Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Moroccan News Briefs #134

Minorities, Women and the State in North Africa - Edited by Moha Ennaji

An important new book, Minorities, Women and the State in North Africa, has just been published by the prestigious American publishing house Red Sea Press and edited by Moha Ennaji.

The compilation, the joint work of international researchers, includes 16 chapters on multiple identities and multiculturalism that characterises North Africans with Jewish, Christian, Arab, Amazigh, Muslim, African, European and Andalusian roots.

The book, in English, focuses on the strategies adopted in each country to include women and minorities and ensure respect for cultural diversity.

The book also discusses the role played by civil society organisations and the State to fight against discrimination. There is also a fascinating in-depth examination of the interconnection between equal opportunity, the nation, the state, citizenship and culture.

The book also sheds light on the close links between democratisation, human rights and cultural diversity in the North African states.

The corporate world is also examined. "Companies must eliminate discrimination and violence based on gender and strengthen the rights of women as a means of strengthen democratic culture and public and individual freedoms," notes the publication.

Moha Ennaji, is a lecturer at the University Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah of Fez. Moha is a researcher in several areas ranging from language, gender, civil society problems and migration.

He is co-founder of the International Institute of Languages ​​and Cultures in Fez and Chairman of South North Centre for Intercultural Dialogue and Migration Studies.

He is the author of several articles and books , the most recent of which are : Migration and Gender , The Impact on Women Left Behind (Red Sea Press, 2008, in collaboration with Fatima Sadiqi ) , Multilingualism , Cultural Identity, and Education in Morocco (2005 Springer, New York ) , Women in the Middle East and North Africa (2010, Routledge), Language and Gender in the Mediterranean Region (2008, Mouton de Gruyter , Berlin). The Interconnection of Amazigh and Arab Cultures (2009) and Migration and Cultural Diversity (2007).

Fez Festival of Andalusian Music

The 21st edition of the National Festival of Andalusian music will be held in Fez from the 5th to the 12th of March under the motto "Heritage protection and inventorying".

Tarab andalusi or Musiqa al-Ala, Spanish: música andalusí) is a style of Arabic music found in different styles across the Maghreb. It originated out of the music of Al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia) between the 9th and 15th centuries.

For music lovers and lovers of Andalusian music this cultural and artistic event provides a multitude of cultural, artistic evenings, workshops that will include a host of young musicians eager to learn this musical genre that is seen as one of the main tributaries of the Moroccan cultural heritage.

Initiated by the Urban Commune of Fez, the festival aims to promote and perpetuate this musical genre and consolidate its place in national and international festivals. According to the organisers this "major national orchestras of Andalusian music will perform in riads and other 'mythical' places in Morocco's spiritual capital to the delight of fans of the genre".

The event will be marked by ceremonies in homage to the great names of the art, training sessions for many artists and a conference and a round table on Andalusian music.

The Festival of Andalusian Music is considered one of the major artistic events organised in Fez in order to promote and sustain cultural heritage. Fez is known for its festivals of spiritual music including Madih and Samaa Festivals, Malhoun, Sufi culture and Amazigh culture.

Paradise Lost?

The misadventures of investors in property in Morocco never end. This time, MRE (Moroccans living abroad) and Europeans  are up in arms in London because of delays in delivery of the project "Paradise Golf and Beach Resort" launched in 2007 by Atlantic Beach Paradise (ABP), a limited liability company run by a former MRE from England, Larbi Tadlaoui. The resort is located between Tangiers and Asilah.

The angry clients have decided to approach the Moroccan Embassy on January 25th. They say they have no other choice. "We knocked on all the doors in Morocco, but we have got nothing. That's why we decided to show," said collective spokesman Zakaria Maghraoui who filed a complaint against the developer in October 2013.

According to the account of this group of about 300 people out of 1,000 customers in total, the project was launched as very attractive and presented as "government-sponsored" through an agreement signed with the promoter company to enable it to benefit exemptions in terms of customs duties, due to the importance of the project. "They had made for big publicity. They showed us the signatures of ministers supposed to mark the State's commitment to the project,"say the MRE investors.

Delivery was scheduled for 2011 but did not happen due to a dispute between the water supplier Amendis and the promoter which had blocked development. While things seemed to start again in the right direction the project experienced another misadventure in October 2014 when the real estate General Company (CGI) the project manager, withdrew. Since then, customers have only had promises and more promises.
We, the undersigned are investors in a development in Morocco known as Paradise Golf and Beach Resort, located inbetween Tangiers and Asilah and developed by Atlantic Beach Paradise Resort S.A.R.L. We are over 800 in number, different nationalities from around the world, many from the U.K. and Ireland...We respectfully request that His Majesty The King Mohammed VI instructs a full and transparent investigation to be carried out and that investors are informed of the true situation regarding this development - Petition to HM King Mohammed VI
"It is frustrating. It is money down the drain," laments French woman, Claire Panay Claire, 40, who was born in Morocco and lived there for 20 years before settling in England. She had paid 23,000 pounds sterling deposit or 331,500 dirhams. "I love Morocco, it is the country of my childhood. I have a lot of attachment. My mother has a house, but I wanted to have my own pied-a-terre, "she says, adding:" with others, we fell into the trap of so-called government support".

Mr. Aziz Maghraoui, the lawyer of the group in Morocco claims they have discovered that the land does not belong to Atlantic Beach Paradise . "When I was going up the complaint file in 2013, I wanted to know whether the promoter was qualified to build and sell apartments. I went to the Land Registry, and discovered that the land was registered as "private good of the state". It is neither the name of Mr. Tadlaoui nor the name of his company, but that of the government."

This is completely refuted by the promoter who sent the lawyer a copy of his certificate of ownership. "How could I start building if I had not acquired the land?" Mr. Tadlaoui responded. The deed of sale was signed by "a representative of the head of government," he said, preferring to keep the paperwork confidential,

Last week Mr. Tadlaoui  contacted his clients in London promising that work would be completed by the end of January. " Everything is ready. Amendis finished infrastructure. The first delivery is scheduled for the summer of 2016, "says Tadlaoui. "It is true that there is much to do. But want to do anything to appease customers especially since they have been waiting. But these delays are beyond our control."

His clients, however, are not appeased. "I think it is clear he is afraid," said Ms. Panay. "Nothing will prevent us from going to the embassy. There are some customers who had advanced up to 100 000 pounds sterling [more than one million dirhams] and some died without being able to enjoy their property. At the point where we are, only the intervention of the King can change things."

The group has launched a petition in which they request the intervention of the monarch.

New Tourism Development Near Agadir

The SMIT (Moroccan Society of Tourist Investments) has announced a new development at Aghroud north of Agadir. The project increase the capacity of the Agadir region by more than 16,000 beds. The SMIT describes the project as "an innovative concept, combining seaside luxury, entertainment and adventure activities"

It is intended that the project which will cover some 600 hectares and will allow the region to reposition itself and to target niche markets of seaside holidays, golf, sport and wellness.

Nearly 26 billion dirhams of investment has been committed to the Souss Atlantic Sahara region and this latest announcement is one of eight programmes that are part of the Vision 2020.  Despite a difficult international context, a series of projects have been launched at Taghazout, Founty, Tama Ouanza and Lunja village. They are intended to create a solid seaside tourist cluster around Agadir.

The SMIT has a commitment to ensure a smooth, equitable sustainable development while avoiding any risk of speculation, especially in a destination where the land is becoming increasingly scarce.

Morocco fails to attract foreign expertise

Morocco is lagging behind when it comes to attracting skilled foreign talent. According to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2015-2016  the Kingdom is ranked in the 93rd spot out of 109 countries around the world due to low scores in several criteria and sub-criteria.

The report published by the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) in partnership with the temporary work specialist ADECCO, establishes a parallel between the prosperity of a country and the movement of foreign talent.

Classified in the region "North West Asia and Africa" ​​and in the class of "lower middle income", the kingdom tumbled from 85th place in the index in 2014 which listed 100 countries. The regional ranking is dominated by the United Arab Emirates (23rd in the world ranking), Qatar (24th) and Israel (25th)

Morocco scored 44.4 /100 for its ability to "activate" foreign talent ending up in 94th spot. For "attractiveness", the kingdom is in 89th place with a score of 42.3. For the development of foreign talents, the Kingdom is in 99th place with a score of 30/100. Other sub-indicators where the kingdom scored poorly is in the ability to retain highly qualified people (73rd), labor and professional skills (99th) and international skills (93rd).

Globally, Switzerland is the most attractive country for skilled foreigners. It is followed by Singapore 2nd, and Luxembourg 3rd, the United States is 4th followed by Denmark in 5th place.

Finally ... On the lighter side

A BBC reporter was doing a story on gender roles in Afghanistan.

She noted that women customarily walked a few metres behind their husbands.

Impressed she approached one of the Afghani women and said, "This is marvellous! What a nice gesture of respect to a husband. Is there any specific reason to this custom?"

The lady whispered, "Land mines"

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