Monday, March 02, 2015

ALC ALIF Blood Drive this Wednesday - Help Save Lives in Fez

This Wednesday sees the good folk of the ALC ALIF Community Service Club holding their second Blood Drive to help save lives in local public hospitals

In collaboration with the blood transfusion centre, ALC-ALIF Community Service Club invites you to give blood on Wednesday any time between 9 am to 1 pm.

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several, if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.

Donors will receive a free snack, and a free confidential blood test. 


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Free Concert at ALIF Riad Fez - Village Dial Waheda

Next Wednesday ALIF presents Paula Jeanine Bennett and the Sefrou Village Ensemble performing songs from the folk-opera “A Village of One/Village dial Waheda

NYC-based vocalist-composer-percussionist-visual artist Paula Jeanine Bennett will present songs from her folk opera “A Village Of One/Village Dial Waheda” in English and Darija in a night of new music.

Though the work has been performed in New York and in Java, Paula has adapted her material to include many elements of her love of Moroccan culture, mixed with her own unique aesthetic.

With a seven-voice choir, a halka storyteller, Brahim Daldali, local musicians Ismail Maarouf (guitar, drums, voice) and Youness El Issmaeli (oud), the evening promises to be an unforgettable one.

A Village Of One/Village Dial Waheda” is a musing on the loneliness of modern life as seen through the lens of a village. 

With a focus on women’s issues, social structure and self-definition, the songs of “Village Dial Waheda” lend themselves to cultural dialogue.

This concert is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 4th at 7 PM
ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Batha

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Petroleum Prices in Morocco Rise Again

The Moroccan Ministry of Corporate Affairs has announced a further rise in prices of petroleum products. According to a government statement the rise, from last Sunday, March 1st, is only a slight increase

The price of diesel rose by 51 cents to 8.96 DH per litre, while that of premium gasoline rose 34 cents to 9.88 dirhams per litre.

Back in September 2013 the Benkirane government implemented a system of partial indexation of petroleum prices in order to reduce the burden on the state's budget and slow a widening budget deficit.

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Morocco Moves Towards Parity for Women ~ and an End to Violence

Sunday March 8th is International Women's Day. In Morocco, the struggle for equality is taking centre stage, with the government turning its attention to several pieces of legislation that women's groups  claim are long overdue. At the same time a major report by NGO's paints a troubling picture of just how much work remains to be done

Last Friday,  Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, announced that "The bill for the creation of the National Forum of Parity and fight against all forms of discrimination will be presented on Thursday by the Government Council."

Bassima Hakkaoui

The creation of this National Forum, as women's rights advocates point out, is stipulated in Article 19 of the Constitution which aims to establishes "equal rights" and urges the State to "strive for parity" through the establishment of a special body.

At the same time,  a bill will be introduced to improve the fight against violence towards women. "We want to make a specific law for women, which will be launched by the end of this year," announced Mrs. Hakkaoui.

Mbarka Bouaida, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation speaking at a conference debate on "women's rights in Morocco, 20 years after Beijing" jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and UN Women, added her voice to the debate, saying that the Kingdom "has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to a pro-active approach to promoting women's empowerment and gender equality, by implementing structural reforms and by taking effective measures to strengthen the role of women in the construction of a modern society."

Mbarka Bouaida

"If the reform of the Family Code has done justice to Moroccan women and strengthened its role within the family and society, the new 2011 Constitution paves the way for an effective fight against discrimination against women and the full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms," said Mbarka Bouaida.

Yet, a report on the situation of women's rights in Morocco describes an almost diametrically different situation. "In terms of women's rights, many reform projects are open since the adoption of the new constitution in 2011," reads the report, "but their execution is marked by inexplicable delays." Based on figures from the High Commission for Planning (HCP), the 38 organisations headed by the Democratic Association of Women of Morocco (ADFM), the report paints a damning assessment of the situation of Moroccan women, claiming that poverty, violence, unemployment and different types of discrimination are the daily lot of a large number of Moroccan women.

Despite the report, Bassima Hakkaoui remained optimistic, saying that Morocco's balance sheet is very positive, and that the country has recorded significant progress in equality making it a "leader in the region and internationally. We are pleased with the balance and ambitious to set up other accomplishments," she said.

Aatifa Timjerdine

Between optimism and reality are the stark figures reported by the NGOs that indicate 62.8% of Moroccan women have suffered gender violence; 55% in the marital context. "Violence can be either physical or moral, through intimidating or hurtful words, " says NGO Coordinator, Aatifa Timjerdine. The report recommends a revision of the criminal law to meet three requirements, in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution: the investigation of perpetrated violence, punishment of such violence and compensation for damages suffered by the victims.

The report also examines women's health issues and notes that there are still too many illegal abortions. Using data from the Moroccan Association against Illegal Abortion (Amlac) it estimates that 600 to 800 women have abortions every day in unsanitary conditions. The report proposes a revision of Article 453 of the Criminal Code to expand the circumstances under which a therapeutic abortion is permitted.

The report also reviews the situation of women regarding literacy and schooling. In 2012, the illiteracy rate among urban women was 47.6% against 25.3% for men. In rural areas, female illiteracy was as high as 64.5% in 2012.

In some parts of Morocco, 83% of brides are minors.

Disparities between rural and urban areas are more stark in secondary education. Net enrolment rate of rural girls in college is below 27.2% and drops to a rate of 7% in high school.

Women's protest in Rabat

The report shows an increase in female employment, but notes that women are the most affected by unemployment (10.2% against 8.4% for men). In urban areas, the female unemployment rate is 24% while that of men is 17%. About 21% of women who hold diplomas of higher education remain unemployed, while the number of unemployed men in the same situation is only 11%.

The sectors where women work most are agriculture (61.1%), the services sector, 26.3% and industry, 12.5%.

Women's representation in the governing bodies of legislative, executive and judiciary, remains low. An HCP survey in 2012 shows that women are under-represented (24.2%) in positions of responsibility.

At the level of political participation parliament has only 67 women out of 395 members, 17% instead of 10.5% in the previous term. To break the "glass ceiling", the NGOs ask for the implementation of affirmative action to reduce disparities in access to positions in the public service.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Photo of the Day ~ Spring Above Fez

A spring ride amidst the flowers on the foothills of Mount Zalagh

Gigi Kay riding Cosmo Lush in the flowers below Mt Zalagh in Fez

Dr Gigi Kay is the Director of the American Fondouk ~ Fez's famous veterinary hospital for mules, donkeys and horses. Visit the American Fondouk site to support their valuable work. Click HERE

Photo: Dick Hooper

See more of our series Photo of the Day 

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Morocco's Airports Get Wakeup Call

For frequent travellers to Morocco it will come as no surprise that Casablanca Airport is rated as the 4th worst airport in the world. Marrakech is the 9th worst. But with work underway in Casablanca and plans for Marrakech - things may change
Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca

The annual Edreams website ranking of international airports as recently been released and again this year it is not good news for Morocco. The rankings are hardly scientific, being based on the notes, opinions and comments of 18,000 users.

Casablanca's Mohammed V International Airport gets the thumbs down because of baggage handling and the extremely slow customs and passport control management.

Casablanca has been in 4th spot before, but the surprise this year was the inclusion of Marrakech in the top ten worst list. However, things may change, albeit slowly. A new airport is planned for Marrakech.  A meeting, held mid 2014 and chaired by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Logistics, Aziz Rebbah,  estimated the cost of the project to be around 4.3 billion dirhams. The future airport is expected to have the capacity to handle an annual total of 10 million passengers.

The international airport of Marrakech Menara has set a record in 2014 with over 4 million travellers, said a statement of the national airport office (ONDA).

The first problem for Marrakech is the location of the new airport. At present the airport is located in an area hemmed in by the ever expanding urbanisation. It is thought that expansion and renovation of the present site would be feasible and might increase capacity to 9 million passengers  However, it is projected that annual volume of traffic is expected to reach 14.37 million passengers by 2030.

Potential locations for the new airport must be within 30 kilometres of the city. Front runner is considered to the municipality of Sidi Bouatmane.

Casablanca is an important entry point for visitors to Morocco and the problems it experiences have been noted by Najib Boulif, the Minister of Transport, who pointed to an increase in passengers and baggage on flights from 2012 to 2014. He also noted the rate of lost luggage had risen from 10.5% to 12.5%.

The Minister is determined to address the issues, saying that the present situation "Gives a negative image to tourists in Morocco." He promised increased CCTV coverage of baggage handling and improved staff training,

The work of improving the Mohammed V airport in Casablanca suffered from four ears of delays, but has begun again in order to increase the capacity of terminals 1 and 2

The extension of Terminal 1 is intended to triple the airport capacity from 7 to 23 million passengers. It is expected to be completed by September 2016.

The refurbished, Terminal 2 will be exclusively for Royal Air Morocco flights. The work will take thirty months and completed in July 2017.  "Obviously the site work is designed so as not to discomfort passengers," says Zubair Ould El Maalem, Communications Officer from the National Airports Office (Onda).

The new Fez-Sais airport should look like this

Meanwhile, work is continuing in Fez on the new terminal with an annual capacity of 2.5 million additional passengers. According to Director General of the National Airports Authority, Mr. Abdelhanine Benallou, the new terminal (26,000 m2),will cost 620 million dirhams, and will the bring-the total annual capacity of Fez-Sais airport to three million passengers,

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