Our Sunday look at this weeks interesting news from Morocco
Moroccan Government reshuffle with more women
Morocco has announced a government reshuffle on the eve of parliament's new session that sees the Islamists giving up the key foreign affairs portfolio.
The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party on Thursday handed the Foreign Ministry over to Salaheddine Mezouar, the leader of its new coalition partner, a liberal party close to the palace.
After the Islamists' junior coalition partner pulled out of the government due to controversial subsidy reforms, it took months to negotiate a new government.
The new partner, the National Rally for Independents, shares the Islamists' liberal economic approach but is less vocal about needing political reform.
The Islamists came to power by pledging to fight corruption.
According to Morocco World News, Mr. Abedelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s head of the government, pledged to increase women’s representation in the new coalition government.
In a speech on Tuesday at a seminar on women’s political participation in Rabat, he declared that his new cabinet will be announced officially on Friday before the opening of the autumn session of the Moroccan parliament, adding that the final discussions about the coalition with the national rally of independents ( RNI) have resulted in a a mutual agreement.
The head of the government and the Secretary General of the Justice and Development party (P.J.D) was accused of a misogynistic attitude towards female politicians by February 20th activists, Civil Society Associations and members of the oppositions for the lack of women representation in his previous coalition government where only one female Minister was representing half of Moroccan society.
Mr.Benkirane stated that his government, since its inauguration, appointed 38 women in senior positions at the state level out of 300 positions.
The PJD-led coalition government is “not against the principle of parity and equality between men and women, as a constitutional right,” he said.
According to a plan announced in July 2013 by Mrs. Basima al hakaoui, Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, there will 143 procedures to prevent various forms of discrimination against women, and to promote the principles of parity and equality advocated by the new Moroccan constitution, along with the development of legal and legislative texts to protect the legal rights of women and the prevention of violence against them
The 39-seat cabinet has seen a shuffle that replaced 15 ministers, while six posts are now held by women.
The New Foreign Minister
Salaheddine Mezouar, (pictured above) has been appointed as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. He was born on December 11, 1953 in Meknes.
Mezouar holds a Higher Diploma in Leadership INSEAD from Fontainebleau (France), a higher education qualification of Management from Casablanca’s High Institute of Commerce and Business Administration (ISCAE), which is one of Morocco’s major business schools, a Masters’ degree from the University of Social Sciences of Grenoble (France) and a Master in Economics (development Economics) from the same university studies.
Morocco's Foreign Minister Salah Eddine Mezouar with King Mohammed VIBetween 1986 and 1991 he served as Head of Division and Special Adviser to the Office of Administration of Ports (ODEP), before becoming a director and CEO of a private textile company.
He also served as president of the Moroccan Association of Textile and Clothing (AMITH) and President of the Federation of textile and leather within the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco (CGEM).
In 2004, he was appointed Minister of Industry, Trade and upgrade of the economy.
On October 15, 2007, Mezouar was appointed Minister of Economy and Finance.
In January 2010, he was elected president of the National Rally of Independents (RNI) in Marrakech.
Former Vice President of Raja Club Athletic, one of Morocco’s major soccer teams, he had a career in sports as basketball player (captain of the national team).
Mezouar is married and is the father of two children.
Changes in marriage age and divorce rates in Morocco
The years between 1960 and 2010 have showed a marked change in the average age of women at marriage. The average age of women at marriage is now 9.6 years later than it was in 1960 with the average age now at 26.6 years.
Early marriage of 15-19 years, which in 1982 counted for around 20% of marraiges is now down to 9%.
At least 30,000 women were married below the legal age (18 years). There is also a move towards marriage becoming less universal with a much greater tendency towards celibacy - 6.7% for women (against 0.9% in 1994) and 5.8% among men (against 2.9%).
The marriage between cousins or distant relatives fell from 33% in 1987 to 21% in 2010, expressing a change of value systems and social behaviour.
There is also a decline in the divorce rate. In the 1960s, one-third of first marriages (31%) ended in a divorce, falling to just over 10% in 2010. Women with at least one boy showed a divorce rate of less than 8%, while those who have no male offspring had a 16.3% rate of divorce.
Scorsese to head Marrakech Film Festival Jury
Martin Scorsese says he is very happy with the news that he is to serve as president of the main competition jury for the 13th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival which runs from November 29th to December the 7th.
"I am very happy to be this year's jury president at the Marrakech Film Festival and I would like to thank HRH, Prince Moulay Rachid, president of the festival, for his gracious invitation," Scorsese said.
"I have made two films in Morocco, during which time I came to admire the spirit of the Moroccan people and the beauty of their culture. I am eager to discover the movies coming from all around the world to this unique festival."
New Zealand to take on Morocco
Auckland City will have been drawn to play Moroccan side Raja Casablanca in their opening match of football's club world cup in Morocco in December.
Beyond the preliminary playoff is a potential quarter-final with CONCACAF champions, Mexican club Monterrey.
It'll be Auckland City's fifth time at the tournament with their best peformance a fifth placing in Abu Dhabi in 2009.
Top wine exporter in the Arab World?
Youssef Sourgo writing for Morocco World News reports that Morocco is now the number one wine exporter in the Arab world, based on Reuters’ report. The Kingdom allocates 37 thousand acres of land for the cultivation of grapes and vines used in wine production.
According to the same report, the wine industry provides 10,000 permanent jobs, in addition to seasonal workers hired during the grape-harvesting season
Surprisingly enough, the production and consumption of wine in the Kingdom increased this year despite the succession to power by PJD, an Islamist party.
According to Al Hurra news outlet, Abdel Aziz Aftati, a member of parliament belonging to the PJD party, refused to acknowledge any link between the PJD’s succession to power in Morocco and the increase in the consumption and production of wine.
“An influential personality in Morocco, who is backed up by some of the country’s most important politicians, is responsible for the overall production of wine in Morocco,” Aftati was quoted as saying by Alhura.
He also added that “our party (PJD) is against selling wine to Moroccans.” The reason why this matter has not received much governmental attention is, according to Aftati, “because of current priorities the Moroccan government is engrossed in.”
The vineyards are mainly concentrated in Meknes, the same location where Phoenicians and Romans used to cultivate grapes long ago.
The production of wine reached its peak during the French colonization period, wherein the French cultivated varying types of vines to answer the needs of French settlers in Morocco at that time. After Morocco gained its independence, the company, Les Celliers de Meknès, became the country’s biggest producer of wine–controlling a lion’s share of 70% of wine production in Morocco.
Les Celliers de Meknès is owned by a former advisor to King Hassan II and produces a variety of wines with an output of 27 million bottles yearly, which is only a portion of the total number of bottles sold locally and internationally, estimated at 40 million bottles.
Moroccan wine producers seek to join Chile, California and South Africa as of the world’s major producers of wine.
“Consumers in the United States are very attracted to our wines. They are curious about discovering different products. Today, markets such as China and Japan, as well as the traditional markets, which are France, Belgium and the Netherlands, are becoming more and more interested. We are extremely interested in these new markets and I believe that we also have a huge potential to satisfy any future demand,” said Omar Monkachi of Les Celliers de Meknes.
Youssef Sourgo is currently a Master’s student in Linguistic and Literary studies at Ain Chok Faculty of Letters and Humanities. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in American cultural studies from Ben M’sik faculty of Letters and Humanities.