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Morocco News meets the World

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    King Mohammed VI receiving Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani at Marrakech airport

    Marrakech- Funds from the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as foreign direct investment are steadily increasing, as well as remittances from Moroccans working in the Gulf, according to Moroccan newspaper l’Economiste.

    In 2013, revenues from the Gulf exceeded 25 billion dirhams and accounted for 15% of foreign direct investment (FDI) received by Morocco.

    In over a decade, trade between Morocco and GCC has increased in value to 29 billion dirhams. The value of Moroccan exports to the GCC reached 1.2 billion dirhams in 2013, with a deficit of 26.38 billion dirhams caused by increased oil prices.

    Moroccans working in the GCC sent home 9 billion dirhams and donations from the Gulf countries amounted to 6.3 billion dirhams last year, nearly two-thirds of the total funds received as donations by Morocco. Tourism receipts from the Gulf region stood at 3.7 billion dirhams in 2013.

    A conference in Bahrain in early September called for an Arab Marshall Plan to avoid the unrest seen in Syria and Iraq, Agence France Press (AFP) reported. Youth unemployment and despair have been targeted as significant factors in a young person’s decision to join terror organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.

    According to AFP, Ibrahim Dabdoub, deputy chairman of the International Bank of Qatar, called for a Marshall Plan (a post-World War II initiative to rebuild Germany) by rich Arab countries. Dabdoub stated that this plan would require £100 billion for development plans over the next five years.

    The GCC countries are economically strong, having earned trillions of dollars in oil sales over the last few years. It is a prudent strategy for Morocco to forge business interests and agreements with the economically powerful GCC states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    $1= MAD 8.74

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 This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Moroccan Child Born Without Face to Undergo Life-Saving Operation in Australia

    Fez - A Moroccan boy born without a face, is being saved by the intervention of a Moroccan living in Australia.

    Yahya, a little three year old boy, born near Tangier, was the main topic of an Australian TV show that was aired on Sunday.

    The child was born without eyes, nose and upper jaw because without the bones in his face, they were not able to merge whilst he was still in his mother’s womb.

    Yahya's father, Mustapha Zohra, who was desperate to find a solution for his son, consulted several surgeons who refused to operate him. Fortunately for him, the story of Yahya spread on social networks and attracted the attention of a Moroccan citizen living in Australia, Fatima Baraka.

    "I opened my Facebook one day [...] and I saw an image that really caught my attention," Baraka said to the Australian Seven TV channel. While she was fighting breast cancer, Baraka contacted parents of Yahya and pledged to find a surgeon able to restore the boy's face.

    Now, thanks to the efforts made by Fatima Baraka, Yahya will be operated by Melbourne reconstructive surgeon Tony Holmes.

    Moroccan Child Born Without Face to Undergo Life-Saving Operation in Australia

    The Australian surgeon, who met Yahya for the first time in August to assess his case, expressed his concern over the chances for the operation to succeed, adding that his case is extreme.

    "My biggest concern is whether or not he is suitable for surgery, we really do not know how he is functioning and how the brain is functioning," he said.

    "I think this one is about as difficult as it gets, on the you know, this is a 9-9.50 out of 10 degree of difficulty without any doubt I mean this is cranio-facial neurosurgery at its extreme," he added.

    Holmes told the Australian TV channel that Yahya’s necessitates many surgeries and hoped he would complete the first surgery by the end of this year.

    Thanks to the efforts made by Moroccan women and the Australian surgeon, Yahya may be able to lead a normal life and have a bright future.

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    A Moroccan Among Africa’s Top 10 Economic Leaders for Tomorrow

    New York- A Moroccan was chosen among Africa's top 10 economic leaders for tomorrow. According to a study conducted by the French Institute Choiseul, 39-year old Mehdi Tazi, CEO of Saham Assurances, ranked 7th among Africa’s top 10 economic leaders for tomorrow.

    The fisrt annual survey conducted by the French Institute “identifies and ranks the young African leaders of 40 years old and under, who will play a major role in the development of Africa in the near future.”

    In addition to Tazi, 16 other Moroccans are included in the ranking of the 100 top African economic leaders, making Morocco the second best represented African country in the survey after Kenya and Nigeria with 18 each. 58 women are among Africa’s 100 economic leaders.

    The ranking is topped by Nigeria’s Iglo Sanomi, followed by Mohammed Dewji from Tanzania and Hisham El Khazindar from Egypt.

    The list of the top 10 African leaders is as follows:

    1- Iglo Sanomi: Nigeria 2- Mohammed Dewji: Tanzania 3- Hisham El Khazindar: Egypt 4- Isabel Dos Santos: Angola 5- Tidjane Deme: Senegal 6- Nomkhita Nqweni: South Africa 7- Mehdi Tazi: Morocco 8- Marlon Chigwende: Zimbabwe 9- Ashish Thakkar: Uganda 10 Jasmine Diagou Wodié: Ivory Coast

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    Geneva  -  Morocco called, here Tuesday, for conducting a population census in Tindouf camps as "a prerequisite for sustainable solutions".

    During a high-level meeting of the Executive Committee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Morocco's Chargé d'affaires in Geneva Hassan Boukili praised the commitment of many African countries to "promote the achievement of sustainable solutions, namely voluntary repatriation or local integration".

     In his statement before the committee, the Moroccan diplomat stressed that "commitment for humanitarian assistance, protection and sustainable solutions require the identification and registration of refugees," noting that this prerequisite applies also to populations in Tindouf camps, which remain the only non-registered situation globally.

     In this regard, he noted that the international community must address the causes and obstacles behind the persistence of refugee-related crises, including the militarization of Tindouf camps and the exploitation by a neighboring state of the humanitarian tragedy of populations to serve its separatist agenda.

     The diplomat also expressed Morocco's deep concern over the high number of refugees and internally-displaced persons in Africa, especially those in protracted situations.

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    Paris- Morocco participated Tuesday in Paris at the 4th High Level Meeting on Mali, which is a follow-up to the international donor conference 'Together for a new Mali'.

    During this meeting, Morocco's Ambassador to France Chakib Benmoussa underlined the importance of continued international commitment to support Mali.

    He also reiterated Morocco's commitment to the unity, territorial integrity and development of this country and to the stability of Sahel countries. Benmoussa seized this opportunity to highlight the interest of HM King Mohammed VI in the development of Africa through a comprehensive, integrated and inclusive approach combining strengthening peace and security in Africa, promoting sustainable human development and preserving cultural and ritual identity.

     Hailing the excellent political and economic cooperation between Morocco and Mali, he said that the kingdom supports Mali in its efforts to protect the spiritual integrity of its people and safeguard the humanistic values of tolerant and open Islam.

     In this regard, the diplomat underlined the importance of the cooperation program implemented by Morocco to train more than 500 imams and rehabilitate Mali's mosques.

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     Washington DC--Algerians, along with political analysts following events in North Africa, are confused about President Bouteflika’s latest Cabinet appointments and the apparent in-cohesiveness within his government.

    After the spectacular dismissal of his close aid and confident Abdelaziz Belkhadem, the Algerian leader appointed a once disgraced intelligence chief as a special adviser on Defense. The arrival of General Bachir Tartag to El-Mouradia Palace raises serious questions about the state of mind of the Algerian leader and re-enforces the image of an Algeria run by shadowy figures and aging military Generals out of touch with current geopolitical realities.

    Although Algerians are accustomed to seeing the same faces and names reshuffled into different positions, the appointment of General Tartag came as a shock and an alarm. The public, which has not digested yet the disgraceful firing of Belkhadem, views Tartag “re-hiring” as another “irrational” decision by the Bouteflika clan and an indication of intelligence chief General Toufik’s all-powerful intelligence agency (DRS) dominance over state affairs.

    General Tartag is a close aide to General Mohamed Mediene (AKA Toufik) and was the number two at the DRS. Algerian activists and international observers believe that the decision to land Tartag at the heart of the presidential palace as a masterstroke engineered by Toufik and his DRS officers.

    The announcement that a former security chief, who has been accused of gross human rights abuses during the country’s civil war, is the next Presidential adviser on Defense feeds to the growing doubts about the ability of Bouteflika to run the country.  If the President never adequately reassured the Algerians that he can run the country, General Toufik has made it plainly clear that he is the boss-in-charge of Algeria. 

    Algerians were initially surprised to see Tartag forced to retire in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attack of In Amenas oil facility in early 2013. Security experts held the General and his agency, the Directorate of Interior Security (DSI), responsible for the intelligence failure to stop bloody assault in the Algerian Sahara. Once a pillar of the regime, Tartag was publicly chastened for past security lapses.

    For these reasons, the revival of this General amounts to the designation of the DRS as the de-facto organism running Algeria. For observers who started to doubt General Toufik’s supremacy in Algeria, Bouteflika “choice” for the sensitive Defense Minister  is a clear sign that the DRS is the only game in Algiers.

    The insecurity in Libya, the birth of new terror cells in the Algerian mountains and the political crisis in Tunisia brought to the open the true picture of DRS’s overreach and the political impotence of the ailing Bouteflika.

    Furthermore, the return of the DSI to the hub of power indicates that the recent and much publicized discord between the Bouteflika clan and the DRS never occurred. The debate over a supposed feud between Bouteflika’s brother Said and General Toufik was nothing but a circus show to keep the Algerian public speculating and anxious about the future of the nation.

    Intriguingly enough, the recent abduction and beheading of a French national at the hand of the Algerian branch of the so-called Islamic State came just as Tartag took over his new position.

    Since his extraordinary re-election to a fourth term, the Algerian President seems to lack a long term economic strategy. The political chaos and security nightmare in Libya and Tunisia are adding to the Algerian government paranoia and fear of terrorist attacks and political turmoil; thus making security a top priority, while economic reforms stall. The DRS uses every opportunity to remind the Algerians that the military intelligence agencies are the sole guarantor of stability and peace in the country.

    However, there is a growing view that the Algerian government is leading without a map or a plan. With the unchecked political and economic influence of the DRS, Algeria has been unable to implement true reforms failing to attract foreign investments or draw plans to spend its rich oil revenues.

    Lack of social unrest and political opposition on the face of rampant corruption underscores just how frightened the Algerians are of political change. The arrival of Tartag on the scene will only add to the agony of a suffering Algerian public and keep the status-quo intact.

    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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    Children of Azilal Morocco

    Marrakech- A new report released by the Committee of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child notes that many Moroccan children are deprived of a family environment.

    In particular, the committee is concerned that article 490 of the Moroccan Criminal Code punishes sexual relations outside marriage, resulting in dozens of babies being abandoned every day in the country.

    The committee also expressed deep concern at the stigmatization and social rejection of single mothers in Morocco, of whom one third are adolescents. It also expressed concern over the serious consequences of this social rejection for their children, many of whom do not have identification documents or birth certificates, resulting in them having no legal existence.

    The Committee’s report urged the Moroccan government to repeal article 490 and to provide unmarried mothers with support to enable them to take care of their children. It also called on the government to protect the rights of pregnant teenagers, adolescent mothers, and their children.

    Moroccan Act 14-05, concerning the opening and administration of social welfare institutions, is noted as positive, but the law has not been effectively implemented.

    The UN Committee notes that the number of children deprived of a family environment is growing, as the number of institutions has grown since 2005. It notes that two thirds of children are placed in institutions solely on the basis of poverty. Financial resources given to social protection establishments do not cover the needs of beneficiaries. Two thirds of abandoned children are in the care of such associations. They are frequently moved to different associations because children are grouped together by age.

    Untrained staff and a lack of monitoring leave children vulnerable to violence and abuse. Children are often separated from their siblings, and many live in precarious situations in hospitals, the report adds, the UN reports says It stresses that alternatives to institutions (such as kinship care, foster care, and the strengthening of families) can prevent committing children to such institutions.

    On adoption, the Committee notes that the legal status of children in Kafalah remains precarious, adding that the law does not provide for the psychological evaluation of applicants before granting it.

    It also does not give priority to the extended family and does not contain a follow-up after placement in Kafalah. It also highlights instances when girls were exploited and used in domestic labor.

    The Committee expressed its concern regarding Circular 40S/2 which, it says, contradicts the best interests of the child by prohibiting a non-resident from adopting a Moroccan child. In this regard, it recommends that the Moroccan government amend its legislation to bring the Kafalah system into compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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

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    Germany Praises Morocco's 'Balanced' Foreign, Security Policy

    Rabat - The director of the disarmament policy at the German Foreign Ministry, Christoph Eichhorn, praised, in Rabat Wednesday, Morocco's "moderate", "balanced" and "reasonable" foreign and security policy.

    "We are very encouraged by the moderate, balanced and reasonable foreign and security policy in Morocco," the German official told MAP on the sidelines of a conference on the theme "preventive security policy - German perspective, held by the EGE Rabat School of Governance and Economics.

    "I congratulate Morocco for this policy," he said, noting that the Kingdom "has always been a country of reason and moderation."

    In this regard, the German official stressed that Morocco is needed as a "very important voice in today's world, a world of turmoil".

    Regarding the Moroccan-German cooperation in the field of preventive security, Eichhorn recalled the launch, earlier in the morning, of a partnership program between Morocco and Germany in health and biosecurity by signing a declaration of partnership to reinforce national capacities in the prevention, epidemiological surveillance and detection of health risks of biological origin.

    The official noted that this program is part of the 2013 Rabat Declaration, which covers a wide range of political, economic and social issues upon which Rabat and Berlin are working together as part of a win-win partnership.

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    King Mohammed VI addressing the United Nations

    New York- The Moroccan people and international observers were somehow taken aback by the tone of King Mohammed VI’s speech at the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which was read out by Abdelilah Benkirane, head of the Moroccan government.

    The speech was unprecedented in its denunciation of the deleterious effect of colonialism on developing countries, especially in Africa whose riches were squandered and exploited for several decades, but for also sowing the seeds of division, strife and discord between neighboring countries.

    In addition to criticizing the ready-made solutions prescribed by the West for addressing the many social and economic problem facing developing countries, which in many cases have failed to deliver their desired results, King Mohammed VI pointed out that the divisions caused by colonialism among neighboring countries are among the main hindrances towards the achievement of sustainable development in the African continent or in a country such as Morocco.

    He also slammed Western countries' lip service paid to the suffering of African countries and their tendency to impose on them harsh conditions in order to obtain financial aid, while pointing out the West’s disregard of the path chosen by developing countries to achieve democracy.

    Many considered the speech as an attempt by the King to project an image of himself as a champion for Africa, especially considering that the speech comes after the efforts he has been making in recent years to give Morocco its due place in African politics, through his repeated official visits to some African countries and his personal involvement in the Malian crisis.

    It is clear that, through his speech, the Moroccan king sought to play a leadership role in Africa, which is consistent with the traditional role Morocco has played throughout history in the continent both at the economic level, being a centerpiece in the caravan routes between Africa and the rest of the world, or at the religious level, since Morocco played a pivotal role in the spread of Islam in several countries. At the political level, Morocco was among the founding fathers of the African Union, formerly known as the Organization of the African Unity, which it left in 1984.

    Aftermaths of Colonialism on Morocco’s Development

    That being said, one of the key messages included in this speech is that Western countries cannot be true to the principles they preach to countries such as Morocco if they do not acknowledge and take responsibility for their colonial past and admit that the territorial and ethnical divisions caused by colonial powers are the main obstacles to the achievement of development, stability and security in these countries.

    In the case of Morocco for instance (and this was in my opinion a key message in the King’s speech), sustainable development and security cannot be achieved in a country while it is still suffering from the pernicious consequences of colonialism.

    Being one of the few countries whose territorial integrity was torn apart during the colonial period, Morocco is still suffering the aftereffects of colonialism. The situation of the ‘Western Sahara’ is a case in point. This conflict does not only limit the ability of Morocco to play a major diplomatic role at the regional and international levels, but it also constitutes one of the main hindrances towards its achievement of sustainable development, economic growth, job creation and prosperity.

    For several reasons, this conflict, which has been stagnant for almost four decades, has had a deleterious effect on the development of the Moroccan economy. For the past 40 years, the Moroccan government has had to battle on many diplomatic fronts in order to defend its sovereignty over the ‘Western Sahara.’ These efforts involve not only the expenses Morocco pays to cover the participation of its diplomatic personnel on different fora that deal with this issue, but also lobbying firms and public relations companies in several key Western countries in order to gain the support of their governments and elected officials, and to counterbalance the propaganda spread by the Polisario and Algeria.

    If we assume that in the past 40 years, Morocco spent as little as $10 million dollars every year to cover these expenses, this would amount to $400 million. But far more importantly, the ‘Western Sahara’ conflict cost Morocco a long war against the Polisario from 1976 until 1991. In addition to the security situation in the region and the instability caused by the threat posed by the Polisario front, Morocco has been forced to install the bulk of its army in the territory.

    Arms Race Between Algeria and Morocco

    As a result, an arms race ensued between Morocco and Algeria. A report issued last March by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed that Algeria and Morocco are Africa’s top arms importers. The report added that Algeria and Morocco import respectively 36% and 22% of African imports, with Russia and France being respectively Algeria’s and Morocco's main arms suppliers.

    This arms race has been a strain on both countries' economies, and in the case of Morocco, has forced the government to sacrifice some more vital and job-generating sectors in order to keep up with Algeria’s arms purchases. The money that could be invested in education, in improving the country’s infrastructure, in building hospitals and factories, goes to buying weapons that, most likely, will not be used.

    The main beneficiaries of this arms race are Western countries, in addition to Russia and China, whose arms industries thrive on the back of developing countries such as Morocco. While these arms purchases boost job creation and exports in exporter countries, it deepens the trade deficit of importer countries and deprives them of the needed financial resources to lay the foundations for job creation and sound economic development.

    Because of the arms race between Morocco and Algeria, Morocco's military absorbs about 10% of the government’s budget. The Ministry of Defense is often among the three top Ministries in terms of overall budget appropriations, along with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Interior. For instance, in 2013 the budget allocated to the military represented 12% of the government’s total budget. One can imagine the number of schools, hospitals or factories that could have been built in Morocco with the resulting effect on job creation and the absorption of unemployment.

    In general, the reintegration of Western Sahara under Morocco’s de facto sovereignty since 1975 has sucked untold funds from Morocco's economy. If we assume it has been spending an extra $2 billion per year to buy more weapons and to secure the territory against the Polisario threat, this amounts to $78 billion, more than 5 times Morocco’s external public debt, which stands at about $14 billion.

    One can argue that this amount of money would have been sufficient to help the country pay out all its external debt and invest the remaining cash in structural and development projects, with the positive impact that these investments could have on employment, stability and social peace.

    In this scenario, Morocco would not have been forced to borrow money from international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and, thus, would have avoided the burdensome conditions imposed by these institutions, which have had a negative effect on the country’s economy and social stability.

    The impact of the No-Maghreb on Economic Development

    Furthermore, the lingering conflict over the ‘Western Sahara’ constitutes the major impediment to the realization of the Maghreb Arab Union, which was established in Marrakech in 1989 but never materialized into a real union.

    While others parts of the world witnessed the establishment of regional blocks, such as in Southeast Asia with the ASEAN, and South America with the MERCOSUR, the Maghreb is one of the few regions whose economies are still not integrated. All the ingredients for a successful Maghreb Union are present, from a shared history, language and religion between the people of the region to the complementarity of their economies. In addition, the countries of the region share the same challenges, which consist of a growing population and high rates of unemployment among the youth.

    Not only there is no economic integration between the economies of the five countries of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania), but the borders between its two major players, Morocco and Algeria, have been closed since 1994.

    According to a number of reports published in recent years about the cost of the “No-Maghreb,” the absence of a real and functioning Maghreb Union costs the countries of the region between 2 and 5 per cent of GDP per year. According to the World Bank, the economic integration between the Maghreb countries could result in an increase in GDP between 2005-2015 of 34% for Algeria, 27% for Morocco and 24% for Tunisia.

    Another report published by the World Bank in 2012, showed that trade among the countries of the European Union reached 63.6% of the region’s total trade, and among the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade reached 24% of that region's total trade, but in the case of the Maghreb, that rate did not exceed 3%.

    The existence of a real Maghreb Union would create a strong block of 90 million people, reinforce political stability in the region and the economic competitiveness of its countries. This would turn the region into an attractive destination for foreign and domestic investors and help the five countries of the Maghreb cope with challenge of unemployment.

    But while the peoples of the region yearn for seeing one day the dream of the Great Maghreb materialize, this goal remains unattainable as long as the question of the ‘Western Sahara’ has not been settled. This goal, along with the goal of sustainable development in the region, remain wishful thinking as long as the international community is not serious about finding a political settlement to this territorial dispute, that would respect the interest of both Morocco and the Saharawi population.

    It is time the international community admitted that sustainable development cannot be achieved while some developing countries such as Morocco are still struggling to preserve their territorial integrity, suffering from the aftermaths of colonialism and devoting a huge chunk of their budget to secure this goal.

    As the United Nations is making sustainable development its main goal for the nearly two decades to come, there is a need to identify the real impediments that prevent some countries from achieving this goal. And one of these impediments are the aftermaths of colonialism, which left many unresolved territorial disputes, such as ‘Western Sahara.’

    Sustainable development and economic growth will certainly not be achieved by means of the credit provided by financial institutions, but through allocating budget resources of these countries to job-generating sectors, which can contribute to economic growth.

    It is time the United Nations turned from a machine that churns out countless ineffective resolutions that ultimately have little effect, if any, on the ground, to an effective organization that provides innovative solutions that take into account the changing realities of the 21st century. The international community cannot keep trying to find solutions to 21st century conflicts with ready-made recipes that were conceived in the mid-20th century. The world and mentalities of the 21st century have changed, and the United Nations has to adapt to this reality.

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

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    Tom Hanks in Morocco

    Rabat- The film industry in Morocco has, thus far, generated $100 million this year, four times more than the first nine months of 2013.

    According to figures from the Moroccan Cinema Centre, investments in foreign films increased by 420% in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

    "Right now, with the present global situation, providing security is very important and Morocco is aware of it," said Abderrazak Zitouni, head of Ouarzazate Film Commission.

    Highly acclaimed by Hollywood producers, Morocco is one of the most popular filming destinations and home to many successful international films. The most recent movie filmed in Morocco is the American film “Son of God,” produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, released in February 2014.

    In addition to the professional cinema centers like Oscar in Ouarzazate, Morocco started offering public scenes such as neighborhoods and highways for filming.

    Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and his crew are in Morocco to shoot scenes of the fifth installment of the “Mission Impossible” series.

    The filming of some scenes of “Mission Impossible 5” took place in the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, and the highway bypass section of Marrakech-Agadir.

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    Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi

    Rabat- In a scenario similar to that of Barcelona’s strikers Mounir Haddadi, it seems that Morocco is on its way to lose another great player.

    According to German newspaper, DW, Morocco-German player Karim Ballarabi was called up by German coach Joachim Low, to play with Mannschaft in its two upcoming matches against Poland and Ireland on 11 and 14 October.

    "Karim Bellarabi has earned his chance at his club with some excellent performances," Joachim Löw was quoted by DW as saying. "He is incredibly strong in one-on-one situations and is an excellent alternative in our campaign," he added.

    During a meeting with Moroccan coach Bado Zaki, Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi, who was born to a German mother and a Moroccan father, agreed to defend the colors of the national team.

    Following that meeting, Zaki included Bellarabi in the list of players called up for the friendly matches the Atlas Lions are expected to play in October against Kenya and the Republic of Central Africa. But the players hesitated to confirm his decision to play for Morocco and asked the Moroccan coach to give him some time in order to make a final decision.

    But with the German coach decision to call up Bellarabi for its upcoming matches, the striker is put in the same delicate situation as Mounir Haddadi last month when he was called up by the Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque to play with the Spanish team.

    In the likely scenario Bellarabi decides to play for Germany, it will be the second great player Morocco loses in less than a month.

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

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    morocco hassan

    Taroudant, Morocco - Morocco comes on the top of the Africa’s most visited countries last year, according to the rankings announced this week by the World Tourism Organization.

    With 55.7 million international tourists’ arrivals to Africa in the past year, Morocco comes in the first rankamong the top five African countries that received most of  tourists followed by South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria and Mozambique.

    With about 10million tourist arrivals in 2013 -an increase of 6% compared to 2012-  Morocco, is determined to achieve the "Vision 2020" strategy which aimed to double the number of tourists.

    South Africa comes second with 9.5 million tourist arrivals last year. Tunisia, Algeria and Mozambique received 6.2 million, 2.7 million and 2.1 million respectively.

    The tourism sector in the kingdom has generated 174 billion dirhams of foreign exchange earnings and a turnover of over 310 billion dirhams, according to Lahcen Haddad, the Moroccan Minister of Tourism.

    At the opening of the 11th Tourism Conference last week in Rabat, the minister said “the government confirms its commitment to making the tourism industry a real development lever and a source for wealth and employment for the benefit of youth.”

    During the regional gala of the World Travel Awards held on August in Athens, Lahcen Hadad, said  that, with its political stability, its rich history and the unique diversity of its landscapes,  Morocco is determined to join the club of the world’s top 20 tourism destinations by 2020.

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

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    Royal Air Maroc

    New York: Thami Drissi, a Moroccan engineer, pleaded guilty for sexually abusing an American woman while traveling on a Casablanca-New York flight last August.

    According to the New York based Daily News, the defendant admitted before Brooklyn Federal Court that he had sexual contact with the victim without her consent. He faces up to one year in jail and registration as sex offender.

    The 45-year old was arrested last August in New York JFK airport for sexually abusing an American woman.

    The victim of sexual abuse claimed that the man had placed his hands under her blouse on her breast and attempted to place his hands inside the front of her pants, according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

    The engineer initially denied the accusation and said that he touched the woman only to move her head when she nodded off on his shoulder.

    He is married and father of two children.

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    Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi

     Berlin - Moroccan Karim Belarabi, who has been called up by Germany's manager Joachim Löw, has chosen to play for Germany.

    The 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen striker was born in Berlin to a Moroccan mother and he played for the under-20 German national team.

    Belarabi returned to Leverkusen at the start of the 2014–15 season. On 23 August 2014, he scored the fastest goal in Bundesliga history, just in 9 seconds, on the opening match of the 2014–15 season before Borussia Dortmund to lead the way to a 0–2 win.

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    Romain Nadal

    Marrakech- The Moroccan tourism sector lost between 50 and 60% in one week due to cancellations from the French market, according to a report in L’Economiste. The reason: "the terrorist threat of the Islamic State and the confusion it has caused among European tourists," as well as "instructions for vigilance expressed by the French authorities and Foreign Ministry."

    Thursday, the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Romain Nadal, responded to criticism from the Moroccan tourism sector, the site reported. Nadal stressed that the call for "enhanced vigilance" was only for a small part of Morocco. This is an understandable reaction to the beheading of the French tourist Herve Gourdel in Algeria. Numerous French hostages were taken in Mali and elsewhere in the Sahel during France’s military action to restore order and democracy in the region.

    Both the French and British governments have urged their citizens to exercise caution and vigilance, avoiding crowds and demonstrations in public places. The French Foreign Ministry spokesman clarified that the advice to French nationals was in regards to the southern border area between Algeria and Morocco.

    The area of Kabilye in Algeria, where Herve Gourdel was captured and killed is a known haven for terrorist groups and kidnappers. Algeria has been unable to fully eradicate armed terrorist bands in its country, including elements of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

    The group Jund al-Khilafa, which has declared support for ISIS, carried out the killing of Herve Gourdel, saying that their deadline for a response from the French government had expired.

    Morocco does not have an armed terrorist problem like Algeria or Tunisia, and has kept a close watch on Jihadist groups, making frequent arrests. The last terrorist incident in Morocco was in Marrakech in 2011, when a bomb in the Argana Café killed 17 people, including 8 French nationals.

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    Marrakech- According to the international research company Mercers, Morocco has the highest of day off in the Arab World and Africa, and ranks fifth worldwide.

    While Morocco allocates 14 public holidays to its public servers and those working in the private sector, other Arab countries are less generous. The less generous country in terms of public holidays is the United Arab Emirates with only 9 days off.

    While India and Colombia hold the distinction for having the highest number of most national holidays with 18 days, Mexico has the world’s lowest number of public holidays.

    France ranks eighth globally for national holidays. Although France is renowned for its social program and supporting the rights of its workers, it ranks only in the medium range for national holidays. With 11 days off in 2014, it ranks with countries like Croatia, Sweden, China, New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, and Italy, according to Les Echoes.

    In Europe, Finland has the most public holidays, with 15 days off, followed by Spain with 14. Hungary, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands have 8 official holidays per year. ..

    In North America, Canada offers its workers the highest number of public holidays at 11, although this varies by province. The Government of the United States provides 10 federal holidays, but private employers are not obligated to allow days off for their employees.

    In Asia, Vietnam offers the fewest public holidays with 10, after China and Singapore, who have 11 each.

    Some countries decide to cut their holidays to attract investors by giving the image of a working population that is capable of productive work. "Portugal, for example, took the drastic step of suspending 4 of the 14 public holidays in order to increase productivity and to send a message to potential investors,” an expert from Mercers noted.

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    By Majid Morceli

    San Francisco- Algerians pride themselves as having a “Nif” or pride and there was time when this self worth was rightfully warranted.

    Algerian revolutionaries fought France from 1954 to 1962 and were able to gain Algeria’s independence  although it was regarded as an integral part of France. This was surely a monumental achievement to be proud of. But that was then, what about now? Has the current regime left anything to Algerians to be proud of?

    As a non Algerian, I see that since the independence, the people of Algeria have been ruled with an iron fist by a ruthless military, clan which would stop at nothing to cement its hold on power; a regime that squanders the country’s natural resources on purchasing weapons to intimidate their neighbors and at the same time fills its own pockets.

    I also see that a wheelchair-ridden president has been “elected” for an unprecedented fourth term, and who supposedly won the elections with 81.53% of the vote. I have no doubt that if any proud Algerian takes a moment and think about this magical number, the sense of pride will quickly dissipate.

    The Algerian regime is so adamant about finding a solution for the crisis in Mali by almost forcing the Malian stakeholders to stay in Algeria until they come up with a way out of their crisis, but would do everything in its power to keep the 'Western Sahara' in crisis. Is erecting obstacles to a close neighbor with whom they share common religion, borders, traditions and struggle generate a sense of pride in the Algerian people?  I like to think that this ill doing toward Morocco generates disgust and repulse.

    Algerian diplomats are so pumped up these past few days that they have offered to host inter- Libyans peace talks. Anyone unaware of how the show is run behind closed doors in Algeria, would think that this is a commendable gesture on the part of the Algerian regime. But how come this same regime has never had the audacity to extend this “ good deed” to the neighbor that it shares the most with? After all, Algerians like to remind us that they never laid any claim on the 'Western Sahara', and they repeatedly maintained that the conflict is in the hands of the UN.

    If that is the case, why is the Algerian minister of foreign affairs has recently declared at the UN that "Algeria, whose undeniable support to Western Sahara people's self-determination is well established, encourages the UN secretary general and his personal envoy, Christopher Ross, to intensify their efforts to restore peace in the region “?

    Proud Algerians who value the commonalities between Morocco and Algeria will never support some rebel group created, financed, and maintained by a clan which kidnapped the Algerian revolution and made it its own?  As a matter of fact, the majority of Algerians don’t have a clue why Bouteflika’s regime is getting involved in Moroccans Internal issues.

     Where has Bouteflika disappeared lately?

    Ordinarily when something gruesome takes place such as the beheading of the French citizen in Algeria, the normal thing to do is for the president to pick up the phone and calls his friend the president of France. Apparently that was not the case, because he is nowhere to be found. Instead there are news floating out there that he’s being treated yet again for his medical issues  in Switzerland? Why not France?  Some say that he is  now a persona non grata in France due to the fact that he was not able to save the French victim who was killed by those he set free by his Amnesty for all terrorists.

    Haven’t we just heard that Bouteflika's wisdom helped exterminate terrorism and that Algeria is now a model to follow in combating terrorism? It was more like a revolving door, terrorists went unpunished and were given amnesty, and the families of the hundred of thousands of victims are too weak and too helpless to object this decision taken by this regime, which sets terrorists free. 

    Where is the wisdom in giving a terrorist a free pass? 

    How can anyone in Algeria be proud with what his or her leaders are doing? The appointment of General Tartag, who has blood in hands, is something to be ashamed of. It shows clearly that Algeria’s rulers will continue to rely on those who are part of the system. Sadly there is no room for a new blood within the secretive El Mouradia walls.

    “Nif” belongs to those who gave up their life to free Algeria from colonization, and those who believe that united we should stand. The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to European Union (EU), which "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe". The people of the Maghreb have seen no peace nor reconciliation, which hinders any progress toward democracy.

    There will come a day when the people of Algeria will be fed up of their corrupt leaders, and will hopefully rise up and peacefully take their “Nif” back. Who knows? Perhaps the Maghreb too will get the Nobel price for ending the paternalism imposed on us by a vindictive regime.

    Let just hope that day will come soon. The people of the Maghreb cannot wait any longer. They have witnessed Morocco extending the olive branch time and again to their close neighbor, but so far Algeria under Bouteflika, the military, and the DRS is very adamant about not taking it. They consider that any peace with Morocco will only serve the Moroccans. Let us hope that better days are in sight After Bouteflika, even though the future looks bleak and his brother Said Bouteflika is the one calling the shots at this time. 

    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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    King Mohammed VI During Friday Prayer in a Mosque

    Rabat -  King Mohammed VI has granted his pardon to 216 convicts to mark Eid Al Adha, the ministry of justice and freedoms said Saturday.

    The detained beneficiaries of the pardon are:

    - 96 prisoners had their prison terms reduced.

    - Three inmates' life sentences commuted to limited prison terms.

    The beneficiaries of the pardon are 117:

     - 30 prisoners benefited from pardon over their imprisonment term or remaining prison term.

     - 17 had their prison sentences dropped and fines maintained.

     - One inmate benefited from pardon over his prison term and fine

     - 69 inmates had their fines annulled.

     Pardon is granted to a number of prisoners by the Sovereign on the occasion of religious and major national celebrations, notably at Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (lamb sacrifice).

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    Marrakech’s Djemma El-Fna, third most beautiful square in the world

    Fez - Marrakech is one of the four so-called “imperial cities” (the others are Fez, Meknes and Rabat).

    This imperial city was founded in 1070 by the Almouravid Sultan, Abu Bakr Ibn Omar, who noticed that Aghmat –his capital- had become overcrowded. For that reason he decided to build a new capital for his dynasty in a plain away from the mountains and away from two tribes which were vying to have the honor of hosting the new capital.

    The name Marrakech may be derived from Berber words: Mur (n) akuch, which means Land of God. There is another reading to this nomination; this reading said it is derived from two words one is Arabic and the other French: Mur+Gauche: (Mur) is an Arabic word which means (To Pass) + (gauche) a French word which means (left). This latter reading based its credibility on the fact that Abu Bakr Ibn Omar, when he decided to found his new capital, sought the help of a French person to locate the ideal setting. When they came to the Atlas Mountains, he told the Sultan that they should (mur) = (pass) on the (gauche) = (left) of the Mountains.

    Marrakech experienced its greatest period under the leadership of Youssef Ibn Tachafin and Yakoub El-Mansour, the second and the third sultans of the Almouhad dynasty. It became the most important major trade center of North Africa and sub-saharan regions; as a result of this, Morocco as a whole was called Marrakech.

    Modern Marrakech, known as the red city or Pearl of the South, is a city of great fascination. It bewitches visitors from all over the world with its contrasting colors as well as its remarkable monuments and immense gardens- Ochre sand stone of its red-buildings, the green of its countless palm trees and other flourishing plants and the white of the snow-copped Atlas Mountains. Also, fascination for Marrakech comes from the existence of Berbers, Arabs and Jews within the same millieu. All of them mingle here, nomads and mountain folk and a wealth of products and handicrafts is an enticement here for everyone to come to this imperial city.

    Indeed, Marrakech is a pearl of the South; it needs to be discovered. A flux of foreigners come either to live indefinitely in Marrakech (according to the Ministry of Tourism more than 15,000 foreigners of different nationalities have settled in Marrakech) or to visit it .

    Those who want to discover Marrakech can benefit from tourist traps that are congregated inside a rather small zone. You can start your trip from the world famous square of Jmaa l-Fna with its crowds of musicians, acrobats and story- tellers, and with its open-air restaurants, where you can taste different and inexpensive Moroccan dishes.

    After savoring your meal, you can visit unusual and picturesque Souks of Marrakech. There, ordinary objects become extraordinary. When you are in souks, you will fall in love with a kettle with a strange handle or a curved knife or a traditional babouche or a musical instrument. Surely, you will not be able to resist the temptation.

    When you are within the old medina folds do not forget to visit historical mosques that exist like Mansour mosque, Ben Youseff mosque and medrassa…and especially the Koutoubia mosque, a mosque that was built during the 11th century under the Almouravid dynasty. It’s a minaret (70m), which is visible from particularly anywhere in Marrakech, design by a Muslim architect from Spain. It is an example of Arab-Andalusian architecture. What is strange with this historical mosque is that it was built by stones and musks, which one can smell until nowadays.

    Further, if you feel tired, the minaret garden is where to take relax and enjoy yourself by cool, typical and extremely pleasant scenes rarely to be found somewhere else. Ramparets, gates, all, riads, tombs…and medrassas are in abundance in the city; they are the chandeliers of Marrakech. Once you come, you come to visit this pearl. Do not hesitate to pay a visit to them bringing with you your camera to commemorate the occasion when you turn back to your home land.

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

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    connor cruise

    Taroudant, Morocco - Tom Cruise is reportedly furious at his son Connor Cruise for leaving the Scientology Church and embarking in a spiritual journey in the Moroccan desert.

    Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise, who is in Morocco to shoot scenes of the fifth installment of “Mission Impossible 5,” is also angry at Nicole Kidman, his ex-wife, “for convincing their child to make his decision,” according to the Inquisitr.

    According to the October 13th edition of OK! Magazine, “Nicole reportedly encouraged Connor Cruise to leave the church and question his faith.”

    “Connor went on a spiritual trip to Morocco and started examining the principles of Scientology,” the magazine said.

    The same source added that Nicole Kidman, who was always wary of the Scientology Church, strongly supported her son’s mission to Morocco to “find himself” and “planted seeds of doubt” in his mind.

    In September the Inquisitr had reported that Connor Cruise, who is the adoptive son of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, was exploring other “spiritual paths, currently looking into Islam in Morocco.”

    Although Cruise never officially announced he was leaving Scientology, the religion of his father, he posted images of himself having “Epic time riding camels in the desert!” and “a lot of fun!”

    Three weeks ago, Connor Cruise posted on hi instagram a selfie with two of his friends, with the statement: In the mountains of Morocco @jonoislife @liam_darmody.


    In the mountains of morocco @jonoislife @liam_darmody

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