Thursday, February 14, 2013

Moroccan News Briefs #86

It was a joke - that backfired

Vivendi was put in the position of having to deny pressure to freeze the sale of its shares of Telecom Morocco. Late last week, the satyrical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, went to press with a story that French leader François Hollande had ordered Vivendi to delay the sale of its 53% shares owned by the French group in the capital of Morocco Telecom, until the end of the war in Mali. The goal, according to the magazine, was to allow the French authorities to monitor telephone conversations carried on Malian territory. But according to Vivendi, none of this is true.

"Vivendi denies in the strongest terms with the allegations contained in the article according to which Vivendi would" freeze the sale of its Moroccan subsidiary telephony, because it is essential for the Islamists of AQIM to be wire-tapped. " "The Elysee has not intervened with Vivendi. The process of a possible sale of Telecom Morocco continues and discussions are held with several potential partners," said Vivendi. Adding that "contrary to what the article, the first telephone operator in Mali is not Morocco Telecom but Orange with a market share of 60%.

Al Gore to speak in Morocco

The Moroccan company Menatec is organizing the Green Economy Forum, the first edition of which will take place on Thursday March 21, at the Mohammed VI International Conference Centre in Skhirat. This international event, presided over by HRH Princess Lalla Hasna, will be dedicated to promoting the green economy and sustainable Morocco.

As a special guest, Al Gore, will share his expertise and defend his vision of a global economy focused on sustainable growth. The Forum will gather professionals, local representatives, investors and intellectuals from the around the globe: Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Untied States, France, India, Italy, Switzerland, UAE, and Great Britain.

Morocco reports Swine Flu case

According to the Moroccan Health Ministry a 40-year-old fisherman died in Dakhla, a town in the southern part of Western Sahara, after becoming infected with the AH1N1 swine flu virus.

There are 11 more cases of fishermen from the same boat who have picked up the virus, the ministry said. The flu cases were reported by the Regional Health Directorate in southern Western Sahara, which is administered by Morocco.

The man who died was “infected with a chronic disease,” the ministry said without specifying what that disease might be, adding that his 11 shipmates infected with the virus “are not showing any serious symptoms.” Apparently, the man died on board the fishing boat and, when it docked at the port of Dakhla, health authorities sent a medical team to test the rest of the crew and undertake precautionary measures.

When other cases of swine flu were detected, and even though none of those infected are showing serious symptoms, the ministry issued an alert at different health facilities to determine how to respond if additional cases turn up.

Although the World Health Organization in August 2010 declared the AH1N1 flu pandemic to be over, isolated cases of the disease have continued to appear over the past few months, specifically in Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Brazil. In Brazil, 133 people died in July 2012 after becoming infected with the swine flu virus.

Moroccans learn Chinese for only 200 dirhams year

Strange as it may seem Mandarin is now fashionable in Morocco. More young Moroccans want to learn Chinese than ever before. While some will take courses in private, others are attending the Confucius Institute in Rabat. Created in 2009, the Institute is at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of the University Mohamed V-Agdal.

For only 200 dirhams, students and faculty of this university have the privilege of attending Mandarin classes. Students from other faculties pay 300 dirhams year. Civil servants and other employees, tpay 1500 dirhams. The courses include access not only to two hours tuition per week, but also activities organized by the Institute, such as poetry classes, dance, cooking or martial arts. Courses are taught in lecture halls and in the Faculty of Letters of the University. Nearly 200 Moroccans were registered this year to monitor progress. Courses are taught by Chinese professors.

Many more Moroccan businesses close their doors 

Approximately 133 Moroccan companies were closed, 101 operations downsizing and 8232 workers were laid off between January 2011 and September 2012 due to the economic crisis that hit Morocco.  According to the Moroccan Ministry of Employment business closures and downsizing have affected mostly small firms (less than 50 people) in the industrial sector (textiles and leather in particular) and services.  The regions of the Grand Casablanca, Meknes and Rabat-Salé-Tafilalet were most hard hit.

At thew same time, the Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance, Nizar Baraka, announced more bad news: the budget deficit is at 7.1% of GDP in 2013, against a forecast of 4.8%. Baraka, who presented the preliminary results of the Moroccan economy in 2012, justified the increase in the budget deficit in 2013 by "external shocks related to the increase in raw materials and energy, and supporting domestic demand, through the Compensation Fund, as well as measures taken by the government to stimulate the national economy." He also attributes the increase in the deficit to GDP "accelerating the pace of execution of capital spending in the second half, an increase of 2.5 billion dirhams (dirhams) compared with initial forecasts''.

Wedding fever

This is possibly suitable to post on Valentine's Day... the wedding business is one area of economic growth in Morocco. According to the latest statistics more than 364,000 marriages were registered in Morocco in 2011. The Ministry of Justice and Liberties, have registered some 364,367 cases of marriage in the year 2011.

These statistics report some 364,000 cases of marriage recorded in 2011, against 325,212 cases in 2010 (12.04 pc) and 328,362 cases in 2009. According to the same source, some 56,198 divorces were registered in 2011, against 56,016 cases in 2010 and 55,255 in 2009.

Feel like dancing?  Salsa Latina in Casablanca

 A drop of sensuality and Latin passion will seize the White Tower Sofitel for three days from February 22 to 24. The Salsa Festival is inviting dance enthusiasts to participate in evening events and workshops - all open to the public.

The workshops will be held Saturday and Sunday in three large rooms, with a capacity of one hundred people. Forty-two dance workshops for all levels will be led by superstars such as Adolfo Indacochea (Peru), Andrea & Stefania (Italy), Skelia Dancers (Italy), Dancing Dragons (Spain), Bersy Style (Venezuela and Spain) Julio Volcano (Venezuela), Pablo & Laura (Spain), Kimo (Germany). The courses, lasting one hour each will continue throughout the two days. Lessons in bachata, afro-rumba, kizomba, cha cha cha, reggaeton and samba as well as many other dance lessons will be provided.

Dance at the French Institute in Fez

Tonight (14th) - Returning Home Late - The Nacera Belaza Dance Company
The event starts at 1900 at Dar Batha 15, Rue Salaj, Fez Medina

Returning home after the end of the training provided by the choreographer Nacera Belaza bound African dancers. The training is based on the search for a dialogue between traditional dance and contemporary writing, present in the cultural identities of both countries. The event is run with the support of the French Institute in Paris

 Agadir Film Festival runs out of cash and is postponed

The 10th edition of the Festival "Cinema and migration" Agadir has been postponed. This edition was to have been held from 4 to 9 March. The reason is "lack of funds", organizers said. Attempts  to upscale the festival and organize an international competition "could have been" a mistake and said they were unable to attract "sponsoring adapted to the scale of the action". The organizers of the festival initiated by the Association "Al Moubadara Attakafia" (Cultural Initiative) complained they were forced to take this decision after a record grant application has been filed with the commission to support the organization of festivals. They indicated that selection of the best films made ​​between 2011 and 2012 had been completed and that substantial sums by way of organizational costs of obtaining and transporting films have been incurred by the association in the preparation.

Happy Valentine's Day to our readers

Morocco World News (MWN) recently interviewed several Moroccans about what Valentine’s Day represents to them and whether or not it is worth celebrating.

On the one hand, several Moroccans expressed a negative attitude towards Valentine’s Day, stressing that observing it is but a waste of time. “Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t believe in it,” Sarah Boutafi, a masters student told MWN. “It hasn’t changed anything in my life so far,” she explained. “Most Moroccans do not celebrate the event; all they do is blindly imitate the West,” said Meryem, a Moroccan teacher of English. “Celebrating this sort of event is against our conservative traditions.”

“The youth of today only waste their time indulging themselves in this triviality,” a Moroccan mother of four children told MWN. “I think Moroccan youth must think about something practical and more serious that can positively affect their day to day life,” she added.

For Ikram, a graduate student in Fez University believes that this celebration has nothing to do with reality. “Saint Valentine’s Day does not exist in our religion and is not adequate with our culture and traditions. Instead of making such a fuss it would be better to show some affection to our mothers, fathers and family,” she said.

Other Moroccans, however, hailed this celebration, believing it is a golden opportunity to know their fellow citizens more deeply, to intimately identify with them, and to reunite with one another.

Rachid Acim, a young Moroccan poet and writer, has a different take about the holiday. “Valentine’s Day is a day of love par excellence. For many youths, it is a moment in which they can recall their soul-mates,” he said. “A red rose may be evocative of love. A lovely postcard can fulfill the same purpose.” Mr. Acim added that he respects “all people’s ways of expressing love.” “As I view it, love is not in need of a day to be expressed. All our days should be predicated on love. It’s our essence and the objective of our being,” he continued.

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Margaret | Destination Here&Now said...

Sandy one of our memories from Morocco in 2007 was from a drive we did to Oualadia from Marrakech. We couldn't get over the rubbish strewn across the countryside, predominantly remnants of black plastic bags. It was as if every little bit of stubble had a piece hanging off it. Is this an issue for the country?

Sandy McCutcheon said...

Hi Margaret,

I too had the same impression back then, fields of half-buried plastic bags looking like mutant plants. Nows things have changed. There are teams of workers going along the sides of the highways picking up all the rubbish and in the towns there are now rubbish bins and a general improvement in keeping places tidy. Not perfect yet, but a far cry from what it was like.