Saturday, February 13, 2010

Moroccan News Briefs

Edinburgh Airport to connect Scotland with Marrakech

Edinburgh Airport has announced the creation of a new route which will connect Scotland with Marrakech for the first time.

Ryanair is set to launch the service between Edinburgh Airport and the Moroccan city from May this year.

The move is part of a wide ranging expansion plan from Ryanair at the airport. It was also announced this week that a flight will soon run between Edinburgh Airport and Kaunus in Lithuania.

Gordon Dewar, managing director of Edinburgh Airport, said that the new routes highlight that it is "quickly becoming Scotland's airport of choice".

Michael O'Leary, from Ryanair, said that the new routes mean passengers at Edinburgh Airport can now be connected with 38 destinations with the airline.

Using GPS in Morocco - update

Driving around Morocco can be fraught for tourists who don't read Arabic script. Now help is at hand. One of the world’s leading provider of navigation solutions and digital maps, today announced that it is expanding into Morocco. TomTom is entering the market with two products: the mid-range TomTom XL (including maps from Morocco and Europe) and the entry-level TomTom Start (including maps from Morocco). The products will be distributed by MCI, a leading distributor in Africa, and sold through major consumer electronics retailers across Morocco.

“With over two million cars on the road every day, Morocco is a country with great potential for us, making it a logical next step in our expansion strategy in North Africa," says Frédéric Langin, TomTom’s Vice President Sales France Middle East North Africa. “We are confident that we will become the leader in navigation here, just as we are in other countries."

The detailed map of Morocco,includes over 67,000 km of roads, including Morocco’s largest cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Marrakech and Agadir. It also has thousands of Points of Interest. At this stage we are not certain if Fez is included. On the up side the GPS comes with an Arabic speaking voice.

Morocco to host the Anoca Games

The Africa Youth Games will bring together 800 athletes from all over Africa and about 300 teams' officials.

Anoca have offered US$1 million for the hosting of the event. A deal was signed last Wednesday between Anoca, Morocco Olympic Committee and the North African country's Ministry of Sports in Casablanca.The Moroccan government believes it will be able to successfully host the Games.

"Our government, is going to avail enough resources to ensure that the games will be organised successfully.Through the Africa Youth Games our hope is that if young people can learn to respect each other on the field of play, they may transmit this to the other parts of their daily lives." said Moncef Belkhayat, Morocco's Minister of Youth and Sport.

The Anoca Games for athletes aged between 15 and 17 years takes place between May 9th to 15th.

HM the King presents certificates to Women preachers

In Tetouan on Friday, HM King Mohammed VI presented certificates to the successful students of the 2009 training programme for imams and mourchidates (women Islamic preachers)

So far, 730 imams and 257 mourchidates have benefited from training programmes initiated by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

The imams' mission is to give courses and lectures in the mosques, while mourchidates are entrusted with guiding and educating women and children in mosques, schools, prisons and charity associations.

Morocco has highest internet speed?

Akamai, the U.S. Company that specializes in managing Internet, has recently published a report on Internet around the world, during the 3rd quarter 2009. According to the report, Morocco has best connection in Africa.

The UK has the fastest connection to Africa. Rabat tops the rankings by city, with a connection speed of 3251 kilobits per second (Kbps). Followed by Tunis (2211 Kbps) and Casablanca (2030 Kbps). The best in Africa still remains behind the rest of the world. For example, the United States, (18th worldwide) has a rate that is 10 times higher than Morocco (33464 Kbps). The golden award winner goes to South Korea (14.6 Megabits per second).

From another perspective, Morocco would benefit more from a better penetration of broadband (from 5 Mbps). Rabat leads with 26%, followed by Casablanca (7.3%). The city of Midrand (South Africa) comes third. Despite these statistics, Morocco is still far behind some leaders, including the United States with a rate of 92%.

Even in terms of average speed connections (from 2 Mbps), Morocco has again the best penetration. Rabat leads with 61%, followed by Tunis (48%), followed by Casablanca (33%). With rates at 99% the United States and some European countries are far ahead.

The report was based on information collected from Akamai global network of servers. The report also listed stats on cyber attacks. The study traced the attacks to more than 207 countries around the world.

A surprising highlight, the United States and China who were the largest providers of pirates in the past have now been surpassed by Russia and Brazil.

Local Fez Medina News

Mike Richardson of Café Clock has now provided a prayer room for customers and staff. Mike reports that as so many of his customers are Muslims, it makes sense to accommodate them in a special room.

Café Clock will now be stocking unusual crocheted jewellery made by the Ain Chaib Association for the Development of Women. Ain Chaib is a village outside Taroudant in the south of Morocco. The project is managed by Peace Corps worker Joy Chen, who says that the jewellery-making allows local women to contribute to their family income. The range includes beaded headbands and bracelets crocheted from the thread used to make djellaba buttons, and also some interesting bracelets crocheted from copper wire.

Opinion - Fez Real Estate.

This following story has been bouncing around the internet and gives an interesting perspective on real estate in Fez. The writer is Abby Aron.

Emerging property market in Fez draws foreigners

At least one foreigner who has bought a house in Fez, the medieval city in northeastern Morocco, says the process requires vision and a lot of commitment.

‘‘You are not going to find a house you love and live in it straight off,’’ explained Rebecca Eve, a Briton who is still renovating a house she bought two years ago in the Bab Guissa quarter for the equivalent of $110,000. ‘‘If you are lucky, you can get away with a simple upkeep project, but while the property market is in its infancy, the majority of homes require complete restoration.’’ Inside the medina, orwalled city,many of the 12,000 riads and dars, the local term for townhouses with courtyards, are more than 1,000 years old; ‘‘new’’ homes are usually at least 100. But it is this historic value that makes the Unesco World Heritage site so distinctive and heightens many buyers’ determination to restore properties authentically.

‘‘You need to put the rest of your life on hold while doing it up,’’ saidMs. Eve, who started house hunting in Marrakech but found the prices more alluring in Fez, around 50 percent cheaper. ‘‘But it is time well spent, as there is always going to be a demand for restored medina homes.’’ The historic value of such homes helps protect a buyer’s investment, according to FrancesMcKay of the real estate agency Francophiles, a British business that sells properties in France, Morocco and Cape Verde. ‘‘Because no two medina homes are the same, traditional properties will always keep their value when elsewhere real estate prices fluctuate,’’ she said.

On average, a three-bedroom unrestored property in the oldest part of the medina, the Andalusian Quarter, will sell for 250,000 to 350,000 Moroccan dirham, or $30,500 to $42,700. But while such homes are likely to have the most original features, they also are likely to need the most restoration.

These traditional homes are built of clay brick, sand and lime, which helps the walls ‘‘breathe’’ — making them cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Temperatures in this city of 1.5 million range from highs of 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) to lows of around 2 degrees (35 Fahrenheit).

In contrast, a 20th-century home along the outer rim of the medina, particularly in the Batha and Ziat neighborhoods, can start at 1 million dirham if it has parking, a rare feature in this predominantly pedestrian city.

Ms. Eve, along with her partner, Paul O’Sullivan, and their 2-year-old son, Finlay, are renting an apartment outside the medina while they wait for work to be completed on their new home, Dar Fin, named for their son.

Likemost homes here, Dar Fin’s 4,000 square feet of living space surrounds a central courtyard, where the couple have added a fountain and plunge pool.

Its four floors include four bedrooms, three living rooms and a roof terrace with views of the city’s famous landmark shrine to Moulay Idriss, founder of Fez.

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Morocco, but foreigners are advised to ensure that a thorough title search is conducted before a sale is closed. Local mortgages are available, although only through BMCE Bank and Crédit du Maroc, and for up to half the property’s value.

The resale market has not yet taken off in Fez, partly because the city continues to be a relatively new find for foreigners.

Until 2007, there were no direct flights from any European capital and only one English-speaking real estate agency.

Even today, Fez’s role as the kingdom’s religious capital and its most conservative city means a Westerner will find living there much different from a more cosmopolitan city like Marrakech.

For example, Mike Richardson, owner of Café Clock, the medina’s only restaurant to stay open after sunset, said: ‘‘People are very suspicious of Café Clock. They assume that because it is open after dark, we are doing bad things.’’ The Clock, as it is known, includes a cooking school and a cultural center that offers belly dancing classes, Arabic calligraphy lessons and concerts. ‘‘It has brought life to the medina in the evenings, which is something that has never occurred in the 1,200 years since the first stone was laid,’’ Mr. Richardson said. ‘‘I guess that is quite a lot to get used to.’’ Despite the population’s reluctance to change, King Mohammed VI has plans to modernize the ‘‘new town,’’ the sprawling area of concrete homes that surrounds the medina.

The project, 2015 Fez, includes the construction of two tourist developments, Oued Fès and Ouislane, with a total of three hotels, golf courses, tennis clubs and shopping malls. It is part of Vision 2010, a nationwide plan of the king’s to increase Morocco’s tourism to 10 million visitors a year by expanding hotel capacity, creating 60,000 tourism jobs and regenerating the country’s coastlines. The local plan has not gathered much momentum yet, but officials say it is still on schedule.

Some privately funded construction in the area has been delayed, however, because of the global downturn and the tightening of regulations making it harder to use agricultural land for commercial purposes.

One notable new project that is almost complete is Les Colombes, positioned on the road between the airport and the medina.

Sixty-nine luxury villas, with individual prices starting at 5.1 million dirhams, are being developed by Pack Energy, a Moroccan company headed by Houria Benjelloun, one of Morocco’s few female developers. Sales are scheduled to begin in mid-March, with foreign buyers offered 50 percent mortgages at 6.6 percent interest.


stewarth99 said...

I'm not sure about cooking beans in salted water they usually turn into rock hard lumps. Better to cook in unsalted water and add any salt just before service.

tagalong said...

Love the crocheted bracelet idea. Craft jewelry is a usually a great money-maker and easy to transport and takes few supplies to get started. Would love to see more of these kinds of projects.

BuJ said...

is it true that mawlay idrees founded Fas? i thought it was around before his day?

interesting article.

i'd love to own a property there.. especially near Ziat in the south of Fas al Bali