Sunday, March 03, 2013

Moroccan News Briefs #89

Moroccan dies while rescuing illegal migrants

Two people including a Moroccan rescuer died after a dinghy carrying illegal immigrants capsized in the Strait of Gibraltar, and two others remained missing Saturday, a maritime rescue spokesman told AFP. Spanish rescuers located three of the five migrants who were on board the dinghy, one of whom had died, about five nautical miles from Tanger, Morocco.

Photo Courtesy: Morocco World News

The two survivors were suffering from severe hypothermia and were taken to Tarifa in southern Spain, rescuers said, adding that the search continued for the missing.

A Moroccan ferry that travels between Tanger and Tarifa had initially spotted the migrants' boat and reported "that five people had fallen into the water," the spokesman said. A member of the ferry crew died in an apparent attempt to help the migrants.

Attempts by Africans to reach the Spanish coast on makeshift boats and illegally enter Europe happen frequently and have increased in the past few months. In October, at least 16 illegal migrants were found dead trying to reach Spain from Morocco.

Morocco aims to be among top 20 tourist destinations in the world

Analysts at the Oxford Business Group (OBG) recently released an analysis that Morocco is well positioned to "claim itself among the top 20 tourist destinations in the world." Given the track record of the Oxford Business Group, this is analysis that deserves some attention. The report states that the Kingdom "continues its efforts to achieve this goal despite the difficulties related to the impact of instability in the region and the current crisis in the Eurozone."

Among the arguments advanced by the OBG experts is the amount of investment in the sector which has reached 14 billion dirhams in 2012, 93% of the budget set by the kingdom under its Vision 2020. This equates to an average of 15 billion dirhams annually. Morocco, which aims under this program to increase the number of arrivals to 20 million by 2020 must take into account the distribution of tourist flows around the world that have changed a lot in recent years. Recent data compiled by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) over the last decade confirms that "new source markets occupy the first rows in the ranking of destinations" and that emerging economies have changed the tourism scene. This means that Morocco should expect increasingly fierce competition. New competitors have entered the lists in this race including Malaysia, Turkey and Hong Kong who have gained significant market share.

Local Emergence Plan Nets 100,000 Jobs Created in Three Years

Three years after its launch, the National Pact for Industrial Emergence (PNEI) has yielded tangible results-more than 100,000 jobs in six global business sectors (IT offshoring; automotive, aerospace, and electronics manufacturing; textile/leather design and production, and value-added food products) from 2009-2012.

According to a mid-term review released yesterday at the third edition of the National Conference of Industry, organized under the leadership of King Mohammed VI, the Emergence program has contributed to an increase in industrial GDP of more than $3 billion between 2008 and 2011, including an increase of more than 125 percent in the automotive sector exports and 60 percent of exports in the aerospace industry.

Emergence plan investments has led to the construction and equipping of more than 500 acres of industrial land per year compared to less than 100 acres annually prior to its implementation. Some 40,000 individuals have received training, which has enabled small and medium entreprises to improve their competitiveness, some firms in excess of 110 percent. These performance results have enabled Morocco to be named "African country of the future" for the year 2011-2012 by the Financial Times.

Morocco's third water bomber arrives after a long journey

Back in March 2011 Morocco ordered three more CL-415 water-bombers needed to control wildfires in the country. The first was delivered in February of the same year. The second aircraft was delivered quickly in May 2011 but the third seems to have suffered a lengthy delay. Having been painted and photographed at St. John's, Canada in June 2012, the aircraft only made it across the Atlantic this week. Routing via Goose Bay, Narsarsuaq and Keflavik, the high-visibility twin turboprop arrived at Manchester on 23rd February, prior to continuing South via Malaga to Morocco.

Manchester has been the preferred European stop-off location for the Canadian-built amphibians for many years, with the airport having a Bombardier service center on site. Morocco's fourth aircraft may be delivered this year, having been painted at Muskoka in December 2012.

Casablanca - a city with a health problem

The diagnosis - 2012
Sexually transmitted diseases 65,000
Diabetes 68,752
Hypertension 46,770,
Mental health problems 20,950
Malaria 96
Homelessness  3000
10,000 road accidents (300 deaths and 15,000 injured).

Casablanca needs an injection of good health

Youssef El Kaidi writing for Morocco World News reports that while Casablanca (population 3,500,000) is the biggest city in Morocco and the Maghreb region and the spinal cord of Moroccan economy; it is the city with the largest number of health problems. A recent report prepared by a delegation from the Ministry of Health points out that the high population density of the city makes it a very fertile place for the emergence and dissemination of many health problems caused by social phenomena.

In 2012, Casablanca recorded 65,000 cases of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), which makes 10 percent of these diseases at the national level.

The report, which was presented before the Casablanca prefecture Council, shows that 67 percent of people affected by these diseases are in the age range between 15 and 44 years. The report denounces the remarkable shortage in logistics (there is a glaring deficit of ambulances) and human resources.

Another problem highlighted by the report is that the medical infrastructure cannot meet all the needs in the city, a fact which is worsened by the lack of coordination between the different public hospitals and the central University Hospital.

The statistics revealed by the report clearly indicates the severity of the health situation in the city of Casablanca; a situation that all participants in the meeting of the Casablanca prefecture Council were asked to improve by all possible means.

European Investment Bank - "Cooperation with Morocco is bliss!"

Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Philippe de Fontaine Vive, speaking in Paris said that in 2012 Morocco benefited in 2012, " by a historically record amount" of funding and a new one billion euros is available to support the economic transformation of the Kingdom.

Philippe de Fontaine Vive - cooperation with Morocco is bliss

Philippe de Fontaine Vive went on to remark, "that 2012 was a record and exceptional" year of cooperation and that the, "European goal for 2013 is to do as well in 2012," He made the remarks during the annual review of the action of the EIB, which began in 2002, through the FEMIP (Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership), an instrument of expertise and funding for social and economic development of Mediterranean partner countries.

Morocco, he said, is the first recipient of this action and this new "unprecedented" commitment of nearly one billion euros of financing in 2012 shows "the strong commitment "of the EIB-FEMIP to support the transition to a new form of innovative and more inclusive growth in Morocco. It is this level of intervention that should guide us in 2013 to identify opportunities for growth points and additional job creation" in the Kingdom, he said. "We have extremely experienced and knowledgeable contacts in Morocco in the various centers of excellence, whether administrative, in offices, companies or banks, which facilitates dialogue, because we really are in integration technical, financial and economic Euro-Mediterranean and that is what makes cooperation extremely easy. It is bliss".

According to Philippe de Fontaine Vive, more than a dozen major projects were able to be funded in 2012, in areas as diverse as transport infrastructure (including the extension of rural roads), industry, agriculture, technological innovation, solar energy, education and health sectors, in addition to the actions taken in the renovation program medina (Fes, Meknes and Casablanca soon).

"The most emblematic project in the year 2012 has been the solar project in Ouarzazate," he said. This first major solar project in North Africa, was co-financed by the EIB-FEMIP, who as European leader mobilized 330 million for this project, including $100 million from the French Development Agency (AFD).

He noted the importance of this major project for its potential for energy production from renewable sources, with a potential capacity of 500 MW, the equivalent of powering a city of 250,000 inhabitants. Once fully completed, this complex will be one of the largest in the world.

Fez 18th edition of the Andalusian Music Festival wraps up

Organized by the City Council, the 18th edition of the Andalusian Music Festival took place in the old city of Fez from February 21 until March 2. Lovers and fans of Andalusian music, whether from Morocco or foreign countries, all gathered in this imperial city to celebrate this cultural heritage. Under the motto “Passion in the digital era,” this year’s objective, according to an organiser, was to promote this art among young people in order to make the festival a manifestation of heritage.

The one criticism was that very little advance publicity was available and certainly not in English. Several guesthouse owners complained that their guests would have enjoyed the music - if they had known about it. Future festivals would benefit to paying some attention to basic promotion and including material in the now important English language.

OPINION - Moroccan Cinema and Cultural Consumption

Khalid, writing for Morocco World News, has his say about cinema, culture, engagement and responsibility.

“Art does not reproduce what is visible; it makes things visible.” Paul Klee

In his outstanding article, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, the German cultural critic Walter Benjamin made an anatomy of the essence of artistic works and revealed how they lose their aura and originality through reproduction. The machine of reproduction is targeting the virginity of art; voiding it of its essence and introducing it as a commodity for consumption.

The commercialization of art and the commodification of culture are the landmarks that are characterizing the modern and the post-modern age. The process of globalization aims to devour all local cultures, regardless of their own specificities, which generates a lopsided view of a unique culture.

Such theoretical background is necessary to pave the way to a serious discussion about a local issue, which is Moroccan cinema. This has known undeniable progress in quantity due to a well-framed policy of funding film production. However, is such policy successful and a genuine reflection of the expectations of Moroccans?

As a cinema freak and interested in film studies, I see that Moroccan cinema is still far away from addressing the real matters of Moroccan society. The produced films recently are no more than a reproduction and a commodification for marketing purposes. This is clearly notable in the major themes broached by film-makers.

The fashion now in Moroccan cinema is exaggerated nudity and vulgarity. It is a kind of revival of the Egyptian legacy and the pretended emblem that “people want this”. So, cinema should subdue to the market needs and the whims of its audience. However, is such a concept rational and right just because cinema is an industry that generates money and its ultimate goal is cultural consumerism?

Cinema, as a matter of fact, is a sublime art that aims to uplift the tastes of its viewers. It’s a tribune of creativity not a mere mimicry of reality. If we copy past reality pretending this is the practice of daily life and we have to be bold enough to display it as it is, where is creativity then which is the backbone of artistic works?

The Moroccan cinema, in the last decade, seems to go around a vicious circle of nudity and vulgarism unable to advance beyond such stigma and stereotyping. Such an approach has been the target of a bundle of criticism from many viewers and critics. The latter, express clearly that such portrayal of Morocco in this so-called Moroccan cinema is not a reflection of their expectations and hopes. They suggest, rather, that the budget spent on such films, which is public money, should be better spent targeting serious subjects and to give equal chance to other film-makers.

Nations all over the globe are proud of their historical backgrounds, and intellectuals and leaders who have done their best for them. They are grateful to them since they sacrificed themselves for their people and belonging. Hence, their local cinema serves as a platform to make such leaders known; they are role models and national icons that the coming generations should emulate. By the same token, is our Moroccan cinema offering that?

Moroccan leaders and intellectuals who have been inspiring many nations that are calling for independence and freedom are excluded and marginalized locally. Where are films about Abdlkrim Alkhattabi and Mouha Ou Hamou Zayani who have been real nationalists that fought colonialism and led Morocco to independence; what about politicians, activists and intellectuals whose traces are inevitable in modern Morocco. It is really a shame to read and hear about great Moroccans in Western media while in their native country they are “invisible’’.

Nation building is based on the collective memory that documents people’s history and roots since they are their symbolic legacy. Here comes the role of the national artistic works, namely cinema to celebrate the figures who shaped its glory. Moroccan people are now feed up with commercial cinema and waiting for a cinema of engagement and responsibility.

Sunday humour

Sidi Driss bought a brand new BMW Z4 convertible and drove it out of the salesroom. Taking off down the motorway, he floored it to 130 kph; enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left.

“Amazing!” he thought as he flew down the Rabat Highway, enjoying pushing the pedal to the metal even more.

Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw a police car behind him, blue lights flashing and siren blaring.

“I can get away from him – no problem!” thought Sidi Driss as he floored it to 140kph, then 150 then 160.

Suddenly, he thought, “What on earth am I doing? I’m too old for this nonsense!”

So he pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the police car to catch up with him.

Pulling in behind him, the police officer walked up the driver’s side of the BMW, looked at his watch and said,

“Sir, my shift ends in 10 minutes. Today is Friday and I’m taking off for the weekend. If you can give me a reason why you were speeding that I’ve never heard before, I’ll let you go.”

Sidi Driss looked very seriously at the policeman and replied, “Years ago my wife ran off with a policeman. I thought you were bringing her back.”

“Have a good day, Sir”, said the policeman.

Print Friendly and PDF

No comments: