Thursday, August 06, 2009

Moroccan News Briefs

The cost of food during Ramadan may fall this year.

After a meeting chaired by the Secretary General of the Interior Ministry, Abdechakour Rais, a statement was released indicating that the Moroccan market will be abundantly supplied with highly popular goods and foodstuffs in the coming month of Ramadan and at lesser prices than the same period of 2008.

The meeting was held to discuss the issue of market supply during Ramadan, and to make sure that markets operate normally and are not subject to price speculation.

Belgian escapee arrested in Morocco

According to a security source, one of three prisoners who staged an audacious jailbreak in Belgium on July 23 on a hijacked helicopter has been arrested in Morocco.

Mohammed Johry was arrested at 1am (Thursday local time) in Berkane in northeastern Morocco, following an Interpol international arrest warrant.

Mohammed Johry, Abdel Had Kahjary Mulloul and Ashraf Sekkaki

Johry, who faces jail terms of between seven and thirty years in Belgium, will be brought before a special prosecutor after an investigation is launched.

Johry, Ashraf Sekkaki - described as one of Belgium's most dangerous criminals - and Abddelhaq Melloul Khayari flew out of a prison in Bruges on July 23 in a helicopter hijacked by their accomplices.

Sekkaki, 26, has spent the last decade behind bars for his part in around a dozen attacks on banks, some of them involving hostages. He already escaped once from prison - in September 2003 - and managed to avoid capture for five months.

Interpol had issued a so-called "Orange Notice" to its 187 member states in a bid to recapture the fugitives.

Khayari has been arrested in Belgium but Sekkaki is still at large.

Tourist arrivals in Morocco up 9% in 2009

There is mixed news on the tourist front in Morocco. According to figures released by the Department of Tourism, some 3.5 million tourists have visited Morocco over the first half of 2009. This is a rise of 9% on the same period last year.

However, the rise had no impact on the number of overnight stays which slipped by 3% to reach some 7.8 million, while the occupancy rate fell to 41%, compared to 45% last year. Travel receipts have also fallen by 14,4% - 20.9 billion dirhams (2.6 billion U.S. dollars), dropping by 14.4 percent compared with the same period of last year, which registered 24.4 billion dirhams. (1 U.S. dollar = 8.07 dirhams)

The demographics have varied a little with French tourists topping the list with 1.37 million (+9%), followed by the Spanish (714,000, + 19 %), the Belgians (184,000, +19 %), the German (176,000, +8 %), the Dutch (163,000, +15 %), the British (154,000, -13 %) and the Italians (130,000, +10 %).

Morocco and the global financial crisis.

French economist, Professor Henri Védié has described Morocco's performance as "remarkable", saying that the country has not only weathered the crisis, but is well prepared for the post-crisis.

"Morocco's economy is indeed resilient thanks to a sound financial system and steady foreign direct investments," Professor Védié said in an interview published this week in the French daily Les Echos.

He highlighted the upgrading of infrastructure and the progress achieved by the kingdom, stressing that tourism is "a key element" of Morocco's economy. He also noted that Morocco had also paid special attention to the environment and opted for an eco-friendly tourism policy.

Madeleine McCann hunt - new leads.

Moroccans will remember the dramatic turn of events that lead to speculation that the missing Madeleine McCann might have been brought to Morocco. Now there is new speculation about a woman who might have fresh information. The image of a woman with an Australian or New Zealand accent has been released.

Dave Edgar, a retired British police detective who has been hired by the family to lead the search for the missing girl, released the artist's portrait and details of the new lead at a London press conference attended by journalists from Spain, Portugal and the UK.

The image, based on descriptions by witnesses, shows a 30 to 35 year-old woman. She is said to be short, slim and with cropped brown hair. The woman who has also been described as a Victoria Beckham look-a-like.

The woman is a surprise twist in the case of the English girl who went missing two years ago.

She was in the Spanish city of Barcelona in May 2007, three days after Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal.

Four new H1N1 cases confirmed in Morocco.

Four Moroccans returning from Great Britain have been tested positive to the H1N1 influenza virus, a statement of the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The four are receiving medical care at Casablanca hospitals, the same source said.

This brings the swine flu toll in Morocco to 75 cases treated in special hospital wards.

Sixty-six people, who had contracted the virus, have already left hospitals after full recovery.

The recent nine cases are being hospitalized and show no serious signs, the source added.

Tags: blogsherpa, Morocco,

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