Friday, April 02, 2010

Moroccan News Briefs

Fez's Festival of Sacred Music criticised

Naoufel Cherkaoui, reporting for Magharebia in Rabat reports that there is criticism of the festival growing at the expense of local artists.

"We have reservations as Maghreb creators with regard to organisers' failure to take interest in Moroccan art, and we question the reason for the severe lack of Maghreb artists within the activities of a festival that is originally from Morocco," - Moroccan composer Aziz Hosni

The event may have lost its local focus with its growing success, however. The organisers have failed to involve local organisations, said Noureddine Mosaid, who serves as assistant president for the Fez-based Sabil Association.

"The festival targets the elite, and there is an absence of cultural involvement in events in the city, so we don't participate in developing its programme," he said.

Spirit of Fez President Mohamed Kabbaj defended the festival.

"If you look at the programme as a whole, we find it contains 90 percent Maghreb artists," he said. The events that lack Moroccan art – such as those at the Batha and Bab Makina venues – are private and charge an admissions fee, he said.

"The reason stems from wanting to make it more open to the cultures of different people and to not be dominated by a particular culture," Kabbaj said.

Sheik's body recovered.

Moroccan authorities recovered the body of the director of the world's largest sovereign wealth fund Tuesday, five days after a glider he was riding in plunged into a lake.

Sheik Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose glider crashed into a lake south of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, was managing director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. He was also a younger brother of the president of the United Arab Emirates.

The 38-year-old Sheik Ahmed was ranked 27th on Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people in 2009. Analysts believe the Abu Dhabi fund he led is the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, with estimates of its size ranging from less than $400 billion to $875 billion and beyond.

The search for his body involved more than 100 divers from Morocco, the Emirates, France, Spain and the United States. Two royal Moroccan helicopters, night vision equipment and a medical helicopter were also used, according to Morocco's state news agency.

Morocco focus in Monaco

The View from Fez fashion correspondent reports from Monaco:

Each year Monaco hosts a Rose Ball in March, attended by the international jetset. It's a charity event held at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club. This year, the theme of the ball was Morocco and Princess Caroline accessorised her black and gold gown with a red bag inspired by the typically North African hat, the fez.

Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock

This time Albert’s girlfriend Charlene Wittstock and Caroline’s children Andrea, Pierre and Charlotte Casiraghi joined Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui of Morocco at a soiree that could have come straight from the pages of One Thousand and One Nights.

Charlene opted for a nude-coloured dress with an asymmetrical, turquoise-tinged shoulder strap, while Charlotte, who arrived with boyfriend Alex Dellal, dazzled in a pale-pink number with a funky criss-crossing silver neckline.

Also present at the event, which raises money for the Princess Grace Foundation, were Charlotte’s brothers Andrea and Pierre with their respective girlfriends Tatiana Santodomingo and Beatrice Borromeo.

Earth Day in Morocco

The Moroccan prime minister chaired, Wednesday, a meeting to examine measures and preparations for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Earth Day, due on April 17-24 in Rabat.

Abbas El Fassi highlighted the projects to be launched during this event, aimed at raising awareness of the need to protect the environment, the prime minister’s office said.

Environment minister Amina Benkhadra raised the measures taken by her department to preserve ecosystems and combat desertification, in addition to the setting up of a national observatory for the environment and sustainable development.

For her part, Meriem Bensaleh Chaqroun, in charge of the Earth Day celebration, gave an overview of the actions carried out and the programme of the event.

Morocco’s capital Rabat has been selected by the Earth Day Network as the site of one of the major Earth Day celebrations marking Earth Day's 40th anniversary.

Motor Racing in Marrakech

With just a month until the flag drops for the start of the second Race of Morocco, construction for the 4.54km circuit is in full swing. D3 Motorsport Development have been on the ground in Marrakech for the past few weeks, preparing the temporary street circuit that’s located in the newly developed, upmarket housing and hotel area of Agdal, just 10mins from the action packed centre ville.

Racing in Marrakech

The construction of this unique circuit involves placement of more then 2500 D3-designed concrete impact blocks, atop with the D3-designed debris fences to ensure the safety of both drivers and spectators during the thrilling on-track spectacle.

Further upgrades to the circuit are also being completed to accommodate the Formula 2 series that will run on here this year, these include widening of some turns, lengthening of runoff areas and re-asphalting.

D3 Motorsport Development Operations Director, Heath Dickson said, “Some upgrades were needed this year to increase the performance and challenge of the circuit. It’s often a challenge that arises from constructing a temporary street circuit, that the roads are not exactly how they would be on a purpose built track. But this is just all part of excitement, originality and uniqueness of a circuit that is built around regular city streets. Seeing road cars on the circuit one day and high performance race cars on it the next is very exciting!”

With race date set for 30th April through 2nd May the next few weeks brings an intense schedule of construction to ensure final approval of the circuit.

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