Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Today's Big Question About Major Festivals

The View From Fez would like to hear from our readers on the subject of festival scheduling in Morocco

Why is it that the Essaouira Gnaoua Festival is on at the same time as the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music? Many of our readers say they are torn between the two.

Many at the Gnaoua Festival would like to go on to Fez

Would it not be sensible to have one Festival follow the other, with maybe a one or two day break in between? This would enable patrons to travel between Fez and Essaouira - and spend more time in Morocco.

Many at the Fes Festival would like to go on to Essaouira

The Gnaoua Festival starts on June 21st, the Fes Festival on June 22nd, making it impossible to attend both. Better scheduling would make good economic sense and would also allow for some artists to perform at both. It is worth thinking about


Concert : Unterbiberger Hofmusik @ Medina Social Club

Tomorrow (June 20th)  at 7 PM - 9 PM @Médina Social Club
Derb El Menia wosta. talaa kebira,


Fes Festival of World Sacred Music - Update

The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music looks set to have perfect weather for the entire time. The forecast is for daytime temperatures to be between 33 and 36 degrees Celsius and evenings a pleasant 17 0r 18 degrees

The opening night at Bab Makina (Friday June 22nd) promises to be another interesting creation under the direction of Alain Weber – Stage production and conception. Ramzi Aburedwan – Music direction. Christophe Olivier – Lighting designer. Franck Marty and Spectaculaires – Spectacle managers and image light operators. Scenographic creation (mapping).

On the theme of the present edition "Ancestral knowledge" the creation will highlight artisan motifs. In the Arabo-Islamic tradition, aspects of handicraft know-how are originally linked to a divine or prophetic revelation, as evidence of the desire to integrate a craft to a wisdom and to a practical and daily spirituality. The craftsman models and works on the material in the same way as the divine intellect configures the Soul in order to produce the cosmos, using shapes and colours. Therefore, the craftsman’s gesture is like a fragment of the universal action of the soul, creator of the universe. Such creation will, thus, be a great poetic and musical evocation of the privileged relationship prevailing in the City between architecture, handicraft, brotherhoods and crafts. Such reflections will be nurtured by the thoughts of the great Arab philosophers, both ancient and modern, inspired by Greek philosophy, particularly that of Aristotle.

Mapping will be sober and start from a black and white, very stylised graphic drawing which will successively give birth to a colourful historical architecture. Work on geometric motifs, emanating from weaving mosaics and moucharaby, or from weaving motifs. It will integrate with kalam by Julien Breton, a live calligrapher (light-graph). Prestigious artists from Morocco and the Arab world will highlight the traditional and modern aspect of these artisan crafts.

See the Festival programme here - Programme


Snarky Puppy, Hamid El Kasri and Hoba Hoba Spirit to open Gnaoua Festival

The Gnaoua and World Music Festival returns for its 21st edition, from June 21 to 23 in Essaouira. One of the most important artistic events of the Moroccan and international cultural agenda which starts with an opening parade

Opening parade - 18h00 @Bab Doukala

The opening of the festival is always a moment of great emotion. Every year, a colorful show, led by the Gnaoua maâlems, strolls through the streets of Essaouira to announce the beginning of the festivities.

Snarky Puppy Artistic Residence With Maâlem Hamid El Kasri @ 20h30 @ Scene Moulay Hassan

To kick off this edition, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival presents a high-end concert with the Snarky Puppy, an instrumental fusion jazz group and the most international of the maâlems: Hamid El Kasri.

This concert is the result of a residency of more than a week, where the musicians worked together to present a new musical creation.

The Snarky Puppy collective, coming to Africa for the first time, brings together talented musicians based in Brooklyn and from different cultures. Led by the bassist Michael League, and in the presence of the pianist, member of the group and regular of the festival, Bill Laurence.

The artistic residency of Maâlem Hamid El Kasri and the Snarky Puppy promises sparks. The rigor and the experience of maâlem will bring a new dimension to this musical encounter with a group that loves sharing.

Casablanca maâlems Ismael Rahil, Brahim Hamam and Khalid Sansi -9:30 pm @ Moulay Hassan stage

Hoba Hoba Spirit@ 23:00 @ Scene Moulay Hassan

Dar Loubane performances

23h00: Maâlem Haddada
00h15: Maâlem Ahmed Baqbou
Zaouia Issaoua
23h00: Maâlem Guadiri Hassan
00h15: Maâlem Omar Hayat
Zaouia Sidna Bilal
22h00 : Concert Hommage « Alwan Souira »
7 colors and 7 maâlems, this is the theme of this new tribute to the dead maâlems of the brotherhood of Essaouira.

The seven maâlems:
Maâlem Si Mohamed DARDAR
Maâlem Saïd BOURKI
Maâlem Abdellah AKHARAZ
Maâlem Abdelaziz SOUDANI
Maâlem Seddik LAARACHE
Maâlem Mokhtar GANIA
Maâlem Allal Soudani


Based in Brooklyn, Snarky Puppy is an instrumental fusion collective of more than 25 rotating musicians. Its members have played with big names such as Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar or D'Angelo. Their music combines American "white" and "black" music with accents and influences from around the world. The members come from Japan, Argentina, Canada, Great Britain and Puerto Rico. The band was created in 2004 by composer and bassist Michael League.  The band won three Grammy Awards: in 2014, best R & B performance for their interpretation of Brenda Russell's song " Something"; in 2016 and 2017, Grammy Award for the best contemporary instrumental album for the albums "Sylva" and "Culcha Vulcha".


Hamid El Kasri was born in Ksar El Kebir in 1961 in northern Morocco. He was trained at the age of 7 by the maalem Alouane and Abdelouahed Stitou, but his passion comes from the husband of his grandmother, a former Sudanese slave. His talent allows him to reconcile the Gnaoua rhythms of North and South Morocco. He owes his reputation to his voice, deep and intense. This same voice makes him one of the most appreciated and sought after maalem. A regular at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, he created the event in 2004 with the late Austrian legendary pianist Joe Zawinul, presenting one of the Festival's most memorable fusions. At the 2010 edition, Hamid El Kasri presented "Yobadi", an album of mergers, fruit of a close collaboration with Karim Ziad.


Between rock, hip hop, funk and Moroccan folklore, Hoba Hoba Spirit embodies the avant-garde, contemporary Moroccan scene with songs that become hits every time. Between "Welcome to Casa" and "Blad Skyzo", the singles are engraved in the memory of Moroccans. The group has 8 albums to its credit, including the last "Kamayanbaghi" (January 2018), and more than 500 concerts in Morocco and abroad. The Hoba have embarked on a great American tour where the press talked about "fun, intense funk moroccan band" (New York Music Daily), or "powerhouse mix" (Broadway World). The latest instalment of the group "Kamayanbaghi" offers thirteen new pieces illustrated by the artist Rebel Spirit ... Hoba Hoba Spirit and imposes itself as a generous and iconic group, both on stage and in their production.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Fez Tourism Numbers Continue to Grow

A total of 386,453 overnight stays were recorded at the end of April 2018, compared to 309,166 during the same period of the previous year, according to data from the Observatoire du tourisme. The occupancy rate was 41%, compared to 35% in January-April 2017

In April alone, 126,290 overnight stays were recorded, compared to 113,212 in April 2017, an increase of 12%. The occupancy rate was 54%, against 50% in the same month of 2017. The average length of stay during this period, it was 1.8 days, a rate identical to that achieved during the same period of the year 2017.

At the national level, the total nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments classified, at the end of April 2018, an increase of + 10% compared to the same period of 2017 (+ 13% for non-resident tourists and + 4% for residents).

The two tourist attractions Marrakech and Agadir alone generated 61% of total overnight stays at the end of April 2018. These two cities recorded an increase of + 12% and + 8% respectively.

Other destinations also performed well with Tangier and Rabat showing a double-digit increases of + 12% and + 13% respectively.


Changes to Expat Visas In Morocco

It appears that the days of doing a "visa run" every three months in order to remain in Morocco may well be over. The regulations now state, quite clearly, that in any twelve month period a visa is only good for a total of six months 

Foreigner visiting Morocco means persons of foreign nationality having their habitual residence abroad and whose length of stay in Morocco does not exceed six (06) months in a period of twelve (12) years. ) months. Moroccan Government website

In the past it was possible to exit Morocco at the end of a three month visa and then return to Morocco and receive a new three month visa. The most popular "visa run" destinations were Spain or the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Recently stories have circulated on social media of expats making a visa run and being refused entry back into the country as they have spent more than six months in Morocco.

Arriving in Morocco
Upon arrival at the airport you should receive a stamp in your passport. Make sure that you acquire this stamp as there have been reported situations where a stamp was not placed on a traveler’s passport and consequently, it made it difficult to leave Morocco without proof of entry.
Extended Stay or Permanent Relocation to Morocco
If you are already in Morocco and want to permanently relocate, or you are an exchange student, you must go to the local Moroccan police station in the district you reside. There you can contact the Bureau des Etrangers, an immigration authority, and apply for a residency permit. Applying for an extended visa can be a timely process so what some travellers do is take a trip outside of Morocco for one or two days before their three months are up. However, be aware that in a few cases people tried this and were denied re-entry until they contacted the nearest Moroccan embassy to re-apply.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Lone Woman Playing a Man’s Game

Brietta Hague reports on an ancient and little known Moroccan sport - Mata - and the lone woman who has chosen to compete

Photo credit: Angels Melange

A hundred horsemen are preparing for battle. Six tribes from Northern Morocco have gathered in the village of Zniyed for a game that dates back 800 years.

Mata is a display of manhood as much as it is a game. Tribesmen, riding bareback, fight for possession of a female idol, using force if they have to. In past years, some have even used knives.

Traditionally, the rider who crosses the finish line with the idol won the hand of the most beautiful woman in his tribe.

But today the men no longer take a woman as a prize, they compete against one - Zohra Sidki - the only woman to have taken the field for Mata.

Zohra Sidki

Before the race, riders head to pay their respects at the mountain-top tomb of Moulay Abdeslam, the saint who first started Mata.

The Sufi saint is said to have brought the game home from central Asia in the 13th century.

During his travels, he witnessed “buzkashi” — an Afghan sport still popular today where riders vie to put a goat or calf corpse into a goal.

Buzkashi itself was brought across the central steppe to Persia by Mongol hordes.

The sport took hold in north Africa and mixed with local beliefs, becoming something uniquely Moroccan.

When the saint’s direct descendants, the Baraka family, revived the game, they faced a common cultural conundrum: how to honour a historic tradition steeped in patriarchal attitudes that many now find unacceptable.

See Brietta Hague's full report here: Mata Festival