Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Participation in Food Trade Fair Pays Dividends For Morocco

Taking part in trade fairs is a sometimes risky business, with resulting orders falling below the expenditure required to participate. However, the recent World Food Fair, "Gulfood 2015", that was held in Dubai between the 8th and 13th of February, has proved to be a bonanza for Moroccan exporters
60 Moroccan firms participated

Sixty Moroccan companies took part in the fair and, as in the previous fairs, Export Morocco assured wide promotion of the Moroccan offerings of food products under the label "Made in Morocco"

The resulting orders and test orders were worth 76 million dirhams according to a statement by the  Moroccan Centre for Export Promotion, Export Morocco.

Large orders included 43 containers for fruit juice, 30 for nectarines and over $100,000 for couscous and other food dishes. Several firm orders woth $620,000 have also been placed for organic plants, spices, teas, essential oils, floral water, natural and blanched almonds. $125,000 worth of orders for argan oil, cactus and truffles were also made. Others included $50,000 for baby food and 400,000 euros of dishes based on fish (breaded and marinated fish), says Morocco Export .

"Gulfood 2015 " was attended by some 85,000 trade visitors and 4,500 exhibitors from over 170 countries.

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Rabat-Salé tramway to be Extended

The Rabat-Salé tramway will be extended by 2.3 kilometres, a decision that has been warmly welcomed by potential passengers  
Rabat-Salé tramway. Photo credit: Yassine Toumi

The Rabat City Council has given unanimous approval for an extension of a second tram line connecting the neighbourhoods of Bettana in Salé with Akkari in Rabat.

The new line of the network will be extended along the side of the Akkari neighbourhood from the  Moulay Youssef Hospital through to the intersection of El Kifah Assalam and Assalam Boulevards, a distance of 2.3 km. There will be four stations located approximately 500 metres apart. It is expected that the extension of this line will service an additional 10, 000 users.

The operation of the two Rabat-Salé tramway lines began in May 2011. The operating company say that the Rabat-Salé Tram System (STRS) aims to carry 180,000 passengers daily between the two banks of the Bouregreg River through two lines: Hay Karima (Salé) - Agdal (Rabat), a distance of 11.7 km and Yacoub Mansour (Rabat) - Bettana (Sale) -7.8 kilometres.

Residents in Salé say the extension is very welcome and will cut the cost and time of transport across the Bouregreg river.

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Monday, March 02, 2015

ALC ALIF Blood Drive this Wednesday - Help Save Lives in Fez

This Wednesday sees the good folk of the ALC ALIF Community Service Club holding their second Blood Drive to help save lives in local public hospitals

In collaboration with the blood transfusion centre, ALC-ALIF Community Service Club invites you to give blood on Wednesday any time between 9 am to 1 pm.

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several, if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.

Donors will receive a free snack, and a free confidential blood test. 


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Free Concert at ALIF Riad Fez - Village Dial Waheda

Next Wednesday ALIF presents Paula Jeanine Bennett and the Sefrou Village Ensemble performing songs from the folk-opera “A Village of One/Village dial Waheda

NYC-based vocalist-composer-percussionist-visual artist Paula Jeanine Bennett will present songs from her folk opera “A Village Of One/Village Dial Waheda” in English and Darija in a night of new music.

Though the work has been performed in New York and in Java, Paula has adapted her material to include many elements of her love of Moroccan culture, mixed with her own unique aesthetic.

With a seven-voice choir, a halka storyteller, Brahim Daldali, local musicians Ismail Maarouf (guitar, drums, voice) and Youness El Issmaeli (oud), the evening promises to be an unforgettable one.

A Village Of One/Village Dial Waheda” is a musing on the loneliness of modern life as seen through the lens of a village. 

With a focus on women’s issues, social structure and self-definition, the songs of “Village Dial Waheda” lend themselves to cultural dialogue.

This concert is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 4th at 7 PM
ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Batha

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Petroleum Prices in Morocco Rise Again

The Moroccan Ministry of Corporate Affairs has announced a further rise in prices of petroleum products. According to a government statement the rise, from last Sunday, March 1st, is only a slight increase

The price of diesel rose by 51 cents to 8.96 DH per litre, while that of premium gasoline rose 34 cents to 9.88 dirhams per litre.

Back in September 2013 the Benkirane government implemented a system of partial indexation of petroleum prices in order to reduce the burden on the state's budget and slow a widening budget deficit.

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Morocco Moves Towards Parity for Women ~ and an End to Violence

Sunday March 8th is International Women's Day. In Morocco, the struggle for equality is taking centre stage, with the government turning its attention to several pieces of legislation that women's groups  claim are long overdue. At the same time a major report by NGO's paints a troubling picture of just how much work remains to be done

Last Friday,  Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, announced that "The bill for the creation of the National Forum of Parity and fight against all forms of discrimination will be presented on Thursday by the Government Council."

Bassima Hakkaoui

The creation of this National Forum, as women's rights advocates point out, is stipulated in Article 19 of the Constitution which aims to establishes "equal rights" and urges the State to "strive for parity" through the establishment of a special body.

At the same time,  a bill will be introduced to improve the fight against violence towards women. "We want to make a specific law for women, which will be launched by the end of this year," announced Mrs. Hakkaoui.

Mbarka Bouaida, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation speaking at a conference debate on "women's rights in Morocco, 20 years after Beijing" jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and UN Women, added her voice to the debate, saying that the Kingdom "has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to a pro-active approach to promoting women's empowerment and gender equality, by implementing structural reforms and by taking effective measures to strengthen the role of women in the construction of a modern society."

Mbarka Bouaida

"If the reform of the Family Code has done justice to Moroccan women and strengthened its role within the family and society, the new 2011 Constitution paves the way for an effective fight against discrimination against women and the full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms," said Mbarka Bouaida.

Yet, a report on the situation of women's rights in Morocco describes an almost diametrically different situation. "In terms of women's rights, many reform projects are open since the adoption of the new constitution in 2011," reads the report, "but their execution is marked by inexplicable delays." Based on figures from the High Commission for Planning (HCP), the 38 organisations headed by the Democratic Association of Women of Morocco (ADFM), the report paints a damning assessment of the situation of Moroccan women, claiming that poverty, violence, unemployment and different types of discrimination are the daily lot of a large number of Moroccan women.

Despite the report, Bassima Hakkaoui remained optimistic, saying that Morocco's balance sheet is very positive, and that the country has recorded significant progress in equality making it a "leader in the region and internationally. We are pleased with the balance and ambitious to set up other accomplishments," she said.

Aatifa Timjerdine

Between optimism and reality are the stark figures reported by the NGOs that indicate 62.8% of Moroccan women have suffered gender violence; 55% in the marital context. "Violence can be either physical or moral, through intimidating or hurtful words, " says NGO Coordinator, Aatifa Timjerdine. The report recommends a revision of the criminal law to meet three requirements, in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution: the investigation of perpetrated violence, punishment of such violence and compensation for damages suffered by the victims.

The report also examines women's health issues and notes that there are still too many illegal abortions. Using data from the Moroccan Association against Illegal Abortion (Amlac) it estimates that 600 to 800 women have abortions every day in unsanitary conditions. The report proposes a revision of Article 453 of the Criminal Code to expand the circumstances under which a therapeutic abortion is permitted.

The report also reviews the situation of women regarding literacy and schooling. In 2012, the illiteracy rate among urban women was 47.6% against 25.3% for men. In rural areas, female illiteracy was as high as 64.5% in 2012.

In some parts of Morocco, 83% of brides are minors.

Disparities between rural and urban areas are more stark in secondary education. Net enrolment rate of rural girls in college is below 27.2% and drops to a rate of 7% in high school.

Women's protest in Rabat

The report shows an increase in female employment, but notes that women are the most affected by unemployment (10.2% against 8.4% for men). In urban areas, the female unemployment rate is 24% while that of men is 17%. About 21% of women who hold diplomas of higher education remain unemployed, while the number of unemployed men in the same situation is only 11%.

The sectors where women work most are agriculture (61.1%), the services sector, 26.3% and industry, 12.5%.

Women's representation in the governing bodies of legislative, executive and judiciary, remains low. An HCP survey in 2012 shows that women are under-represented (24.2%) in positions of responsibility.

At the level of political participation parliament has only 67 women out of 395 members, 17% instead of 10.5% in the previous term. To break the "glass ceiling", the NGOs ask for the implementation of affirmative action to reduce disparities in access to positions in the public service.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Photo of the Day ~ Spring Above Fez

A spring ride amidst the flowers on the foothills of Mount Zalagh

Gigi Kay riding Cosmo Lush in the flowers below Mt Zalagh in Fez

Dr Gigi Kay is the Director of the American Fondouk ~ Fez's famous veterinary hospital for mules, donkeys and horses. Visit the American Fondouk site to support their valuable work. Click HERE

Photo: Dick Hooper

See more of our series Photo of the Day 

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