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Morocco Week in Review 
November 20 2021

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Moroccan Government Unveils Plan to Invest in Gaming Industry, Youth Centers

Investing in the video games industry and youth centers is among the ministry’s ambition programs for 2022.

Oumaiam Latrech, Nov. 17th, 2021 Rabat

Morocco’s minister of Youth, Culture and Communication, Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid, stressed on November 16 the importance of investing in the video games industry and youth centers across the country. Bensaid’s remarks, which were made during a weekly hearing before the House of Councilors, the upper house of the Moroccan parliament, suggest that youth inclusion and empowerment is part and parcel of the new Moroccan government’s social policies. The gaming industry has generated more financial revenue and created a significant cultural impact worldwide. Bensaid highlighted the importance of encouraging Moroccan youth to develop technological skills and reach expertise in the field as it is becoming an essential tool in the international job market…

IMF Chief Praises Morocco’s COVID-19 Campaign, Economic Resilience

The IMF’s managing director commended Morocco’s economic resilience and use of technology amid the pandemic.

Safaa Kasraoui, Nov. 18th, 2021 Rabat

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva commended Morocco’s anti-COVID-19 campaign and the country’s efforts to revive its economy. Georgieva made her remarks during a ministerial meeting of the Arab Public Finance Forum held virtually on Tuesday, November 16.
At the event, the IMF’s managing director said that several countries “are doing well” in the Arab world. Citing Morocco and countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Georgieva said the nations are doing well in terms of both vaccinations and reopening their economies……

Pan-African Youth Union to Transfer its Headquarters to Rabat

The Pan-African Youth Union aims to achieve African integration and promote peace and sustainability across the African continent.

Oumaima Latrech, Nov. 13th 2021 Rabat

Morocco and the Pan-African Youth Union have agreed to relocate the Union’s headquarters to Rabat. Morocco’s Minister of Youth, Culture, and Communication Mehdi Bensaid alongside the Pan-African Youth Union’s President Aliou Oumarou and the Secretary General Souleymane Satigui signed the agreement on November 11. In a statement after signing the agreement, Oumarou said “the Pan-African youth is very honored by the firm commitment of King Mohammed VI who has always supported the African youth,” adding that Morocco will be the “second family of young Africans.” Speaking on the agreement, Oumarou underlined that it will be ratified at the 4th Ordinary Congress of the Union, which will be held on November 15 and 16 in Niamey, Niger. Bensaid highlighted the importance of the agreement, stressing that “His Majesty King Mohammed VI has always emphasized the importance of promoting youth, especially those in Africa.” As Rabat was chosen to be the African capital of culture for the next year, Bensaid expressed Morocco’s readiness to implement programs for the benefit of African youth, noting that the establishment of the Union’s headquarters in Rabat will further stimulate “an experience of exchange that will be useful for the development of each country and African youth.”……

Yossef Ben-Meir, RPCV and HAF President on CNN from Marrakesh this week:

You can view it here: HAF President Yossef Ben-Meir on CNN Newsroom w/ Rosemary Church for Call to Earth Day - YouTube

HAF Tree planting activities:


David Green: US Charge D’affaires Celebrates 15th Anniversary of Morocco-US FTA

Commercial exchanges between the US and Morocco have increased fivefold since the two countries signed a Free Trade Agreement 15 years ago.

Issam Toutate, Nov. 17th, 2021 Fez

David Greene, the Charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Morocco, commemorated on November 16 the 15th anniversary of the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by visiting a Kantari Group citrus packaging plant in the city of Berkane, northeastern Morocco. The visit came as the facility was getting ready to send the first shipment of clementines and oranges to the US for the season. The Kantari Group is one of the region's top citrus farmers and exporters, contributing to Morocco's 45,000 tons of annual citrus exports to the US. Recalling that “Morocco is the only country in Africa to have a free trade agreement with the US,” Greene argued that both the US and Morocco “ have benefited greatly” from their FTA. Since 2005, a year before the US-Morocco FTA was enacted, trade between the two countries has increased by more than fivefold. The deal, which was signed in 2004 and entered into force on January 1, 2006, is designed to boost trade and investment between the two countries. ……

Morocco Expands Its US Lobby With Top Tier Firms

Morocco’s Embassy in Washington has signed several new lobbying contracts with some of Washington's top lobbying firms.

Issam Toutate, Nov. 18th, 2021 Fez

Morocco’s Embassy in Washington is expanding its efforts in the US with the signing of new lobbying contracts, including with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Field, one of Washington's largest lobbyist firms.The Moroccan embassy rounded out its new contracts with last month's signing of contracts with Yorktown Solutions and Washington-powerhouse firm Akin Gump. The two new agreements followed the signing of a contract in April with Clout Public Affairs that appears to still be ongoing, with no filings showing the conclusion of the  contract.

Top tier firms
Morocco's DC presence was bolstered last month by two remarkable new agreements. The embassy signed an agreement with advisory firm Yorktown Solutions and made the news after reaching a deal with one of Washington's top firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Field. Commonly referred to as Akin Gump, the global firm is one of the largest and most influential lobbying firms in the US political scene.  Akin Gump is famous for its high-level political activity, and notable alumni, which include several former senators and congress people ……

Biden Calls for Removing Anti-Morocco Section From Defense Bill

Senators had called to halt US spending on military exercises with Morocco until Rabat had taken undefined “steps” towards Western Sahara peace.

Safaa Kasraoui, Nov. 18th, 2021 Rabat

Biden’s administration has stepped in to undo a hostile attempt from senators, who sought to halt US spending on joint military exercises between Rabat and Washington. The section of the latest US defense bill would prohibit US military spending on Morocco without undefined Moroccan “steps” towards a Western Sahara peace agreement. A Congressional bill dated to September 22 includes a text that aimed to limit the US government's support for military forces in Morocco for bilateral or multilateral exercises.

Section 1209 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) aims to put pressure on Biden’s administration, and Morocco by halting bilateral military cooperation in an effort to force Morocco to negotiate its territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The text reads: “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by  this Act for fiscal year 2022 may be used by the Secretary of Defense to support the participation of the military forces of the Kingdom of  Morocco in any bilateral or multilateral exercise administered by the  Department of Defense unless the Secretary determines, and certifies to the congressional defense committees, that the Kingdom of Morocco has taken steps to support a final peace agreement with Western Sahara.”………

UNICEF’s UPSHIFT Program Approach to Empower Young Moroccans

The program aims to improve young Moroccans’ skills in digital tools, boost their creativity and reinforce their engagement in the society.

Oumaiam Latrech, Nov. 18th, 2021 Rabat

A November 17 ceremony marked the launch of the UPSHIFT program, an initiative to empower young Moroccans, especially girls, to acquire digital, entrepreneurial and environmental skills. The new initiative was launched on Wednesday in Rabat at a ceremony held at the residence of the Finnish ambassador to Morocco. The program is the result of a partnership between Nokia, UNICEF, and the Orange Foundation, seeking to train around 1,400 young people. At least 60% of the program aims to cater to girls, providing training in a range of skills such as teamwork, self-esteem, creativity and communication. The program additionally aims to focus on developing the participants’ digital skills and raise awareness on climate change challenges. Among participants, nearly 250 young people will be supported in launching their own projects and initiatives. Finnish Ambassador to Morocco Pekka Hyvonen, said that “this program will develop the skills of young Moroccans and improve their digital know-how, with the aim of making their services more competitive and offering them more visibility.” ……

9 Out of 10 Women in Northern Morocco Experienced Violence in 2019

The research was carried out between February and July 2019, and included people aged between 15 and 74 years.

Safaa Kasraoui, Nov 14th, 2021 Rabat

The Regional Directorate of the High Commissioner for Planning  has shared alarming figures on violence against women in the Tangier-Tetouan Al Hoceima region in northern Morocco. According to the new data, released earlier this week, about 9 girls and women out of 10 have experienced at least one form of violence in the region. The number is equivalent to 1 million and 219,000 out of 1 million and 380, 000 girls and women aged  between 15 and 74. The percentage of women and girls who were subject to at least one type of violence is estimated to be 88.3%, compared to a national average of 82.6 %. The HCP directorate for northern Morocco explained that its report on violence in the Tangier-Tetouan Al Hoceima region is part a larger study titled the  “Second National Research on Violence against Women and Men in Morocco” carried out in 2019. The study aimed to comprehensively address the phenomenon of gender-based violence, including its  spread, forms, contexts, repercussions, among others……

Tangier: Where American Barbara Hutton Escaped her ‘Unhappy’ Life

A melting pot of several cultures and influences, Tangier’s beautiful beaches and architecture have always fascinated many foreign travelers, spies, and lovers of exotic culture.

Amal El Attaq, Nov 13th, 2021 Rabat

During the 40s, Morocco’s Tangier was home to the American debutante and socialite Barbara Hutton. To forget about her desperate life, she hosted the most extravagant parties in the city. Then known as the “poor little rich girl,” Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world in her time, but also apparently one of the saddest. Hutton led a traumatic life right from her childhood till her death. She lost her mother when she was four, after which her father abandoned her. Married and divorced seven times, she gained grand foreign titles but was often treated badly by most of her husbands.

“My money has never brought me happiness.”
“All the unhappiness in my life has been caused by men,” she once revealed to the New York Times in 1979. Hutton entered each marriage with a new reservoir of hope, repeatedly saying, “I am very happy.” The happiness clouded over in periods that ranged from just 73 days up to four years…

Preserving the memory of the “Argan city:” Morocco’s civil society at the crossroads of cultures

By Fatima Zahra Laaribi / Program Manager, Women’s Empowerment October 22, 2021

Many treasures are hidden within the coastal Mogador city, today known as Essaouira, which is characterized by its rich, multidimensional culture. This small city is a melting pot of Amazighen, Arab, Jewish, Muslim, African, and European influences, which give it a special place along the coast as one that is uniquely hyper-pluralistic.

Recently, the old medina of Essaouira has been recognized as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. In addition to the fortifying architecture of the medina, the intangible heritage of the city has also been recognized by UNESCO, especially the distinguished Gnaoua culture, music, and rituals.

On Friday, September 17, HAF President Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, with Fatima Zahra Laaribi and Jennan Al-Hamdouni of the USAID Religious and Ethnic Minorities Activity (REMA) team, visited Essaouira, originally called Mogador. The visit had two purposes: to meet civil society organizations (CSOs) that focus on cultural projects and to visit the Jewish and the Christian cemeteries where the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) implemented a cultural interfaith project in 2012-2013.
The team first visited the Christian Cemetery then the Jewish Cemeteries. The latter includes both the old cemetery, which is located by the sea, and the new cemetery located opposite the old one. The old cemetery is separated from the ocean by a single wall, and all of its tombstones are made of rocky stones that bear witness to the nobility of its history and authenticity. The wall of the Jewish cemetery is surrounded by trees planted by HAF with local community leaders and youth. They continue to grow beautifully. ……

Morocco: MENA’s rare climate change success story

North African nation has led the way in the MENA region to combat global warming with renewable energy projects.

By Thomas O Falk 10 Nov 2021

Morocco is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change but unlike other nations, it long ago accepted the challenge and developed an array of tactics to counteract the punishing impact. The result is role-model status, not only in the Middle East and North Africa region, but globally, analysts say. Climate change in Morocco is expected to have a significant impact. The main effects will be felt in the agricultural system and fisheries, which employ half of the population and account for 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Also, with 60 percent of the population and most of the industry on the coast, sea-level rise is a significant threat to major economic forces……

Most sexual assaults and rapes are committed by strangers – Myth or Fact?

Discover the answer to this question and many more in our just released “street interviews” video on « Sexual Violence : Myths and Realities » produced locally by partner Association Amal in El Hajeb in collaboration with a young woman journalist Hanane Echchad. The video is part of a month-long campaign of intensive grassroots level mobilization and advocacy on sexual violence against women in Morocco by MRA and our partner NGOs, in preparation for the #16days of activism. Many thanks to the Embassy of the Netherlands in Rabat for their support. or

MRA/Mobilising for Rights Associates Tel: + (212) 537.70.99.96/98  Fax: + (212) 537.70.99.97
E-mail: Site Web: Facebook:

Moroccan Library Project Short Story Competition: The books are coming!

Hi everyone. Here's some good news on the MLP Short Story Competition and a reminder to get your 2021 stories in soon! Hope you're all doing well! ✍

Break With Colonial Legacy: International community should follow US in recognising Morocco’s sovereignty over the Moroccan Sahara

November 10, 2021, Rudroneel Ghosh 

Morocco recently celebrated the 46th anniversary of the historic Green March that saw the citizens of this North African nation peacefully reunify the Moroccan Sahara with the motherland. It will be recalled that the Moroccan Sahara is a legacy issue from Africa’s colonial past. The area was hived off from Morocco proper and was a Spanish exclave till the Green March of November 6, 1975 saw around 300,000 Moroccan citizens peacefully march into this part of the Sahara to reclaim it. But since then a separatist group called Polisario Front, backed primarily by Algeria, has carried out an armed campaign to establish the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic – an artificial country that has no basis in history or legality……

Morocco showcases Berber architecture at Expo

11/11/2021 Dubai

With seven floors and several rooms about opportunities and the country's history, the Morocco pavilion draws visitors' attention at Expo 2020 Dubai, taking place in the United Arab Emirates……

Building Agroforestry Systems in Taroudant Province

By Youssef Tahiri and Amina El Hajjami, HAF Team. October 18, 2021

In the Tigmi Ntrga Village located in the Tisfan Commune, HAF has made notable progress toward achieving objectives for a UNDP-funded project to build agroforestry systems as a means of economic recovery from the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
Since the project began in June 2021, lines of communication have been established with key local authorities in order to expedite activities. The governor of the Taroudant Province as well as other local actors are informed of the project and its progress. The HAF team has met with the president of Tisfan Commune, its community members (with a particular emphasis on female community members), and local associations in the village to involve them in the implementation of the project and the achievement of its goals. The team also visited the site where a new nursery will be built.
Once these initial meetings took place, the HAF team began the procurement process in order to purchase equipment and supplies for the construction of the nursery. These materials were then distributed to Tigmi Ntrga. ………

Sharing Moments of Peace in Online Spaces

Catrin Waters HAF-UVA Intern  October 25, 2021

This past Friday, a lovely moment of peace was shared across continents with a short yoga class led by High Atlas Foundation-University of Virginia Intern, Catrin Waters. The HAF members and trainees present were able to collaborate to create a multilingual and restorative few minutes of presence, with HAF President Yossef Ben-Meir translating the class live for participants……

Speedtest Global index ranks Morocco 66 worldwide in mobile network speed

Yousra Felahi Thursday 21 October 2021

Morocco ranked 66th globally out of 138 in the world’s fastest mobile network, according to a recent classification published by Ookla company for September.
Ookla company is specialized in ranking mobile and fixed broadband speeds from around the world on a monthly basis. The country achieved an average download speed of 39.52 Mbps, however, it took a step back compared to the previous ranking of August, according to Ookla data……

Amazigh Women & the Argan Tree

The Argan tree, indigenous to southern Morocco, has significant cultural value to local Amazigh communities. Women have been producing oil from this tree by hand for hundreds of years, and this is an important part of their tradition and family economy. These trees adapted to the arid environment also prevent soil erosion and desertification. And yet, this hardy and vital tree is increasingly endangered.

Ali Amhal Oct 19

Amazigh women and Argan trees have a lot in common. They are precious, invaluable pillars of Moroccan-Amazigh life, culture, and identity. They both exhibit a number of inspirational qualities. They have been the outcome of the same roots and region. Meanwhile, they struggle with similar challenges and long for success and prosperity.

For Amazigh people, the Argan tree is a source of not only an additional meager-but-interesting income, but also an inspiration for perseverance, patience, and love for land, history, and culture. Amazigh women are the backbone of the Moroccan society in general and Amazigh-speaking areas in particular, and more specifically in the region of Agadir. For socio-economic reasons, most men in this area are forced to quit their home villages, leaving their wives, mothers, and grandmothers to take the lead. Women generate income, bring up kids, secure their families’ needs, look after their sheep, and deal with all the challenges that might arise……

Hard-up hoteliers want Morocco to legalize premarital sex

No marriage certificate, no room key

The Economist, Nov 13th 2021 RABAT

It is bad enough that the pandemic cut the number of foreign tourists by 80%; to make matters even worse, Morocco’s ban on extramarital sex is stifling the domestic market in hotel beds. Unmarried couples caught in the same room are liable to jail terms of up to a year under Article 490 of the penal code. Each week the police check hotel records to uphold the law. Receptionists-turned-private detectives require verification of marriage certificates before handing over the keys. “I get more calls from unmarried couples wanting to stay than anyone else,” says Meryem Zniber, who runs a resort in the Rif mountains. “I could fill my hotel 100% if only they’d lift the law.”…

Morocco’s Great Patriot and One of the Founders of Moroccan Diplomacy Passes Away

Ahmed Snoussi, Former Moroccan Minister and Ambassador to the UN, and most importantly, close confidant of King Hassan II, passed away this week. He was 92 years old. He was held in high esteem in Morocco as a key figure in the fight for independence and one of the earliest architects of the foreign ministry in the late 1950s. He was also one of the most recognizable and revered personalities in Morocco. I was a personal witness to the love Ambassador Snoussi received throughout the country. For instance, on the many occasions during our time together in Morocco person after person would come up to him to thank him for his service to country and loyalty to the King……………….

Cities4Forests: A City-Led Call to Action

Henry Prillaman October 07, 2021

On September 22nd, I had the pleasure of attending the World Resources Institute Cities4Forests declaration. City leaders from around the world came together to discuss their current methods of forest conservation and more than 50 mayors pledged to work for greater restoration of forests in the future. 
The main panel of our leaders for the discussion consisted of Mayor Bruno Reis, of Salvador, Brazil; Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, of Freetown, Sierra Leone; Mayor Anil Kumar, of Kochi, India; and Councilor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council. 

Deforestation and degradation of the world’s forests have proved to be a serious problem in efforts to alleviate the stress on the climate and the world’s population. We are in need of actionable effort to stop this loss of forests, and cities around the world are taking that action. They are working to create urban forests, whether this be planting trees around the city or even creating mini forests in previously abandoned lots. Forests directly within the vicinity of the city aren’t the only important areas to conserve, as forests upstream have great importance for water regulation and purification. This implies the need for cities, policymakers, and citizens to work together to not only create new “urban forests,” but also help restore and conserve forests everywhere. ……

Ending Hereditary Slavery in Mauritania: Bidan (Whites) and Black “Slaves” in 2021

Mauritania has earned the title of slavery’s last stronghold due to the widespread existence of descent-based racial slavery in the country despite successive abolition decrees. This paper seeks to explain why the formal efforts to abolish slavery in Mauritania have failed, discusses the Mauritanian economy and the government’s official views on slavery, and puts forward recommendations to end slavery and slave-like conditions in the country. Stephen J. King (RPCV Morocco)

*Hereditary racial slavery – similar to the slavery system that existed in the U.S. prior to the civil war – is still widespread in the West African nation of Mauritania, where White Arabs and Berbers have enslaved Black Africans for centuries. In 1981 Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery.  Though slavery is technically illegal, after being criminalized for the first time in 2007 and again in 2015, abolition is rarely enforced. In a poor country dependent on Western aid, pressure from the United States and its allies can end slavery 'for real' and 'for good' in Mauritania. Email the President and Congress to demand that they apply this pressure.

Mauritania, an impoverished, sparsely populated desert country in North-West Africa has the highest proportion of hereditary slavery of any country in the world.1 Out of 4.75 million citizens, Global Slavery Index estimates the number living in hereditary slavery in the country to be 90,000 people.2 In practice, this is descent-based, chattel slavery that treats human beings as property, with violent enforcement. Modern slavery or “slave-like conditions” prevail for up to 500,000 more.…….

UN SDGs: We must help local communities implement the goals - opinion

The breadth of the goals is commonly adopted to a degree because some people can see their own principles reflected in them.

By YOSSEF BEN-MEIR JUNE 16, 2021 20:54

The United Nations Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) are aspirationally universal, addressing globally relevant issues with earnest objectives. Despite the profound good that they represent, fundamental problems exist with the goals. They lack being prescriptive, even to the extent of not explicitly aligning with what we know is essential to sustain the purpose: local people’s participation. Related, the process of how the 17 SDGs were conceived was not based upon the totality of needs expressed by local communities worldwide. As a result, the people whose lives the goals are meant to improve remain largely unaware of them while, at the same time, they need to feel vested in order to utilize the 17 as helpful guides for action……………

Extreme hotspot: What 60C means for the Middle East

At the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, the Middle East and North Africa region will suffer scorching heatwaves and impossible living conditions.

By Robert Kennedy Published On 8 Nov 2021

The Middle East and North Africa is already the hottest and driest region on the planet but climate change could make some areas uninhabitable in the coming decades with temperatures potentially reaching 60 degrees Celsius or higher. The repercussions throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region would be devastating including chronic water shortages, the inability to grow food because of extreme weather. “We anticipate that the maximum temperature during … heatwaves in some urban centres and megacities in the MENA could reach or even exceed 60 °C, which would be tremendously disruptive for society,” the scientists wrote. George Zittis, lead author of the study, told Al Jazeera higher humidity from increased evaporation of the surrounding seas will increase the danger. “Heat stress during summers will reach or exceed the thresholds of human survivability, at least in some parts of the region and for the warmest months,” said Zittis. …………………………

Improving Youth Employment in Africa by Balancing the Market

by Gabrielle Rosario HAF – UVA Intern  October 17, 2021

Africa currently faces an unemployment crisis with some of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and according to the World Bank, African youth make up 60% of unemployed workers. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to harm economies globally, unemployment rates accelerate, especially in Africa. Although some speculate youth unemployment arises from a lack of employable skills, this is simply false. Rather, youth face a lack of job availability from the demand side; there are simply not enough decent jobs with safe working conditions available to employable African youth. 

On September 28, 2021, Agrilinks, an online hub supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), hosted a webinar entitled “Balancing Market Approaches to Better Youth Employment Outcomes,” addressing African youth unemployment and potential solutions. Zachary Baquet from USAID moderated a discussion between Dr. Bernd Mueller, Lulama Ndibongo Traub, and Tracy Kimathi, who each offered solutions to youth empowerment and employment. Specifically, each speaker addresses whether the supply or demand side of employment needs to improve. 

Dr. Mueller, an employment specialist at the International Labour Organization, offered an argument for demand side interventions to promote employment. In many low-income countries, he claims, the demand side is constrained, meaning the availability of jobs remains low. Moreover, Dr. Mueller argues rural poverty, underemployment, and poor working conditions exist because the labor supply outweighs the labor demand. Instead of focusing on skills training on the supply side, we should “tighten” the labor market by reducing the gap between supply and demand, thereby creating more employment opportunities. Importantly, though, he notes we should prioritize the quality, not quantity of jobs, aiming for decent work and productive employment. ……

New platform of native North African trees and shrubs to halt biodiversity loss and desertification

Wed, 27 Oct 2021

In the framework of the third Mediterranean Plant Conservation Week held in Crete, a new web platform dedicated to North African Native Trees and Shrubs was presented by Centro de Investigaciones Ambientales del Mediterráneo in collaboration with IUCN-Med. The new platform covers all native species of trees, shrubs and woody climbing plants in North Africa, which are present in the zones that run from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and from the Mediterranean to the Sahel, an area that comprises all or a large part of the surface in 10 different countries. Some 880 species, from 290 genera and 76 families, have been described and their taxonomic information has been updated.

Detailed descriptions allowing the identification of all plant species are accompanied with photographs and interactive maps of their distribution. The number of species may vary slightly depending on taxonomic updates or new discoveries. This open-access platform is mainly aimed at scientists, technical experts, teachers, students and, in general, all nature lovers interested in exploring the magnificent forest and botanical biodiversity of this region that holds particular high levels of biological diversity……

Drought, over-pumping cut Morocco river link to sea

Agence France-Presse / November 15, 2021 SAIDIA, Morocco

Moroccan environmentalist Mohamed Benata stood taking photos of what should be the mouth of the Moulouya river — but after years of drought and over-pumping, it comes to a halt just short of the sea. One of the longest rivers in the North African kingdom and a vital lifeline for farmers in the area near the Algerian border, the final few paces of the 500-kilometre (310-mile) waterway are now separated from the Mediterranean by a sandbar. “It’s the first time ever that the Moulouya has stopped flowing into the sea,” said Benata, a retired agronomist. “The flow has been weakened by over-pumping of the water. It’s pretty dramatic.” And as the fresh water of the river recedes, salty seawater is creeping up the ground waters around the riverbed, spelling ruin for farmers as much as 15 kilometers inland. Outside the village of Karbacha, Ahmed Hedaoui farms several parched fields, but this year his melons are pale, yellow and deformed.
“Even the wild boar don’t want them,” said the 46-year-old, wearing a baseball cap against the autumn sun. “This year, I invested almost 300,000 dirhams (around $34,000) to improve this soil. I installed two pumps to irrigate the melons, but I’ve got nothing to show for it,” he said. “Everything’s dead because there’s hardly any rain and the river is salty.”

Disaster for wildlife

Seawater can hold up to 35 grammes of salt per liter, while freshwater usually has less than half a gramme — but the brackish river water here contains as much as seven grams. That has spelled disaster for wildlife in the area, according to Benata. “The flora and fauna won’t get away unscathed,” he said. Salt seeping into the soil is an existential threat for Hedaoui’s cousin Mustapha, who is struggling to grow artichokes in a nearby field…
Read more:

Two Moroccans Received Guinness World Records in October

Morocco holds a total of 28 Guinness World Records titles.

Oumaima Latrech, Nov. 15th, 2021 Rabat

Moroccan Aida Ouaadoudi has set a Guinness World Record for breaking the challenging 30-second time-framed world record in Hula Hoop, making an impressive 122 spins of a hula hoop on one leg in 30 seconds, breaking the previous record that stood at 119 spins. In an interview following her achievement, the Tangier native spoke of how the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed her perspective on life. She said she thought her life was coming to an end after she felt unwell last year, but she eventually chose not to give up and decided to shift her focus to activities that brought her joy during her childhood, one being the hula hoop. “At first, I played the Hula Hoop to kill time, but then it started giving me some muscle, and since I was enjoying it, I decided to pursue it professionally,” Ouaadoudi said in a statement. The hula hoop is a large toy hoop spun round the body by gyrating the hips, for play or exercise……

Poverty in Morocco Remains Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

Although Morocco’s poverty rate has resumed a downward trajectory in 2021, it is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before 2023.

Jihane Rahhou Nov. 15th, 2021 Rabat

Despite reviewing Morocco’s economic growth prospects upwards in October 2021, with poverty indicators resuming a downward trajectory, the World Bank economic outlook for Morocco suggests that poverty indicators will only return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.  According to the World Bank, the pandemic caused severe disruptions in Morocco’s two-decade gradual socio-economic progress. The country’s poverty indicators rapidly deteriorated at the start of the second quarter of 2020 because of the repercussions of the COVID crisis and the effect of adverse weather on agriculture.  The sudden lockdown and the ensuing loss of half a million jobs caused an unprecedented spike in poverty and vulnerability indicators, the World Bank assessed.  Under the $3.2 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) line, extreme poverty in Morocco should remain under 1%, says the bank’s outlook. ……

Morocco Faces ‘Alarming’ Situation Ahead of World Diabetes Day 2021

Famously sweet-toothed, Moroccans face an uphill battle against one of the top 10 deadly diseases on earth.

Jasper Hamann Nov. 13th, 2021 Rabat

The world will mark “World Diabetes Day” on Sunday, November 14, to raise awareness on one of the deadliest diseases in Morocco and around the world.  This year’s Diabetes Day revolves around the theme “Access to Diabetes Care” which has great relevance for Morocco.  “Morocco, like other developing countries, is not escaping the trend of diabetes and the disease is one of the main public health problems,” a 2018 study concluded. The WHO has described the situation as "alarming." Recent studies into the impact of Diabetes in Morocco highlight the urgent need for the disease to receive more priority from Rabat. A recent study of gestational diabetes in the Safi province concluded that the disease is prevalent and often related to lifestyle changes such as urbanization, lack of physical exercise, obesity and high blood pressure. ……

Morocco Approves Paris Declaration Calling for Investing in Education’s Future

Morocco is willing to intensify efforts to meet the aspirations of the Paris declaration on the future of education.

Issam Toutate, Nov. 11th, 2021 Fez

Morocco has reaffirmed its commitment to allocate efforts to enhance the fields of education, culture, and research.  Minister of National Education, Preschool Learning and Sports, Chakib Benmoussa announced Morocco’s support for “the Paris Declaration for the future of humanity and the planet.” Benmoussa made the statements before the ongoing 41st General Conference in Paris from November 9-24. The minister addressed UNESCO members in a General Policy Discussion, highlighting the efforts Morocco allocates to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications across the field, particularly in education.  To assure herd immunity, Morocco has set plans to generalize free vaccination for residents aged 12 and above. On the economic level, the minister recalled the creation of a solidarity fund and the launch of a large-scale project of social protection, as well as ongoing government support and recovery plans……

Morocco to Invest Over $67 Million to Invigorate Tourism Sector in 2022

Tourism represents 7% of Morocco’s GDP.

Amal El Attaq, Nov. 11th, 2021 Rabat

Morocco will allocateMAD 616.66 million ($67.533 million) to revive its tourism sector in 2022, excluding staff expenses.  Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts and Social Economy, FatimaZahra Ammor, announced the news in Rabat on Tuesday, November 8, during a presentation of her ministry’s budget. The department of tourism foresees an allocation of over MAD 107.67 million ($11.79 million) for the central administration in 2022, up to 72% compared to 2021. “A budget of over MAD333.79 million is projected for the craft and social economy and solidarity next year, distributed on the operation MAD152.66 million [$16.719 million] and an investment of MAD181.13 million [$19.836 million ),” Ammor said. The minister added that the credits allocated to the central administration amounts to MAD 230.24 million ($25.215 million). Subventions to the Office for the Development of Cooperation (ODCO), Maison de l’Artisan, Chambers of Crafts and State services managed autonomously amount respectively to MAD 34 million , MAD 40 million, MAD 27.6 million, and MAD 1.95 million, Ammor highlighted.
Additionally, the minister’s presentation reviewed the driving lines of the 2022 action plan designed to support Morocco’s tourism sector……

Morocco to Organize World Congress of Women Entrepreneurs in 2022

The international association of women entrepreneurs AFEM announced on November 6 that Morocco won the bid to host the 69th annual FCEM World Congress in 2022.

Jihane Rahhou, Nov. 09, 2021 Rabat

A Moroccan delegation led by Leïla Doukali, head of the Association of Moroccan Women Entrepreneurs (AFEM), won the pledge to host the 69th annual AFEM World Congress in 2022 in Marrakech. Delegations of 30 countries were also present at the 68 edition of the AFEM World Congress held in Istanbul, Turkey.
Each delegation presented financial records for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to compete for the opportunity to organize the annual event.  This year’s event was organized by the Turkish Association of Women Entrepreneurs (KAGİDER). Over 200 women entrepreneurs attended the three-day congress, representing a base capital of over 700 billion euros. The event provides an abundant opportunity for women entrepreneurs to create a global business network, exchange ideas and expertise, and encourage women’s business initiations……

Forbes’ Top Five Luxurious Attractions to Visit in Marrakech

Forbes Magazine celebrates the vibrancy of Marrakech by ranking the Moroccan city’s top five luxurious attractions.

Jihane Rahhou Nov. 2nd, 2021

Famous for its unique architecture and luxurious hotels, Marrakech has much more to offer tourists, according to Forbes Magazine. Selman Marrakech, a lavish palace at the foot of the Atlas mountains which is famous for its Arabian thoroughbreds, comes on top of Forbes’ list of memorable places to visit while in Marrakech. The 50-room mansion is the perfect romantic getaway with a fairytale-grade oasis surrounded by palm and olive trees.
Selman Marrakech is the perfect spot to experience the luxurious side of Morocco and indulge in the Arab-Moorish culture. The luxury resort also features a spa, offering Biontology-based detox treatment as well as traditional-based treatment.  The palace is acclaimed worldwide for its open-air Le Pavillon restaurant, serving a wide range of Moroccan traditional dishes. ……………………….

Moldiag Launches First 100% Moroccan Breast Cancer Diagnostic Test

Breast cancer constitutes the highest incidence of cancers in Morocco, with 36% of cases and 28% of deaths in the country.


As part of its Moldiag project, the MAScIR Foundation launched on Friday this week the first 100% Moroccan molecular diagnostic test for breast cancer. The MAScIR Foundation is an applied research institution belonging to the scientific laboratories of the Polytechnic Mohammed VI University. During Friday’s ceremony, the foundation unveiled the first 100% Moroccan diagnostic test for breast cancer, developed and biologically validated in Morocco and internationally. According to MAScIR, the test makes it possible to quantify the coding messenger RNA to identify the type of cancer and better define the therapeutic protocol. It will be affordable for all Moroccan citizens, the company promised. Speaking at a press conference in Casablanca, the CEO of the MAScIR Foundation, Nawal Chraibi, spoke of the Foundation’s decade-long experience in the development of diagnostic kits, essentially those based on molecular technologies……

Planting Trees and Mental Health

By Bobby McDonough  HAF-UVA Intern  October 28, 2021

HAF defines their mission as a “commitment to furthering sustainable development and supporting Moroccan Communities to take action in implementing human development initiatives.” The premier avenue through which this is accomplished is facilitating projects within marginalized, rural communities that educate community members on how to plant and raise trees— laying the foundation for autonomous community development and empowerment. Projects like this provide numerous tangible benefits: a greater educated community, sustainable access to food and water, and a solution for farmers who lack the funds necessary to begin growing more lucrative crops.

It often goes unnoticed that planting trees also has an important effect on a vital component to a community’s prosperity: mental health. “Marginalized communities consistently experience worse mental health than other communities for preventable reasons.” Mental health and collective happiness are incredibly important in building community progress. The seemingly inconspicuous act of planting trees works to build a safer, more prosperous community…………………

Now is definitely better than before!

By Moulay Hassan Aladlouni Country Director, HAF-F2F Program October 26, 2021

The High Atlas Foundation’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) team met the members of the Adfal Association in a very remote mountain area. During the trip, the team had to unexpectedly leave the car and walk for 1.5 hours to Timichi village, which sits at an altitude of 1,920 meters, because the dirt road was closed due to the construction of a new and long-anticipated paved road. Typically, the team facilitates sessions to assist host organizations (HOs) in their prioritization of needs. In the case of Adfal, the HO knew exactly what the community needed: to bring water from one riverbank to the other. At the time of the visit, they had constructed a water stream that runs through the riverbed to irrigate the fields on the opposite riverbank. However, a major issue that remains is that when the river floods, large boulders bury the water stream. It takes the local community three months to remove the huge rocks and dig out the water stream. During this time, the fields are not irrigated, and crops are lost……

Seeds of Memory: Celebrating the Heritage and Community of Akrich

By: Jennan Al-Hamdouni, Director of Engagement and Advocacy, REMA November 15, 2021

What brings people together in celebration of heritage, cultural identity, and solidarity for our individual histories? This week in Morocco’s Al-Haouz province, 30 kilometers from Marrakech, what it took was an openness to acknowledge and celebrate one another, a warm autumn day, the participation of a vibrant and diverse group of communities coming together to share their stories, and the symbolic gesture of planting a single fig tree in a 700-year-old Jewish cemetery.
On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, several High Atlas Foundation (HAF) team members came together for the first community storytelling gathering held within the framework of the USAID Religious and Ethnic Minorities Activity (REMA), which is implemented by HAF in Morocco, during an event at the interfaith fruit tree nursery in the village of Akrich. The gathering brought together local Muslim farming families, members of the Marrakech Jewish community, the women of the Achbaru Carpet Collective, and local officials, together with the U.S. Consul General Lawrence Randolph and Director of Dar America Michelle Outlaw in celebration of the Akrich community and its heritage.

The day started with a shared visit to the Shrine of the Holy Rabbi Raphael HaCohen and the ceremonial lighting of candles and intention-setting. Jacky Kadoch, the President of the Jewish Community in the Marrakech-Safi region, shared his hopes with all who gathered………

Robots & More, Siemens Gamesa to Launch Educational Tech Partnership

The new collaboration is set to encourage children and teenagers to discover the exceptional opportunities that come with technical careers.

Nisrine Jaouadi, Nov. 15th, 2021 Rabat

Moroccan robotics center Robots & More and Spanish-German renewable energy company Siemens Gamesa announced today the launch of a new partnership to promote educational robotics in Moroccan schools. Robots & More is a young Moroccan start-up operating in the field of education technology, providing youth with various educational programs and learning equipment. Siemens Gamesa is a company which specializes in the design, manufacturing, sale and installation of wind turbines. The collaboration is based on a cooperation between the Directorate of the Ministry of National Education’s GENIE Program, Preschool and Sports and LOOP for Science & Technology, an association that works for the integration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in education among young people and disadvantaged populations. The educational partnership includes the “First Lego” program, which aims to prepare young Moroccans for jobs of the future with modern methods of collaborative learning and hands-on activities………………….

Holcim Awards 2021 Honors Moroccan Architect for Sustainable Project

The Fez-born architect was honored for her project on addressing climate change-induced tribal displacement.

Elmahdi Echabouch, Nov. 18th, 20121 Fez

The 6th edition of the International Holcim Awards, which was held on November 13 in Venice, Italy, honored the work of Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni, highlighting her sustainability-minded and socially responsible project on climate migration.  The Moroccan architect earned both the Global Holcim Awards Bronze prize and the Acknowledgement Prize for her project “Cultural Interlude.” The project draws a self-sustaining music school and ecotourism center that aims to preserve the tribal cultural heritage in an oasis located in the town of M’Hamid El Ghizlane, in Zagora province.  Such local features are seemingly endangered due to the global trend of urban migration that see the oasis lose both its inhabitants and its tribal heritage, including tribal music, local architecture, and traditional agricultural practices. ……

Madaef Eco6 Program to Promote Tourism in Fez

The tourism program is set to promote Morocco’s cultural and spiritual capital, Fez, by encouraging innovative projects in the region.

Nisrine Jaouadi / Nov. 17th, 2021 Rabat

Moroccan tourism investment company Madaef announced today the launch of the call for projects for the 6th edition of the Madaef Eco6 program dedicated to the city of Fez. Madaef specializes in the promotion of new destinations in Morocco through the development of tourism assets and offers across the country.
The call for projects, which is set to run from November 17 to December 30, 2021, is open to all project leaders, startups of all sizes, craftsmen and cooperatives wishing to actively contribute to the development of the tourism sector in Fez. In a press release, Madaef said it is looking to improve the city’s attractiveness and stimulate local entrepreneurship by encouraging innovative projects in the region. Madaef is present in Fez with several renowned hotel units, spas, as well as two golf courses……

Morocco Signs Declaration to Eradicate Cyber Bullying, Bullying in Schools

Morocco is cooperating with other countries to prevent bullying and establish a safe school climate for students.

Oumaima Latrech, Nov 5ht, 2021 Rabat

Morocco, France, Mexico, and UNESCO signed on Thursday, November 4, a new declaration to address school bullying and cyberbullying named “Campeche Declaration for the prevention of violence and bullying at school.” The declaration aims to eradicate bullying from educational institutions by 2027. The meeting of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network  in Mexico  was chaired by the Mexican Minister of Education Delfina Gomez, the Governor of Campeche, Layda Sansores, as well as the Ambassadors of Morocco, France and Qatar. The Declaration was adopted on the sidelines of the International Day against Violence and Bullying in Schools, including CyberBullying, jointly organized by Mexico’s Ministry of Education and the Mexican Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, in the southern Mexican city of Campeche………

Hydroponics and Vertical Farming in Morocco and the World

A vision for the future of agriculture and possible implementation in Marrakech, Morocco

The Garden Center News. By Carter and Henry Prillaman Oct. 21st , 2021

Our agriculture system as we know it needs to change. We see an enormous amount of waste in current practices through using up too much water, using too many pesticides that hurt the neighboring environment as well as waste of produce through imperfection or being pest ridden. This, combined with flagging and in some cases stagnant yield increases in soil systems across the world will soon require sweeping and rapid changes in growing methods. As our population continues to grow, food production will grow and our methods of growing should change as well.

There are methods available to us today to not only change the way we grow produce for the better, but also increase yields in a smaller space. Vertical farming through hydroponics or aeroponics gives us the opportunity to grow larger amounts of produce in seemingly unavailable spaces. Rooftops, indoors, in older warehouses—you can grow plants and stack them on top of each other to farm a consistent crop that produces year-round and quickly, uses less water and energy, is more pest resistant, and can help alleviate some of the logistical trouble of transporting produce to and from farms to cities everywhere……………..

Restoring Morocco's Biodiversity through Agroforestry

Yossef Ben-Meir High Atlas Foundation  04 November 2021

High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and its partners focus on restoring native plants and trees to rehabilitate Moroccan biodiversity. Through agroforestry methods, HAF aims to push back against the effects of climate change, including desertification, irregular rainfall, and rising temperatures. Trees grown in HAF's nurseries are provided to farming families and education centers, who are the sole beneficiaries of the yields. HAF’s tree nursery projects are managed by the people who plant, irrigate, maintain, harvest, and gain income from them. The goal is to integrate communities in land rehabilitation, promote native species and sustainable livelihoods, and systematically monitor trees in the nursery and fields. HAF builds the capacities of agricultural cooperatives and rural people in food safety, financial management, marketing, and the development of agricultural business plans. ………
Restoring Morocco's Biodiversity through Agroforestry | PANORAMA

Dizzy Dros, Jaylan, Nada Azhari Among Moroccans Nominated for 2021 AFRIMA Awards

The award will honor some of Africa’s finest music artists, producers, and cultural influencers.

Amal El Attaq, Oct. 27th, 2021 Rabat

Eleven Moroccan artists have been nominated for the All Africa Music Awards 2021 (AFRIMA), set to take place in Lagos, Nigeria, from November 19 to 21.
In the “Best Female Artist in North Africa” category, 5 Moroccan artists are competing: Abir, Jaylan, Manal Benchlikha, Nada Azhari, and Salma Rachid.
The category of “Best Male Artist in Northern Africa” includes Dizzy Dros, Hamza El Fadly, L7OR, Muslim, and Zouhair Bahaoui. El Grande Toto is competing for the “Most Promising African” Artist award. “I’m very happy and grateful to be nominated for the second time for the title of 'best female artist in northern Africa' with 4 very talented Moroccan female artists,” said Nada Azhari. Speaking to Morocco World News (MWN), Nada noted that this nomination represents the recognition of her work and motivates her to work even harder to be at her best. ……

Oujda to Hold Morocco’s Second National Congress of Potholing and Geotourism

The event aims to promote scientific discussions about Morocco’s features and exchange ideas and experiences.

Oussama Aamari Nov. 13th, 2021 Rabat

Oujda is set to host Morocco’s Second National Congress of Potholing and Geotourism, organized by the Faculty of Sciences of Oujda’s Mohammed First University in cooperation with the Moroccan Explorers Association. The event will take place from between November 19-21 this year. In the press release announcing the event, organizers said they aim to achieve two primary goals:  promoting scientific discussions between enthusiasts and experts, and making the congress an important channel for exchanging experiences and academic scientific studies. The conference’s overreaching ambition revolves around promoting discussions around the importance of Morocco’s natural heritage generally, and its geological features specifically, noted the press release. …………….

Moroccan Actress Touria Alaoui Honored at International Women Film Festival

The festival honored actress Touria Alaoui for her significant contribution to the cinema industry in Morocco.

Oumaima Latrech Nov. 14th, 2021 Rabat

The 2021 International Women Film Festival in Sale concluded this year’s session by honoring Moroccan actress Touria Alaoui, in recognition of her remarkable artistic career and her contribution to the cinema industry in Morocco. In a speech delivered at the ceremony, Abdellatif El Assadi, director of the festival, said that the festival aims to further strengthen the presence of culture within Moroccan society. He reiterated the festival’s commitment to promoting equity and equality among young people by organizing seminars, meetings, and workshops on equality and related social challenges in Morocco.  “Cinema has a strong influence on individuals and societies,” he argued. During the ceremony, actress Touria Alaoui expressed her immense happiness for the tribute, noting that “the film industry is both difficult and enjoyable, and we have seen its great importance during the pandemic period.”……………………

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