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Morocco Week in Review 
February 13 2021

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

US Honors Memory of Estevanico, 1st Moroccan to Explore America

By  Yahia Hatim  - Feb 11, 2021

As part of Black History Month, celebrated every February, the US Embassy in Morocco has commemorated Mustafa Zemmouri, known as Estevanico or Estevan the Moor. Zemmouri is believed to be the first Moroccan to ever set foot in America. Using the story of Estevanico as an illustration of historical links between Morocco and the US, the diplomatic mission celebrated the two centuries of friendship binding the two countries. “Zemmouri’s story is just one example of the Moroccan presence in the US from over 200 years of friendship,” the embassy wrote.

While he is nearly absent in Moroccan history books, Estevanico is known as a famous explorer and adventurer in Spanish and American books about the expeditions to the “New World.” Mustafa Zemmouri was born in the port city of Azemmour, on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, in the early 16th century. At the time, the Portuguese Empire controlled the city and sold many locals, including Zemmouri, into slavery in Europe. The Portuguese sold Zemmouri in the early 1520s to Spanish explorer Andres Dorantes de Carranza. In Spain, the Moroccan man was baptized and given the Christian name Estevanico. In 1527, Estevanico and Dorantes joined the Narvaez expedition that sought to establish Spanish colonial settlements and garrisons in Florida, southeasternmost modern-day US………….

US Congratulates Morocco for Launch of COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

By Safaa Kasraoui - Feb 2, 2021 Rabat

The Charge d’Affaires in the US embassy in Rabat David Greene has congratulated Morocco for the launch of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
The US embassy shared an unofficial translation of Greene’s congratulatory message addressed to King Mohammed VI on Monday. “It is with the highest respect that I extend my warm congratulations on the launch of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination campaign, the first major country-wide campaign in Africa,” Greene said.
He also emphasized Morocco’s leadership in the fight against the pandemic since the first outbreak of COVID-19……………………

Protection Pas Prison pour les femmes au Maroc #Protectionnotprison

Dear friends and colleagues - We are delighted to share with you our just-released video clip comparing prosecutions for violence against women versus article 490 prosecutions for sexual relations outside of marriage (2019 statistics).  We hope you find it useful and please share widely!  Many thanks!

Women and Morocco’s Democracy: Activists Lead Fight for Gender Equality

By Toms Dumpis -  Feb 6, 2021 Agadir

In the last two decades Morocco has seen sweeping reforms when it comes to the struggle for gender equality, yet some observers remain unconvinced. In a blog post from 2018 titled “Morocco: The Leader for Women’s Progress in MENA,” former US politician Betsy Markey detailed her experiences and observations from the time she spent in Morocco. “When discussing women in predominantly Islamic societies,” Merkey said that most Western media tend to focus on oppression and lack of opportunity. Still, Morocco “stands out as an example that devoutly practices Islam, promotes tolerance, and is committed to advancing its women.”…………………….

Hajar Mousannif: Empowerment Through Curiosity, Resilience, Education

In the first of a two-part series we talk to the inspiring scientific communicator and lauded engineer Hajar Mousannif about her journey of discovery and success.

By  Jasper Hamann  - Feb 6, 2021 Rabat

Professor Hajar Mousannif is one of the rising stars of Morocco’s scientific community. She is an enthusiastic and engaging scientific communicator as well as a renowned engineer and scientist in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Professor Mousannif comes from modest means and had to overcome significant obstacles on her path to success. She spoke to Morocco World News to explain how she got to where she is now, and how others can benefit from the lessons she has learned along the way, as part of a two-part series.

Mousannif’s journey led her to earn an engineering degree in telecommunications at the National Institute of Posts and Telecommunications in Rabat, followed by a PhD in computer science at Cadi Ayyad University. Since then she has joined the faculty as a researcher and professor. She now teaches, researches, and supervises PhD students. As an up-and-coming telecom engineer, Hajar Mousannif founded the university’s first master’s program in data science and artificial intelligence, operates several research programs with the Moroccan government, and holds two patents in AI. Now emerging as one of the country’s most recognizable scientists in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Hajar Mousannif has pursued her ambitions along a challenging but exciting path.

NASA Reshares Stunning Picture of Morocco’s Anti-Atlas Mountains

The Terra satellite took the infrared picture in 2007, 440 miles above Earth's surface.

By Toms Dumpis -  Feb 7, 2021 Agadir

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) re-shared a breath-taking picture of Morocco’s Anti-Atlas Mountains that were “formed as a result of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates colliding about 80 million years ago.” The Terra satellite took the picture 440 miles (708 kilometres) above Earth’s surface, in 2007. “The photo was taken in infrared light – which is invisible to the naked eye – to highlight the different layers of rock and sediment, giving the tie-dye appearance,” read the post from NASA. The picture displays the different layers that are below earth’s surface in southwestern Morocco, such as limestone, sandstone, clay stone, and gypsum. The picture was taken by the ASTER instrument on the Terra satellite, which was the first satellite to form the Earth Observing System (EOS) when it launched in 1999. According to NASA, the name was derived from the Latin word for ‘Earth,’ Terra……………………………….

Study Highlights Morocco’s Sustained Ecosystem of Distrust

Outside of their family circle, Moroccans do not trust each other; 37% do not trust even their friends.

By Tamba François Koundouno -  Feb 6, 2021

Politically disengaged and economically frustrated, Moroccans do not trust each other, according to a recent study about social trust in Morocco. “Social trust in Morocco is particularistic and not generalized,” says the study, highlighting a sustained ecosystem of social and political mistrust in the country. The study, conducted by the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA), found that family remains the “most trusted institution” in Morocco. 99% of those surveyed for the study said they trust members of their nuclear family, while 85% said the same thing about extended relatives. However, outside of the family circle trust among Moroccans is “moderate” at best, non-existent at worst, and largely diminishing in most regards. “The more the social circle expands to include strangers, the less trust there is,” according to the study…………………

Morocco’s Education Ministry to Raise Awareness About Energy Efficiency

By Yahia Hatim -  Feb 9, 2021

Morocco has allocated MAD 4 million ($448,234) to raise awareness about energy efficiency in universities and academic institutions. Minister of Education Saaid Amzazi signed today, February 9, a four-year partnership agreement with the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE) to implement the project.
The agreement, which can be renewed after its duration expires, aims to make establishments affiliated to the Ministry of Education more energy-efficient. It also seeks to raise awareness about the green economy and energy efficiency. “The agreement hopes to make public establishments a perfect model for the implementation of the national strategy for energy efficiency,” the ministry said in a press release. Under the partnership, the AMEE will organize training courses and workshops about energy efficiency for civil servants working at the education ministry, university institutions, and regional education academies.
The agency will also use various communication tools to promote energy-efficient practices among students.

My Morocco: A journey in search of my heritage

Shimon G. Levy  | February 8, 2021

In 2013 when I was in graduate school, I was walking to one of my classes in the business school when I saw a big sign calling to boycott an Israeli–themed lunch scheduled for that week.   I looked at the sign and saw that it alleged the Israeli lunch menu was “expropriating Arab cuisine as their own.” I was intrigued. It had all of my favorites – hummus, grape leaves, tahini, falafel, pita, stewed meat, spicy fish and more. I did not understand the narrative of Israelis expropriating Arab cuisine. I grew up with a Moroccan mother and Yemenite father. I was raised on this food.   At the time, I couldn’t reconcile it: How can I be expropriating someone’s culture if it is the only culture I have ever known? More recently, my trip to Morocco shed light on my heritage as an expelled Arab Jew – descendent of a Yemenite first–generation father and an immigrant Moroccan mother.   My mother was born on a ship from Casablanca to Israel in February 1956. As a newborn, she was given the name of Judith “Yerushalima” Malka for Jerusalem. She’s never visited Casablanca. She is now 64 years old. All she has left of the country she never knew is the upbringing she had, with little context of its origins or meaning. 

Trip to Morocco 
In late October 2019, my wife, Jennie, and I traveled to Morocco.  Granted, the initial inclination was for her to go shopping in the hustle and bustle of the souks (markets) in Marrakesh and Fes, but it turned out to be so much more than that. In the time leading up to the trip, I took an interest in my Moroccan heritage. My grandfather, who I’m named after, Shimon Malka, and my grandmother, Haviva Malka, immigrated to Israel as a family of 6. Sixty-four years later, this is a magnificent extended family of 167 beautiful souls that redefine the essence of family unity. ………………………

World Bank Group: Morocco at Risk of Water Scarcity

Beyond the dangers of water scarcity and resource management, two thirds of Morocco’s beaches are at risk of coastal erosion.

By  Toms Dumpis  - Feb 11, 2021 Agadir

The World Bank Group (WBG) has highlighted Morocco’s vulnerability to climate change in its latest “Climate Risk Country Profiles.” WBG explains that Morocco’s position stems from a combination of political, geographic, and social factors. Climate change has “already put pressure on the country’s natural resources, affecting the resilience of… the agriculture sector, particularly due to water scarcity,” noted the study. ………………………………

Minister: Morocco Has Built 153 Wastewater Treatment Plants Since 2006

Morocco has made notable progress in solving the water crisis by constructing wastewater treatment plants and improving the sewerage network.

By  Abdelmalek El Morabit  - Feb 11, 2021 Rabat

Morocco has built a total of 153 wastewater treatment plants with a capacity of 3.38 million square meters  since 2006, said delegate minister of interior, Noureddine Boutayeb. The official made his remarks at the annual session of the Chamber of Councillors on Tuesday, February 9. He said the construction of the treatment plans happened after the launch of the National Sanitation Program (NAP). Boutayeb said that an amount of 45 million cubic meter of water has been mobilized, of which 23 million cubic meters are reused in the irrigation of golf courses, green areas and for industrial purposes. To address its water challenges, Morocco has prioritized projects where the emphasis is placed on the reuse of treated wastewater in the National Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation 2020-2027, he explained. The aim is to implement 89 projects for the reuse of about 100 million cubic meters each year. The National Sanitation Program aims to generalize the connection to the sewerage network in urban areas to reach a rate of 80% in order to reduce the pollution rate by at least 60% by 2020.

Dutch-Moroccan Project Aims to Produce Drinking Water From Thin Air

One of the five pilots is currently being implemented to study the project’s feasibility.


The Netherlands and Morocco are collaborating on a pilot project for the production of drinking water from humidity in the air. The two countries discussed a cooperative project  that will make the production of drinking water possible by catching the humidity in air using innovative technologies. Morocco’s General Director of the National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE)  Abderrahim El Hafidi discussed the project with Dutch ambassador to Morocco Jeroen Roodenburg on Monday. The project is a component of a global partnership agreement between Morocco and the Netherlands in May 2019.
The project is part of ONEE’s research and innovation activity in order to develop innovative strategies to address drinking water challenges…………….

Morocco promotes combating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

A Moroccan institution has with official government backing signed an agreement with the U.S. State Department to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, the second such agreement in the Arab Middle East. The agreement signed Friday by El Mehdi Boudra, the president of Association Mimouna, and Elan Carr, the State Department’s envoy to combat anti-Semitism, signals the far-reaching ambition of the Trump Administration’s Abraham Accords, to normalize among Arabs the acceptance of not just Israel, but of Zionism………………..

Lahcen Haddad: Government Should Review Water, Energy Security Policies

By Yahia Hatim - Feb 2, 2021

Moroccan Member of Parliament and former Minister of Tourism Lahcen Haddad has urged the government to review its policies for water and energy security.
Haddad made the call on Monday, February 1, during the monthly general policy session at the House of Representatives, which saw the presence of Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani. Speaking on behalf of the Al-Istiqlal (Independence) Party, Haddad questioned El Othmani and the Moroccan government about the country’s projects in the fields of water and energy security. According to him, these projects have witnessed an “unjustified” delay………………….

A Moroccan Initiative Challenges Stereotypes About Migrants

By  Toms Dumpis - Feb 1, 2021 Agadir

An initiative led by the Anmar Federation of Local Communities in Northern Morocco and Andalusia hopes to challenge misleading preconceptions and stereotypes surrounding immigrants in Morocco. The campaign, focused on the cities of Oujda, Al Hoceima, and Fneideq, aims to combat “the spread of false news and rumors about migration.” It is also part of the “Governance and Cultural Exchange: Mediterranean Cities, Diverse Cities” project. The federation chose the cities based on data concerning the “reception of immigrants, whether in a regular or an irregular context.” The sociological study based on a wide sample of young people in the region hopes to understand people’s attitudes towards migration. The study, which is expected to conclude in the first quarter of 2021, will explore both general attitudes towards migration itself, as well as the discrimination and racism Morocco’s irregular migrants experience………….

Moroccan Company to Participate in Rehabilitation of Agadir Oufella

By  Yahia Hatim  - Feb 11, 2021

Moroccan construction company Jet Contractors has earned the first contract for the rehabilitation project of the historical Kasbah (Fortress) of Agadir, known as Agadir Oufella. he Souss-Massa Company for Touristic Development, the public establishment managing the rehabilitation project, signed the contract with Jet Contractors on Tuesday, February 9, Le360 reported. The contract is worth MAD 23.6 million ($2.64 million) and concerns the construction of wooden foundations in the historical site. The recent contract signing indicates that the rehabilitation project, which has been under planning for several years, will finally start advancing. Built in 1540, Agadir Oufella is located on the top of a mountain, 236 meters above sea level. The fortress overlooks the city of Agadir and its port…………………

Maison Artc: Morocco’s Modernized Vintage Fashion House

Taking his inspiration "from Morocco to the world," the young Moroccan designer urges us to dream and be our authentic selves.

By  Wissal Dardar  - Jan 30, 2021

At Maison Artc, Artsi Ifrah, the founder of a peculiarly Moroccan fashion line, is a self-taught Moroccan designer that uses a juxtaposition of materials, colors, and shapes for his designs. Established in Marrakech, Maison Artc strives to break the rules of fast fashion and codified style, by blending the traditional Moroccan heritage and roots with modern, contemporary art. The result is a unique, peculiar art form that breathes Moroccan vintage with visible touches of contemporary expressions.  Every piece of the young Moroccan designer tells its own story, combining cultures, and style to make fashion less bland and more revolutionary……………………….

Moroccan-French Singer Receives Award from New York City

By  Zineb Bourchouk  - Feb 10, 2021

Moroccan-French opera singer David Serero received on Monday, February 8, the Certificate of Recognition from the City of New York for his Artistic contribution to New York’s Cultural and Performing Arts Sectors.  New York mayor Bill de Blasio congratulated Serero on his achievements and his contribution to “the city’s dynamic cultural landscape.”  He was recently awarded three Broadway World Awards in three categories: Best Performer of the decade, Best Producer of a Musical of the decade (Anne Frank, a Musical written by Jean-Pierre Hadida), Best Producer of a Play of the decade (Romeo and Juliet in a Jewish adaptation by David Serero)………………….

Tarzanisme: Journey of a Professional Moroccan Breakdancer

“My favorite part of being a dancer is the way I live now… the way I’m thinking now because I became a learner.”

By Wissal Dardar  - Feb 7, 2021

If you are searching for inspiration to dance, a conversation with Moroccan breakdancer Tarzanisme is bound to deliver. Dancing is one the most enjoyable ways to achieve mental clarity, emotional stability, and physical fitness. A form of artistic expression for centuries, people from all over the world use dance as a means of religious enlightenment and for storytelling, among other purposes. The art form may tell the story of historical events from slavery to immigration to wars through intricate body movements. Dance is a vital element of Moroccan life. Morocco is famous for several folk dance styles such as Ahidou, Houara, and Taskiwin, the latter being on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list………………

Morocco’s Faouzia Still Making Headlines After Impressive Song with John Legend

Faouzia has been making international headlines and at social networks for professionally singing her own songs and renowned covers

By Safaa Kasraoui - Feb 7, 2021 Rabat

Moroccan-Canadian singer Faouzia continues to make headlines after  the release of her recent hit Minefields featuring iconic singer John Legend. International media continue to speak about the success of the song, which featured Faouzia showing off her beautiful and strong voice with one of the world’s most renowned singers.  The 20-year old co-wrote the song along with Sam Martin, Ali Tamposi, Johnny Goldstein and Jacob Kasher, the National News reported.
Released on January 28, Minefields so far has over 2 million views on YouTube and thousands of likes and heartwarming comments about Faouzia’s soothing voice……………………

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