After nine days of reporting on the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music we delve back into the real world, with stories about dodgy shellfish, clean beaches, free jazz, kissing feminists and more...
With Ramadan approaching there is expected to be the normal increase in traffic backwards and forwards from Spain.
Ramadan and Eid can have a considerable impact on travel in Morocco. It is worth noting that the actual dates are defined by lunar sightings and are not confirmed until very late. Dates for Ramadan and Eid in Morocco in 2015: Ramadan: 18th June - 17th July. Eid Al Fitr: 17th July and Eid Al Adha: 24th September
In less than two weeks, Spain will begin the operation of this years "Strait Crossing" (Paso del Estrecho operación) dedicated to Moroccans travellers. This year it is expected that nearly 2.5 million people and a little over 600,000 vehicles will travel across the Mediterranean.
This operation was the subject of a meeting this week between the Spanish and Moroccan authorities. The aim is to ensure the safety of tourists and fluidity of road traffic and shipping. The traffic is expected to build up from June 15th when many Moroccans leave during Ramadan while others arrive to spend the Holy month with their families.
No matter how well organised the operations are it is normal to expect delays during peak periods.
Crocodiles return to Agadir
It has been a very long time since crocodiles swam in the the swamps of Wadi Draa. Now a new tourist attraction has brought the crocs back to Agadir. A Crocodile Park, spread over an area of 4 hectares in the commune of Drarga was inaugurated Saturday evening with the cutting of a ribbon and the release of 300 reptiles. The organisers promoted the opening as a "world premiere in Agadir".
|Located at the entrance of the "Croco-park" is a giant crocodile head|
In addition to the presence of reptiles to attract tourists and the curious, the project initiators have added attractions, including a small outdoor amphitheater, rest areas and playground, not to mention the inevitable "treasure caves" and other nocturnal offerings of events and shopping.
The park has four main gardens, including a "blue garden" consisting mainly of blue succulents. In addition there is a water garden with a collection of water lilies and tropical area of giant bamboo and other rare floral species.
The cost of the project is said to be around 25 million dirhams much of which was raised by what the Economist describes as private funds advanced by the founders - old families of Agadir.
Ticket prices are set at 70 dirhams for adults and 40 dirhams for children. Special rates are available for groups. Similarly, the institution offers season passes set at 300 dirhams for adults and 200 dirhams for children.
The opening hours are: 10:00 to 7:00 p.m. until June 20 and then 10 to 11 p.m. from 21 June to 13 September.
Ban on harvesting and marketing of shellfish in Essaouira
The Department of Marine Fisheries has decided to prohibit the harvesting and marketing of all bivalve shellfish from Oum Toyour-Chouika in the Essaouira region.
The decision was made after the results of testing conducted by the National Institute Fisheries Research (NHRI) at the growing area of Oum Toyour-Chouika of the region of Essaouira showed abnormal levels of marine bio-toxins in shellfish.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing recommends "consumers only source packaged products bearing health identification labels and sold in authorised retail outlets. The ministry warns that peddled or bulk shellfish have no guarantee of safety and pose a danger to public health.
Morocco raises the Blue Flag on twenty-three beaches
The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 4000 clean beaches and marinas in 49 countries across Europe, South Africa, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. Morocco joined the program in 2002 and after extensive clean up work had 5 Blue Flag beaches by 2005. This year the number has risen to 23.
The international Blue Flag label is awarded by the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, chaired by HRH Princess Lalla Hasna, and the International Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
In 2015, 23 Moroccan beaches will fly the Blue Flag for the summer season. The beaches are spread over much of the Moroccan coast. The beaches are: Achakar (Tanger-Asilah), Sidi Moussa Aglou (Tiznit) Arekmane (Nador), Ba-kacem (Tanger-Asilah), Bouznika, Skhirate El Moussafir (Dakhla), Essaouira, Foum loued (Laayoune) , Haouzia (El Jadida), Imintourga (Mirleft), Ain Diab, Ms. Choual (Ain Diab Extension), Oualidia, Oued Laou (Tetouan), Umm Labouir (Dakhla), Safi Saidia Sidi Rahal, Sol (Tanger-Asilah) , Souiria lkdima (Safi), Tourist Resort Saidia and Cap Beddouza (Safi).
The granting of the label to a beach is made on the basis of four criteria, - quality of bathing water, information, awareness and education about the environment, health and safety, and development and management. These criteria are checked throughout the season by a national committee led by the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.
Antique Art Auction in Casablanca
Saturday, June 6th from 5 pm is the time set for an auction of rare antiques at Elden Choukry Gallery in Casablanca. Included in the auction will be Moroccan paintings, orientalist art works and a collection of Islamic and Asian art,
As well as rare carpets, ruby crystal glassware (pictured above) and antique jewellery there are art works including ""La draperie rouge" de Jacques Majorelle, "La sortie du Sultan" by Ben Ali R'bati as well as "le cuivre patiné de Belkahia".
The art works and antiques are on view from today at Elden Choukry & Auctioneers: 100, Avenue Moulay Rachid, Casablanca
French Femen activists kiss in Rabat
Visitors and locals alike were bemused at the protest by two French Femen protestors who kissed this today at the Hassan Tower in Rabat. The activists Femen announced the event on Twitter and one of the women appeared with the slogan" "In gay we trust" painted on her chest.
"They are embraced publicly celebrating LGBT rights and denounce the injustice done to the homosexual community in Morocco," say the group. It then went further by asking Morocco "to abolish its homophobic laws and its commitment made during the drafting of its Constitution in 2011".
The movement says that homophobia is not a tradition or a culture and even less should be a law. The FEMEN activists defending the right to freedom of privacy and sexual life.
In Morocco, people prosecuted for homosexuality are often given between 6 months to 3 years imprisonment under section 489 of the Penal Code which criminalises "licentious acts against nature with an individual of the same sex."
Update: Both women have been hastily deported back to France
JLo too much for Islamists
The sexually-charged show offered over the weekend by pop diva Jennifer Lopez at the Mawazine music festival in Rabat disgusted Islamist members of the ruling Justice and Development Party. The communications minister calling the broadcast on public television "unacceptable." The Mawazine music festival, which attracted more than 300,000 fans and featured some of the music industry's biggest attractions, was criticised by local media after the pop star gave a performance filled with "suggestive poses" and for being "scantily" dressed during a show that was broadcast on public television.
Mustapha Khalfi, a member of the Islamist Justice and Development party, took to social media to voice his displeasure and strongly denounce the broadcast on state television. "What was broadcast is unacceptable and goes against broadcasting law," Khalfi wrote on Twitter. Al-Khalfi added that he had asked the channel's ethics committee to examine the ethical aspects of broadcasting the concert during primetime.
The music festival, which is in its 13th year, runs until June 6 and will also see live performances by international acts such as Sean Paul, Avicii, Placebo, Akon, Sting, Usher and Maroon 5.
There had been great anticipation over whether JLo would adapt her concert to conform more to the sensibilities of conservative Muslims. Although Lopez did tone down the show somewhat to make it more discreet, the glamorous Bronx-born singer basically offered the Moroccan public the same format as she does at any of her other shows: Lots of wardrobe changes – she donned seven different outfits for her different dancing and singing numbers – all of them involving scanty clothing and plenty of skin.
Jennifer Lopez and Nabil Ayouch: Much Ado About Nothing
There has been so much talk about Jlo and about the reaction to the banning of the film Much Loved by Nabil Ayouch. In a timely and well thought out piece in Morocco World News, Majid Morceli considers the issues. Here is an extract:
More often than not, I know how I feel about things. I am either for or against something. However, this time I started out conflicted. Watching a few clips from Nabil Ayouch’s film “Much Loved” and Jennifer Lopez’s lascivious opening act in Mawazine festival threw me off.
The Moroccan part of me feels that the movie is too vulgar and too low on class and has no place in any Moroccan artistic platform. Additionally, Jennifer Lopez’s orgy of twerking and sexually provocative performance was simply inappropriate for Moroccan television.
No matter how I looked at it, I kept thinking 99.9% of Moroccans are Muslims. Of course Islam in Morocco comes in different levels and flavors, but you can bet that any Moroccan family sitting in front of its television set watching JLO or “Much Loved” will be horrified. I kept thinking that Morocco is simply not ready and will never be ready for such spectacles.
Moroccan families do not disavow such events solely based on their religious belief; they do so because it is not part of their social fabric or culture. From the clips available online, many Moroccans attending JLO’s concert are more concerned about taking pictures and videos of the performance, unlike concerts in the US where the audience is truly immersed in the performance.
Moroccan authorities need to end their system of paternalism and allow people to be free. The majority of Moroccan households are equipped with satellite televisions that can easily stream X-rated movies. Therefore, banning the movie is such pathetic move. The movie is freely available online. Are they going to ban the Internet as well?
Or is it because of Nabil Ayoush’s gutsiness to bring to life something considered taboo? Prostitution in Morocco is alive and kicking and there is no sign that it’s going to vanish anytime soon. The reason for this phenomenon is very simple: poverty. Instead of going after a movie producer, it would be more helpful to tackle the real culprit: the poverty and lack of education that are so rampant in the country.
It is utterly ridiculous to tell the world that banning the movie is to protect the image of Moroccan women. To protect women, Moroccan authorities should start by looking closely at the annual Gender Gap Index which shows Morocco falling to 133rd place overall out of 142 countries.
Read the full story here
Jazz Concert at ALC in Fez this Saturday
The Jazz Concert at ALC Fez this Saturday (June 6 at 6:30 PM) features the University of Akron Jazz Quartet in Concert!
The University of Akron Jazz Quartet features four faculty members from the School of Music: Professor Jack Schantz, Coordinator of Jazz Studies, pianist Rock Wehrmann, bassist Tim Powell, and drummer Mark Gonder.
Jack Schantz has toured the U.S. and Japan with the Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman Orchestras. He served as Artistic Director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra from 1992-2009. He has recorded with Oscar Peterson, Phil Woods, Joe Lovano, and Nancy Wilson. He has been on the Faculty at the University of Akron since 1996.
Rock Wehrmann is a pianist, arranger and producer. He has recorded with Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. His company, Sudden Realizations, produces music and sound design for films and broadcast.
Tim Powell is first call bassist for all Playhouse Square Center Productions. He has recorded with Harold Danko, Rosemary Clooney, Paquito D'Rivera and Joe Augustine. He has been on the Faculty at the University of Akron since 1993.
Drummer Mark Gonder has toured internationally with the Glen Miller and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras, and has recorded with Pat Pace, the Jazz Unit, and the Jack Schantz Quartet. He has been on the Faculty at the University of Akron since 1996.
The concert, which is free and open to the general public, is sponsored by the US Embassy in Morocco and the ALC-ALIF Music Club
It will be held in the garden of the American Language Center-ALIF at 2 Rue Ahmed Hiba, Fes, Ville Nouvelle
Morocco has seven million smokers
According to the National Alliance fight against drugs cited by the newspaper Al Massae, seven million Moroccans are smokers, including 500,000 children. And, according to the agency, this number is rising.
|Moroccan law prohibits the sale of cigarettes to minors|
These figures are an opportunity to recall that the anti-smoking law dates from 1995 is still not enforced. The law bans smoking in public places (transport, hospitals, administrative offices ...). In case of infringement, smokers are liable to a fine of 100 dirhams.
Since 2008 this prohibition even extended to cafes, bars and restaurants over 50 m². The law also prohibits the sale of cigarettes to minors, forcing tobacconists to request an ID to the client.
Petitions asking the Department of Health to enforce the law are regularly launched without any effect.
According to figures from the World Health Organization, every year tobacco kills more than five million people worldwide - more than HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Also according to the same organization, passive smoking is responsible for 600,000 premature deaths per year, of which a large proportion of children (31%).