Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Morocco In the News: May 9 - 16

Morocco to craft youth charter. By Hassan Benmehdi 2011-05-12
As part of a push to heed young people's demands, Morocco seeks to devise a comprehensive youth empowerment strategy.

Morocco on May 23rd-24th will host the first of a series of youth meetings aimed at adopting a national strategy for the rising generation.
The event, set to take place in the small coastal town of Bouznika, comes as a result of young people's heavy involvement in the reform process.
"These will be meetings of the youth, by the youth and for the youth," Youth and Sports Minister Moncef Belkhayat said at a May 9th press conference.
Over 700 youths from 40 groups will participate in the meetings, which will feature thematic workshops to discuss and formulate proposals.
Among topics on the agenda will be employment, education, health, social problems, leisure and culture, religion, citizenship and dialogue between generations.
The first edition will pave the way for a roadmap and an integrated national strategy for the youth, Belkhayat added. A research and statistics report will be presented to shed light on the evolution of Moroccan youths in recent years, initiate debates on the 2020 vision and make proposals for a youth charter, which will be discussed over the period of twelve months.
The organisers set up equipped rooms in each of the sixteen regions of the country to allow 300 young people to watch live the debates in Bouznika.
"We work with more than eighteen youth political organisations to develop an integrated strategy that is able to meet the changing needs and aspirations of the youth," said Younes El Jaouhari, Director for Youth, Children and Women's affairs at the Youth Ministry.
He added, however, that the ministry does not replace in any way the roles and tasks of political parties in the education of youth. The official pointed to a deficit in infrastructure and programmes available to youths.
Young people, however, are unsure if the initiative will yield real results.
If these meetings fail to find functional solutions to the various problems of the youth, "they will have no value", according to Casablanca student Khalid.
"The new information and communications technologies, including internet, have imposed a new way of life on the youth and allowed the emergence of new needs and new aspirations that need to be met without neglecting the importance of involving the youth in the process of political reform and change," said Abdelghani Khalil, from the Chabiba Ittihadia of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP).
''This is a good initiative, as long as it will allow young people to express their grievances and ambitions, as well as become agents of change," said February 20 Movement member Fatimzahra.
"All this will make sense if these meetings result in recommendations that will be implemented on the ground," she added. "Otherwise it will be another useless, mundane meeting.''
Moroccan agency supports sex education.  By Siham Ali for Magharebia 2011-05-11
Experts say sex education is desperately needed in Morocco if the country hopes to reduce the rates of unwanted pregnancy.

Every day, 83 women give birth to a child out of wedlock in Morocco. New results from an 8-month national study on single motherhood point to a growing need for sex education in the kingdom.
Illiteracy, poverty, and the lack of sex education at home and at school were the main causes of single motherhood, said Nadia Cherkaoui of the National Institution for Solidarity with Women in Distress (INSAF), which released its report on April 30th.
The number of single mothers in 2009 was 27,199. The number of children abandoned that same year was 8,760, or an average of 24 babies per day.
"Whereas in the past most illegal pregnancies were due to rape, nowadays they arise out of consensual sex," INSAF chief Mariem El Othmani said. "This phenomenon is increasingly affecting teenagers and schoolgirls in both urban and rural areas."
Broken down by age, 61% of single mothers are under 26, and 32% are aged between 15 and 20. In terms of socio-economic status, the study revealed that seasonal workers made up 56% of the single mothers surveyed, while 29% were jobless.
Most single mothers have insufficient knowledge of contraception, sociologist Salima Bahaoui explained. It is essential to break down taboos and raise awareness, even from primary school age, she added.
"Sex education is unfortunately a dimly-viewed concept," Bahaoui said. "It is regarded as incitement to engage in immorality, whereas in fact it should be seen as a means of raising awareness so that we can avoid problems such as single motherhood and child abandonment. This is in the interests of society."
Authorities are beginning to realise the need for education on the subject. The Islamic affairs ministry supports using morchidates, or female religious advisers, to play a major role in this area in accordance with sharia.
A training session was recently held in Fez for 20 morchidines and morchidates to enhance their ability to provide information and raise the awareness of their target audience as part of a health ministry programme on reproductive health.
"The main aim of this project, which has been initiated at national level for the first time, is to train religious educators, given the major outreach role that they play with the public," a May 3rd statement from the Fez-Boulemane regional health authority said.
Young people told Magharebia that large-scale awareness campaigns should be run in secondary schools. Hajar Z., who is 16, described the moving story of a friend of hers: "Her life was ruined when she found out she was pregnant. She panicked and ran away because she was scared her parents would be angry."
"I still don't know where she ended up," Hajar said. "She's barely 16. She must have given birth by now. Even her parents are helpless."
She believes that if her friend had known more, she could have avoided the worst.
"Raising awareness doesn't encourage people to commit immoral acts, as people might think. Teenagers who want to sleep with each other don't wait around for sex education courses," she said.
Women in Morocco are losing ground to tradition, prejudice and male greed.
Female members of ethic groups with rights to "collective lands" campaign for an equal share of inheritance and compensation
Isabelle Mandraud  Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 10 May 2011
Left in the shadows ... women in Morocco want constitutional reform to bring gender equality at every level of the law.
The number on the corrugated iron door is 184. It belongs to the first house in the shanty town beside the road leading out of Kenitra, about 40
km north of Rabat, Morocco. Saddia Znaïdi, a divorcee, lives here with her five children including her eldest daughter, married and a mother. The mattresses are stacked against a wall and the beaten-earth yard is awash with water spilt while the family was washing on this chilly March morning. At some distance we can hear the thunder of fighter-jet engines warming up on the nearby airbase.
Znaïdi is a Soulaliyate, a member of one of the ethnic groups with a stake in Morocco's commons, or "collective lands". She is one of the women battling tradition and male greed, which are depriving them of any form of inheritance. For the past three years they have been campaigning as the Soulaliyate Women's Movement to obtain compensation. Retrospectively they were one of the forerunners of the wave of social and political protest that has shaken Morocco since February, forcing King Mohammed VI to promise constitutional reform.
"The women's organisations launched the democratic process in our country by engaging for the first time in proper two-sided debate," says Amina Lotfi, the head of the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM). "With reform of the constitution, equality between men and women must now become part of the law at every level." The ad hoc committee convened in March by the king to discuss reform completed its hearings of political parties and trade unions in April. Some 30 women's organisations gathered to form the Feminist Movement for Democracy and Equality and have a say in the process.
The Soulaliyates, who were sidelined during reform of family law in 2004, are waiting nervously. They belong to Morocco's 4,631 tribes, amounting to about 10 million people. The tribes are governed by laws that go back to before the introduction of Islam to Morocco in the seventh century. Under these rules they are not entitled to own land, with tenure passing from father to son.
The sharing out of an inheritance is decided by an assembly of delegates, under state supervision. A royal decree issued in April 1919 transferred overall responsibility for land held by ethnic groups to the interior ministry. Although in theory such lands can neither be seized nor sold, they can in practice be transferred, but only to men over 16 (except in areas under irrigation).
The women's predicament deteriorated further in the 1990s when the sale of land was authorised. Collective property was sold to local authorities for a pittance, then resold to developers who promptly pushed up prices, sometimes selling property for 60 times its original price. In exchange the men were given a home or financial compensation. On the other hand, women who had no male descendants and were divorced, widowed or married to an outsider – a Moroccan belonging to another tribe – could do nothing to avoid being expropriated. Many were forced to move to one of the shanty towns adjoining former collective lands. Adding insult to injury, some resettlement schemes enable outsiders living in a shanty town to purchase a 60-square-metre plot for $2,400.
The division of the spoils in Kenitra, the country's fourth-largest industrial centre, is abundantly clear. Overlooking the airbase are properly built homes for the well-off, then red-brick houses, still unfinished, for those who have been resettled, and finally off to one side a collection of shacks made of corrugated iron and cardboard, occupied by dispossessed Soulaliyate women.
The Soulaliyate Women's Movement was Rkia Bellot's idea. Now retired, she used to work at the finance ministry and is married to an outsider, a soldier. She too belongs to the Haddada tribe and has no chance of an inheritance. "I have eight brothers. I'm the only one not to have received anything when our father died and the discrimination got even worse when they started selling land as compensation or handing out plots for building," she explains, in tears.
She was particularly upset by the humiliation she suffered when she tried to stand up for her rights. "The male members of the tribe said: 'You're just a woman', and when I appealed to the officials, they told me I didn't have 'the requisite status', which is exactly the same thing, in more diplomatic terms," Bellot adds.
The first demonstration in 2007 was a surprise for many Moroccans, who knew nothing about the Soulaliyates and less still about their rules on inheritance. But the Soulaliyates have a growing audience. On 20 March demonstrations were held all over Morocco with thousands of people in the streets, despite a speech by the king announcing constitutional reform. But Bellot was not marching. She was typing out manifestos on her computer.  This article originally appeared in Le Monde
Despite unrest, tourists still loving Morocco. By Souhail Karam  May 12 2011
Morocco's tourism receipts are expected to grow even faster this year than in 2010 despite regional unrest and a deadly bombing last week that targeted foreign visitors, the tourism minister said.
In an interview with Reuters, Yassir Znagui said sovereign wealth funds from Gulf states which are planning to take part in a 10 billion euro ($14.5 billion) fund to develop new resorts had not been discouraged and would sign a final deal this year.
Tourism is the top foreign currency earner and has been the main pillar of economic growth plans for the past decade.
But the April 28 bombing in the tourist city of Marrakesh which killed 16 people, most of them foreigners, compounded concerns over tourism growth prospects. Those have also been dampened by unrest in the Arab world and local protests.
“The resilience of our tourism sector will be tested this year,” said Znagui, but he was upbeat on prospects for a sector he said employed 450,000 people directly and accounted for 10 percent of gross domestic product.
“The data we have so far and the response plan we have designed make us comfortable about the industry's prospects... An 8 percent receipts growth in 2011 is achievable based on what we see today.”
Last year, tourism brought receipts of nearly 57 billion dirhams ($7.3 billion) - almost 40 percent of exports - versus 53 billion dirhams in 2009. Tourist arrivals until the end of April were more than 10 percent higher than the year before.
Znagui said that 15,000 holidaymakers had cancelled planned visits to Morocco after the attack - around three percent of the total.
“But not one tour operator has abandoned Marrakesh as a destination after the attack,” he said, adding that his department was planning an “I love Marrakesh” campaign with former world soccer stars to promote the ochre-red city.
Unlike Tunisia or Egypt, Morocco relies less on package tourists than independent visitors. Znagui said the average tourist spends $800 in Morocco - which he estimated at more than three times the amount spent by those in Tunisia.
Before this year's turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, three Gulf Arab sovereign wealth funds and UAE-based property developer Al Maabar had agreed in principle to raise 15 billion dirhams for a tourism fund in Morocco.
Bahrain's Mumtalakat, the Kuwaiti Investment Authority (KIA), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Al Maabar of the United Arab Emirates signed the preliminary agreement and Znagui said they still supported it.
“We will sign before the end of 2011 a final agreement for their participation in the fund,” said Znagui, an ex-London based investment banker. “They believe in our country. In the midst of the financial crisis, Morocco was the only country to have been upgraded in 2010”.
Znagui said the United Arab Emirates' Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds, would also sign the agreement.
The Moroccan fund will raise half its resources in debt, probably through bond issues, and the other half in equity.
Znagui said private equity funds of HSBC and the Monitor Group, as well as investment funds from Brunei and Asia, had expressed interest. - Reuters
Promoting youth entrepreneurship in Morocco: stakeholders are mobilized.
Seminar-meeting organized by the Embassy of the United States and SIFE Morocco
Youth Entrepreneurship in Morocco: key element in the economic and develop the country's future" is the theme of a seminar-meeting organized by the Embassy of the United States and SIFE Morocco in Rabat on May 12 2011 in Technopark, Casablanca. SIFE Morocco is a member of more than 40 countries, SIFE International, which prepares students to contribute to the development of their countries as future entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Under the initiative of President Obama for the promotion of entrepreneurship in the MENA region, the seminar-meeting will bring together key stakeholders in the corporate sector and civil society working in the field of youth entrepreneurship. Together they provide a picture of the initiatives already underway in Morocco and develop a synergy of action for the future.

The conference will be inaugurated by Samuel L. S. E. Kaplan, United States Ambassador to Morocco, Mr. El Ghaib Kaissar Majid, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SIFE Morocco along with several guests, including Mr. Mohamed Horani, Chairman of the CGEM, Omar chaabi, Executive Vice President, Ynna Holding and certain other Moroccan delegates who attended the Summit on Entrepreneurship Obama held last year in Washington.

This day aims to create a platform to meet and exchange ideas and best practices among key stakeholders. This will create connections between Moroccan companies and civil society actors working for the advancement of entrepreneurship among young people. The event will also provide an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative and inspiring participants wishing to become more involved in this area (see attached program).

Founded in 2004, SIFE Morocco deploys the values of citizenship, ethics, solidarity, performance and leadership in the mobilization of Moroccan students of high schools and universities serving large projects Development of Morocco. Through a three-year strategic vision "Vision 2012" adopted by its board of directors, SIFE Morocco is committed to consolidate and strengthen its ambition to be the leading organization in coaching and development of entrepreneurship and Youth Leadership and practice of corporate social responsibility. SIFE Morocco working as part of a network of over 40 members of SIFE International, a nongovernmental organization whose mission is to develop broad partnerships between the world of business and higher education to prepare students for contribute substantially to the development of their countries as future entrepreneurs and business leaders.

For more information, please contact Ms. Siham AL Figuigui, Country Manager of SIFE Morocco in 0660 21 65 40 or Mr. Abdelkrim Raddadi, Information Specialist for the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca, 0661 22 78 32.

ISESCO supports national educational film festival in Morocco.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) is joining in organizing Morocco's 10th National Educational Film Festival in Fez, on 12-14 May 2011.

The festival, benefitting from the financial support of ISESCO, will be held jointly by the Fez Regional Academy of Education and Training, Morocco's Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Executive Staff Training and Scientific Research, the Cinema and Theatre Creativity Space Association, the Moroccan Cinema Center, the Fez City Council, and Morocco's National Commission for Education, Science and Culture. The theme of this year's film festival is "Educational Film: a Success School Factor."

The festival aims to integrate audio-visual tools in the educational system, the ultimate purpose being to help promote education quality, bring education and movie industry to bear on improving educational output, raise awareness about the importance of education and teaching aids promotion, and take educational films as a means to best address educational issues both in rural and urban areas.

Placed on the festival's agenda will be movie screenings, training workshops, symposiums, roundtables, and a tribute ceremony. Awards will also be given to winning showings.

ISESCO will be represented in the festival's opening ceremony by Dr Kifah Dabagh from the Education Directorate.
Monday, 09 May 2011
Global Arab Network - Moroccan Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, held a working meeting with the President of the World Bank (WB), Robert Zoellick, on means to promote co-operation in the field of energy.

Amina Benkhdra told MAP that the meeting is part of regular meetings between Morocco and the World Bank to enhance cooperation, especially in the area of renewable energies.She added that the World Bank has been supporting Morocco's efforts to promote clean energies, and has substantially financed projects implemented in this field, such as the solar station of Beni M'thar.

The Minister also highlighted the Bank’s significant contribution to human development projects launched in the Kingdom, notably the National Initiative for Human Development, as well as other reforms under way in the country.

Zoellick, who arrived in Morocco on Wednesday, met with governmental officials and civil society stakeholders and took part on Thursday in the second conference on industry, which was presided over by HM King Mohammed VI.

President of the World Bank Group (WB) Robert Zoellick voiced the WB's willing to support the reforms process in Morocco.

"The World Bank looks forward to working in partnership with the government to support reforms process, growth and development that benefit all," Zoellick said following his visit to Morocco.

According to a statement from the WB office in Rabat, the WB’s president, who met with Moroccan senior officials and members of civil society, said that Morocco achieved good economic results.

He also said that the WB has intensely worked to finalize the preparation of the solar power plant of Ouarzazate, to be the largest of its kind in Africa.

He added that Morocco’s solar energy is a wining solution as it enables to produce green energy, promote an innovative sector in North Africa and stimulate employment.

Morocco and North Africa are an extraordinary platform for providing solar electricity to Europe, said the statement.

Zoellick noted that the development of these untapped green resources requires close collaboration with Europe’s institutions and states.

He recalled that the WB has supported since 2005 Morocco’s large-scale anti-poverty programme the National Initiative for Human Development, which has funded over 22,000 projects, with an over 1.8 billion dollars budget appropriation for five million beneficiaries.

The WB provides an annual grant of about $ 700 million to Morocco.

It focuses its efforts notably on health, the fight against poverty, climate change, solar energy, and Morocco’s Green Plan. (MAP)

Gulf women fear Jordan, Morocco entry into GCC. By  Saturday, May 14, 2011
Say their men might turn to women from those two countries after joining GCC
A bid by Jordan and Morocco to join a Gulf Arab alliance has already triggered fears among women in the oil-rich region that local men could turn to those two countries for wives.

Many women from Saudi Arabia and other members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called a prominent Saudi social and religious adviser to express their fears about the entry of Jordan and Morocco into the 30-year-old GCC.

At summit talks in Riyadh last week, GCC leaders welcomed a request by the two Arab nations to join the GCC and instructed their foreign ministers to follow up their issue.

“I have received phone calls from many women in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries expressing their fears that their men and their husbands could turn to Morocco and Jordan for wives, saying the admission of those two countries to the GCC will facilitate this,” said Sheikh Gazi Al Shammari, a family adviser at a pubic establishment in the eastern Saudi port of Dammam.

Quoted by the Saudi Sabq daily, Shammari said he was shocked by the “narrow-minded attitudes” of GCC women towards this issue.
“I call on Gulf women not to be scared and to have more self-confidence…marriage is our destiny and the plans to admit Jordan and Morocco to the GCC is only intended to serve the interests of Gulf and Arab countries as well as the Islamic nation and to bolster relations among the people of our Arab and Moslem nations.”
Morocco: on the high road in the Atlas Mountains. By John Gimlette 08 May 2011
Morocco's Atlas Mountains are home to awe-inspiring castles, harsh deserts and breathtaking gorges. And at their heart lies beguiling Ouarzazate, says John Gimlette.
One false move here and you're a goner. From the top of Tizi N'tichka, a car could freefall for almost half a mile before reconnecting with the hot, hard surface of Morocco, and then go bouncing off into the wheat fields below.
During those few seconds, its passengers would enjoy the colours of Moroccan geology, from scarlet to crimson, and perhaps the odd trilobite hurtling past: a reminder that this was once below the sea, instead of 6,000 feet above it.
We'd spent all morning grinding gears and wriggling up the pass. Our daughter, Lucy, six, had never imagined roads like this, spiralling into the sky. Our driver, Said (which means Happy), said that there were 99 bends in 18 miles (30km). It was a curious ascent: we came across a tribesman selling fossils in the scrub and a minibus full of rams, off on their last adventure. But, at the top, everything changed.
Behind us lay the Morocco I've known for years; clamouring, raffish and occasionally biblical. Ahead, through this crack in the Atlas, lay a different world. This was where the desert began, with snow and foothills at first, and then thousands of miles of thirst. Here, clouds only appear on 60 days a year, and the landscape looks like embers. Farming survives only in gorges and riverbeds, and huge areas are devoid of life.
The people, too, are different here. Some are Berbers, others are the descendants of slaves who became detached from the caravans marching north. Together, they're close-knit, tribal and fatalistic. "It's a good life," said Said, "unless you get ill, and then you die."
Soon castles started appearing. These weren't the drab things we have in Europe, but vast patterned promontories, like cliffs with windows. Some have crumbled away, but others are as big and orange as the hills. And they're everywhere. One valley, the Dades, once had more than a thousand kasbahs defending its pitiful trickle of water.
I'd like to think these fortresses are long-since obsolete. Not so. During the great war of 1893, most of them burst into life, and some – like Telouet – were still threatening French rule into the Thirties.
Then came the rule of the Glaoui family, who built the biggest and best of the castles. I noticed at the Kasbah Taourirt that a hint of their vanity had survived, in fancy coloured tiles and a field-gun made by Krupp. The Glaouis, explained Said, ruled with spectacular cruelty, drowning their victims in clay, and only finally fleeing in the Sixties.
So the sieges may have ended, but castle life goes on. At Amerhidil, the most elegant of the kasbahs, I met the owner, who shared it with his goats. "We've lived here 400 years," he told me. "This is where we hid the guns to shoot the French…"
Meanwhile, inside the mighty Aït-Ben-Haddou, people were living much as they had several hundred years before, driving camels and charming snakes. Movie-makers love this place, and it's always popping up in films, from Lawrence of Arabia to Robert Aldrich's Sodom and Gomorrah.
At the heart of this dry, improbable world sat Ouarzazate. It was built for troops in the Twenties, a last taste of France before dying in the desert. But not much "Frenchness" had survived. The entire town was painted desert pink, and there was as much chance of eating squirrel as croque-monsieur. It was here that I bought some cactus soap and a little carved, Malinese door that had somehow crossed the Sahara. But, Ouarzazate still had a frontier feel. Here were the last four-stars and swimming pools before the sands beyond.
From Ouarzazate, like the soldiers, we set off in all directions. Once, we went to the Oasis de Fint, and had tea with a lady who looked just like her dates, and said she was 112. Another time, Said drove for five hours through gorges and wilderness, right to the edge of the dunes. There, in Zagora, we exchanged our car for camels and rode through a long, green slash of orchards and nurseries, known as the palmary. It was a day that changed colour many times, from red to rust, tobacco, green, red again and then a magnificent purple. At one point the road petered out and a sign appeared: "Timbuktu 52 days".
Later, we moved to one of the biggest oases, at Skoura. It's an even bigger palmary, and a labyrinth of tracks and shady fields.
For centuries, people have lived here, on the brink of desiccation. Moisture is so precious that even grazing is forbidden, and all the animals are fed by hand. But the place had a garden-like air, and life was uncluttered and simple.
Once, we took Lucy to the village to buy presents but all we found were goats' heads and camel-hair robes.
Farther west, the landscape was even wilder and redder. It all began gently enough, with the Valley of Roses. Kelaat M'gouna produces 4,000 tons of petals a year and has a street of perfumeries, selling potions such as "Sexy Man" and "Love Port".
But, beyond that, the horizon buckled and cracked as it rose towards the Atlas. Although these gorges were stiff with castles, Said explained that most people here were nomadic and lived on the plateaus in the summer and in caves in the winter. We met a nomad once, knitting slippers by the side of the road. She was a fierce little girl, and wanted £30 for a pair.
All journeys here seem to end in a canyon. The Todra Gorge is like a crack through the mountains, so deep the donkeys inside seldom get sunlight. Even more magnificent is the Dades Gorge, a dizzying fissure of gullies and shadow. The French army only got a road through in 1933. That same year, they brought the Middle Ages to an end here, with a brutal campaign involving four air squadrons and 83,000 troops.
The last tribe to give way were the Atta. "What happened to them?" I asked.
"You just met one," replied Said, "trying to sell you slippers."
It was an appealing thought. Here, in this desert, foreigners may come and go, begging or stealing its beauty. But when the dust has settled, it's still an ancient people, firmly in control.
Toubkal is the Best Trekking Destination in Morocco.
Toubkal Trekking Reports Increased interest in Mount Toubkal as the Best Trekking Area in Morocco.

PRLog (Press Release)May 14, 2011 – Imlil, Marrakech, May 14, 2011-- Local Trekking organizor, Toubkal Trekking Services Ltd is reporting increased interest in Toubkal Area as the Best Trekking Area in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco following what's taking place in some Arab countries as well as the arrest of the elements behind the terrorist attack in Marrakech two weeks ago.

Compared to this time last year, Toubkal Trekking received few bookings from small groups interested in trekking in Toubkal.

" The mood from Touists as well as the local Tour Operators is, Toubkal Area is regarded as the Best Trekking Destination in Morocco. Thanks to the efforts of the Police who have arrested the person behind the criminal act in Marrakech two weeks ago; we have seen a noticeable increase in Bookings," said Mustapha Bouinbaden, Managing Director of Toubkal Trekking Services Ltd.

Mustapha compared the quick arrest of the elements behind the terrorist act in Marrakech to the terrorist act that took place in Casablanca in 2003.In fact, the arrest of the terrorists in Casablanca in 2003 lasted a bit longer than in Marrakech; this fact makes Tourists feel safe and comfortable.

Toubkal Trekking Servives offers tourists a real lifetime experience of the High Atlas Mountains that can only be explored in a small group and that encourage tourists to interact with the local people and landscapes. Toubkal Trekking currently offers more than 30 treks, from 2 days Trek to 22 days trek that zigzags across the High Atlas Mountains.

For more information on Toubkal Trekking Services and their Treks in the High Atlas Mountains please visit:

With over 30 years of experience in this field, Toubkal Trekking Services is one of the leading Trek Organizors in the High Atlas. It offers more than 50 itineraries in more than 5 Destination in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Toubkal Trekking Treks are designed to take adventurers to discover an authentic culture and landscapes.

For any enquiry, please contact Mustapha Bouinbaden, Managing Director,

Mustapha Bouinbaden
Managing Director
Toubkal Trekking Services
Imlil, Asni 42152, Marrakech.
Divining the Future in Morocco.    By SOUAD MEKHENNET May 10, 2011
MARRAKESH, MOROCCO — Lalla Aisha, who says she thinks she must be 62 but doesn’t know for sure, can read the turbulence of the Arab Spring on palms, and in the cards, and above all hear it in the questions of her clients.
Lalla is a title of reverence in Morocco, and Aisha is the name of this one of dozens of fortune tellers who spend their days and nights at the Djemaa al-Fna Square in Marrakesh, reading for Moroccans and tourists what she says is written in their hands, or — if they choose — in the cards. “In the last couple of months, the world has changed and even the questions of my Moroccan customers have,” she said in Arabic in her deep voice.
Before the Arab world was rocked by tumult this spring, Moroccan women came mainly to ask if they would find the right match, and men if they would do well in business. “Now they ask me, will Morocco remain stable?” And, since April 28, when a bomb that killed 16 people ripped through the adjacent Argana restaurant: “Will there be another attack?”
Some clients have asked whether Aisha could not have foretold tragedy. “But who really wants to hear bad news?” she asked, dodging the question of whether she had foreseen anything. “People need hope, and that’s why they come here.” With their feminine and mercantile instincts, Lalla Aisha and others in the square fear that the bombings could be a serious blow to tourism, already hit by recession and the Arab unrest.
The Moroccan police said that they had arrested three men, and that one of them had already confessed that he built the bombs. More than 40 percent of the people in Marrakesh are directly employed in the tourism sector, according to Hamid Bentahar, head of the region’s tourism council.
Lalla Aisha is among those indirectly affected. She has been coming here for 20 years; she can neither write nor read and passes her time either telling fortunes, as she once did for friends and neighbors in a nearby town, or listening to the stories of other seers, or the women who draw henna tattoos or sell herbal medicine with purported aphrodisiac properties. “My husband is retired, and with the money I earn here, we could have a much better life,” she said. “But now the world will change after the death of Osama. I can see a lot of chaos in the world.”
Days before Osama bin Laden’s death was announced, she said, she saw him in a dream. “It was clear to me that something will happen to him. He was just covered in white cloth.” About 240 kilometers, or 150 miles, away, in Casablanca, Fatiha al-Mejjati follows the Bin Laden news. She is no fortune teller but, as a veteran of Taliban and Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and interrogation in Morocco, has a certain view of what may unfold now.
“I don’t believe it all has happened the way the Americans are claiming it, but by killing the sheikh, they have made him become a martyr,” Mrs. Mejjati said, serving a visitor milk and dates. “I love the sheikh, and I am happy for him that he will now be in heaven.” Some weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, she and her family moved to Afghanistan. “It was the best times in my life, and I am praying to God that I will be living again under the flag of the Taliban,” she said, raising her hands as if in prayer.
Mrs. Mejjati was the wife of Abdulkarim al-Mejjati, who she said was killed with their 10-year-old son Adam by the anti-terrorism police in Saudi Arabia in 2005. Several security services say that her husband was involved in the planning of attacks inside and outside Saudi Arabia and was a leading Qaeda operative. She escaped injury because she was with a younger son at the doctor’s, she said. “We got arrested en route.” She welcomed a visitor in a black abaya that covered her body. When men are around, she covers her face and wears black gloves.
She said she had been held for months with her son Ilyas, then 8 years old, in a Saudi prison. Then they were flown to Morocco, where they spent a couple of months in a detention facility used to detain Qaeda suspects. Besides being interrogated about Afghanistan and her husband’s contacts, she said, she could hear “the screaming of other detainees.” She was never mistreated physically, she said, but she added that her son had been psychically scarred for life.
She became a symbol for the families of hundreds of terror suspects in Morocco whose male relatives were jailed. Her phone rings often, and she receives daily visits from women whose husbands and brothers are in prison. Now with the uprisings in Arab countries, she sees a chance for investigation of those whom she and others hold responsible for the arrests of thousands of people and for corruption in Morocco.
She also railed against what she sees as the U.S. “execution” of Bin Laden. “Why haven’t they arrested Sheikh Osama and put him on trial?” she asked. “Is this the law they are following, to execute people? Are these human rights, to send drones and kill women and children?” What does Mrs. Mejjati see as the future of Al Qaeda and jihad?
“You see, we saw the pictures of Americans dancing on the streets after Obama announced the killing of Sheikh Osama,” Mrs. Mejjati said. “I am certain Al Qaeda will answer, and their happiness will turn into sorrow.”
International Symposium on Moroccan Jewry to be Held in New York City
The American Sephardi Federation (ASF) will conduct a two-day international symposium on Sunday, May 15 and Monday, May 16, 2011 at the Center for Jewish History in New York City. Entitled: 2,000 Years of Jewish Life in Morocco: An Epic Journey, the symposium will feature international scholars and dignitaries from Morocco, France, Canada, Israel and the U.S.
New York, NY (PRWEB) May 09, 2011
The country of Morocco has been in the news lately more for its travails than its triumphs. In reality, Morocco can be looked at as a model for a modern contemporary Muslim state.
The American Sephardi Federation (ASF) will conduct a two-day international symposium on Sunday, May 15 and Monday, May 16, 2011 at the Center for Jewish History in New York City. Entitled: '2,000 Years of Jewish Life in Morocco: An Epic Journey,' the symposium will feature international scholars and dignitaries from Morocco, France, Canada, Israel and the U.S., who, over two days, will focus on a compendium of subjects including: Moroccan Jewish history, social diversity and interaction, diplomacy, rabbinic tradition and influence, art, literature, and religious and secular musical history.
Open to the public, this symposium is being held under the High Patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco and made possible through the generous support of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation.
Contributing scholars from the following academic institutions will be participating: The University of Paris, France; The Sorbonne, Paris, France; The University of Quebec, Canada; Tel-Aviv University, Israel; The University of Haifa, Israel; Princeton University, New Jersey; The University of Arizona; The University of Minnesota; The University of Pennsylvania; The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals in New York.
Florence Amzallag Tatistcheff, ASF Vice President, Chair of Cultural Programs, said: "This symposium is testimony to the great legacy of the Moroccan Jewish community in the United States. Everywhere they live, Moroccan Jews carry with them a passion for their culture, spirit and Moroccan identity, one which remains steadfast, even in the face of changing situations in the world today."
For program details, ticket information and the event syllabus, please visit:
Founded in 1973, the American Sephardi Federation is the largest American organization dedicated to the promotion of the history and culture of the Sephardic Jewish population in the United States. The ASF is a founding partner of the Center for Jewish History, located at 15 West 16th Street in Manhattan.
Jewish life in Morocco explored
American Sephardi Federation to conduct two-day international symposium on Moroccan Jewish history, culture and identity

Morocco has been in the news lately more for its travails than its triumphs. In reality, the northwestern African country can be looked at as a model for a modern contemporary Muslim state.
The American Sephardi Federation (ASF) will conduct a two-day international symposium on Sunday, May 15 and Monday, May 16, 2011 at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, entitled "2,000 Years of Jewish Life in Morocco: An Epic Journey."
The symposium will feature international scholars and dignitaries from Morocco, France, Canada, Israel and the US, who, over two days, will focus on a compendium of subjects including: Moroccan Jewish history, social diversity and interaction, diplomacy, rabbinic tradition and influence, art, literature, and religious and secular musical history.
Open to the public, this symposium is being held under the High Patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco and made possible through the generous support of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation.
Contributing scholars from the following academic institutions will be participating: The University of Paris, France; The Sorbonne, Paris, France; The University of Quebec, Canada; Tel Aviv University, Israel; The University of Haifa, Israel; Princeton University, New Jersey; The University of Arizona; The University of Minnesota; The University of Pennsylvania; The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals in New York.
Florence Amzallag Tatistcheff, ASF Vice President, Chair of Cultural Programs, said: "This symposium is testimony to the great legacy of the Moroccan Jewish community in the United States.
 "Everywhere they live, Moroccan Jews carry with them a passion for their culture, spirit and Moroccan identity, one which remains steadfast, even in the face of changing situations in the world today."
Founded in 1973, the American Sephardi Federation is the largest American organization dedicated to the promotion of the history and culture of the Sephardic Jewish population in the United States.

National Festival of Popular Arts:Changing secular heritage Marrakech June 29-July 3, 2011.
The oldest festival in Morocco, founded in 1960 by His Majesty King Mohammed V, looks forward to seeing you June 29-July 3, 2011.

During its existence it has had some real good times, but also passages vacuum that precipitated its decline. After passing into the hands of its creators, and the ONMT Association's National Festival of Popular Arts, the FNAP is now orchestrated by the Foundation of Marrakech Festival (WFF). A new team, a new vision for a concept rooted in tradition yet resolutely turned towards the renewal and creativity. So a new edition that is emerging, which aims to enhance the relationship of public Marrakech and Morocco with this event unique.

It is in this spirit that combines  the legacy of the past and an approach for the future, the parade, a tradition of FNAP must be continued and updated. Open to youth, and national Marrakchi artists, it  is the culmination of the major summer season of events. The other novelty of this 2011 edition is the creation of a Village, dedicated to the celebration of folk arts in Morocco.All festival activities will revolve around the same nodal point.

At the heart of this village, nestled in the lush gardens of the Olive grove,Ghabat Shabab, the festival will offer fans and families  the magical moments of music and rhythmic tones that are all readings from Morocco's rich and diverse heritage. The Village will consist of intimate scenes and folk art performances, and a large stage will be devoted to large-scale concerts. Not forgetting also the workshops for musical awakening led by the artists themselves, which  will enable them to be closer to the public and to spread their musical heritage so rich.

But this event would not be at the zenith of its influence without the magic of  the El Badi Palace. This monument  to Moroccan history will be the setting of sublime performances, inspired by  the best traditional Moroccan  performing troupes.

The tone is set for this 2011 edition, nurtured by a new artistic and organisational  approach, highlighting the meeting between artists and audience. The FNAP 2011 will thus reach an  increasingly broad  audience which will be a mix of several events that will interact with each other for more than five days.  Those from Marrakech or elsewhere,  the young and savvy, anyone can take part in the events of FNAP and create his own festival among the multitude of performances.

The FNAP 2011 is of special symbolic after the tragedy experienced by the Red City. Today more than ever the organizing team is committed to making this event a real celebration of culture, highlighting all the national heritages. We will reveal the complete picture of Marrakech which  will always be a place for tolerance, hospitality and celebration.

Organised by the Foudation for the Festival Marrakech (FFM)  the 46th edition of the National Festival of Popular Arts in Marrakech will be held from June 29 to July 3, 2011. The FNAP it will regain its glorious past, rich in both achievement and committed to providing a Moroccan secular musical heritage that defies the ravages of time.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 -
Morocco to export solar electricity to France next fall, French official says
Monaco - Morocco will export solar electricity to France next fall, which is the first experiment to transport energy from the south to the north of the Mediterranean, announced on Wednesday in Monaco French Industry, Energy and Digital Economy Minister Eric Besson.
    "France and Morocco will launch in autumn 2011 the first experiment of solar electricity from south to north of the Mediterranean," Besson told the opening of the 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Energy Efficiency Forum in the presence Prince Albert II, Sovereign of Monaco.
    Stressing that electricity demand will increase by 6% per year by 2025 in southern and eastern Mediterranean, he called the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) to lead the “revolution” of the zero-carbon based economy to ensure sustainable growth in these countries.
    To achieve this, the Minister proposed the development of a “Euro-Mediterranean energy pact”, which he will formally submit next May 20 to the UfM General Secretariat.

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