Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moroccan News Briefs

Swine Flu toll hits 173 on October 20

Morocco's H1N1 documented cases reached 173 up to October 20, according to Health Minister, Yasmina Baddou (pictured left).

Speaking at the House of Advisors' question time, Baddou said that three of the infected people are still receiving medical care, while the others made full recovery. She highlighted the efficiency of measures taken by Morocco to combat the pandemic, noting that most cases came from overseas.

It is now up to vaccine companies to deliver the expected doses so that the international system could fight the virus, the Minister said, adding that the north African country has taken all necessary precautions to be among the first countries to receive the antidote.

Morocco maintains prevention measures since 2005, part of its national action program to fight avian flu.

US Secretary of State in Morocco early November

According to information from the US State Department in Washington, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is due in Morocco on November 2-3. It is understood that she will take part in the 6th Forum of the Future in Marrakech. It is expected that she will also hold high level talks during her visit.

Recalling that the United States and Morocco hosted the first Forum for the Future in Rabat in 2004, the statement said the Forum is a joint initiative of the countries of the Broader Middle East and North Africa region (BMENA) and the industrialized countries of the Group of Eight (G8). It added that it is a unique partnership between governments of the region, the G8, civil society representatives and private sector leaders and allows them to discuss and exchange ideas on how to best work together to support progress and expand opportunities for the people of the region.

Rabat gets new tourism police squad headquarters

This week, in a bid to promote tourism activities in the capital, tourism authorities inaugurated a new headquarters for the tourism squad.

The new facility is located in the heart of the old medina amid many historical sites. It is hoped it will contribute to enhancing the safety of visitors and fighting tourism-related crimes.

This special squad will reassure tourists and help policemen conduct onsite operations against beggars, vagrants and illegal tourism guides.

Made of 38 officers, the Rabat tourism squad is equipped with cars and motorcycles to carry out combing operations in tourist sites. This special squad was set up in 1998 to protect and ensure tourists' security .

Morocco holds second international horse show

Morocco’s Atlantic city of El Jadida (90km south of Casablanca) hosts from Wednesday the second International Horse Show against the backdrop of the glorification of the Moroccan equestrian heritage.

King Mohammed VI travelled on Tuesday to the city for the official launch of this event which is expecting about 150,000 visitors. The Gulf emirate of Qatar is this year’s guest of honour.

Some 72 exhibitors, including 50 private ones, 10 institutional and 12 international, are taking part in this event launched in 2008. More than 600 horses will be participating in many competitions and shows planned by the organisers who also offer galleries and exhibitions on a 9 hectare Princess Lalla Malika racecourse.

The event is due to draw around 72 national and foreign exhibitors. The six-day event features a number of competitions, Tbourida, exhibits… in addition to art galleries (paintings, artworks, manuscripts…)

Sponsored by King Mohammed VI (pictured above), the show will be marked by a variety of cultural and scientific conferences open to the public including Horse in the Arab-Muslim world, Barb horse management in Morocco, running equine breeding, genetics and cytogenetics in horses and breeding mares. Different species of horses will be exhibited in the show, including the Barbary, the Arab-Barbary horse, the Arabian thoroughbred, the English thoroughbred, the Moroccan sports horse, the English-Spanish-Arabian horse and other race species.

Organised by the Association du Salon du Cheval (ASC - association of the horse show), the event is also due to highlight the place of the horse in the Moroccan cultural identity, and the socio-economic position it has had throughout the centuries. The show will be marked by the participation of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces (FAR), which will organise an exhibition that traces back certain aspects of the heritage gained from the different civilisations in terms of equestrian heritage.

According to the organisers, the event has become a "must-see at national and international level.”

Morocco is guest of honour in key Spanish film festival

The Moroccan cinema will be the guest of honour of the 15th edition of the Mostra de Valence Film Festival with the featuring of 10 feature films.

The homage cycle to the Moroccan moviemaking started Friday night and continues until October 24. It will feature Ali Zaoua by Nabil Ayouch, and will screen nine other movies, including Atach (thurst) of Saad Chraibi, Les ailes brisées (broken wings) by Abdelamjid Rchich, Les amants de Mogador (the lovers of Mogador) by Souheil Ben Barka and What a Wonderful World, by Faouzi Bensaïdi...

Salamon Castiel, director of the festival said "it is the first time that a country has been chosen as a guest of honour in the Mostra de Valence," adding that the selected movies were chosen to give the public a global idea on the different facets of the Moroccan moviemaking.

For Amin Chaoudri, cultural advisor at the Moroccan embassy in Madrid, cinema is a communication means that can inform about the evolution of a country, its culture, its paradoxes and its aspirations.

Organisers hope the event will become an international platform for the promotion of the Mediterranean filmmaking.

"A sad day for Fez" - Editorial

The news yesterday, that Gerard Kurdjian, Artistic Director of the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, had resigned was greeted with dismay by arts industry insiders and festival patrons around the world.

"Gerard's departure is a blow to the Festival"

"It's a sad day for Fez, Gerard's energy, his deep musical knowledge and his vibrant personality made a lasting impression on everyone who worked with him" -former UK representative Mary Finnigan.

For years Kurdjian has managed to survive in the turbulent world of the Fez Festival, but while his resignation will be a major loss to the Festival, it did not come as a complete surprise. With a large number of key people leaving or forced out of the organisation and his treatment in relation to the Jazz Festival, it seemed only a matter of time until Kurdjian decided that the internal politics were not worth fighting against.

One Moroccan, a festival insider, who asked not to be named, claimed that the Festival organisers were a "cosy club" and that they did not welcome "outside input".

Questions need to be asked

Questions will now need to be asked about why such a loss was allowed to happen. Is a new artistic director to be appointed, and by what process? Is next year's Festival programming already in place? If not, what can a new appointee do with such a short lead time?

Maybe it is time for an independent review of the Festival's organisational structure and why offers of assistance from talented arts practitioners from around the globe have been routinely ignored.

See our news story here: Fez Festival loses its Artistic Director

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