Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Moroccan News Briefs #79

Al Jazeera to reopen its office in Morocco?

Larbi Arbaoui, writing for Morocco World News, reports that Al Jazeera may be about to reopen its office in Morocco, which was closed by a government decision on October 29, 2008. If the reports are accurate, the office will resume its coverage of news in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania).

Al Jazeera office in Rabat

According to Moroccan media sources, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem bin Mohamed Al Thani, director of Al-Jazeera, who is part of the ruling family in Qatar, has sent a letter in this regard to Mustapha El Khalfi, the minister of communication and government spokesman.

The director of Al-Jazeera confirmed in a statement to the Moroccan daily “ Assabah” that negotiations are underway with the Moroccan authorities for the reopening of the Al Jazeera office in Rabat, adding that it depends on the answers to some questions and how these will be addressed by the Qatari channel.

During his speech at the opening of the regional seminar of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization «ISESCO», organized in the headquarters of the organization on Monday, Oct 22, 2012, Mustapha El Khalfi stated that it is time for the development of the profession in terms of competencies and means, as stipulated in the recent constitutional revision.

This past October 29th marked four years for the ban of the Qatari channel in Morocco.

British Prime Minister includes Morocco in trade push

According to the British PM, David Cameron, his government has neglected important overseas markets such as Morocco. He says he is now seeking a concerted trade push in countries that have been overlooked by the UK.

Morocco gets the "thumbs up"

The prime minister recently said that he was appointing eight parliamentarians as trade envoys to emerging markets. He has also requested that the British Trade Minister, Lord Green, find ways of making it easier for smaller companies to increase their exports.

“There are valuable markets out there that just haven’t received the attention from government that they deserve. Places like Mexico, Kuwait, Vietnam, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, South Africa and Morocco – we need to do more to get into those places now,” he said

Morocco's first "green city"

On November 9 King Mohammed VI visited the construction site of the Mohammed VI green city, a one-off project in Africa. Local reports say his visit gives a new royal impetus to a megaproject joining modernity and sustainable development.

The future “eco” development is being built just outside of Benguerir – one of the largest phosphate producing areas in the country. Located just 70 kilometers north of Marrakech, the new city will be constructed in tandem with the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, which is designed to attract high quality candidates from around the world to produce a thriving new sociocultural “engine” for the city.

Exactly what will make the Mohammed VI Green City so green has yet to be established, though plans are underway to develop a 4km, 80 hectare corridor between this new development and Benguerir that will be planted with 50,000 trees.

Morocco’s press agency MAP reports that the megaproject will include “convenient infrastructure and an ecological space,” and will cater to the well-being, diversity and cultural and social welfare of its inhabitants.

The university will be built in two phases, according to MAP, and will include facilities for a wide range of programs crucial to the development of a healthy urban development. These include an engineering and industrial management program, green technologies and town planning, as well as sustainable development and architecture.

“This educational facility rests on different fundamentals including education, research and development, transfer of technologies, the adoption of innovative and promising projects as well as the proximity with the corporate world,” MAP reports.

Partnerships with leading engineering and science institutions in France and the United States, namely Ecole des Mines de Paris and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), lend further legitimacy to the university.

To this end, the King entered into two important agreements. The first is with the Ministry of Higher Education and Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), which signals a budding relationship between the private education sector and what some activists caution is an unsustainable industry, and an additional agreement that outlines a working agreement between the Ecole des Mines de Paris and the OCP.

Moroccan startup launches mobile apps

Recently a mobile startup based in Temara near Rabat, Morocco headed by Moroccan entrepreneur Amine Belouali, has released "Masarat App" - Arabic and Islamic mobile applications. It has already launched two successful applications, “The iQetab of Fatima Al Fihria” and “Salatuk.”

The iQetab (iBook) of Fatima Al Fihria is an interactive children’s book for iPad about the childhood of the Moroccan hero Fatima Al Fihria, the founder of the oldest university in the world, Al-Qarawiyyin located in Fez. The app, which was launched during Ramadan, comes in Arabic, English, and French, with native voiceovers, a dictionary and a few interactive games included coloring games and puzzles.

“Thanks to iQetab, Children will learn more about our local heroes,” says Belouali. Children can listen to the story, learn new vocabulary, play games and also share their coloring books on social networks. Thus far, it’s popular, ranking #1 in 6 iPad App Stores in the MENA region (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE) and #9 in the US App Store, in the Free Books category, with an average rating on App Store of 4.5 out of 5.

The second app, Salatuk, is a Muslim mobile prayer companion available for Android phones. “After a long benchmark, we decided to build one mobile app that will combine the features of all mobile prayer companions available in the market with a strong and rich user experience,” says Amine.

Thanks to Salatuk, you’ll have the prayer timing, locations of mosques near you and the Qibla direction. The Salatuk app algorithm supports calculation methods adopted by many Muslim countries, choosing the appropriate calculation method based on the location of the mobile user. With more than 20,000 downloads per month and an average rating on Google Play of 4.8 out of 5, Salatuk has proven to be a fledgling success.

You can check out Masarat on Twitter @masaratapp, the iQetab Facebook page, the Salatuk Facebook page, and can download iQetab for iPad here, and Salatuk for Android here.

Boat accident - four die, one missing

Four people are dead after the sinking of a pleasure boat. Three men and one woman were died on Tuesday morning in the sinking of their yacht off the coast of Saidia. According to local reports the accident was caused by the strong winds that occurred in the region.

The victims are all believed to be French nationals. So far four bodies have been recovered, and there remains a "small glimmer of hope" for the fifth person on board the catamaran.

The captain of the yacht, which was journeying from Marseille, in the south of France, to Brazil, was experienced, but weather conditions in Morocco's northeast have been "very poor" since the beginning of the week.

And a fire that broke out on Tuesday morning in a shop in Casablanca caused the death of the store's manager. The origin of this accident, which occurred around 7 am, is thought to be a short circuit in an electric grill in the front store. When the grill failed to open completely the manager entered the shop and it is believed he pressed a button which caused a short circuit.

Development Funding of $157 Million for Marrakech Water Projects

Marrakech is to get $157 million of loans from the African Development Bank’s board to help finance water and sanitation improvements.

There are two two loans and both have received approval from the ADB with a contribution from a French development agency. The funds will assist in meeting the water demands of residents and tourists as well as ensure potable water for three million people. It is hoped that the loan will also help meet the needs of Morocco’s phosphate industry.

Moroccan citrus season starts late 

According to a report carried by Fresh Plaza, The Moroccan citrus season started 10 days later than last season and last season was also later than the previous one, making this year around 20 days later than normal. During the summer growing season the citrus fruit experienced five successive waves of heat, affecting in particular the soft citrus category.

Ms. Fatiha, Sales & Marketing Director at Delassus, explains, "The expected production has been affected and we lost up to 45% of the normal volume. In regard to export potential, it is also to be noted that the domestic market is very active and might be an interesting alternative and hence may compete with exports. However, the exporters will endeavour to maintain the decrease in the exported volume at around 20%."

The export of soft citrus from Morocco started last week and will last until April. Three main varieties will be successively exported: Clementine, Nour and Nadorcott.

In December, the oranges will begin with some Navel and some W. Sanguine available. The orange season will last probably until June depending on how active the market is.

Delassus handles 2700 ha of citrus. Its own production represents 80% of its export. The company has farms located in Marrakech, Beni mellal and Agadir areas. "Like all Moroccan production, we are affected by the decrease in volume, thus we decided to concentrate this season on our best customers in terms of partnership. Our main markets are North America, Russia and the UK," says Ms Fatiha.



Anonymous said...

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The View from Fez said...

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