Sunday, May 27, 2018

Al Firdaus Ensemble in Concert!

Al Firdaus Ensemble in Concert! Wednesday, May 30 at 9:30 PM ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Batha. Al Firdaus Ensemble, based in Granada, was founded in 2012 by the English violinist and singer Ali Keeler and includes musicians from England, Spain and Morocco

The group takes its inspiration from the word Firdaus, which is the Arabic name for the most elevated abode in Paradise. The intercultural nature of this name reflects the character of the group, in which musicians from different countries and cultural backgrounds are brought together with one purpose. Just as the musicians tune their instruments, so they need to tune their hearts to receive the inspiration of the moment and transmit that to the audience. The traditional Arabic term for this kind of music is Sama`, which could be translated as “the art of listening”.

The unique sound of their music is due to a synthesis of different musical styles. These include original compositions of a more Western classical character with influences from both Celtic and Flamenco traditions, and new arrangements of songs drawn from the rich heritage of traditional Sufi music from Arabic, Andalusi and Turkish sources. The words of the songs are mainly in Arabic, drawn from the poetry of the great Sufis from Al Andalus and the Arab world, such as Ibn Arabi and Al Shushtari.


Also within their repertoire are musical adaptations of poems in aljamiado, old Spanish written by the Moriscos using the Arabic script. In this way Al Firdaus hopes to revive the heritage of the Moriscos, whose culture was forbidden in its day and and has only reached us through manuscripts which they left behind on their expulsion in 1609.

Al Firdaus usually plays in quartet or quintet formation. They use a combination of Arabic and Western classical instruments in addition to the flamenco guitar. They have performed in concerts and international festivals throughout Europe, Bosnia, the U.S., Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, and Malaysia. They have released two CDs: Safa in 2014 and Nur in 2017.

This concert, organized by the ALC-ALIF Music Club, is free and open to the general public.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Moulay Yacoub: spa complex and hotel officially opens after Ramadan


The Vichy thermalia hotel Moulay Yacoub and the spa Moulay Yacoub, located about twenty km from Fes, officially opens their doors after Ramadan 

This project is part of a plan to modernise the baths of Moulay Yacoub.  The project, at a cost of 400 MDH, was managed between Sothermy and Vichy Spa International, a subsidiary of the Compagnie de Vichy , a leading French group in the field of hydrotherapy and well-being.

The aim of this partnership is to make baths a vector of development throughout the Fez-Meknes Region, thanks to positive socio-economic benefits for the village of Moulay Yacoub.


This development project aims to make Moulay Yacoub a spa with international standards and allow it to play the role of essential component of the tourism offer of the region of Fes Boulemane.

Previously, the thermal baths of Moulay Yacoub welcomed a million visitors a year, a figure expected to increase after the commissioning of new modern equipment.

The hotel has 100 rooms : 58 standard category (about 32 m2), 35 superior category (about 40m2) and 7 suites (from 63 to 80 m2).


It also has 3 food outlets, 3 meeting rooms for up to 100 people, a heated outdoor pool, a gym and a spa.

The region will now have two high class facilities after the opening of Rim Aquatic (see story here)

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"Ramadan Nights" - Concert in Fez


LES NUITS DU RAMADAN - CONCERT : MONICA PEREIRA


Sunday 27 May 22:00 Marriott Hotel - Fes

For Monica Pereira, everything starts in Guinea-Bissau where she was born. As a young girls she moved first to Portugal and at the age of 14 she settled in Paris where she discovered her talent for writing and singing.

She sings in French, Portuguese and Spanish, following her current inspiration with a subtle blend of Cape Verdean and Guinean sounds. Spontaneous, generous and charismatic, Monica Pereira epitomises the lusophone Creole tradition in which she has been raised since her childhood.

Monica is one of those endearing artists whose presence provides a real moment of pleasure and sharing. Her sweet and sensual voice blends perfectly with the rhythm of captivating sounds. From the first moment she sings, time is suspended on her lips, and we let ourselves be transported by the generosity of this charismatic singer.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Breaking the Fast in Fez

Just before the cannon sounds to signal the breaking of the fast, the streets of Fez are almost completely deserted. There is a silence throughout the normally bustling Medina...


Once the cannon and the call to prayer are heard, the atmosphere changes. The streets around Batha come alive as locals and tourists fill the restaurants and break their fast.


Restaurant owners and workers find themselves eating as they work. The street restaurants soon fill up and latecomers have to wait for a vacancy before they can eat and drink.


After the first food and glasses of water or orange juice are consumed the atmosphere changes as people relax and the conversations begin. 



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Monday, May 21, 2018

14th International Festival of Amazigh Culture at Fès - Report


14th International Festival of Amazigh Culture at Fès called to strengthen the values of social justice and freedom

The curtain fell last Sunday on the fourteenth edition of the International Festival of Amazigh Culture in Fez. Organized under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI by the Association Fes Saiss and the Center South North in partnership with the Region Fes-Meknes, this edition was marked by the vibrant homage paid to the great writer Tahar Ben Jelloun and by a series of tributes to several figures of the Amazigh song.

During the debates, which brought together 30 speakers included Moulay Driss Alaoui Mdaghri, Mohamed Kabbaj, Nouzha Skalli, Hassan Aourid, Fatima Sadiqi, Jean-Marie Cimon, Juliane Tauchnitz ... the speakers emphasised the impact of multiculturalism in general and Amazigh culture in particular on modernity, democracy and sustainable development. "This congress shed light on the contribution of minority culture to the Islamic world and called for multiculturalism to be a lever for economic, social and cultural development," says Moha Ennaji, director of the festival. And to add that the congress has examined ways to promote democratic culture in the countries of North Africa. During the debates, Participants noted the important role of Amazigh intangible heritage and cultural diversity and their contributions to the culture of peace. Unanimous, academics like Mohamed Arji (University of Fes), Abdallah Boumalek (IRCAM), Abdelouahad Mabrour (University of El Jadida), Ali Fertahi (Mly Slimane University), Mohamed Chtatou (International University of Rabat) and Driss Bouyahya (University Moulay Ismail, Meknes), reviewed the evolution over the years of Amazigh cultural action and its different phases of transformation.

A dozen concerts at the historical site of Bab Makina set the tone for a colourful event! The varied programming attracted lovers of Amazigh and popular music.

Dounia Batma
The great artist Aicha Maya and the Faisal orchestra gave great concerts on the prestigious opening stage of the Festival. The second evening featured the great artists Fatima Tachtoukt, Sami Ray, and the group Ahidous Oulmès. For the Sunday closing, the Catalan band Marea Flamenca, the great artist Houssa 46 and the star of the Moroccan song Dounia Batma performed in marvellous concerts with their unique talents. The festival was pleased to honour the latter singers.

The International Forum, another strong aspect of the festival, it was a platform to discuss the Amazigh culture and the future of democracy in North Africa. The discussions focused on the importance of democratic culture and intercultural dialogue for human development, peace and social cohesion.

In parallel, theater, writing, and painting workshops, as well as poetry readings, art and book exhibitions and Amazigh carpet exhibitions were on the program.

Tahar Ben Jelloun, "the man of the year"

During the festival, the organizers paid a warm tribute to the writer Tahar Ben Jelloun. Born in Fez, the winner of the Goncourt prize (in 1987 for "La Nuit Sacrée") was chosen "man of the year" by the Amazigh festival. In a testimony, Mohamed Kabbaj, founder of the Association Fes-Saïss, returned on the paths crossed with Ben Jelloun. "Although we are both native of the medina of Fez, a few hundred meters, I have known you through your writings, novels, and articles," Kabbaj said. Prix ​​Goncourt in 1987 for "La nuit sacrée" (translated into 43 languages), Tahar Ben Jelloun is the glory of Moroccan writing: Arabization made him leave his post of teacher of philosophy in 1971, but opened him an international career. He is the most translated French writer in the world. He is the author of fifty books, poetry and novels. Writer elected member of the academy Goncourt (since 2008), he is the author of many novels including "Harrouda", "The scars of the sun", "The reclusions solitary", "The prayer of the absent" ... until to "A country on the nerves" and "Punishment".

Among the big names, writers, poets, and journalists who participated in this festival: Driss Mdaghri Alaoui (Morocco), Nouzha Skalli, Hassan Aourid (Morocco), Jean-Marie Simon (France), Noha Bakr (Egypt), Johan Goud ( Holland), Tarik Mira (Algeria), Juliane Tauchnitz (Germany), Mino Vianello (Italy), Youssouf Amine Elalamy (Morocco) and many others!

In the end, the 14th edition of the festival released the following recommendations:
1) Emphasise the central role of the Amazigh language and culture as vectors of universal values of democratic culture and living together.
2) Strengthen respect for gender equality and the preservation of social integration.
3) Sensitize individuals, especially young people through education, to the values of democracy, modernity and peace.
4) Encourage democratic culture in the family, school, community and cities, at local and national levels.
5) Encourage self-criticism and critical thinking, and work on mentalities as a way to prevent conflict.
6) Separate religion from politics, and consolidate the separation of powers.
7) Strengthen the values of social justice and freedom, and strengthen cooperation among North African countries to achieve democracy and sustainable development.

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World Class Water Park and Hotel Opens in Fez

The province of Moulay Yacoub, known for the virtues of its thermal water, is fast becoming a destination of attractions and recreation. Developer, Hassan Belamkaddem, has invested more than 140 million DH for the construction of a gigantic water park, "Rim Aquatique", on the road to Meknes, not far from the centre of Ras El Mae

Spread over an area of ​​6 hectares, the project includes three swimming pools, an artificial beach, 46 luxury suites, two restaurants with a capacity of 600 seats, a go-kart track, a garden, a playground, in addition to a park with trees.

"As I am originally from this province, I wanted to make a big investment to create an economic activity and offer work to young people," says Hassan Belamkaddem (pictured left). The centre provides for the creation of 500 jobs.

While the structural part is completed, the finishing of the guest rooms is in full swing. "We have imported Egyptian showers, Russian children's games and other equipment, such as water slides, from around the world. The "Rim Aquatique" project required 4 years of research, work and realisation.

"Its goal is to attract domestic and foreign tourists, "says Belamkaddem. The challenge, he says, is to build a modern recreation centre that meets international standards, especially in terms of safety. The project dedicated to families is the first in the region.

"We have a large pool, a learning pool with sledges, static waves, a play lagoon, a Jacuzzi, changing rooms, toilets, an infirmary, as well as administrative, storage and household complex," underlines the management of the project.


The opening to the public was on Saturday, May 5, 2018, a few days before the start of the summer holidays.

See more video here: Rim Aquatique

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

New Flights Between Marrakech and Vienna

Air Arabia Morocco has announced the opening of a new route next winter between the cities of Marrakech and Vienna

This is the sixth line operated by Air Arabia Morocco from Marrakech to Europe, the company already serving Frankfurt, Montpellier, Pau, London and Paris.

The Marrakech-Vienna flight will be operational from 29 October 2018, with two weekly flights on Mondays and Thursdays, and will be operated by Air Arabia Maroc's fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.

- From Marrakech to Vienna
Monday - Thursday: departure at 14:10; arriving at 19:20

- From Vienna to Marrakech
Monday - Thursday: departure at 20:10; arrival at 23:30

In April 2018, the Kingdom's airports recorded an air traffic volume of 2 million passengers, an increase of almost 10% compared to the same period in 2017. The Mohammed V airport in Casablanca produced 40% of total traffic, or 869,063 passengers, against 839,924 passengers for the same period of 2017, up 3.47%. Two other airports, Marrakech Menara and Agadir Al Massira, also continue their growth withinceases of 16% and 24% respectively.

Domestic traffic accounted for 239,908 passengers, a sustained growth of 14.7%. International traffic increased by 8.86% to 1,766,111 passengers, or 88% of overall traffic. The change is mainly due to the continued growth recorded by the Europe segment (10.37%). This is also the case for the Americas, up 10.03% for North America and 22.88% for South America. Markets in the Middle and Far East and Maghreb countries experienced growth of 4.22% and 0.87% respectively. The African segment, for its part, has posted a slight decrease of -1.84%.

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