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Morocco Week in Review 
October 30 2021

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Bourita Meets with Delegate From American Jewish Committee

The two officials discussed Morocco’s vision for stronger relations with the Jewish community.

Shaquile Goff, Oct. 27th, 2021 Denver

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita met with delegates from one of the oldest Jewish advocacy groups, the American Jewish Committee (AJC). Bourita hosted the AJC officials in Rabat, where they discussed Morocco’s intentions to strengthen relations with the US and Israel. The AJC labeled the initiative a “strategic asset for all three countries” in a statement after the event. Jason Isaacson, AJC head of political affairs, said that Wednesday’s discussion with Bourita covered “the common interests between our community and the Moroccan people as well as the sovereignty of the Kingdom over the Moroccan Sahara.” 
Isaacson also argued that Morocco “shares the same values” as the US, emphasizing the close historical ties between the two nations. ……

US - Morocco: Inauguration of an Abseiling Tower for Royal Navy's Special Forces

The project, funded by the United States, began in the fall of 2019, but construction work was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Khouloud Haskouri Oct. 24th, 2021 Rabat

Dignitaries from the Moroccan and US armed forces inaugurated a rappelling training tower, more than 15 meters high at the Royal Navy Diving School in Sidi Kankouch, near Tangier.  A team from the US Navy's Mobile Construction Battalion N1 worked with its Royal Moroccan Navy partners to build the tower at a cost of $710,000, according to a statement from the US Embassy in Morocco. The event coincides with the US and Morocco's celebration of the bicentennial of the US Legation in Tangier, the oldest American diplomatic building in the world, and a symbol of more than two hundred years of friendship between the two countries. Lieutenant Colonel Teremuura Shamel, Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation at the US Embassy in Morocco considers the project “yet another example of the close relationship between the US and Moroccan armed forces.” Shamel added that both partners "are constantly working together to train and prepare for any risks that could threaten the region’s stability." ……

New Report Highlights Climate Change Impact of Plastics

NGO “Beyond Plastics” released a new report that describes plastic as the “new coal” in regard to climate change.

Jasper Hamann Oct. 23rd, 2021 Rabat

A new report by US-based NGO Beyond Plastics claims that plastics production will soon have a worse climate impact than the use of coal. The climate change debate has long revolved around the emissions from energy production, in particular related to the extraction and use of coal, gas and oil, ignoring the role of the plastics industry. Citizens in Morocco are of course well aware of the impact of lingering plastic waste, visible in many streets, beaches, landfills and ditches across the country. Discarded plastics commonly end up in our oceans, with 8 million tons of waste ending up in our seas every year.  Plastic production has seen little attention from climate activists and has experienced exponential growth, from 2.3 million tonnes in 1950, to 448 million tons in 2015.Half of all plastics in existence has been produced in the last 15 years, showing the continuous growth in plastics use. It is estimated that much of this plastic will take 400 years to break down……

Berber Tattoos On The Decline In Morocco

OCTOBER 28, 2021

These two women are among a minority who still have Berber tattoos. Fatima Masoudi, 89, and Ighoudane Taguelmane, 86, live in Khemissat, a Berber town in Morocco. Masoudi always wanted to get tattooed, especially because it was a common thing to do when she was young. “One day when we were moved to the city, I decided to do it. I was 14 years old, I asked my mother to do it but she refused,” says Masoudi. “At that moment, despite her refusal I decided to do it, I went to a woman tattooer, I did it so that I would be beautiful, but unfortunately my mother and my grandmother did not accept this gesture.” In spite of her family’s disapproval, Masoudi got tattooed several times, on her chin, neck, and arm. She chose different patterns that are symbols of the Berber culture.
Taguelmane had an opposite experience with tattoos: she was forced by her mother to get one at a young age. She was tattooed between her eyes and on her chin.

At that time, tattoo centres were considered like beauty salons — a place where women used to go to look pretty. But the process was painful. ”There were several tattoo patterns and each one chose what they wanted, they used black charcoal, then stitching the skin with a needle and placing the substance through these openings and wounds to remain inside of the skin,” says Taguelmane. ”This operation was very painful, then I waited for a week until there was a crust on my face, then I removed it, at this time we can see the final result of the tattoo.” Tattooers also use saltwater and herbs for sterilization…

Olive Production in Morocco to Increase by 21% in 2022

The olive sector in Morocco is an important source of employment, providing more than 380,000 jobs annually.

Amal El Attaq, Oct. 27th, 2021 Rabat

Morocco’s olive production is predicted to increase by 21% in 2022, compared to the previous year. In response to a question from the House of Councillors on Tuesday, October 26, regarding the new agricultural season, Morocco’s  Minister of Agriculture, Mohamed Sadiki, explained that the “citrus production is expected to increase by 14%, and olive production by 21% compared to the previous season.” The Minister added that production of “the main fruit trees during this season will be significantly higher than the previous one, according to initial forecasts, especially if there will be favorable climate conditions.” Sadiki also noted that the agricultural sector plays a crucial role in achieving food security in Morocco, as evidenced during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. A previous report from the High Commission for Planning (HCP) attributed Morocco’s economic recovery to a 19.3% increase in the agricultural added value and a rebound of 11.7% in non-agricultural sectors…

INDH Launches ‘Bayt Ghlam-Taza’ Platform for Youth in Morocco

The new platform aims to improve the economic inclusion of young people in the region of Taza, by providing them with support in developing the necessary skills required to enter the labor market.

Nisrinew Jaouadi, Oct. 22nd, 2021 Rabat

The National Human Development Initiative (INDH) launched on Thursday, October 21, the “Bayt Ghlam-Taza” platform, which is dedicated to the guidance and support of young people in Morocco. The governor of the province of Taza, Mustapha El Maaza, officially announced the launch of the project, which falls under the INDH’s initiative to enable young people in the region to improve their income and economic inclusion. Approximately 970 young girls and boys are expected to benefit from the project between the period of 2021 to 2023, which includes a wide range of support services with a budget of more than MAD 3 million ($332,000 ). “The Bayt Ghlam-Taza platform is a space for interaction between the various mechanisms adopted by all the stakeholders working in the field of youth inclusion, and is intended to be a realistic response to the expectations and ambitions of young people, both job seekers and promoters of projects, particularly through support in the sense of entrepreneurship,” according to Mustapha Brinsi, head of the “Income Improvement and Economic Inclusion of Young People” service in Morocco. ……

World’s Oldest Jewelry Discovered in Essaouira, Morocco

The researchers have theorized that the recently discovered jewels functioned as a human form of non-verbal communication to mark identity or belonging.

Khouloud Haskaoui Oct. 27th, 2021 Rabat

A significant discovery has taken place in the Moroccan coastal city of Essaouira, where a set of jewelry dating back 150,000 years was found, according to senior royal advisor Andre Azoulay. At a press conference held at Dar Souiri on Tuesday, Azoulay said that “Essaouira has experienced today one of the most exhilarating and moving moments of its long history with this discovery, in the Bizmoune cave.”  The jewelry, which was discovered in September of this year, is now confirmed to be the world’s oldest set of jewelry, and ”embodies in its own way the values on which Essaouira has identified itself over the past thirty years,” according to Azoulay.  The discovery was made by an international team of 26 researchers, including two archaeologists from the National Institute of Archaeology and Heritage Sciences in Rabat (INSAP), along with colleagues from the US, Spain, Germany, the UK, and France. …

Morocco’s 2021 Finance Bill : 5 Key Measures to Improve Education

The new government wants to address the quality and infrastructure alarming deficiencies in Moroccan schools.

Amal El Aattaq, Oct. 25th, 2021 Rabat

The new Moroccan government is looking to implement several measures to improve the quality of the education system in the country. According to various independent and government reports, the government’s stated action plan highlights the need to radically reform Morocco’s education system to make it competitive on the global stage.  However, Morocco’s 2021 Finance Bill allocates a budget of MAD 65.49 billion ($7.16 billion) for the country’s education sector, which is nearly MAD 7 billion ($772.84 million) less than the 2021 budget. 

Strengthening Human Resources
Still, the Akhannouch-led government has vowed to take decisive steps to improve the education sector, saying this is one of its key priorities. In the government’s recently announced action plan for the coming year, MAD500 million ($52.20 million) will be allocated to improve the quality of teaching and strengthen teachers’ skills through continuous training. According to the Finance Bill, the budget for the equipment of Regional Centers for Education and Training Professions (CRMEF) and training centers will be upgraded to MAD350 million ($38.642 million)…

AfDB to Finance $21 Million Drinking Water Project in Morocco

The project is expected to be completed by 2023 at the very latest to ensure sustainable and secure access to water across Morocco.

Hanna Chaudhry Oct. 25th, 2021

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is financing Morocco’s National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) with an additional $21 million (MAD 190 million) to provide the North African country stability to avoid financial breakdown during the implementation of the Project to Make Access to Water Sustainable and Secure (PPSAE), dedicated to distributing clean drinking water to Morocco’s rural populations. The additional funding will be added to the MAD 833 million ($92 million)which was allocated by the pan-African bank since the project began in 2019. PPSAE will also receive an additional €37.25 million from the Growing Together in Africa Fund (GTAF). “Following the commitment of almost all the contracts for goods, works, and services, an overrun compared to the resources of the AfDB and AGTF loans was recorded on the activities financed by the bank. This overrun is mainly due to the increase in the price of steel and transport,” AfDB said in a statement……

Is ‘Morocco Now’ a New Moroccan Standard, or Just Marketing?

Morocco unveiled its new “Morocco Now” brand with great fanfare at the Dubai Expo 2020 last week.

Jasper Hamann, Oct. 23rd, 2021 Rabat

Morocco used the global platform of the Expo 2020 in Dubai last week to launch “Morocco Now,” an investment brand that holds much promise, and elicits even more questions.  The marketing blitz that accompanied the launch of the “Morocco Now” brand was hard to miss. The campaign was not only one of the show-stealing presentations at the Dubai Expo, but also featured on iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Times Square in New York City. The investment brand quickly became a topic for discussion, featuring on CNN as well as various regional media outlets. Much has since been said about the investment brand, yet the devil remains in the details. The question remains whether Morocco Now will constitute a new Moroccan standard of doing business, or whether it simply sells Morocco’s existing investment opportunities……

Asma Invest Puts Its Weight Behind English Education In Morocco

Morocco has started seeing a re-orientation to diversify its education system and improve its standing worldwide.

Oussama Aamari 23rd, 2021 Rabat

 Asma Invest, a Saudi-Moroccan investment firm, has begun its entry into the Moroccan education sector with an investment in a roadmap to establish more English education institutions in Morocco, in partnership with the Business and Professional English Centre (BPEC). The firm will launch a new subsidiary, Asma Private Schooling, which would handle its investments in the academic sectors, according to reports. The investment will see the two partners opening new, Anglo-Saxon curricula-based private institutions in Morocco. According to Hicham Safir, the General Director of Asma Invest, the firm’s plans in Morocco also entail  considerable investments in building several schools that cover kindergarten to highschool. ……

Moroccan Influencer Faces Backlash for ‘Normalizing’ Domestic Violence

The influencer is ignoring her followers’ call to take down the video, and has made no statement since.

Khouloud Haskaoui Oct. 26th, 2021 Rabat

Moroccan Influencer Rawaa Beauty is in the crosshairs of outraged netizens for appearing to trivialize domestic violence in a TikTok video. The beauty and lifestyle influencer, who has 3 million followers on her Instagram account, recently posted a video that appears to have been meant to make her audience laugh at the idea of her husband slapping her for pretending to be single.  Her followers, Instagram news pages and Moroccan netizens were all outraged at her blatant normalization of domestic violence. The video was seen as of severe bad taste, raising serious concerns about the reaction of a society that already trivializes violence against women in various formats. Moroccans across many social media platforms are calling for a mass reporting of the video, saying the influencer is clearly promoting domestic violence to her whopping 3 million followers.  Following the public backlash against her video, Rawaa deactivated the comments section on the video. The clip is still online and has amassed close to 700,000 views and over 62,000 likes. ……

ABE Initiative: Japan Awards Master’s Scholarships to 4 Moroccan Students

In addition to studying Master’s in Japanese universities, the students will also benefit from internships in companies in the country.

Safaa Kasraoui, Oct. 28th, 2021 Rabat

Four Moroccan students have received scholarships to pursue higher education in Japan as part of the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative for Youth.
Japanese ambassador to Morocco Shinozuka Takashi hosted the students taking part in the seventh session of the Japanese cooperation program at his residence on October 27. In addition to studying Master’s in Japanese universities, the students will also benefit from internships in companies in the country.
The Japanese government-funded program is part of Japan’s political vision to support and promote “the growth of 54 African countries through the development of human resources in areas of strategic activities in accordance with the national policy of each country,” said a statement from the Japanese embassy. 
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched the program following recommendations from the 5th Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD V) held in Yokohama in 2013. ……

Nearly 170,000 Students in Kenitra Benefit from ‘Million Backpacks’ Initiative

Over three-quarters of the student beneficiaries are from rural parts of the region.

Shaquile Goff, Oct. 22nd, 2021 Denver

169,580 students around Kenitra received free backpacks for the 2021-2022 school year from the national “Million Backpacks” program. A press release from Kenitra province reports nearly 75% of the students that received the backpacks resided in rural areas of the province, while 25% came from urban areas. In addition, 80.25% of the beneficiaries were students in primary education, while 19.7% were in college.  Over $1.5 million was allocated to provide backpacks in Kenitra, reports officials. The program was commended as a positive social program to combat school dropout rates and guarantee equal opportunities. ……

Five Teams to Represent Morocco in the Arab, Africa IoT & AI Challenge in Dubai

The digital transformation movement of the Arab IoT & AI Challenge aims to build qualified youth in the technical fields across the Arab world.

Oumaima Latrech Octg. 20th, 2021 Rabat

Five winning teams from “Morocco IoT & AI Challenge” will represent the North African kingdom in the Arab and Africa IoT & AI Challenges in Dubai, between the period of October 17-22 and mid-December, respectively. Organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) ENSIAS Student Branch, Morocco’s local finals of the two competitions subjected participants to several training sessions and webinars before allowing them to unveil their projects to the jury committee. The “Morocco IoT & AI Challenge” event aims to enhance Moroccan youth’s motivation through forging their entrepreneurship skills and their innovative minds, exploring the tech world, and implementing their ideas and solutions in real life. Smart Beehive team from ENSAM Rabat and NoFoasty team from INPT are set to compete in the finals of The Arab IoT & AI Challenge between October 17 to 22 at Gitex Technology Week in Dubai……………………….

Moroccan Students to Introduce Solar Car ‘Eleadora II’ in Global Races

Mines Rabat Solar Team aims to promote sustainable energies and entrepreneurship skills among young Moroccans.

Oumaima Latrech, Oct. 29th, 2021 Rabat

Seven years ago, an innovative idea of making a solar-powered car was shared among students of the National School of Mineral Industry (ENSMR). After many years of research, application and testing, Mines Rabat Solar Team from ENSMR, brought the eco-friendly car “Eleadora II” into the spotlight. Mines Rabat Solar Team consists of 16 Moroccan engineering students who share a passion for research and innovations that focus on creating solar-powered vehicles to compete at national and international competitions. The early stages to build “Eleadora II” or “Gift of the Sun” in Greek, began with a study and design phase before starting the construction process, which was taken over by new students over time for better results. Iman Aoua, the head of communication of the team told Middle-East news outlet Sky News Arabia that, “The innovation of this car was not easy, it took a lot of time and effort, and continuous work to develop the vehicle and to meet all the technical standards that allow it to participate in international competitions.”………………………….

2022 Finance Bill: Human Development Programs to Cost $330 Million

The third phase of INDH’s programs to reduce large socio-economic deficits is estimated to cost MAD 3 billion between 2022 and 2023.

Oumaima Latrech Oct. 27th, 2021 Rabat

Morocco’s 2022 finance bill reveals the country’s determination to boost human development, with the expenses of the third stage of the five programs launched by the National Initiative for Human Development’s (INDH) estimated to cost over MAD 3 billion ($330 million) total. The INDH has established itself as a major player in human development initiatives in Morocco. The first and second phases enabled the implementation of more than 43,000 human development projects between 2005-2010 and 2011-2018 respectively. INDH’s programs to reduce large socio-economic deficits focus on alleviating poverty in rural areas, combating exclusion in urban areas, and fighting precariousness.  Phase three, which began in 2019 until 2023, is consistent with recent developments in Morocco in the area of “advanced regionalization,” and provides a new impetus for innovative and effective responses to the population’s needs……………..

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