Saturday, April 24, 2010

Morocco in the News: April 17th - 24th

Zid Zid Kids Builds Bridges Between Morocco and America.Moulay Essakalli combines business ethics and social values for success. 19 April 2010This article is part of a series on delegates to the April 26-27 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.By M. Scott Bortot  Staff WriterWashington “We are trying to show aspects of Morocco in our work while also integrating our Western and American sense of design,” Zid Zid Kids co-founder Moulay Essakalli told about his company.
Zid Zid Kids exemplifies the kind of entrepreneurial dynamism created when culture, social awareness and business are combined. Not only does the award-winning, Marrakech-based company produce environmentally conscious children’s goods, it helps to empower young Moroccans.
Essakalli and his wife, Zid Zid Kids co-founder Julie Klear, use their artistic talents to make Moroccan-inspired children’s products that include shoes, belts, masks, handbags, tables, pillows and ottomans.
“We basically looked at what we can do that is true to us while building bridges in constructive ways between Morocco and the United States, as well as with the rest of the world,” Essakalli said.
The Obama administration has invited Essakalli to the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington April 2627 to offer an example of how doing business and supporting the community can be complementary.
Zid Zid Kids products use recycled materials, and Essakalli said they are safe for children and the environment and make good business sense.
“It is a lot less expensive to go green, or at least work within certain values that support the environment at both the micro and macro levels,” Essakalli said. For example, he said, recycled boxes for shipping and recycled cotton are cheaper than their new alternatives.
A portion of Zid Zid Kid’s profits go to Education for All, an organization that builds dorms for Moroccan girls in rural areas so they can access education. The company also helps support the Darna Center, an organization that shelters and educates young men and women from the street.
Essakalli said his community consciousness stems from a combination of his religious upbringing and his time working for fundraising organizations in the United States.
“I effectively was brought up in a Muslim country, and doing charity is one of the Five Pillars of the religion,” Essakalli said. “On the other hand, I learned a great deal in America about supporting not-for-profit organizations.
“When you put the two together, it makes all the sense in the world to want to give back and be involved with your community,” he said.
A high-end graphic designer who held jobs at Harvard University and at WGBH Public Broadcasting in Boston, Essakalli was fully integrated into American life. After he and Klear began a family, however, they felt something was missing.
“I would go back to Morocco every year or two and just manage the best way I could, and it wasn’t too much of an issue,” Essakalli said about his longing for home. “But after we got married and had our first baby, the Moroccan dimension became extremely present in our lives, and so we decided to integrate it professionally.”
They planned at first to run their business from the United States, but decided it would be best to build it from Morocco. Supported by a small office staff, Essakalli and Klear create designs that are then incorporated into products made by up to 100 craftspeople in Marrakech.
The decision to build Zid Zid Kids in Morocco involved some challenges. “The biggest problem that we face here has been access to financing,” Essakalli said. “The financing resources here are very conservative.”
Trading at the international level presents another set of hurdles.Essakalli said the cost of shipping a 20-foot container from Morocco to New York is higher than from China to New York. And recent changes in trade agreements between Morocco and the United States, his biggest market, led to higher export duties on his goods.
“This weighs on our bottom line, but at the same time I think we benefit from the fact our clientele is supportive of the type of products that we do,” Essakalli said. The products “have authenticity, and stand behind values of ethical business, respect to the environment and the ecology.”
Like many business leaders who will be attending the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, Essakalli said he is looking forward to the opportunity to make contacts and participate in events. On another level, he is excited about President Obama’s approach to opening dialogue with Muslims worldwide.
“I am very happy to support President Obama’s initiative to start working on enhancing the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world,” Essakalli said. “To the extent that I can be an actor in supporting this initiative, it would be an honor.”
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
AFD loans Morocco € 38 mln to fund development projects.Paris - The French Development Agency (AFD) gave Morocco two loans for a total sum of 37 million Euros in addition to a one million-euro grant to finance drinking water projects in the eastern city of Oujda and to upgrade the fisheries sector.
The first loan, worth 10 million Euros was granted to the regional water and electricity authority in the city of Oujda to upgrade the drinking water network in the city, said a statement by the agency.

The AFD granted a 28 million- loan Euros (including a loan of 27 million Euros and a grant of one million) to the National Office of Fisheries (ONP) to carry out upgrading projects of its infrastructure and equipment.
Morocco's maternal mortality rate to stand at 83 per 100,000 live births in 2015, health ministry.Rabat - The rate of maternal mortality in Morocco will stand at 83 per 100,000 live births and that of birth in monitored areas at 90% in 2015, compared to 227 and 61% respectively recorded between 1996 and 2003, the Health Ministry said.
To meet this challenge, which is part of the achievement of the 5th Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the Ministry has embarked on a voluntarist action plan to speed up the reduction of maternal mortality.
The action plan provides free delivery, including cesarean, by granting an annual subsidy of childbirth structures worth some 114 million dirhams and free medical transportation through purchasing equipped ambulances.
The plan helped improve the availability of human resources mainly through posting 498 midwives and 29 obstetrician-gynecologists during the period 2008-2009.
The rate of delivery in monitored areas increased from 63% in 2003 to 83% in 2009 (i.e. a 22% rise), while the rate of maternal mortality reached 132 per 100,000 live births in 2009 against 227 per 100,000 live births for the period 1996-2003, that is a decrease of 42%.
Five environmental agreements. 23/04/2010 It seems that Morocco is determined to take up the environmental challenge. On Thursday, five agreements were signed in this respect, during the ceremony celebrating the 40th Earth Day anniversary.
The first agreement, concerning the generalization of a program called "Eco-Schools", was signed by the Education Minister and the deputy chairman of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.

The program, which covers a period of three years with a total budget of MAD 4 million, aims to make education the bedrock of any sustainable development policy and encourage tomorrow's citizens to adopt eco-friendly behaviour.

The second agreement, which provides for progressively eradicating the use of plastic bags and promoting other alternatives, has been signed by the Health Minister, the Minister of Industry, and the official in charge of the environment within the department of Water and Environment.

This convention, which covers a period of two years, envisages the launching of awareness-raising campaigns, the eradication of non-degradable bags and the encouragement of ecological behaviour change.

For their part, the third and fourth agreements also concern the elimination and management of the use of plastic bags, while the fifth partnership agreement concerns a project to produce clean energy the El Oulja region.

During the signing ceremony which was presided over by Prince Moulay Rachid and Princess Lalla Hasna, Chairwoman of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, a number of environmental projects were also presented.

Capital Rabat is one of the 5 cities chosen by Earth Day Network to hold the 40th Earth Day anniversary celebrations on April 22.
Restaurant review: Morocco's fills bellies, empties wallets in downtown San Jose.Eric Van Susteren 4/19/10Dining at Morocco's Restaurant, located at Market and St. John streets, is an overwhelming experience in nearly every way.

The exotic food boasts a complex mix of spices and flavors, which are delicious but at times just a bit too powerful.

The atmosphere, from the gaudy music to the colorful decoration, constantly pulls one's attention in every direction.

Finally, after the delicious and attractive spectacle of a dinner is concluded, whoever is paying the check can count on being dumbfounded by the exorbitant prices.

Before my friends and I walked in, we could hear moody Middle Eastern melodies floating over the thud of a driving techno beat emanating from the open door of the restaurant.

I was warmly greeted by enthusiastic, clean-cut staff. They were uniformly dressed in black silk shirts, white ties and white aprons.

Each server was polite and friendly and very attentive to the needs of his or her

My water was never empty for longer than a minute and our food arrived within 10 minutes of ordering.

The bright orange walls were adorned with ornately patterned drapes, brilliantly colored paintings and flashy embossed metal pictures.

Brown and green swaths of cloth hung in billows from the ceiling, giving me the feeling that I was dining inside a tent.

The elaborate decorations were toned down by the shadowy lighting, provided by candles lining the walls and two stained-glass lighting fixtures on both sides of the room.

Given the cost of the entrees, which ranged from $13 to $17, we opted to split two entrees and sample a lentil salad. The hefty portions and richness of the food made this more than enough for the three of us.

The lentil salad, which consisted of nothing more than lentils and sauce, was simple but delicious.

Tossed with a judicious amount of vinegar and oil, the salad was crisp and fresh.

The salad's only fault was that a liberal application of cumin made it a tad too spicy.

Next, we moved to the chicken kebabs.

The chunks of perfectly cooked, tender chicken came with creamy, yet firm, potatoes.

Slightly bland rice and juicy grilled zucchini accompanied the main dish.

The hearty kebabs seemed somewhat bland compared to the tangy lentil salad, but they were rich and delicious.

We were already becoming full as we began spooning the second entree, beef and vegetable couscous, onto our plates.

Couscous, which the menu dubbed "Moroccan pasta," is made of granules of semolina wheat and was similar to rice in taste and texture.

The couscous was topped with chickpeas, grilled zucchini, carrots and a mass of shredded beef.

Savory grilled onions mixed well with the beef, which was similar in texture to a well-cooked pot roast.

This dish was fairly straightforward but strongly seasoned and very tasty.

Unfortunately, our visit wasn't cheap. The two entrees came out to almost $30.

Morocco's is probably a bit too expensive for the average college student.

It makes a perfect destination, however, for those who want to show off their worldly tastes and deep pockets to their dates.
Ride Morocco's wild surf.Sleepy Atlantic coast fishing village now hopping with international surfers.TAGHAZOUT, Morocco Drive down Morocco’s southern coast and you’ll see a panorama of tradition: donkey carts and fishing skiffs, with the men in customary hooded cloaks and the women covered by headscarves.
That is until you hit the village of Taghazout. In this former fishing town, European girls in mini-dresses stroll alongside shirtless men in board shorts and no less than five surf shops grace the 500-yard main drag. Most of the newcomers arrived in the last five years as word got out about Morocco’s consistent waves……………….

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