Monday, January 23, 2017

Moroccan Photo of the Day - Zagora

Any doubts about just how cold it is in Morocco now should be dispelled by Zagora Ville's photograph of camels in the snow in Zagora!

Conditions are so severe in various parts of the Kingdom that several field hospitals have been set up to assist rural communities and so far nearly 100,000 people have been assisted. In areas where roads are blocked by snow blankets and food are being transported by helicopter.

See more in our series Photo of the Day 

The View from Fez welcomes contributions to our Photo of the Day Series


Morocco - Tourism Update

Morocco continues to promote the country as a destination for Chinese tourists continue and so far the signs are positive with Chinese visitors showing a threefold increase in the last twelve months

For the first time The View From Fez has been registering several thousand visits a month from Chinese as potential tourists seek information about Morocco. At the same time, Russians and Scandinavians continue to visit the site in increasing numbers.

Marrakech is playing an active role in attracting Chinese tourists. The Regional Tourism Centre and the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) have just welcomed a delegation of about twenty travel agents from the Shanghai region as well as the Tour Operator (TO) China International Travel Service (CITS) for a discovery tour of the tourist attractions of Marrakech.

The number of Chinese visitors to Morocco has increased from 12,000 visitors in 2015 to 35,000 in 2016 and 80% of them opted for Marrakech. In the long term, Morocco aims to reach 100,000 Chinese visitors a year by 2018.

Morocco had cancelled visa requirements for Chinese nationals and developed new partnerships with airlines linking Morocco with the six largest Chinese cities, via the Doha and Abu Dhabi hubs (Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways).

Further promotion and communication activities targeting the Chinese tourism market are scheduled throughout 2017.

The number of Scandinavian tourists who visited Morocco in 2016 increased by 10 percent year on year, according to the delegation of the Moroccan Tourism Office (ONMT) in charge of Scandinavian and Baltic states.

Morocco World News reports that approximately 98,000 tourists from the Scandinavian region visited the Kingdom during the past year.

According to ONMT regional director Aziz Mnii, the number of tourists from Denmark increased by 27 percent, and that from Sweden and Norway rose by 6 percent, Mnii said, pointing out that nearly 87,000 Scandinavian nationals stayed in Morocco in 2015. This trend should continue in the year under way to reach more than 100,000 tourists, while they were only 50,000 to visit the Kingdom in 2009, he said.

In 2017, the ONMT also intends to “continue and strengthen” its digital communication by introducing new online content via “,” which will be accessible in eleven languages starting January 2017. The office also took the initiative to invite several bloggers from different countries to discover Morocco, in hopes of the country building a good reputation on social media.

Meanwhile, air traffic at Mohammed V airport in Casablanca increased by 5.36% in 2016, compared to 2015.

According to statistics from the National Airports Office (ONDA), this increase is due to the number of passengers passing through the Mohammed V airport in Casablanca which amounted to 8,616,474 passengers in 2016 against 8,178,031 passengers during 2015.

With this growth, Mohammed V airport in Casablanca captured the lion's share of total passengers in the various airports of the Kingdom with a share of 47.27% during the twelve months of the previous year, followed by Marrakech-Menara with a share of 21.35%.

In another development Morocco and Chile have strengthened their ties. A twinning project between the cities of Fez and Coquimbo, located 460 kilometres north of the capital Santiago, is in the making.

The initiative was discussed on Thursday 19 January during a meeting between the new ambassador of Morocco in Santiago, Kenza Elghali, and the Mayor of Coquimbo, Marcelo Pereira Peralta.

"For several years, culture has been a subject of great interest in the agenda between the two countries ... Morocco and Chile can offer a model of high-quality cultural cooperation," said Marcelo Pereira Peralta.

Ambassador of Morocco in Santiago, Kenza Elghali and the Mayor of Coquimbo, Marcelo Pereira Peralta

While his city is home to the Mohammed VI Centre for the Dialogue of Civilisations, the local elected official said he is willing to sign a twinning agreement with the city of Fez, given the many similarities between the two cities.

For her part, Kenza Elghali said both sides will develop a roadmap to promote cultural and tourism relations with Coquimbo.

Inaugurated in 2007, the Mohammed VI Centre for the Dialogue of Civilisations aims to present Moroccan culture and civilisation to Chileans and foreign tourists. Working sessions to further promote the role of the centre are planned with the Ambassador of Morocco to Chile.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Moroccan Newspapers in English, French and Arabic

Newspapers in Morocco are primarily published in Arabic and French, and to a lesser extent in Amazigh (Berber), English, and Spanish.  Africa Liberal, a Spanish daily, was the first paper published in the country and was launched in 1820, followed by El Eco de Tetuán founded in 1860  also in Spanish. Al Maghrib was the first Arabic newspaper of the country and was established in 1886.  

The government of Morocco owns many key media outlets, including Moroccan radio and television, and the Moroccan press agency, Maghreb Arab Press.

Moroccans have access to approximately 2,000 domestic and foreign publications. Many of the major dailies and weeklies can now be accessed on their own Web sites. Morocco has 27 AM radio stations, 25 FM radio stations, 6 shortwave stations, and 11 television stations including the channels of the public SNRT, the mixed-ownership (half public-half private) 2M TV and the privately owned Medi 1 TV.

In 1999, the number of French language newspapers distributed in the country was 130,000 while it was 62,000 in 1981. As of 2013, 71% of the papers were published in Arabic and 27% in French.

Actualités Maroc (Oujda) [In Arabic]
Ahdath Maghribiya (Casablanca)
Aljarida24 (Casablanca)
Al Khabar (Marrakech)
Alittihad Ichtiraki (Casablanca)
Al Mountakhab
Al Obor
Amazigh World News (Amazigh/Berber)
Assabah (Casablanca)
Assahra Al Maghribia (Casablanca)
Aujourd´hui Le Maroc
Bladibella (Casablanca) [In Italian]
Cawalisse Alyoum (Rabat) (Marrakech)
Fes Press
Hespress (Rabat)
Hiba Press
L'écopress (Oujda) [In French]
La Gazette du Maroc (Casablanca)
La Nouvelle Tribune [In French]
La Vie Éco
Le Journal de Tanger (Tangier)
Lemag [In French & English]
Le Matin
Les Journaux (Casablanca) [In French & Arabic]
Les Journaux Marocain (Tanger) [In Arabic, French & English]
Libération [In French]
Maghreb Arabe Presse [In Arabic, French & English available]
Maghreb Daily News [In English]
Maroc Hebdo International (Casablanca) [In Arabic]
Medias24 (Casablanca)
Meknescity (Meknes)
Menara [In Arabic]
Maroc Telegraph [In Arabic]
The Moroccan Times [In English]
Morocco Media [In English]
Morocco Newsline [In English]
Morocco Today [In English]
Morocco World News [In English]
NTA Newstime [In English]
Oujda Portail (Oujda) (Rabat)
Tawiza (Amazigh/Berber)
Tel Quel [French]
World Folio
Zagora Press


Friday, January 20, 2017

Morocco's Love Affair With The Moped

The moped, the iconic Peugeot 103, has been around for so long in the country that most Moroccans do not notice it. Yet, it is still a popular choice for people, both in rural and urban areas
Photo: Sandy McCutcheon

The first models of the Peugeot 103 were made in France in 1971, intended for older people living in the countryside. But the model caught on fast, overtaking its predecessors the 101 and 102, becoming a must-have among youth and blue-collar workers.

"They started arriving in Morocco in the eighties," says Habachi, a mechanic in central Rabat, "the model became popular among the working class and low-ranking public servants. Today it's become a bit outdated. But it's so solid, it still has a lot of followers."

"We adore the 103," says Mohammed Ngaire, a salesman at a used motorbike and moped market in Rabat, showcasing the most beautiful specimens of the Peugeot 103 still in circulation. "Come and see, we have them all".

No permit is required to drive the moped, which can be spotted at virtually every street corner in Morocco where they zip around in their legendary glory -- starting pedals, 49cm3 engine, miraculous petrol tank back-up, 45-kilometre-per-hour (28-mile-per-hour) speed limit and all.
Some models have been customised in new chrome colours, but the must-have item is a special kit to boost the engine's carburator. Urban legend has it that all thieves in the southern city of Marrakesh once pimped their mopeds like this, so police were ordered to arrest anyone riding at more than 80 kilometres an hour.
Photo: Fadel Senna

France stopped producing the 103 in 2011 and Morocco followed suit three years later when it shuttered its DIMAC-Peugeot plant in Casablanca.
The Rabat motorbike market, worries are high over a new arrival in town, the cheap Chinese scooters which have invaded the country.The Asian two-wheelers zip all over the capital, but at the used bike market, vendors are unanimous.
"Chinese bikes work, but they're not quality. They're like disposable razors."


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi dies aged 95

Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi, the head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, died today aged 95

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi was the spiritual leader of the Qadirriyya Boutchichiyya Sufi order which has tens of thousands of followers in Morocco and abroad, and which he had been leading since 1972.

The Qadiri order's origins go back to Abd al Qadir al-Jilani(1083–1166) which become very important a few decades later with his descendants. The Boutchichi branch of this order came into being in the eighteenth century in the North-west of Morocco. Its headquarters principal zaouia is in the small village of Meddagh near Berkane but Sidi Hamza himself has built another zaouia near Naima in the province of Oujda

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi died in the northwestern city of Oujda and will be buried in the nearby town of Madagh on Thursday. He named his eldest son, Sidi Jamal, to succeed him, according to a spokesman of the brotherhood, Mounir Al Buchichi.

Seen as a "living master" by his followers and famed for his wisdom and kindness, Hamza was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leaders. Visitors came from across the world to hear him teach, and every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gather in Madagh to celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday.

With hundreds of millions of followers around the world, Sufism permeates popular culture in many countries, especially in Morocco. The French rapper Abd al-Malik is one of the Boutchichiyya followers and sang the Sheikh's praises in his album "Gibraltar".

Sufism is the "heart" of Islam, its spiritual path, an initiatory path of inner transformation where self-knowledge leads to that of the other and to that of God.

For the Sufis, God is both near and inaccessible. It is a hidden treasure whose sign is found at the heart of all beings. Guided by a master, the Sufi student wants to rediscover this divine reality, to forget his ego to get lost in the love of God.

Sufis spend time studying the Quran, chanting and dancing to enter a spiritual trance.

With hundreds of millions of followers across the world, Sufism has deep roots in popular culture in Morocco and across West Africa.

Various Sufi orders are active in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia. However, followers of hardline Salafist and Wahhabist interpretations of Islam see Sufism as heretical.