, Tuesday, an event in a virtual format, on the role of youth in climate action, marked by the participation of a group of young leaders and parliamentarians representing several countries. This meeting, which was also attended by the ambassadors of Costa Rica and Portugal to the UN, is organized in support of the Master Plan on "Youth Call to Action for the implementation of SDG 13 (climate action)", one year after the Youth Climate Summit held in 2019, as a prelude to the United Nations Climate Action Summit…………..

Survey: Arab Youth Consider Migration and Protests Amid Debt, Corruption

Every year, the Arab Youth Survey attempts to gauge the opinions of 200 million youth across the Arab world. This year, immigration, protests, and corruption top their concerns.

By  Jasper Hamann  - Oct 7, 2020 Rabat

A survey of youth in the Arab world shows many are increasingly considering moving abroad and support protesting their government as many are fed up with debt and corruption.  The Dubai-Based PR firm ASDA’A BCW conducts the Arab Youth Survey annually and published its latest report on Tuesday, detailing the priorities of the region’s youth. The survey reported that many are facing rising personal debt and are frustrated with corruption and a lack of jobs.
The survey includes opinions from youth in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE, and Yemen. In Morocco, youth in the cities of Casablanca, Fez, Rabat, and Marrakech contributed to the annual survey.

Migration and protests

The top concern of Arab youth, according to this year’s survey, is migration. Two in five young people in the region say they are actively trying or have considered emigrating to another country. The drive to move abroad is most prevalent in the crisis-stricken Levant, followed by North Africa. In Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq, over 60% of youth consider emigrating abroad.  Corruption and economic difficulties are driving away the region’s young minds. In response to these issues, many young Arabs support protesting their governments. 

The survey found that Arab youth enthusiastically support anti-government protests. Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Sudan all saw major recent protests movements, each with the support of over 80% of the countries’ youth populations. In Morocco, 46% of youth reportedly consider moving away to seek their fate elsewhere. As well, 28% of young Moroccans said they think Morocco could also see major anti-government protests in the next year in the face of economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic………………….

Morocco Remains Committed to Fight Against Racism

Ambassador Omar Zniber linked Morocco’s commitment to anti-racist conventions to its diverse national heritage.

By Morgan Hekking -  Morgan Hekking holds a BA in International Relations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Oct 1, 2020 Rabat

Morocco is firmly committed to the fight against racism, the country’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva said Thursday during the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council. Ambassador Omar Zniber reiterated Morocco’s dedication to the Charter of the United Nations and international conventions related to the fight against racism and discrimination.  He highlighted, in particular, Morocco’s commitment to the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The document calls for a national action plan specifically combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. Zniber said the country “has explicitly prohibited, in its national legislation, manifestations of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.” He pointed in particular to the labor code, the penal code, and the press and publishing code, according to Morocco’s state media.

At the regional and international level, demonstrations of Morocco’s active opposition to racism include its hosting of the international seminar on the follow-up to the Rabat Plan of Action, which relates to the prohibition of all “calls to hatred.”  Morocco is also set to host the next World Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). The initiative seeks to inspire international action against extremism by forging international, intercultural, and interreligious dialogue and cooperation. Zniber highlighted the UN’s recognition of Morocco’s anti-discrimination efforts. The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism praised Morocco’s progress in upholding international conventions against racism after visiting the country in December 2018. …………

Gardens and Flowers in Morocco

Let’s Discover Moroccan gardens

Morocco's richness is also due to its faunal and floristic diversity: the gardens are a splendid example. To get an idea, Morocco is full of several hundred gardens, each more characteristic than the other.Morocco has several beautiful gardens, where you can rest, enjoy the beauty of nature, calm and disconnect from the outside world. To introduce you to these gardens, we have selected the 5 best gardens in Morocco, existing in 3 different cities, for everyone's enjoyment!...................

Morocco in 2050: New Report Predicts Regional Threats, Water Stress

The first report of the Ecological Threat Register describes Morocco as a medium-exposure country located near a troubled Sahel region.

By Jasper Hamann -  Sep 9, 2020 Rabat

A new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) predicts issues with water shortages and regional instability for Morocco.  The inaugural Ecological Threat Register published on Wednesday paints a bleak future for the world as a whole. The report estimates that over 1 billion people are under threat of displacement and 1.5 billion could face food insecurity by 2050. The report uses data on ecological factors like population growth, water and food insecurity, natural disasters, and temperature increases. It combines this data with an analysis of the societal resilience, peacefulness, and regional impacts that nations may face in the coming decades.  The report shows that Morocco faces three major ecological threats amid a possible migration crisis in its south.

Threats to Morocco

The report predicts that Morocco will face significant climate-change related issues. Water stress tops the list.  One third of the world’s countries, including Morocco, will face high to extreme levels of water stress by 2040, meaning that half of all available water is used up each year. Morocco and the Maghreb face the highest levels of water insecurity in northwestern Africa. Moroccans are among the 2.6 billion people around the world under threat of water scarcity. Rising temperatures and less predictable rainfall could become a significant threat if no action is taken to mitigate current trends. Within two decades, many Moroccans could be forced to move within the country to areas with better water availability as regions around the Sahara become even drier……………………….

Survey: Half of Moroccans Pleased With Morocco’s Economic Situation

In terms of the political situation in Arab countries, the latest survey shared more positive findings than previous ones.

By Taha Mebtoul - Oct 9, 2020 Rabat

A recent survey by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) published by the Doha Institute shows that 48% of Moroccans believe Morocco’s economic situation is good/very good. The 2019-2020 Arab Opinion Index, which shared data from interviews with over 28,000 individuals from 13 Arab countries, also indicated that 47% of Morocco’s population sees the economic situation as bad/very bad. Meanwhile, 6% abstained from responding. In a more global assessment, 41% of the Maghreb population see the economic situation in their country between good (36%) and very good (5%), while 33% see it as bad and 23% as very bad.

A recent publication by the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA) showed a strong consensus in the Maghreb population that economic exchange among Maghreb countries will enhance the region’s integration. In terms of the political situation in Arab countries, the 2019-2020 Arab Opinion Index shared more positive findings than the previous ones.  However, fewer respondents from Morocco expressed positive feelings about the country’s political situation than they did about its economic situation. Seven percent of Moroccans believe that the political situation in Morocco is very good and 27% believe it is good, while 32% said that it is bad and 25% responded “very bad.”………………………………..

Morocco, Spain Sign Agreement to Empower Moroccan Women, Youth

The agreement follows the recommendations of a 2015-2019 cooperation program contract between Morocco's Ministry of Tourism and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

By Taha Mebtoul -  Oct 13, 2020 Rabat

Morocco and Spain signed on Tuesday a cooperation agreement that aims to empower more than 3,000 innovative Moroccan women and youth through entrepreneurship. The administrative protocol aims to empower women and young people of the Casablanca-Settat, Souss-Massa, Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, and Oriental regions over the course of three years. Morocco’s Minister of Tourism Nadia Fettah Alaoui and Spain’s Ambassador to Morocco, Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner Rodriguez, signed the agreement along with a representative of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Ignacio Martinez Boluda. AECID is set to contribute €600,000 to beneficiaries who present innovative projects.

The initiative follows the International Forum for Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls. The event took place on October 10, the National Day of Moroccan Women.
Head of the Moroccan Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani underlined during the forum that Morocco has invested in providing a supportive cultural, social, legal, and economic environment to empower Moroccan women and girls.
The Moroccan Spanish agreement also serves as a recovery plan to address the negative repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis on the Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS), according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Young Arabs are Changing their Beliefs and Perceptions: New Survey

Less religious and less likely to be following religious leaders: these are the findings of a survey conducted among youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by the Arab Barometer, a pollster surveying the main social and economic trends in the region. The main findings were published by The Economist on 5 December 2019, showing that ‘across the region the share of people expressing much trust in political parties, most of which have a religious tint, has fallen by well over a third since 2011, to 15 per cent. … The doubts extend to religious leaders. In 2013, around 51 per cent of respondents said they trusted their religious leaders to a “great” or “medium” extent. When a comparable question was asked last year, the number was down to 40 per cent. … The share of Arabs describing themselves as “not religious” is up to 13 per cent, from 8 per cent in 2013. That includes nearly half of young Tunisians, a third of young Libyans, a quarter of young Algerians and a fifth of young Egyptians.’

In an interview with Fanack, Michael Robbins, project director at the Arab Barometer, said the most surprising finding was that “Tunisian youth (46 per cent) are equally likely to say they are not religious as youth in the US who say religion has little or no importance in their lives (45 per cent in the Americas Barometer survey)”. He added, “In other countries, youth are also increasingly likely to say they are not religious (up to 18 per cent today from 11 per cent in 2013), but Tunisia stands out in this regard. Although the vast majority of youth across the region still identify as being religious, at least to some extent, if this trend continues over time, it is possible that societies in MENA will be far less religious in the decades to come.”……………………

Moroccan Travel: The 5 Best Places for Hiking in Morocco

Morocco is a country of diverse landscapes, including outstanding hiking destinations that offer both beautiful scenery and a glimpse into rich local history and culture.

By Jihad Dardar -  Oct 11, 2020

Only a few countries offer a diverse variety of landscapes and panoramas as impressive as Morocco’s, which makes the North African country an important travel destination for tourists from across the world who enjoy true adventuring. Morocco offers some of the best places to enjoy outdoor activities, from surfing blue waters to trekking the Sahara desert to hiking magnificent hills and mountains. Beyond its historic cities and unique and delectable cuisine, Morocco has some of the best hiking locations where you can enjoy dramatic rocky coastlines, snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys, and beautiful natural scenery. Additionally, hiking Morocco’s mountains benefit the body, mind, and soul. It is a “must” for nature lovers traveling to the country.
Through hiking intriguing trails, you will get the chance to learn more about Morocco’s geography and nature. You will also get to explore history, culture, traditions, and language by interacting with locals of the remote Amazigh (Berber) villages in the mountains. These are the best places for hiking in Morocco that every outdoor adventurer should visit………….

Easy Recipe for Cooking Lentils the Moroccan Way

I am sure there are many ways to make lentils irresistible---but this easy Moroccan recipe to cook the healthy legume could end up being one of your favorites.

By Safaa Kasraoui -  Oct 11, 2020 Rabat

The ways to cook lentils differ from one place to another across the globe. While some enjoy lentils as an appetizer, in Morocco, lentils serve as a main dish for many Moroccan families. Lentils are not only delicious but also an excellent source of many nutrients, including vitamin B, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.
Lentils are also a favorite for those who are enthusiastic about a healthy body since they are rich in protein and fiber. Before starting, I would like to share one of the tips my mother uses to make cooking your lentils easy. She usually soaks lentils after cleaning and soaking them in a bowl of water overnight before cooking. This makes the lentils soft enough to cook with no issues……………..

BAM, IFC Launch Webinars to Support Morocco’s Female Entrepreneurs

Half of women who own small businesses in Morocco have difficulty accessing formal financing, according to the partner organizations.

By Issam Toutate -  Oct 13, 2020 Meknes

Morocco’s central bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have launched a series of webinars to support female entrepreneurs in the country.  Bank Al Maghrib (BAM) and IFC announced the program on Monday, according to a joint BAM and IFC statement cited by local outlet LeMatin.  The initiative aims to advance financial inclusion by sharing insights and the latest financing trends for women-owned businesses. 

More broadly, the IFC partnership with BAM aims to help banks serve a wider community of women. With half of their small companies experiencing difficulty accessing financing, many female entrepreneurs in Morocco have no “other choice than to use their own resources and savings to finance the development of their business,” said the same source. During the first webinar, executives from Morocco’s banking sector discussed, among other topics, ways to use gender-based data to broaden the financial services available to female entrepreneurs. Both partners expressed confidence in bank-collected data’s capacity to inform the development of appropriate, targeted financial services. The BAM-IFC initiative is not the first of its kind Morocco has seen this year.

The Federation of Moroccan Enterprises (GEM) and the IFC announced in June their support for a series of e-commerce webinars to empower female entrepreneurs in the country.
The World Bank Group hosted a free, virtual webinar series between June 15 and July 2 within the “Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative” (We-Fi) program. We-Fi seeks to comprehensively and sustainably overcome the challenges that women entrepreneurs face…….

Expats in Morocco Disappointed With Public Sanitation, Trash in Streets

While Morocco performs poorly in terms of environment and sustainability perceptions, the country is one of the top-rated places to be an expat thanks to easy living and Moroccans’ friendliness towards foreigners.

By Morgan Hekking -  Morgan Hekking holds a BA in International Relations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Sep 30, 2020 Rabat

Morocco is among the lowest-ranking destinations for “sustainable expats,” according to InterNation’s Environment and Sustainability Ranking.  The ranking is based on the Expat Insider 2020 survey, collecting responses from more than 15,000 expats representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries and territories. Rather than publishing an overall country ranking based on general insights into expat life, InterNations decided this year to focus on sustainability and the environment. The report ranks Morocco 48th out of 60 countries, framing it as one of the least desirable countries for expats who are concerned with the environment and sustainability…….

HCP: 3 Out of 10 Old People in Morocco Too Afraid to Visit Hospitals

By Yahia Hatim -  Oct 2, 2020

More than three out of 10 old people in Morocco who require medical exams are unable to visit hospitals out of fear of COVID-19, a recent study from Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) announced. The report showed that 38.2% of old people in Morocco needed medical checkups during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, from April to June. Out of this category, 44% were unable to visit doctors, including 30.7% who were too afraid of contracting the coronavirus. Meanwhile, 26.9% were unable to go see the doctor because of financial difficulties, and 21.6% because of the lack of available transportation……………

Morocco’s Blue Pearl Chefchaouen and Other Blue Cities Around the World

If you are a fan of Chefchaouen’s blue panorama, you will be pleased to know that there are several other fascinating cities across the world that share its attractive hues.

By Jihad Dardar -  Oct 4, 2020

The world is full of charm and wonders that make us stop and admire the beauty of our planet. One such site is the captivating blue pearl of Morocco, Chefchaouen. The small blue city with a rich history and architecture draws in travelers from across the globe, but it also makes you wonder about all the other colorful cities around the world. In a world of gigantic concrete buildings, gray and white houses, toxic factories, and never-ending highways, visiting a little city that is both vibrant with soothing can be a refreshing and beneficial way to indulge in the beauty of the world. Some of the most wonderful cities in the world are colored with the rainbow. Blue, lavender, green, yellow, orange, and pink give some special small cities a vibrant and cozy atmosphere and forever imprint your travel experience in your memory…………………………….

Fez to Host Morocco’s First 4.0 Innovative Ecosystem

The initiative is designed to be a startups incubator and accelerator, offering engineering services for industry as well as research and development laboratories.

By Issam Toutate -  Oct 6, 2020 Fez

The city of Fez will soon have its own 4.0 ecosystem thanks to an ambitious project that brings together the efforts of public and private actors. The “Fez Smart Factory” (FSF) industrial zone project is set to be developed on the campus of the Euromed University of Fez (UEMF). Organizers hope the project will help transform the entire Fez-Meknes region into a promising growth center. Behind the success of this platform is a partnership between the General Confederation of Moroccan Companies (CGEM), the Sustainable Industrial Zones Fund (FONZID), the Fès-Meknès Regional Council, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and ALTEN, a software development company. The project aims to develop a sustainable industrial zone to meet the needs for improving industrial productivity and environmental and social performance, taking advantage of the concepts of industry 4.0 ecosystem. The forecast investment is nearly MAD 104 million ($11.25 million)……………….

New mosasaur species discovered in Morocco

Emily Lawford

Paleontologists have identified a new dinosaur with a crocodile-like snout that hunted in inland seas more than 60 million years ago. Gavialimimus almaghribensis, a species of mosasaur, was catalogued by an international team led by Catie Strong, a researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada. The marine predator’s remains were found in Morocco. More than a dozen types of mosasaur have been discovered in the country. Mosasaurs lived during the Late Cretaceous period, between 72 and 66 million years ago. They breathed air and could reach up to 55 feet long.

Water and sanitation for the remote hinterland of Morocco

While the inhabitants of Morocco's cities and urban centres are increasingly benefiting from secure and sustainable access to drinking water, there is often still a lot of catching up to do in rural areas. Particularly in the north of the country, where infrastructure is weak, existing structures need to be expanded and innovative projects implemented. This is being done within the framework of the "Programme Rural Water Supply" in order to enable private households, public institutions and companies in Morocco's remote hinterland to have climate-friendly drinking water supply and wastewater disposal in line with Agenda 2030 and the human right to water. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) KfW Development Bank is providing the Moroccan partners with a loan of EUR 30 million for this purpose. The loan agreement was signed on 7th October 2020 by KfW and the project executing agency ONEE (Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable)………………

Marrakech Among Nominees for World’s Leading City Destination

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Marrakech maintains its position as one of the prominent tourist hubs in Morocco and across the globe.

By Safaa Kasraoui  - Oct 6, 2020 Rabat

World Travel Awards listed Morocco’s famed city of Marrakech among the nominees for the World’s Leading City Destination 2020. The city of Marrakech, one of the prominent tourism hubs in Morocco, is competing with 20 other cities around the world for the award. The shortlist includes Dubai, New York, Las Vegas, London, Moscow, Paris, and Sydney. Moscow, Russia clinched the World’s Leading City Destination award in 2019, while Libon earned the title in 2018. Saint-Petersburg, another city in Russia, won the title in 2017. The final for this year’s winner will take place in Moscow on November 27. Despite the increase of COVID-19 cases in Morocco, Marrakech maintains its position as a favorite destination for locals and international tourists…………………..

English Actor Ben Miller in Love With Morocco After 4-Month Lockdown

Moroccans have “the greatest attitude,” he said. “They want to laugh and make a joke about everything, and their kindness bowls me over.”

By Morgan Hekking  - Morgan Hekking holds a BA in International Relations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Oct 5, 2020

English actor and author Ben Miller discovered a new love for Morocco while stuck in the country for four months due to closed borders.  Fans know Miller, 54, for starring in the British Channel 4 sketch show “Armstrong and Miller,” the BBC sketch show “The Armstrong & Miller Show,” and for his lead role as DI Richard Poole in the first two seasons of the BBC crime drama “Death in Paradise.” In a piece for The Telegraph published on Monday, the London-born actor describes to journalist Caroline Rees how he and his family found themselves locked down in the North African country from March to July.  Miller, his wife Jess, their two children, and another couple with three children landed in Morocco on March 14, the day before the Moroccan government grounded all flights and closed the country’s borders. …………………..

Education, Solidarity Ministers Vow to Make Moroccan Schools Inclusive.

By  Yahia Hatim  - Oct 6, 2020

Morocco’s Minister of Education Saaid Amzazi and Minister of Solidarity Jamila El Moussali have pledged to actively work towards making Moroccan schools more inclusive. The ministers met at the Ministry of Education in Rabat on Monday, October 5, to discuss ways of furthering cooperation between the two departments. Discussions mainly focused on the implementation of Framework Law 51-17, relating to the inclusion of students in vulnerable situations in the education system. The talks also touched on Framework Law 97-13, which deals with the protection and empowerment of people with disabilities.
During the meeting, Amzazi presented a general assessment on the level of  inclusiveness in Moroccan schools…………….

German Bank KfW Loans Morocco €30 Million to Boost Drinking Water Access

The loan is part of the program that seeks to ensure access to drinking water in several provinces in northern Morocco.

By Safaa Kasraoui - Oct 7, 2020 Rabat

Morocco’s National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) announced on Wednesday the signing of a loan contract with the German Development Bank (KfW). The agreement seeks to improve access to drinking water in rural northern Morocco. ONEE’s General Director Abderrahim El Hafidi signed the €30 million partnership with the director of KfW’s office in Morocco, Markus Faschina. The funds will contribute to the supply of drinking water in the provinces of Tangier, Chefchaouen, and surrounding areas in northwest Morocco. The program will benefit 150 areas with a population of nearly 112,000 inhabitants. The initiative is part of Morocco’s program to reduce territorial and social disparities (PRDTS). PRDTS (2017-2023) is a Moroccan program that seeks to supply 24,000 areas across Morocco with drinking water supply, electrification, schools, dispensaries, and other basic services and facilities. Morocco’s government has repeatedly acknowledged the urgent need for water development projects, especially as the country’s dams suffered low fill rates last year due to lack of rainfall…………………………….

Mobilizing Decentralized, Participatory Energy Transition In Morocco – OpEd

By Kerstin Opfer, Yossef Ben-Meir, Imane Akhezzane and Marine Pouget*

Humankind faces the unprecedented challenge of existing on the warmest earth we have known. A lack of political will and societal awareness has inhibited the necessary, vigorous change to meet this challenge. North Africa is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, experiencing severe environmental degradation. Morocco is no exception. Creeping desertification, compromised forests, diminishing water resources, damaged ecosystems, and natural disasters threaten not only Morocco’s rich biodiversity but also the livelihoods, well-being, and health of its people……………………..

‘Clebs’: Short Film on Moroccan Animal Sanctuary Wins Over FIFF Jury

Ouardiri wants her film to remind audiences that refugees and displaced peoples are living in dire conditions.

By Morgan Hekking - Morgan Hekking holds a BA in International Relations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.Oct 6, 2020

“Clebs,” a short film by Moroccan-Canadian filmmaker Halima Ouardiri featuring Morocco’s largest animal sanctuary, won the jury prize at the International Francophone Film Festival (FIFF) in Namur, Belgium.  FIFF, which runs from October 2-9, announced the short film winners on Monday.  Moroccan filmmaker Said Hamich also won at FIFF, earning the director’s prize and best photography for his film “Le Depart.” Set in 2004 Morocco, “Le Depart” follows 11-year-old Adil, who idolizes the Olympic runner Hicham El Guerrouj. “Clebs,” meanwhile, won the international jury favorite for short films and the Marion-Hansel Prize. 
The documentary features Le Coeur Sur La Patte (CSP) and Sunshine Animal Refuge Agadir (SARA), a Moroccan animal welfare organization and its satellite sanctuary, both founded by Michele Augsburger……………..

K-Pop: The Music Sensation Conquering Morocco and the Middle East

Korean pop music is growing ever more popular across the Middle East, with Morocco being no exception.

By  Jasper Hamann  - Oct 10, 2020 Rabat

At first glance, South Korea’s K-Pop music scene and Morocco have little in common; but the genre is becoming a growing sensation in the Maghreb and the Middle East. K-pop is a style of pop music that blends hip hop, electronic dance music, and traditional pop music into a colourful blend of sights and sounds. 
K-pop is spreading around the world, its performers have transformed from national stars to international mega celebrities en par with top artists from the US and UK. K-pop group Blackpink performed at the renowned Coachella festival in 2019 and the genre’s clout is only growing.  Conservative Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have seen a boom in K-pop’s popularity. In the Maghreb, Algeria and Morocco are the top countries where K-pop is on the rise. 

Within the Middle-East the UAE is currently the most obsessed with the Korean pop music. Two large concerts had been booked for 2020 in Dubai, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to their cancellation to the despair of Emirati fans. The concerts intended to outdo a 2019 show in Saudi Arabia, where popular K-pop group BTS drew 60,000 Saudi fans to Riyadh. …………………..

Mental Health a Key Concern for Morocco Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Mental health was already a concern for many Moroccans but the isolation and fear of the COVID-19 pandemic is making a bad situation worse.

By  Jasper Hamann  - Oct 10, 2020 Rabat

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a day to reflect on the heavy toll of mental health issues for millions in Morocco, and billions around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a “massive scale-up” of funding for mental health services. Amid a global COVID-19 crisis, a focus on mental health is more important than ever, according to the WHO.

Raising awareness

The WHO has launched a digital stress management guide through social media. The Whatsapp messenger application is being used to share a guide that is based on the principles of “Doing what matters in times of stress,” the WHO’s stress management guide.  It provides self-help advice in several languages to help people cope with mental health issues in these tumultuous times.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hosts the “Big Event for Mental Health” to raise awareness about the issue. Athletes and artists will feature in the virtual event, where they are asked to share their personal experiences with mental health issues. Several national and international leaders are scheduled to speak during the event to urge for a reprioritization of mental health disorders within national healthcare structures. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and several others will speak on the need for quality mental health care in a time of unprecedented economic and societal uncertainty due to COVID-19………………..

El Othmani: Morocco Ensures ‘Favorable Environment’ to Empower Women

By Taha Mebtoul - Oct 10, 2020 Rabat

Head of the Moroccan Government Saad Eddine El Othmani has said that women’s rights have seen progress in Morocco. He underlined that the country has invested in providing the favorable cultural, social, legal and economic environment to empower Moroccan women and girls. El Othmani made his comments on Saturday, October 10, during the International Forum for Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls. The event coincides with the National Day of Moroccan Women. He noted, however, that sustaining these “favorable conditions”  requires collective action and concerted efforts. El Othmani stressed the importance of empowering women on the economic level, arguing that financial stability and independence is a crucial element of both individual and collective prosperity and stability.

Recalling King Mohammed VI announcement speech of the 2004 Family code or Moudawana during the Saturday gathering, the Moroccan official stated that Morocco started celebrating the National Day of Moroccan Women since 2008. King Mohammed VI announced the Moudawana on October 10, 2003, before its official entry into force in January 2004. Its purpose is to safeguard the rights of Moroccan women, including the right to divorce, the right to self-guardianship, and the right to child custody. …………….

ICD: The Moroccan NGO Uplifting Artists Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

At 5 p.m. GMT+1 on October 17, Morocco’s International Center for Diplomacy will highlight the challenges the art sector faces amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the new age of digitalization, as well as the future of plastic arts post-pandemic.

By  Jihad Dardar  - Oct 9, 2020

In difficult times, art is often a source of light and positivity. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has left many artists struggling to make ends meet.  Amid the new culture of social distancing that accompanied the coronavirus crisis and lockdowns, the art sector has been one of the most affected industries. Multiple art events including concerts, book fairs, museum exhibitions, galleries, and film, art, and literary festivals have lowered the curtain. Postponed and canceled events have left artists feeling uncertain, many even in instant financial ruin and in fear of the long-term effects of the crisis. Individual artists are the hardest hit as they struggle to maintain their businesses and clientele, burdened by an uncertain future………………….

Zakat in Reverse: Poor Support Rich Amid Middle East COVID-19 Crisis

The region’s rising wealth inequality clashes with the fundamental Islamic principle of almsgiving.

By  Jasper Hamann  - Oct 8, 2020 Rabat

The ultra-rich have become even richer, while poor and middle-class people pay for the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. New data that Wealth-X published on Wednesday shows that the segment of Middle-Easterners worth more than $30 million has grown, and the ultra-rich are getting richer during the pandemic.  Meanwhile, government action has moved the financial cost of the economic fallout onto the poor and middle-class sections of society.
2019 was an amazing year for the ultra-rich in the Middle-East. The amount of millionaires and billionaires in the region grew faster than any other region in the world. In 2020 the pandemic hit and oil prices cratered, yet the rich have still managed to become even richer. 

The measures governments implemented to fight the economic consequences of the crisis, however, do not seem to account for the trend. Governments across the Middle-East avoided asking their richest few to pay more, instead cutting jobs and benefits for hard-working poor and middle-class people.  This inequality is not only a staple of modern day capitalism. In a Muslim majority region, the growing inequality stands in stark contrast with the guiding principles of Islam and its focus on alms for the poor through Zakat, or voluntary Sadaqa. ……………………

‘From Startupper to Cancer Fighter:’ Moroccan Entrepreneur Publishes Autobiography

“From Startupper to Cancer Fighter” will launch on October 10 on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

By Morgan Hekking  - Morgan Hekking holds a BA in International Relations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Oct 8, 2020

Prominent Moroccan entrepreneur Hamza Aboulfeth has published his first book, an account of his life that maps his path to success.  His English-language autobiography “From Startupper to Cancer Fighter” details how he started his first business, Genious Communications, at the age of 17.  Despite dropping out of college at age 21, his web-hosting company became in 2011 the first in North Africa to earn ICANN accreditation.

Since his first entrepreneurial success, Hamza Aboulfeth has launched three more thriving businesses: Sushi Express, SmartVPN, and Food on Demand. In a press release, the businessman attributes his remarkable journey to his courage and will to “follow his dreams against all odds.”  Hamza Aboulfeth, once a hacker, college dropout, and self-described “trouble child,” is now a husband, father, and the owner of several tech and food enterprises at age 34.  “From Startupper to Cancer Fighter” shares the Moroccan entrepreneur’s adventures, challenges, disappointments, and successes, detailing profound experiences from Marrakech, Paris, Burning Man, and Mecca………………………..

Moroccan Composer ASHA’s Song to Feature in Junior Eurovision 2020

The Spanish public television company (RTVE) announced via its official website that the song "Palante" will represent Spain in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

By Issam Toutate  - Oct 7, 2020

A song by Moroccan singer-songwriter Hajar Sbihi, who fans know as ASHA, is set to feature in the next Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Nine-year-old Spanish competitor Solea will perform the song to represent her country. “Palante” is an urban pop piece with a flamenco touch and percussion beats that offer an encouraging message to the world in a time of crisis. Hajar Sbihi, or ASHA, is a 23-year-old Moroccan singer and composer who moved to Spain several years ago and has composed several trendy songs in the European country. She hit her first success at the age of 20 for songwriting Lola Indigo’s “Ya No Quiero Na.” 
ASHA developed a desire to start performing instead of developing pieces for others, but the use of “Palente” at Junior Eurovision is certainly a testament to her songwriting skills………………………..

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