Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Is Fez to Get an Artificial Beach?

Beachfront properties in Fez? It is a notion that most people with a sense of Morocco's geography would call ludicrous. Yet, if Hamid Chabat has his way, it could well become a reality

Say what you like about the mayor of Fez, one thing you have to admit, he has grand visions. Hamid Chabat is not only a mayor, he is also Secretary General of Al Istiqlal Party. This is the man who, back in October 2012, astonished the good folk of Fez by erecting a replica of the Eiffel Tower. However, public reaction to such a reminder of the previous colonial power, saw it demolished shortly after.

Then there was his plan to build a gigantic arch like France’s “Arc de Triomphe” (Arch of Triumph) at the entrance to the city of Fez on the road from Meknes Now it seems he is wanting to spend 100 million dirhams ($10,212,000 US) building an artificial beach in the city of Fez.

The Fez Eiffel Tower  - before being removed in November 2012

As commented at the time, "In Fez, where unemployment and poverty is one of the highest in Morocco, one wonders how a representative of the people can afford to spend public money to build unnecessary symbols that do not reflect in any way the identity of the ancient city."

Despite critics pointing out that education, healthcare and jobs are what the city needs, it appears Hamid Chabat is seriously determined to carry out his dream.

According to sources close to the mayor, the artificial beach will be built at Oued Fez and cover a total area of 22 hectares. The official website of the Fez City Council states that the water required will be brought from the rural commune of Ain Allah, which is administratively under the prefecture of Moulay Yacoub.

Sources revealed that access to the beach will be free and that women will have their own exclusive area.

Mayor Hamid Chabat - a man of big visions

The artificial beach project has been mooted since 2008, when Le Economiste ran a report about it, saying it would be fed from a source at Ain Sened, and would occupy an area of 70 ha which would include a golf course and a wetland area.

Back in 2014 Morocco World News questioned why such a large amount of money was being allocated to an artificial beach, "that is likely to have a negative environmental impact in terms of water usage, instead of striving to renovate and restore the historic and crumbling buildings in Fez that have a significant and a special place in the history of the Kingdom and in popular memory."

However, local business owner Hicham Tazi believes that both projects deserve attention. "Not one at the expense of the other," he says. "Fez is in desperate need of some cheering up. The artificial beach would be a welcome source of leisure activity and a way to keep cool in the hot summer weather. In addition more parks and gardens should be planned to balance the concrete build out in the growing urban city. But the medina restoration cannot suffer as a result."

The people of Fez appear to be somewhat bemused by the notion of a beach and are in no rush to buy "waterwings" or "floaties" for their children. There also seems to be no surge of investors wanting to purchase beachside frontage. As they say in the tabloids - "don't hold your breath".

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Morocco ~ Security Update

With recent events the region and in particular the attacks in Tunisia, Morocco has increased its security operations. And in a spectacular success just two days after it was officially set up, the Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation or BCIJ have dismantled a major terrorist cell

Part of proactive counter-terrorism efforts, the newly set-up BCIJ (described as Morocco's FBI) arrested the alleged terrorist cell members who were operating in the cities of Agadir, Tangier, Laayoune, Boujaad, Tifelt, Marrakech, Taroudant, Ain Harouda and Eastern Laayoune.

While Moroccan security has an extremely good track record, the same can not be said for the Spanish occupied enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. According to the BCIJ the terrorist cell they dismantled had brought arms in through Melilla in order to carry out attacks for the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.

Abdelhak Khiame

The cell was made up of 13 members aged between 19 and 37, most of them without primary school education, said Abdelhak Khiame, head of the BCIJ who told reporters that 440 rounds of ammunition, six pistols, 31 handcuffs and electronic equipment were seized at a cache near Agadir.

Moroccan authorities had been watching the suspects for over five months, but Abdelhak Khiame said that it was not yet clear if they were linked to cells in Europe.

For its part, Spain says it has dismantled several networks, particularly in Melilla and Ceuta, recruiting fighters for the Islamic State. The two enclaves, the only land borders between Africa and Europe, attract thousands of mostly sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach European countries.

The interior ministry said on Sunday the Moroccan cell was dismantled in a nationwide operation and that the arms seized were to have been used for a string of assassinations.

Large amount of ammunition

The announcement of the seizures and arrests followed last Wednesday's attack on the national museum in the capital of fellow North African state Tunisia, claimed by ISIS.

The Moroccan government is quoted by the official MAP news agency says,"The firearms and a large amount of ammunition was to be used to assassinate political, military and civilian figures."

It said members of the dismantled network had pledged allegiance to IS and vowed to target the Moroccan security forces and send recruits to fight in Syria and Iraq. According to official figures, between 1 500 and 2 000 Moroccans are fighting or have fought alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria as well as in Libya.

Thirteen individuals were arrested in the dismantling operation of a terrorist cell operating in several Moroccan cities on Sunday, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), an offshoot of Morocco’s domestic intelligence agency (DGST) said.

The Director of the newly created BCIJ Abdelhak Khiame said at a press briefing in Salé. that the arrested individuals named their terrorist cell as “Wilayat Adawla Al Islamiya fi bilad Al Maghrib Al Aqsa – Ahfad Youssef Ibn Tachfin” (The Islamic State in the Western Maghreb – the descendants of Youssef Ibn Tachfin) and were scheming to launch a terrorist plan undermining the security and stability of the Kingdom.

The seized objects include six automatic pistols of different calibres, 8 computers which will later be analysed at the laboratory of the scientific and technical police, 2 hard discs, 3G modems, USB keys, 18 mobile phones, 14 SIM cards, binoculars, a camera, and CDs and DVDs.

Targeted: Amazigh and Secular activist, Ahmed Assid

The terrorist cell planned to assassinate many Moroccan politicians and public figures, including the Amazigh and Secular activist, Ahmed Assid. “Ahmed Assid was on the top of the cell’s targets,” Abdelhak Khiame said.

He went on to add that the terrorist cell was attempting to kill several Moroccan civil, political and military figures. The terrorist schemes included the perpetration of 119 bombings, the assassination of 109 personalities, seven kidnappings and 41 fire arm attacks, the BCIJ director said. He confirmed that the list of targets did not include any cabinet members but did not reveal the names of the other targets that were on the cell’s list because the investigations are still underway.

Some 132 terrorist cells have been busted by Moroccan security services over 2002-2015. Over the same period, dismantlement operations resulted in foiling 276 terrorist plans and the arrest of 2,720 individuals, he said.

As for Moroccan fighters within the ranks of terrorist groups, Khiame said that their number stand at 1,354 of whom 200 are former prisoners, 246 were killed in Syria and 40 in Iraq adding that 156 have returned to Morocco.

Khiame added that 185 women joined ISIS along with 135 children

Israeli authorities say Morocco is safe for Israeli tourists

The Israeli Bureau Against Terrorism, which is part of Israel's National Security Council, has issued a warning to Israelis intending to travel abroad on the eve of celebrations of Passover and the upcoming spring break.

The Bureau advises Israelis to avoid countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Kenya, Egypt or Nigeria. "The Israelis at present in these regions are warned to leave as soon as possible," says the Israeli Bureau. This warning,  sources say, is based on "solid and reliable information and tangible threats," and that the next Israeli holidays could be a pretext for terrorist attacks against Israel and Jewish targets.

Morocco, on the other hand is not included in the list as it is seen a a safe destination

Many Israelis traditionally travel abroad during the period which runs from the Jewish Passover (April 3 to 10) to the holiday of Shavuot (May 24).

Thankfully, Morocco remains a safe and welcoming tourist destination

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Morocco's Daylight Saving Schedule for 2015

Morocco is to set its clocks forward by one hour from March 29. The announcement was made by the Ministry of Civil Service and Modernisation (Ministère de la Fonction publique et de la modernisation de l’administration). The legal time in Morocco will be GMT +1 as of 2 am on the 29th of March

Daylight saving in Morocco is complicated by the advent of Ramadan, during which daylight saving is temporarily dropped.


29 Mar 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Starts
When local standard time is about to reach
Sunday, 29 March 2015, 02:00:00 clocks are turned forward 1 hour to
Sunday, 29 March 2015, 03:00:00 local daylight time instead

13 Jun 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Ends
When local daylight time is about to reach
Saturday, 13 June 2015, 03:00:00 clocks are turned backward 1 hour to
Saturday, 13 June 2015, 02:00:00 local standard time instead

18 Jul 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Starts
When local standard time is about to reach
Saturday, 18 July 2015, 02:00:00 clocks are turned forward 1 hour to
Saturday, 18 July 2015, 03:00:00 local daylight time instead

25 Oct 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Ends
When local daylight time is about to reach
Sunday, 25 October 2015, 03:00:00 clocks are turned backward 1 hour to
Sunday, 25 October 2015, 02:00:00 local standard time instead

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Morocco's Language Debate Continues

According to a new survey conducted by news website Hespress, Moroccans are overwhelmingly in favour of replacing French with English in the Moroccan educational system.
Do you support that English language should replace the French language in Morocco?

Yes 35 705 (85.98%)
No 5821 (14.02%)
Number of participants: 41 526 -Hespress Survey

Of the more than 41,000 people who participated in the survey, only 14 percent said that French should remain the country’s first foreign language. People in favour of replacing French with English, on the other hand, pulled in a whopping 85.98 percent of the vote.

Moroccans have become more outspoken about the importance of switching the country’s education system from French to English. For the majority of them, as it is the case with the sample surveyed by Arabic-speaking news website Hespress, French is limiting their access to knowledge and economic opportunities. Even Moroccan officials have expressed on numerous occasions the importance of adopting English over French within the Moroccan educational system. For the head of government Abdelilah Benkirane, for instance, English is the language of today’s science, technology and commerce.

However, there are still people in Morocco who fiercely lobby for French to be kept as the first foreign language of the country. Their efforts have yielded results as the Supreme Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research is said to be reconsidering earlier recommendations to replace French with English in the Moroccan curriculum. The new recommendations, if adopted, will be included in the Supreme Council’s Strategic Report to be submitted to King Mohammed VI.

The council headed by Omar Azziman, an advisor to King Mohammed VI, is said to have ordered the formation of a sub-committee to review the proposal of replacing French with English, a proposal already hailed as the right move by many members of the Council’s Permanent Committee on Curriculum, Programs, Training and Teaching tools in earlier sessions.

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Casa Fashion Show 2015 Brings Out the Stars

The 6th edition of the Casa Fashion Show will feature many international stars, including Tonya Kinzinger, Helene Segara and Estelle Lefebure

The event takes place on Saturday, March 28, at the Casablanca Sofitel. Industry insiders tell The View from Fez that it is not to be missed!

This year, the major fashion houses will be part of an unforgettable show. The list is impressive: Roberto Cavalli, Emporio Armani, Versace, Philipp Plein, Marco Bologna, Balmain, Christophe Guillarmé, Pinko, Pronovias, Etro, and more.

On the catwalk will be 23 models before an audience including stars such as Helene Segara and Natasha St-Pier; both guests of honour and who will sing on this occasion.

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