Monday, September 10, 2012

Moroccan News Briefs #72

Royal Air Maroc plane causes panic in Marrakech

An aircraft of the Royal Air Morocco (RAM) flew at very low altitude over the rural area of Tassoultant in the region of Marrakech, spreading panic among the population.

The plane, which was intending to land normally in Marrakech-Menara Airport, was warned at the last minute by the control tower that another aircraft was preparing to land at the same time.

The pilot was therefore forced to leave the airport at low altitude, causing a deafening roar and terrorizing the population douar Al Hana.

The aircraft that came from a European country, had stopped in Casablanca, before heading to Marrakech.

Youth unemployment crisis in Morocco

The World Bank on Friday described the problem of youth unemployment in Morocco as "very serious," with similarities to other countries in the region where youth-led protests brought about regime change.

"It is a very serious problem," Inger Andersen, the bank's vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, told AFP, speaking in Rabat at the end of a two-day visit to Morocco.

The World Bank published a report in June that said around 30 percent of Moroccans aged between 15 and 29 - who account for 44 percent of the working age population - were unemployed.

But Andersen cautioned that such statistics did not reflect a key aspect of the problem, namely that many of those out of work had "given up" on the labour market. "They are not active job seekers."

She said the bank had yet to carry out similarly detailed studies on the unemployment situation elsewhere in the MENA region, but said provisional research also indicated "very high" levels of youth unemployment.

"I think we are finding a lot of similarities among the Arab Spring countries," she said.

"And in fact it was indeed the youth that spoke out for change," she added.

Morocco has mostly been spared the unrest that swept North Africa last year, toppling the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

But there are sporadic protests and social discontent persists, particularly among Morocco's youth population, driven partly by the lack of job opportunities.

Andersen said Morocco's economic growth was likely to slow from 4.9 percent last year to around 3 percent in 2012, due to its heavy reliance on trade with the eurozone, and warned of the challenges that rising food prices were likely to cause the government.

Morocco's budget deficit hit a record 6.1 percent of GDP last year, caused by rising international commodity prices and the growing subsidies bill, notably on food, and some fear that it could rise further.

Although the country is an agricultural producer, the cost of food remains relatively high in 2012, caused by a harsh drought that has badly affected agricultural output and a 20 percent rise in petrol prices.

Finance Minister Nizar Baraka, quoted by the official MAP news agency, said on Wednesday that the government hoped to bring the budget deficit down to just 5 percent this year, mainly thanks to an improved fiscal situation.

AfDB gives Morocco 105m euro loan for agricultural sector

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Friday announced a loan of 105 million euro to Morocco for funding the support plan of the country's large-scale agriculture programme, known as Maroc Vert (Green Morocco).

The programme aims to improve agricultural production and the living conditions of the rural dwellers, and to preserve the depleting water resources.

The loan agreement was signed by Economy and Finance Minister Nizar Baraka and AfDB representative in Morocco Amani Abou Zeid.

Morocco takes possession of a new SIGMA class frigate

A couple of days ago the SIGMA Class Frigate, Allal Ben Abdellah, built by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) in Vlissingen, was transferred to the Royal Moroccan Navy.

The delivery of the last ship of a series of three marks the culmination of a period of dedicated and successful partnership with the Royal Moroccan Navy. All three ships were delivered in time, on schedule, meeting all the requirements as stated in the contract to the full satisfaction of the customer.

The delivery of the last of three frigates was achieved within four and a half years from the effective date of contract, after a period of thorough engineering and three years of construction.

The first Tarik Ben Zayid was commissioned on 10 September 2011, the second Sultan Moulay Ismail was commissioned on 10 March 2012.

After commissioning, the crew will continue with another three weeks of Sail Safety Training in Den Helder and North Sea. This training will be conducted by training teams of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

At the end of September, after conclusion of this training period, the Allal Ben Abdellah will start her maiden voyage to Morocco.

The three SIGMA-class frigates for the Royal Moroccan Navy have been designed according to Schelde Naval Shipbuilding’s revolutionary SIGMA-approach and are a further development of the SIGMA-corvettes for the Indonesian Navy. The SIGMA approach applies modularity in many areas.

The Royal Moroccan Navy SIGMA Class frigates are equipped to conduct the traditional naval tasks as well as maritime security operations. The vessels are also suited to support humanitarian aid operations.

'Death for Sale' to represent Morocco at Oscars

Faouzi Bensaidi's neo-noir heist movie "Death for Sale" is Morocco's entry for the foreign-language Academy Award.  The pic is a classic example of the new crop of Moroccan genre films by young directors that reveal a hitherto unknown underbelly of Morocco's cities.

The story follows three petty criminals enmeshed in the world of pick-pocketing, drugs and prostitution in the Atlantic port of Tetouan, in northern Morocco, who plan to rob a jewelry store.

A co-production between Morocco (Agora Film), France (Liaison Cinematographique) and Belgium (Entre Chien et Loup), pic was lensed by Belgian cinematographer Marc-Andre Batigne, with soundscape by New York musician Richard Horowitz.

The $1.9 million budget included production support from Cannes' Cinefondation and Abu Dhabi's Sanad fund.

"Death" world preemed at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, was the closing film at Marrakech and has garnered festival kudos at Berlin, Milan, Brussels and Tangiers.

Morocco in danger of missing out on African Cup

Morocco risk missing out on the upcoming African Cup of Nations after losing 2-0 to hosts Mozambique in the first leg of the qualifiers' final round on Sunday in Maputo.Almiro Lobo gave Mozambique the lead in the 75th minute and Elias Pelembe wrapped up the victory in stoppage time.

Morocco will face an uphill climb when they meet Mozambique in Rabat in next month's second leg. They will need to win by a three goal margin to reach next year's Nations Cup finals in South Africa.

Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe beat Angola 3-1 in Harare. The second legs will be played 12-14 October.

NOTE:  If all of that sounds pretty dry, then take heart from the editorial below. It comes from  Al Mountakhab (our apologies for the Google Translation, but we left it as it is for its charm!)

Moroccan coach Eric Gerets

Again, the hearts of Moroccans were broken after the show that was offered by their national football team that Sunday afternoon in Maputo, was made bitten by Mambas (Snakes) of Mozambique inflicting a severe defeat. Broken hearts, yes, because it was given to us to see yesterday, humiliation, damage to the image of Morocco and the great footballing heritage ... The makers, national football should no longer remain seated with their hands crossed, watching this charade without doing anything ... They at least try to limit the damage, trying to save what can still be in terms of image, so that the country's reputation in football does not descend even lower than it already is ... We do not believe that we, the Federation and the Ministry should wait more, in the hope that things get better, the anxiety dissipates and that bad luck strikes us disappear, finally ... Mr. Gerets shot all his cards, all shot cartridges (wet), all tested patterns and the solutions that have come to mind, but has managed to we prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that he can no longer be used for something useful.


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