Sunday, April 23, 2017

Smartphone App to Help Preserve the City of Fez

The city of Fes has just launched a new application for smartphones intended for all its inhabitants. Called "I preserve my city" (je préserve ma ville), it allows its users to report any problems observed in the streets of Fez

If, during a trip, people find lighting that does not work, garbage cans overflowing or a hole in a sidewalk, they send a photo and a comment with their smartphone .

The city services receive the message and launch a team to intervene on the premises . When the problem is resolved, the person who reported it is kept informed ... and warmly thanked.

Thanks to this new mobile phone service, the inhabitants of Fez can all be involved in the cleanliness and good condition of their city . This is a citizen application that we would like to see developed in all the major cities of Morocco. It would allow every city dweller to live in a cleaner and well-maintained environment.

Check it out here:

Je Préserve ma Ville - أحافظ على مدينتي


Earth Day Morocco

Morocco Celebrates Earth Day Every Day!  Morocco has long been a climate advocate, becoming the first African and Arab country to host a Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) in 2001. In November 2016, the country—dubbed a “perfect place for the world’s biggest climate change conference,” —again hosted world leaders in Marrakesh for COP 22, this time with the task of implementing the historic Paris Agreement from the year before

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI urged participants at COP 22 to move beyond promises to “tangible initiatives and practical steps,” and to respect and support the priorities and resources of developing countries.

“Holding this conference in Africa,” he said, “is an incentive for us to give priority to tackling the adverse repercussions of climate change, which are growing worse and worse in the countries of the South and in insular states whose very existence is in jeopardy.”

Since November, Morocco has ensured that the climate action agenda moves forward as COP 22 President, hosting a number of events and workshops with members of Moroccan civil society as well as international stakeholders on capacity building, sustainable industrial areas, and more. Morocco sent a delegation to the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington, DC this month to address issues of climate finance, and is working closely with the incoming Fiji COP 23 Presidency in advance of the Bonn Climate Change Conference in May.

Meanwhile, Morocco continues leading the way on sustainability and renewable energy at home:

1. Morocco has enshrined environmentalism in its governing documents. Article 31 of the country’s 2011 Constitution guarantees citizens’ right to “the access of water and to a healthy environment”; while Articles 71 and 152 address the government’s responsibility for environmental protection and oversight.

2. Morocco has set ambitious energy goals. Morocco has committed to generating 42% of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, and 52% by 2030.

3. Morocco is a world leader in solar energy production. The country’s NOOR solar power complex is the largest in the world – so large it is visible from space; and by completion, will be capable of producing 2,000 megawatts of energy. In addition, Morocco currently maintains 13 wind farms and plans to build at least six more before 2020, capable of producing a total of 2,000 megawatts of energy.

4. Morocco is serious about waste reduction. The Moroccan Parliament signed a bill into law on July 1, 2016 banning the use, production, or import of plastic bags; and Rabat hosts an active recycling and waste-management centre that employs disadvantaged people to sort through waste for reusable, recyclable and saleable material.

5. Morocco understands the importance of raising public awareness on climate change issues. That’s why Morocco’s Association of Teachers of Life and Earth Sciences works with the Ministry of Education to promote awareness.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Street Art in Morocco ~ More Than Graffiti

Yesterday we asked where this street was. Nobody was able to pinpoint it exactly, but several of our readers guessed it was in Fez. The correct answer is Derb Lmzd Tahti in the Fez Medina

Mohssine and his friend, painted Derb Lmzd in 7 days and then discovered that the paint they had chosen was less than perfect - it came off very quickly!

Once they found the right paint the street was transformed. It was an exciting new look for what had been one of the dirtiest narrow streets in the Medina

There has been a change of attitude towards street art. For a long time considered vandalism, it was only during the last decade that graffiti began to be seen as a pictorial work in its own right, where it was grouped with stencil, collage, posters and mosaics, in what has been called "Street Art".

Street Art, which embellishes public spaces and reflects the know-how and undoubted talent of the artists, is a concept that has just emerged in Western societies. Yet, in Morocco, the notion of urban art has been present since the dawn of time. Arabic calligraphy, zellige and arabesques, as well as the carved wood is undoubtedly art and adorns the alleys of the ancient medinas.

In order to celebrate this art and allow it to occupy its place within the Moroccan artistic and cultural landscape, the festival "Jidar, Toiles de Rue" was created in 2015, inviting artists to decorate public spaces with gigantic frescoes.

Initiated by the association EAC-L'Boulvart, the third edition of the festival "Jidar, Toiles de Rue", will take place from 21 to 30 April in Rabat, and will feature 20 street artists from Morocco, Spain, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Romania, Ukraine, Egypt and Mexico, who will work on ten walls in the city and will "bring back to life the patrimony of yesterday, today ".

This initiative enabled Rabat to be featured on "Artsy", a site specialising in artistic news, among the cities where it is all well and good to be a street artist, and to rub shoulders with some of the largest Cities, including Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and Melbourne.

See our earlier story about street art in Rabat
Thanks to Begoña Parajón Robles for the photographs of Derb Lmzd


Friday, April 21, 2017

Air Arabia Announces New Routes

On Thursday, Air Arabia Maroc announced the launch of a new line connecting Fez and Amsterdam, starting on 14 June

The new link, which will run twice a week, will allow Dutch passengers to explore several regions of Morocco, Air Arabia said in a statement, noting that the company is already running flights to Amsterdam from Tangier and Nador.

From June 14th Air Arabia Morocco will also be serving the cities of Strasbourg, Rome, Barcelona, ​​Lyon, London and Brussels, Montpellier, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Paris.

Adel Ali, president and CEO of the Air Arabia group, said that he was pleased with the expansion of his company's network from Fez, underlining that this new link "confirms our commitment to develop air traffic at Morocco and to contribute to the development of the tourism sector in Morocco".

"Thanks to the support of the Office of National Tourism we will be able to achieve our objective of connecting all Moroccan airports to several European countries," he added. Air Arabia Maroc now operates flights to 48 European destinations from 5 cities of the Kingdom: Casablanca, Fez, Tangier, Marrakech and Nador.


How Well Do You Know Morocco?

A quick test! Can you name this street, or even the city where it can be found?

The answer will be posted tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Photography ~ Free Trip to Mount Zalagh

  APR 22
FREE Photography Trip - Mount Zalagh
Hosted by Omar Chennafi


Morocco Moves Closer to Australia

Foreign Editor for The Australian newspaper, Greg Sheridan, was recently a guest of the Moroccan Government and wrote a very positive picture of the Kingdom. The piece is interesting in light of the announcement that Australia is to open an Embassy in Rabat. Observers hope that having a direct diplomatic connection will be of benefit, not only to trade and tourism, but also expats. At present Australians and New Zealanders applying for residence permits are only able to gain a one year term. This is in contrast to French and American nationals, who can be granted residence permits of up to 10 years

Here is an edited version of Sheridan's article.

Of all the Arab states of North Africa and the Persian Gulf, none has a serious case for emerging from the Arab Spring in better shape than Morocco. Its economic growth rate is better than 4.5 per cent; it has had two democratic elections ultimately producing stable governments; it has free trade agreements with the US and Europe; its society is functioning; it is a stable military ally of the US; its last significant terrorist attack was in 2011 (in Marrakesh). And it wants a new and more intimate relationship with Australia.

How did all this come about? I ask this of Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s foreign minister, a man of singular charm and urbanity. A career diplomat, he has just been appointed foreign minister by the newly formed coalition government, dominated by a notionally Islamist, though certainly moderate, party.

I am the first journalist to interview him as foreign minister and we meet in his vast office in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, overlooking the green fields and surviving walls of the ancient Chellah site, first a city under the Phoenicians, long before the birth of Christ, then settled by the Romans and later the Berbers and Arabs and all who prospered under them.

“I think there were many reasons,” Bourita says. “Many observers from Australia or the West tend to think of the Arab world as a single bloc. But it’s not the case. Every country is different. Morocco is not Libya, which is not Yemen, which is not Saudi Arabia. Morocco was a state for more than 13 centuries.

“This dynasty (of His Majesty King Mohammed VI) has been here for more than three centuries. Morocco for all this time was a sovereign state and a monarchy except for 40 years of the French presence.”

The contrast, though the minister doesn’t draw it, is with most of the rest of the Arab world, which had centuries of Ottoman dominance followed by European colonisation. When Mohammed VI ascended the throne, says Bourita, he explicitly sought to modernise Morocco with a new vision of a developed, modern and moderate nation.

“For Arab countries, the question was whether historical legitimacy was enough for the future. His Majesty brought a new social contract,” Bourita continues. “He chose stability through reform.

“There were some (in the region) who believed stability could be achieved through the status quo, through freezing everything. Our stability was achieved through a new constitution, through transitional justice, through improvement in the status of women, through big projects for human development.”

Taken together with the calming influence of a popular monarchy over a republic in the Middle East, these factors do offer a persuasive explanation for Morocco’s relative success and peace. They do not, however, necessarily offer that much guidance for nations that may not have the benefits of 13 centuries of sovereignty and a prestigious monarchy.

Nor has everything been perfect in Morocco. Not far short of 3000 Moroccans found their way to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

Morocco is neither complacent about its own problems with Islamist extremism, nor indifferent to the problems of its regional neighbours.

The same day I meet the foreign minister I spend the morning at the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, also in Rabat. This large, white, elegant campus was built in direct response to the rise of the terrorist movement and a number of terror bombings in Morocco more than a decade ago.

I am taken on a tour by the institute’s director, Abdesselam Lazaar, a sprightly, genial man of 70 summers.

The first things I notice about this commodious campus is that it is international and coeducational. The institute caters to students from Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Chad, Mali, Guinea and France. And while there are more young men than young women, there are plenty of young women. It seems that while women do not become imams in the sense of leading formal prayers in the mosque, they do many other jobs associated with the mosque.

Moroccan women training to become Imams

The institute, which has been going only a couple of years, has graduated 1800 men and 700 women.

Lazaar is softly spoken, quietly proud of his students. “One of the main objects of this institute is to correct the extremist reasoning and understanding of religion,” he explains. “The extremists misuse religious reasoning for extremist purposes. This institute corrects the reasoning of extremists. Then the extremists can talk only with weapons. One day the extremists will understand they have nowhere left to work because this institute has filled their space.”

The state is heavily involved in religion in Morocco. Anyone who wants to become an imam in the future in Morocco will need to go through Lazaar’s institute. Imams are paid a salary by the state and there are limits on what they can say. His institute has taken international students at the request of neighbouring governments.

A day or two later, across the street from Rabat’s magnificent, ancient Medina, which sits watchfully, timelessly, over the sea, I meet Ahmed Abbadi, from the League of Religious Scholars. Like many Moroccan intellectuals, he criticises the West for its failure to regulate, or at least involve itself, in religious practice.

Bourita, the foreign minister, refers me to men such as Lazaar when I inquire about extremism.

He thinks counter-terrorism and security is one area where Australia and Morocco could co-operate even more closely than they already do.

Canberra has recently announced it will soon open a resident embassy in Morocco, which will go some way to filling the gaping hole of our representation in this part of the world.

But Bourita envisages a much broader partnership. He thinks the relationship has a substantial unrealised potential.

“We have very good relations already but we are not maximising our potential. There is much more we could do together on investment and people to people exchanges.

“We agree on many things but there is a lot still to share in political dialogue, in sharing our assessments of our region and your assessments of your region.”

As Humphrey Bogart once remarked in a famous Moroccan scene: “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”
Greg Sheridan first worked at The Bulletin magazine in 1979. His reporting on the Vietnamese boat people, subsequent to the end of the Vietnam War, sparked a lifelong interest in Asian politics. Sheridan joined The Australian in 1984. He worked in Beijing, Washington, and Canberra before starting his tenure as foreign editor in 1992. Writing on and from the Asian region since the 1980s, he specialises on Asian politics, and has written four books on the topic, plus a book on Australia-U.S. relationships. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne.