Thursday, August 27, 2009

Moroccan News Briefs

HM King Mohammed VI in 5-day convalescence

Morocco's Ministry of the Royal Household, Protocol and Chancellery said on Wednesday that "His Majesty King Mohammed VI is suffering from a viral infection, along with digestive problems and acute dehydration that require a five-day convalescence."

"His Majesty's health condition is not worrying," the ministry said in a statement referring to the monarch's private doctor and director of the Royal Palace clinic, Professor Abdelaziz Maaouni.

May God preserve His Majesty and grant him good health, well-being and happiness.

Royal Air Maroc & pilots open dialogue to settle labor dispute

The management of Morocco's flag carrier, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) and its pilots Association this week started the first round of talks to settle their disagreements and end the pilots strike which affected air and passengers traffic.

Talks between the two sides are held in "a climate of serenity," said the company, while the pilots negotiators said they sensed the management will to engage concrete dialogue to settle the labor dispute over the recruitment of foreign pilots.

The Moroccan pilots started a two-day strike last month, demanding the "Moroccanisation of the captains' posts," better pay for airline technicians and other social grievances.

RAM says it was forced to recruit foreign pilots because its fleet doubled in size to 60 aircraft since 2000. The carrier also says it is making great efforts to train Moroccan pilots to overcome the current shortage but the Moroccan pilots association argues there are enough experienced national pilots to overcome the need to hire foreigners.

The strikes, which caused losses of almost a million euros per day, occurred at the peak of the air travel season, with a high volume of tourists, transit passengers and expatriate Moroccans returning home on holiday.

Another rounds of talks are scheduled between the management and the pilots to settle all pending issues.

Swimming to Morocco - Part two.

In a follow-up to our earlier story on "swimming to Morocco" comes the news that on August 20, Stewart Goossens, a 17-year-old high school student at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, completed a 13 mile solo swim in the Strait of Gibraltar from Tarifa, Spain to Morocco as part of a fundraising challenge to benefit The Marine Mammal Center, a Sausalito, California-based rehabilitation hospital for ill and stranded seals and sea lions.

Despite strong winds and tough currents, Stewart completed what was expected to be a five-hour swim in just four hours. The Moroccan Navy, in between encounters with super tankers, escorted him into Morocco all the way across the Strait. His fundraising efforts for the Center's Dollar-a-Pound campaign were equally amazing. Stewart set out to raise $5,000 which would help the Center towards its goal of purchasing 90,000 pounds of fish (at a dollar a pound) needed to feed the influx of more than 1,200 patients rescued so far this year. His fundraising goal was met two-fold and within a short time he raised $10,000, which included a generous contribution of $3,000 from Union Bank.

San Francisco teen, Stewart Goossens.

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