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Morocco News meets the World

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    fitch rating

    London - Statistical rating organization Fitch Ratings has affirmed Morocco's Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at 'BBB-' and 'BBB' respectively.

    The issue ratings on Morocco's senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds were also affirmed at 'BBB-' and 'BBB' respectively.

    The Outlooks on the Long-term IDRs are Stable, it said.

    The Country Ceiling was affirmed at 'BBB', and the Short-term foreign currency IDR at 'F3'.

    The affirmation of Morocco's ratings reflects its resilience during the years of transition following the Arab Spring in early 2011.


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    Will Kouko be the First Foreigner To Wear Morocco’s Jersey

    Fez- According to Moroccan news website Chouf TV, Rabat is set to grant Ivorian player Hilaire Kouko Moroccan citizenship in order to allow him to wear to wear the Atlas Lions jersey in the upcoming international competitions.

    According to the same source, the Moroccan Footbla Federation is awaiting the finalization of the naturalization to allow him to be the first foreigner to wear the jersey of the Moroccan national team.

    The alleged decision to grant Raja of Casablancas midfielder Moroccan citizenship comes in the light of his excellent performance with his team during the FIFA Club World Cup, which was held in Morocco last December.

    Kouko was instrumental in helping his team to qualify to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup after he scored the second and qualifying goal against Mexican club Monterrey at the 5th minute of extra time as he received a center from a corner kick.


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    Agadir Organizes Festival to Encourage Reading in Morocco

    By Mustapha Ait Kharouach – Agadir.

    Under the slogan: “reading is a civilized act,” the initiative Reading For All – Agadir, in partnership with Ibn Zohr University, organized a reading festival on April 25th and 26th. The program was rich and varied, including hours to read, discuss the state of reading in Morocco with experts, exhibitions, book signing, lectures and a closing ceremony.

    Reading For All is an association created on June 29th 2013 by Moroccan students in France and Morocco, where it spread quickly via an active Facebook page with thousands of members. The association has organized a number of events all over Morocco.

    MWN spoke with Aicha Bekar, secretary general of the association and head of the Agadir chapter, at the event and asked her about the objectives of this initiative.

    “Our slogan ‘All for a Morocco that read’ represents our dream. We work to introduce the Moroccan people to reading, spread awareness, and encourage non-readers to read. We strive to foster a love of books among the poor and illiterate, in order to improve a very big problem which is facing our country; the average Moroccan reads only 2.5 books per year, and 1 Moroccan in 10 never reads,” Bekar said.

    After two days of intensive activities, the initiative concluded its first festival with an artistic ceremony held at the Agadir School of Commerce and Management.

    The ceremony began with a talk given by Ibn Zohr president Omar Helli, in which he highlighted the importance of such cultural events to the city and the region in general. He also affirmed the willingness of the university to collaborate with any initiative that aims to enrich the sociocultural environment of the region. It is the first big event organized by Reading For All in partnership with a public institution, with activities held in public places and in close reading circles.

    When asked about their future project plans, the association members stated that more partnerships with different public institution such as the municipality of Agadir would be established for more diverse cultural activities.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


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    Mederssa of Bounania in Fez, Morocco, tourism

    Marrakech- Mark Willenbrock is an explorer and entrepreneur who spent over ten years in Morocco. He runs a Moroccan tourist transport company specializing in the Sahara and Atlas mountains. Mark lives with his Moroccan wife and daughters in a traditional riad in the Fes Medina. MWN recently met with him for this interview.

    MWN: What makes tourism in Morocco so attractive and unique?

    Mark WillenbrockMark Willenbrock: I think it's the combination of safety, accessibility, and cultural diversity. The cultural mix and landscape is something associated with long-haul destinations, yet - at least for Europeans - it's a budget airline flight. It's interesting that many of our American guests do not understand that there is the possibility of extending a European tour to Morocco for a nominal amount. That's something the Moroccan tourist board might want to address.

    Yet it is the safety that is most important. Even before the Arab Spring, no other country offered the degree of access to remote areas of the Sahara with complete safety. I have pictures of my youngest daughter in the Sahara at 3 months old, in the arms of a nomad. Friends were appalled - how could I expose her to such risks? My answer is that central London is more dangerous. 

    Desert expeditions in Egypt, again before the recent instability, were only possible with an armed guard in the vehicle - something that would unnerve me more than the potential risk! In Morocco, there is a double line of police and military posts every 3 miles on some sections of the border. My nomad friends tell me there is a radar system that picks up anyone heading east. Whatever technology is in use, it is extremely effective.

    MWN: Some thoughts on the North, which is under-visited by tourist?

    Mark Willenbrock: The Rif has an entirely different character to the rest of Morocco, and indeed tried to separate in the aftermath of the French and Spanish occupation. It's interesting that a buccaneering British military officer - Captain Charles Gardiner - helped to print their currency, the Riffan. Today, it's diversity is still a surprise. There's something almost Caribbean in the lush green valleys and tin-roofed farms. 

    MWN: Why is Meknes comparatively unvisited by tourists and what does it have to offer?

    Mark Willenbrock: The only reason Meknes is comparatively unknown is its lack of an airport. This seems to have removed it from the itinerary of most international visitors. To me, the town is one of Morocco's best-kept secrets. If you want to see what Marrakech was like before the jet set arrived, visit Meknes. It's another Berber city, like Marrakech, and a sharp contrast to its more serious, Arab neighbor, Fez. There's a joie de vivre present in the town's central square that is the nearest approach to Jamae el Fna, yet tourists are really only notable by their absence.

    The medina is modest but fun - and completely overshadowed by the vast Imperial City built by Sultan Moulay Ismail next to it. Note that Meknes is the only Imperial City to actually have a physical Imperial City... the vast walls surrounding the palace complex, built by the legendary, violent, but surprisingly effective Sultan,  Moulay Ismail, dwarf those of the medina. A prolific - perhaps compulsive - builder, Moulay Ismail's capital was embellished with riches looted from Marrakech and the equally extraordinary Roman capital, Volubilis. The palace itself is firmly closed to visitors, but you can visit the subterranean prisons, the Ambassador’s pavilion, the vast granaries and the ruins of the imperial stables. Most interesting of all, though, is the chance to visit the mausoleum of the old tyrant himself. Moulay Ismail's burial complex is open to non Muslims and gives a visitor to Morocco the best possible idea of the peace and tranquility to be found in the Kingdom's religious buildings. Moulay Idriss' mausoleum in Fes remains firmly shut to non-Muslims.

    MWN: What are tourists, particularly British tourists, really looking for? Mark Willenbrock: To most British tourists, Morocco is short weekend break. Blame it on the cheap flights if you will, but it's seen in a similar vein to Prague. Marrakech and Fez are fun places to visit for a few days, but it's sadly rarer for the British to devote the time to getting deeper into the country and out of the cities.  

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    usa-green-card

    By Majid Morcelli

    San Francisco- Young Moroccan men have been tainted as predators in virtual chat rooms for preying on much older, unattractive, or overweight American women in order to acquire permanent residency in the US. However, it is futile to put the blame on the immigrant, the Arab, the Muslim, and of course the young Moroccan men for the failed adventures these women experience.

    No one takes pause to think about these young men who are also victims of these women who grossly miscalculate that they can snatch these individuals and marry them after few months of virtual small talk. To their chagrin, when these men arrive in the US, they realize they are merely exotic property of these women after few months of living under the same roof.

    It should not be challenging to understand that most of these relationships are bound to fail. The women involved in this wishful-thinking marriage intentionally omit that in order for a union with partner from another culture to succeed, there must be some commonalities, which, in most of these cases, are non-existent.

    50% of all marriages in America end in divorce; how can these women expect to do better with someone who is unlike anyone they have ever met?

    Many say that these young Moroccan men sweet-talk their “prey” and only tell them what sounds like music to their ears. But no one mentions that these women are not revealing the true intent of desiring to unite with a much younger mate from an entirely different culture, or about the abuse, the insults, and the threats that these culturally-shocked men endure during these all-but-certain-to-fail marriages.

    These young Moroccan men leave everything behind, and to their immense dismay, discover that they are no more than an imported property to be controlled, or else they’ll be sent home. Even worse, they would be deported and portrayed as losers for not being able to make it in the US, when all of those who left before them have succeeded.

    If these older or unattractive women are going to bring these young Moroccan men to the US to enslave them, denigrate them, threaten them with deportation on a daily basis, and subject them to constant humiliation, they will not be compensated in a way that these young Moroccan men remain their forever slaves.  

    When you have two extremely different entities wanting to accomplish what they have not been able to do in their respective cultures, or in their economical situation, the odds will undoubtedly be against them.

    Next time, and prior to scapegoating these young Moroccan men, let us remember that it takes two to tango. When the foundation of marriage is vague or absent, marriage should not take place. These women cannot dance around the self-evident facts; if they do, they have no one to blame but themselves, and they should learn from what they convince themselves as not their fault. 

    Edited by Katrina Bushko

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Aerial view of King Hassan II mosque of Casablanca August 27. The mosque, built on land gained from ..

    Geneva - The city of Casablanca ranked 22nd in the 2014 Emerging Cities Outlook (ECO), according to the A.T. Kearney.

    A report by the international think tank, quoted by the Ecofin agency, says that the Moroccan economic capital is among eight African cities ranked in the ECO.

    They are Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Tunis, Casablanca, Cairo and Lagos.

    A.T. Kearney's Global Cities Index (GCI) examines a comprehensive list of 84 cities on every continent, measuring how globally engaged they are across 26 metrics.

    The companion Emerging Cities Outlook (ECO) complements the GCI by analyzing the likelihood that 34 cities in low- and middle-income countries will improve their global positioning over the next 10 to 20 years.

    By focusing on the elements that contribute to the generation, attraction, and retention of global capital, people, and ideas, the GCI and ECO can be powerful tools in the hands of policy makers and business leaders. 


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    ict in morocco

    Taroudant, Morocco - To teach writing, especially to foreign students can be difficult for teachers because it demands strategic planning and the full attention of students. To enhance the effectiveness of teaching writing, teachers have to implement ICT tools into their curricula and use them effectively in securing students’ motivation and positive interaction in addition to providing new ways to teach writing.

    Nowadays, computers are not only used as a subject matter in themselves, but learners and teachers are using them in various ways to assist in teaching basic literacy skills, such as reading, writing, listening and speaking. Software and the Internet provide various types of applications and services designed to teach language to students. Online programs and Internet outlets offer students of all levels, as well as their instructors, the ability to join online discussions, lively interactions and to actively participate in the exchange of ideas. Using computers can enable a new and effective instructional environment designed for language teaching and learning.

    Computer-based tools:

    Since the time when when computers were available to educators and students, they have been practically exploited to meet educational purposes.

    Nowadays, with the technological progress, there is new writing software available for teaching purposes. Our main concern here is to shed light on some most useful and free applications that will enhance the writing habit of our students.

    Word processors:

    Even though Microsoft word is not a free application, but it is currently the most famous and “ubiquitous of word processing packages, with an estimated 300 million users worldwide at the time of writing,” According to a study done buy Dudeney and Hockly. For those who can’t afford to get Microsoft word, they may use somehow similar software like OpenOffice that can be downloaded for free from this link http://www.openoffice.org/download/ for windows users.

    Another free word processing program similar to Microsoft word is AbiWord. AbidWord is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks, which allows multiple users to collaborate with one another on one document at the same time. The application can be downloaded for free from this link http://www.abisource.com/download/.

    Now that we have mentioned some very useful word processors, let’s focus on the practical ways to make these applications at the heart of enhancing writing. With the advanced options imbued in such word processors including spelling and grammar checks and thesaurus and dictionary options, students will be motivated and develop self-awareness of their weakness in writing. With the use of spell-check, for example, students “can be more aware of errors, and provide a chance for self-correction,” according to the Dudeney and Hockly study. Self-correction is considered a crucial point in meaningful learning.

    Teachers can monitor in a practical way the options they want their students to use while writing a piece of composition. If the teacher thinks that grammar checker is not needed while students are working on composition task, they can disable it easily. These word processors provide a more interactive ways of teaching writing through the ability to “share texts, produce them collaboratively and engage in peer and teacher editing,” according to the same study.

    Many writing activities that were done by a pen and paper can also be performed by word-processors, yet in a more interactive and fun way that will no doubt motivate students to practice writing inside and outside classrooms.

    Work cited

    Dudeney, G., & Hockly, N. (2007). How to teach english with tecknology (éd. 3). England: Pearson Education Limitted.


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    Morocco’s Football Federation Mulls Appointing Bado Zaki Coach of National Team

    Fez- According to the Moroccan daily Assabah in its edition of Monday April 28th, the Moroccan Football Federation mulls appointing Bado Zaki, new coach of the Moroccan national team less than 9 months before the African Cup of Nations (CAN) scheduled to take place in Morocco from January 17th to February 8th 2015.

    According to the same source, a member of the Moroccan federation contacted Zaki just before heading to Cairo to attend the draw of the CAN 2015.

    The federation officials now consider hiring a Moroccan coach after the salary demanded by Dutch coach Dick Advocaat was deemed extremely high. According the same source, the Dutch demanded a monthly salary of MAD 2.6 million ($320,000).

    Since Morocco won its only continental cup in 1976, Badou Zaki was the only coach to lead the national team to the final of the African Cup of Nations in 2004, which it lost to Tunisia.

    Zaki enjoys wide support among Moroccan fans. A survey conducted by Radio Mars in September 2012 showed that the majority of Moroccans were hopeful to see Zaki lead the national team.

    Besides having led the national team to achieve its best performance since 1976, Zaki is also considered the greatest goal-keeper in Morocco’s history.

    In the 1986 World Cup played in Mexico, he played a pivotal role in qualifying the Moroccan team to the second round.

    It was the first time in the history of the World Cup that an African and Arab country qualified to the second round of this international competition.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with his Personal Envoy to the Western Sahara, Chritopher Ross

    New York- The UN Security Council is set to adopt a new resolution to renew the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Organization of the Referendum in the Western Sahara (MINURSO).

    Like the previous resolutions adopted since 2007, the resolution that will be adopted on Tuesday will renew its call on the parties to continue their negotiations in good faith and without preconditionsin order to achieve a mutually acceptable and political solution to the conflict. It will also lay emphasis on the necessity that Morocco and the Polisario take the necessary measures to uphold the situation of human rights in the Sahara and in the Tindouf camps.

    The question that comes to mind is to what extent this resolution will push the two parties to the conflict to push ahead for a political solution and to what extent the approach adopted by the United Nations is likely to help them bridge the gap between their respective positions and pave the way towards reaching the called-for political solution.

    If one analyzes the previous resolutions and the endeavors undertaken by the United Nations, one can conclude that if the UN adopts the same approach as in previous years, the same scenario will play out all over again to no avail. In other words, we will see the UNSGs personal envoy to the Sahara make several trips to the region, meet with Moroccan officials and Polisario representatives, as well as with officials from neighboring countries, brief the Security Council on his endeavors, but then nothing concrete come out of the briefings.

    The questions that analysts and commentators are asking are first, to what extent the shuttle diplomacy started last year by the UN Personal Envoy has been instrumental in ironing out differences between Morocco and the Polisario. What alternative might the United Nations have in store to help the two parties achieve a political solution? Will the UN still call for a political solution while insisting that any political solution must provide for the self-determination of the Saharawi people? Will the UN continue to be fixated on the outdated concept of self-determination as necessarily leading to independence?  Is not time that the UN adapted to the changing realities of the second decade of the third millennium, accepted the realities on the ground and endeavored to resolve each conflict on its agenda on a case-by-case basis? Will the UN apply to the Sahara the same approach to the one it applied to the conflict of Timor-Leste, or East Timor, in Southeast Asia, as some Polisario supporters suggest?

    If the United Nations does not depart from its stubborn fixation on self-determination as the vehicle to independence instead of working towards finding other alternatives, there is no doubt that the conflict will continue for many more years and we may find ourselves talking about the same issue in perhaps 10 years from now. As I have pointed out in several of my previous articles, one of the main obstacles that prevents the United Nations from fully discharging its role of mediator in this conflict is its contradictory approach.

    While on the one hand it calls for a mutually acceptable political solution, it, on the other hand, insists that this solution must provide for the self-determination of the people of the Sahara. By doing so, the UN seems to buy into the advocacy of certain international non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and certain activists, such as Javier Bardem or Kerry Kennedy, who call for the establishment of an independent state in the Sahara, rather than the analyses and recommendations of a growing number of scholars who point out that the concept of self-determination is not a one-size-fits all approach that can be applied to every conflict regardless of its nature and geopolitical considerations.

    Need to Avoid one size fits-all approach

    Those who call for this approach always cite the alleged similarities that exist, according to them, between the Sahara conflict and the case of Timor-Leste. Yet an analysis of the two cases shows that this parallel is inaccurate. While Timor-Leste was under Portuguese sovereignty until 1975 when it was invaded and taken over by Indonesia, the Sahara was under Moroccan sovereignty until the end of the 19th century. Moroccos claim to sovereignty is supported by historical (colonial) records and a number of international agreements, such as the accord signed between Morocco and the United Kingdom in March 1895, in which the British government acknowledges that the Sahara belonged to Morocco.

    Another factor demonstrating the absence of similarities between the two cases is linguistic, religious, and ethnic unity among the regions. There is a linguistic, religious, and ethnic unity between the rest of Moroccos territory and the Sahara: Saharawis are a mixture of Arabs and Amazigh, are Muslims and speak Arabic and Berber in addition to the Hassani language. Such similarities did not exist between Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

    While Indonesia is a Muslim country, the population of Timor-Leste is predominantly catholic, making the country after its independence the second largest Roman Catholic country in Asia after the Philippines. Likewise, as to the language, while Indonesias language is Indonesian, the two main languages used in Timor-Leste are Portuguese and Tetum.

    Consensus on the need to adapt self-determination to new realities

    Away from any politicization of the conflict or misrepresentation of facts, there is a growing of number of scholars who have been calling on the United Nations to reconsider the concept of self-determination and adapt it to the new reality of todays world.

    If it is to put an end to the Sahara conflict, the United Nations should take into account the growing consensus among academia that its focus on self-determination as necessarily leading to independence is among the main hindrances against finding a political solution to the conflict and that the concept of self-determination as it was construed in the latter part of the 20th century is not one-size-fits-all, and cannot be applied to every territorial dispute.

    In a report published in June 2007, the International Crisis Group clearly said that the UN fixation on self-determination is not helping to break the impasse and assist the two parties find a political solution to the conflict:

    By continuing to define the issue as self-determination, the U.N. has encouraged the Polisario Front and Algeria to continue to invest all their energy in seeking the realization of this principle and at the same time has pressured the Moroccan government to pay lip service to self-determination, when in reality Rabat has never sincerely subscribed to it. The U.N. thereby has inhibited the parties to the dispute from exploring the possibility.

    The same opinion is shared by a number of scholars who point out that the concept of self-determination has outlived its usefulness of the post-colonial era.  They have called upon the United Nations to depart from its exclusive focus on the independence of the Sahara as the only solution to the conflict.

    In this regard, Robin White, a professor of law at the University of Leicester, says: Had the United Nations worked on the criteria to be used in determining when the alternatives of association, integration, or some other political status would be appropriate, it is possible that there would have been greater room for manoeuvre and resort to unilateral unlawful acts inhibited.”(1)

    For his part, in his essay The Western Sahara and the Self-Determination Debate,Samuel J. Spector says that the UN tendency to ignore Moroccos strategic interests in the territory and historical rights while giving the priority to the full independence of the Saharawis, is one of the main hindrances that prevents the UN from playing an effective role towards putting an end to the conflict:

    While the latter half of the twentieth century may have marked the predominance of equality theory, that same theory may not be as appropriate for resolving disputes in the twenty-first century. Claiming an absolute right to full external self-determination in the form of complete independence for the Sahrawi people while ignoring Morocco's interests in the matter has continued to block any meaningful diplomatic compromise.

    After more than 23 years of fruitless mediation and a number of unsuccessful proposals put on the negotiation table, the ball is now in the UN’s court, and it is the UN officials moral duty to put an end to this conflict in a way that will preserve the rights and interests of the Saharawi people, as well as Moroccos territorial integrity and the regions stability.

    The geopolitical reality of todays world is not similar to the 1960s when the equality theory and the concept of self-determination were perceived as the most suitable approach for solving territorial disputes resulting from European colonialism. The UN ought to take this into account, as well as the reality on the ground in the Sahara. In short, there is a need for the UN to change its course, press for a clear approach without preconditions, and pave the way towards finding a political solution that does not involve a winner-takes-all approach, but rather focuses on a win-win result.  

    You can follow him on on Twitter @Samir Bennis ____________________ 1- Robin C.A. White, "Self-Determination: Time for Re-Assessment?" Netherlands International Law Review, no. 28, p. 434.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


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    Cafe Clock Official Opening in Marrakech

    Marrakech - Mike Richardson’s Cafe Clock saw its official opening in Marrakech on Saturday April 26th in a lively, well-attended event with British Ambassador Clive Alderton and his wife Catriona. A number of the English-speaking community in Marrakech and many other Marrakechis were present.

    Ambassador and Mrs Alderton enjoyed a lesson in Arabic script and there was a henna specialist decorating ladies’ hands and feet on the large terrace on the roof above the café. There is a great view from the terrace of the street just a few minutes from Marrakech’s historic casbah.

    In a short address, the Ambassador praised Mike Richardson and his team’s  initiative and expertise in creating Café Clock in Fez and now Marrakech and helping to preserve Marrakech’s heritage of storytellers and traditions practiced on the Place Jamaa El Fna. He commended the creation of a cross cultural meeting place for Marrakechis of all nationalities. He called this an unusual and particularly British creation. He also unveiled a plaque celebrating the occasion of Café Clock’s opening, which will be proudly displayed on its wall.

    When BBC journalist Richard Hamilton read from his book The Last Story Tellers of Marrakech at Café Clock during this year’s Biennale, he noted that the great storytelling tradition recognized by UNESCO  was in danger of dying out as only 6 storytellers were left. As sitdown restaurants and orange juice stalls expand on Storytellers Place, art and oral tradition need a helping hand to preserve the heritage and the stories. Cafe Clock has  provided not only a new audience and space for the storytellers but also a unique program to train new apprentice storytellers, some of them young Moroccan girls who can also tell the tales to the audience in English.

    A delicious lunch of salads hummus and mini camel burgers was served, washed down with almond and other juices. Café Clock’s retired master storyteller Haj Ahmed Ezzaghani launched into a story about Joha and the King with Shakespearean eloquence, a flowing cloak, and great animation. This was followed by a rendition by Sara Mouhi,  a trainee English language teacher at the American Language Center, of the Joha story In English, telling how the King’s adviser tried and failed to have Joha beheaded by having the King ask Joha three seemingly unanswerable questions with a death sentence if Joha failed to answer correctly, and how Joha evaded death with the help of a donkey.

    Café Clock is a great new addition to Marrakech’s cultural and social scene, driven by Mike Richardson’s boundless energy and the enthusiasm of his young team. 

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Morocco’s Fez, world’s sixth most romantic city

    Taroudant, Morocco- The International tourism news channel, Tourism-Review, released a review about tourism in North Africa today entitled, “South Mediterranean tourism:only Morocco stays afloat” noting that Morocco remains the most popular destination in North Africa.

    Unlike other countries in the region shaken by Arab spring, the Kingdom continues to attract tourists from around the world thanks to its political and socio-economic stability.

    “The 2013 summer season was a disastrous time for Egypt, mediocre in Tunisia, and good in Morocco,” says the e-review report.

    According to the same source, Tunisia “cannot find a solution to bring her visits back up,” and Egypt “experienced a decline in the first quarter of 2014 worse than that of 2013.” But Morocco remained untouched by revolutions and continues to attract tourists from around the world.

    In 2013, the tourism sector in Morocco accounted for more than 8.6 percent of the national GDP ($9.5 billion), according to the report.

     “Tourism revenues are expected to grow by 8.1 percent in 2014 according to World Travel and Tourism, while the Moroccan National Tourist Office plans to host more than 11 million foreign tourists in 2014,” according to the review.

    In an analysis of the prospects of the tourism market in the southern Mediterranean, the review depicted the “same dark situation” for Egypt, and said that Tunisia cannot achieve in 2014 the same tourism levels as 2010 when it received seven million visitors “which generated 7 percent of the GDP”. The same source added that tourism sector in Morocco is likely to grow in 2014.

    Edited by Liz Yaslik


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    Opinion- President Bouteflika’s Election Win, a Defeat to the Algerian People

    Casablanca- The number of Moroccans being arrested in Algeria after the reelection of Abdelaziz Bouteflika is gradually increasing. A 24-year-old Moroccan was recently arrested in the Algerian city Annaba for allegedly instigating instability.

    Daily Algerian newspaper El Bilad reported that the arrested Moroccan had allegedly admitted to being a member of a group in charge of uploading videos to YouTube of demonstrations held by Barakat Movement, known for opposing the reelection of Bouteflika.

    The “testimony” of the Moroccan suspect allegedly helped Algerian police to subsequently arrest another accomplice in the Province of Tebessa, 20 kilometers away from Tunisian borders;  

    “But did the Algerian demonstrations necessarily need a Moroccan to record and upload their videos to YouTube?” asks news outlet Yabiladi.

    For its part, Algerian daily Echourouk reported that the Moroccan suspect was arrested for “spying on” an Algerian phosphate company.

    According to Yabiladi, the wave of apprehensions that the Alegerian state has recently subjected Moroccans to aims to diverge Algerian people’s attention from Bouteflika’s oath ceremony, which was scheduled to take place on Monday.


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    Moroccan Government

    Rabat - The Moroccan government decided to increase the minimum wage in the public service and private sectors on the occasion of International Workers'Day.

    Minister of employment and social affairs, Abdesslam Seddiki announced that the minimum wage in the public service will rise to 3,000 dh starting July 1, 2014, adding that the minimum wage in sectors of the agriculture, industry, trade and services, will be increased by 10 pc.

    Other measures have also been adopted by the government after considering the claims of unions and the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM), as part of the social dialogue.


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    I love Morocco (Photo courtesy, greenprophet.com)

    Casablanca- Why do we travel to places we've never been? The answer is very simple: we travel because we are always searching for new experiences to include in our archive of special moments.

    If Morocco is one of those places you’ve never been, then you need to know where exactly to find these special moments and memorable experiences that are unique to Moroccan culture.

    This article lists five ways that will help you find these authentic Moroccan experiences, and thus make the most of your visit to Morocco, and learn as much as you can about the culture, no matter which city you visi

    1- Stay with a Moroccan Family

    If you can manage to find a Moroccan family that would be willing to host you, then you’re sure to have an authentic Moroccan experience. While many hotels in Morocco try to simulate experiences that are peculiar to Moroccan culture, there is nothing like living with a Moroccan family, especially in rural areas.

    Living among Moroccans will allow you to learn more about Morocco than you would ever find in the best travel guide or website. You will be able to hear the Moroccan dialect, taste Moroccan food, wear Moroccan clothes, share in some Moroccan customs, and if you’re lucky enough, witness a Moroccan celebration.

    However, in order to ensure your experience with a Moroccan family is fully enjoyable, you need to be aware of the cultural norms and values of Moroccan society. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the lifestyle of a typical Moroccan family before you become their guest. That’s where travel guides and websites come in handy.

    2. Look for the common, not the luxurious

    Almost anything that is common in Morocco reflects traditional Moroccan culture. The souks, public baths,  cafés, middle class neighborhoods and restaurants catering to locals are all places where you can find an authentic Moroccan experience.

    While people in urban neighborhoods tend to be inclined towards a more individualistic lifestyle, life in lower class neighborhoods and rural areas still reflects the communal, collectivistic aspects of Moroccan society.

    3. Don’t be an armchair cultural observer

    The best way to have a memorable, authentic experience in Morocco and learn about its culture is to take part in it.

    Be willing to take part in some Moroccan cultural practices. If you’re lucky enough to be the guest of a Moroccan family, it is likely that you will be invited to take part in a number of cultural activities;  you may be invited to dance to Moroccan music, wear traditional Moroccan garments, or celebrate a typically Moroccan celebration.

    Research shows that the best way to internalize knowledge is to perform knowledge. By taking part in Moroccan cultural practices, you’re sure to learn a great deal about the Moroccan people, their culture and their value system. Observation is never enough.

    4. Engage in respectful and spontaneous cultural exchange

    In Morocco, you should be willing to teach people about your own culture in the same way you expect Moroccans to teach you about their culture. Hence, you should expect to be asked questions about almost anything, ranging from details about day-to-day activities in your country, to commonalities and disparities in terms of how your culture conceives of spirituality, relationships, etc.

    You, too, can ask as many questions as you want, about almost anything. Moroccans are very open to respectful cultural exchange and dialogue. You can even comfortably ask about delicate topics, such as religion and politics, as long as your questions are neutral and do not bear any value judgment or critique.

    You will be able to see that once Moroccans understand that you’re open to an cultural exchange, they will talk to you openly and spontaneously.  This spontaneity in conversation is what you should look for, as it is in spontaneity that the beauty of culture surfaces.

    5. Abandon Your Culture for a while

    Be willing to accept differences between your culture and that of Moroccans. If you ever come across some cultural practices or hear of beliefs that seem to differ from those of your culture, then know that you’re viewing Moroccan culture from the vantage point of an outsider— and you will miss a lot in doing so.

    Try for once to remove your own cultural lense, and stop looking at things from the perspective of an outsider, who is more concerned with what is different, than what is beautiful. If you’re looking for enriching, authentic Moroccan experiences, then you should be willing to turn off your cultural “firewall” and open up to the beauty and magic of Moroccan culture.

    The best way to do this is through physical and emotional mimesis. If you take part in a Moroccan cultural practice, for instance, try not to focus on the fact that you’re an outsider trying something new, but rather on the fact that you’re taking part in something that the Moroccan people value considerably. This principle applies to any new culture.

    If you desire to experience the authentic, your desire has to be authentic as well.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan


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    Algerian officer explains why he decided to seek political asylum in Morocco

    By Majid Morcelli

    San Francisco- The UN Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Moroccan Sahara for another year without a mandate to monitor human rights.

    Following the vote, Morocco and Algeria delivered their usual statements, but this time both Morocco and Algeria were delighted with the UN resolution.

    Algeria was "satisfied" with UN Security Council Resolution on Western Sahara while Morocco “welcomed” the unanimous adoption of the resolution by the Security Council on the regional dispute over the territory.

    We know that someone is not saying the truth. We have been lied to for more than 50 years. They can’t be both happy; one of them is hiding their disapproval. Let's find out.

    It appears that Morocco, believe it or not, is genuinely satisfied with this resolution for 3 different reasons:

    1.  Algeria was hoping a human rights mechanism would be included in the resolution, and it wasn’t.

    2. The UN resolution calls for a census to be conducted on the refugees in the Tindouf camp. It is no secret that Algeria will never let the census take place. We know that the Algerian military is diverting aid and a census will certainly affect the aid given to the Tindouf camp refugees.

    3. The UN has even called for the strengthening of the Arab Maghreb Union. This could lead to stability and security in the Sahel region and give a clear signal to Algeria to reopen its borders with Morocco.

    It appears that this time the Security Council is finally sending a message to Algeria that the UN should be in charge of finding a mutual and acceptable solution for this dispute.

    One may wonder why the UN is suddenly, though indirectly, putting pressure on Algeria. It may be due to the recent visit by Moroccan King Mohamed VI to the US to meet with President Barack Obama. Or it could be because of the recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Morocco.

    Moroccan officials were able to convince Secretary Kerry that they need to put pressure on Algeria to cooperate, or the problem will never be resolved. The resolution was drafted by the US with the consent of Morocco. This is why the UN is finally pointing the finger at Algeria.

    Algeria may be shying away from the blame. Take a look at the Algerian media over the past few days; either they are silent or barely mentioning the adoption of the UN resolution. One of their media outlets bluntly called it, “camouflage for the Algerian diplomacy.”

    This does not mean that Morocco should start celebrating as if the problem were solved; it still has a lot of work to do until April 2015. Most of the hiccups that Morocco deals with come from Laayoune, Smara, or Dakhla. Moroccan authorities need to win the hearts and minds of the majority in these cities. They must dismantle the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), which is viewed as the enemy of the other Sahraoui tribes. They should also spend money on creating jobs instead of lobbying. Morocco seriously needs someone who can start the reconciliation conversation with those who are siding with the Algerian regime and convince them that their future is in Morocco and not in the gates of Tindouf.

    Edited by Liz Yaslik

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Moroccan Police. (Abdehak Senna-AFP-Getty Images)

    Casablanca- Three young men were recently arrested in Al Haouz province, near Casablanca, for attempting to gang-rape two foreign women, according to daily Al Massae’s Thursday issue.

    According to the same source, the three suspects ran across the two victims while they were enjoying the landscape in a field in Al Haouz. The suspects then forced the two women to go with them to an unpopulated area where they attempted to rape them.

    The two victims then shouted for help, which drew the attention of some passersby who immediately called the local police, reports Al Massae.

    The police subsequently arrested the three suspects, who were then accused of abducting the two tourists and attempting to rape them under coercion. After police interrogation, the three suspects admitted to the charges held against them.

    According to daily Assabah, the three suspects regretted their criminal acts, which infuriated local residents.

    The two victims were apparently tourists who had come to the Al Haouz region to relish the beautiful landscape for which the area is known.

    The three suspects will now stand trial for abduction and attempted rape.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan


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    benkirane

    Rabat- Head of the Government, Abdelilah Benkirane  joined  on Thursday the Labor Day celebrations of the National Union of Labor in Morocco (UNTM), which [leans toward??] to the  ruling party PJD. UNTMs activists expressed their support for the government’s reforms, and Benkirane admitted that the achieved reforms are inadequate.

    The Labor Day celebrations in Morocco did not indicate any improvement with respect to [labor isues??] in Morocco as compared with last years celebrations. The unionist demonstrations were similar to the ones in 2013, with the same demands and chants. The only notable change was the participation of the head of the government in the UNTM mobilization in Casablanca.

    Although, the National Union of Labor in Morocco supported the governments achievements so far during its humble demonstration on Thursday in Casablanca, Benkirane admitted that the government’s efforts to help the working class so far are not enough.

    Addressing the PJD and UNTM’s thousands of activists, as well as activists of the Renewal Student Organization (OREMA) who attended the demonsatration, Abdelilah Benkirane said in his speech that “the trade unionsdemands that we have responded to so far, after the social dialogue, are not enough.” He went on, "the working class hasn't had all its rights yet.’’

    ‘’God witness that I have not spared any effort to respond to all the working class’ demands,’’ Benkirane added.

    According to Assabah, the demonstration featured the notable participation of the Justice and the Development Youth, who held up pictures of their colleague in the Renewal Student Organization, Abderrahime El Hassnaoui, who was murdered recently at the university of Dehar El Mehraz in Fes.

    Abdelilah Benkirane denounced the criticism that he had received after he attended the funeral of  Abderrahime El Hassnaoui. He explained that the travel expenses for airfare for himself and several PJD leaders were paid with their own personal money.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Moroccan Unions Lead Massive Mobilization Against Government Policies

    Rabat- Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Morocco on Thursday to maintain pressure on the head of government, Abdelilah Benkirane, despite the announcement of plans to increase the minimum wage.

    Over 50 sectoral unions representing the Morocco Labor Union (UMT) celebrated in Rabat on Thursday, International Labor Day. The mobilization witnessed the participation of ten of thousands of people under the slogan ’’United to Face the Challenges and Achieve the Just Demands of the Working Class.’’

    El-Miloudi El-Moukharik, Secretary General of the UMT, took to the platform that stood before the UMT’s headquarters on Aljaich Almalaki Avenue and welcomed the crowd who had gathered to vent their anger at the Labor Day celebrations. Members of the Democratic Federation of Labor (FDT), and the Democratic Confederation of Labor (CDT) were well-represented in the crowd.

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, the massive demonstration was also attended by significant numbers of the Progress and Socialism Party leaders, such as Hussen Elouardi, Minister of Health, Nabil Benabdellah, Minister of Planning and Urban Policy, and Mohamed Amin Sebihi, Minister of Culture, as well as Nouzha Sekalli and Khalid Nassiri.

    Addressing the enthusiastic crowds, Miloudi El-Moukharik harshly criticized the government and the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco in his speech.

    According to the same source, El-Moukharik claimed that the government implements unpopular policies, although it recently announced a minimum wage increase.

    Moukharik said that this increase does not satisfy the unions, which are still calling for higher salaries, the preservation of purchasing power, the extension of the minimum wage increase to encompass workers in the agricultural sector, the revaluation of pensions, the extension of social coverage, the revision and reactivation of the Labor Code and the protection of trade union rights.

    Concluding his speech, Moukharik stressed the need for the government to expand union rights. On behalf of the UMT and the other trade unions that attended the event, Moukharik called on the government to omit Article 288 from the penal code, which criminalizes striking. He also demanded that the government set up an Advisory Council to track the dialogue between the government and the trade unions.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan


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    Aisha El Basri, former Moroccan spokesperson for the African Union

    Casablanca- Aisha El Basri, former Moroccan spokesperson for the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), has allegedly disclosed confidential UN documents exposing the operations failings.  

    According to the magazine Jeune Afrique, El Basri allegedly stated that the UN undertook "systematic and constant maneuvers" to cover the crimes committed in Darfur in western Sudan, with the involvement of "the UNs Secretary General Office."

    She also allegedly accused the UNAMID peacekeepers of showing partiality in favor of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, rather than acting as "honest peace negotiators.

    El Basri collaborated with American Magazine Foreign Policy in its investigation of the matter by providing highly confidential UN documents. Foreign Policy described the documents as perhaps the largest single leak of internal documents on an active U.N. mission in the world body's history.

    It is fair to say that UNAMID peacekeepers largely failed to protect Darfur civilians,Foreign Policy quotes El Basri, and their presence didn't deter either the government or the rebels from attacking the civilians.

    According to Foreign Policy, El Basri accused the UNAMID peacekeepers of sometimes helplessly witness[ing] the attacks and harassment of civilians, some of which took place near UNAMID team sites."

    El Basri implied that she had been intentionallymisinformed during an incident that took place in Darfur.  She had been allegedly told that the situation was calmthere, whereas it was totally the opposite, according to Foreign Policy.

    When she raised concern over the false information she had been given, El Basri was allegedly told, "You know, sometimes we have to behave like diplomats. We can't talk about everything we see in Darfur." This answer still is shockingto her, according to Foreign Policy.

    Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Aïcha El Basri pursued her graduate studies in France beginning in 1989. She studied French literature at the universities of Grenoble and Chambéry  in south-eastern France.

    El Basri then moved to New York where she began working for the United Nations. She initially worked in the Department of News and Media.

    She was assigned her first mission in Baghdad as head of the information office of the UN in 2005. Five months later, she was appointed spokesperson for the United Nations Program for Development in Khartoum, Sudan.

    According to Jeune Afrique magazine, the main concern of 48-year-old El Basri, since her resignation in January from her position within the UN, has been to shed light on the defects of the UNAMID.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers


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    Press Trade Union Presents Annual Report on Press Freedom in Morocco

    Rabat - Moroccan press trade union (SNPM) presented its annual report on press freedom, on Friday in Rabat, at a press conference on the eve of the World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on May 3rd.

    The report surveys the press situation in Morocco, whether at the legislative level, the obstacles facing journalists while practicing their job or concerning the situation in the different public and private press institutions.

    During this conference, the SNPM president Younes Moujahid criticized the legislative measures meant to guarantee press freedom, saying that they are negative. He added that neither the press law, nor the professional journalist statutes, or the law on access to information have been promulgated yet.


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