Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Malaysia - Morocco ~ Now Visa Free

The Moroccan government and its Malaysian counterpart have signed an agreement to allow citizens of both countries to travel back and forth without visa requirements
Morocco's Ambassador to Malaysia Mohammed Reda Benkhaldoun and Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim

The partial abolition of the visa agreement was signed by Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary-general Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim on behalf of the Malaysian government and the Kingdom of Morocco's Ambassador to Malaysia Mohammed Reda Benkhaldoun on behalf of Morocco.

Under the new agreement, Malaysian and Moroccan passport holders who are travelling for business or social visits with valid documents are allowed to enter and exit both countries without a visa for a maximum period of 90 days.

Malaysian passport holders, including diplomatic passport holders, will be able to enter Morocco freely for a maximum period of 90 days, for official or social purposes without the requirement of a visa.

The visa waiver is also applicable to transit passengers travelling through both countries.

In an official statement, the Malaysian ministry said the agreement is expected to further enhance bilateral relations between the two Muslim countries.

It will also enhance economic, trade, investment and tourism cooperation between both countries.

The agreement will take effect after all requirements have been fulfilled by both countries.

Morocco established diplomatic ties with Malaysia in 1963.

Morocco exports canned fish, food, fertilisers, plastics and chemical products to Malaysia and imports mainly electric and electronic goods.

Bilateral trade between Malaysia and Morocco stood at about US$200-US$300 million in 2015. 2,927 Moroccans visited Malaysia in 2016 and the number is expected to increase gradually following the agreement.


Circus in Salé

National Circus School Shems'y in Salé on 19th, 20th and 21st - Admission is free!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Amazigh Festival - Recommendations

After the closing of the Thirteenth International Festival of Amazigh Culture in Fez, the organisers issued a call to consolidate diversity and reform school curricula in order to build intercultural and inter-civilisational understanding as ramparts against the rise of all extremisms
Hadda Ouakki  at Bab Makina

The thirteenth international festival of Amazigh culture, which was organised under the patronage of His Majesty the King, in Fès from the 14th to 16th of July, on the theme "Amazighity and Cultural Diversity in the Face of Extremism", came to a close early morning on Monday.

This festival was organised by the Fes-Saiss Association and the South South Centre in partnership with the Fes-Meknes Region and the Esprit Foundation of Fès. It was a resounding success at the academic, artistic and organisational levels. It stressed the positive impact of intercultural dialogue and the consolidation of cultural diversity on living together and peace.

Participants at the international forum discussed relevant and varied issues, including aspects of Amazigh culture in North Africa; the importance of mixing between Amazigh, African and Mediterranean cultures; the fight against extremism and violence in the region; The role of art and culture in the struggle against extremism; the role of intellectuals and civil society in the resolution of conflicts and the fight against violence.

This forum highlighted the contribution of Amazigh culture to the consolidation of peace, dialogue, and diversity. It advocated making cultural diversity a lever for integration and sustainable development.

More than a hundred intellectuals, artists and musicians representing different regions of Morocco, and thirteen friendly countries, participated in this festival, which also included book exhibitions, art and Amazigh carpets, with round tables and workshops on painting, writing and storytelling.

The third musical evening of the festival ended last Sunday in a festive atmosphere. Thousands of festival-goers came to the beautiful Bab Makina, to vibrate to the Mediterranean rhythms. Italian artist Laura Conti, Hadda Ouakki of the Middle Atlas and the great star of the modern Moroccan song, Abdelhafid Douzi, made it unforgettable evening.

Laura Conti was a crowd favourite

Participants in the international Forum made the following recommendations:

1) Emphasise the central role of the Amazigh culture as vectors of the universal values of living together
2) Strengthen and support the values common to cultures and civilisations
3) Establish intercultural and inter-civilisational understanding as a barrier against the rise of all extremism.
4) Strengthen gender equality in order to foster social integration.
5) Reform and modernise school and university curricula to encourage living together and respect for diversity
6) Teaching interaction and exchange among civilisations
7) Teaching the history of religions, in order to compare religions in their historical contexts
8) Emphasise the values of peace and coexistence.
9) Separate religion from politics, and consolidate the separation of powers.
10) Strengthen the democratic culture and values of freedom, with a view to achieving global and sustainable development.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Amazigh Cultural Festival Ends on a High Note

The International Festival of Amazigh Culture closed last night with an over capacity crowd jammed into the beautiful Bab Makina venue

Participants at the Festival's forum sessions that we spoke with during last night's concert were united in judging the Festival a huge success, with lively debates and thought provoking addresses.

Congratulations are due to the Festival organisers; in particular Fatima Sadiqi and Moha Ennaji.

Moha Ennaji at last night's concert

First up at the final concert was the dynamic powerhouse Hadda Ouakki, who was greeted warmly by the audience and delivered her set with her four dancers with gusto. It was pure Amazigh and showed just how alive the ancient culture is today.

Hadda Ouakki

Next up was Laura Conti, who was welcomed back to the Festival. She first performed at the Festival back in 2015. With a great voice and the skills of an actor she inhabited the music and received a rapturous response from the audience.

Laura Conti in full flight

Conti's songs were skilful arrangements by guitar maestro Maurizio Verna, whose performance gave her the space to bring the songs alive.

The three piece group Eivadòr (Golden River) is named after the old Caravanserai name for the Orco River, famous for the extraction of gold.

Guitar maestro Maurizio Verna,

The final performance was from a crowd favourite, Abdelhafid Douzi. The singer and actor, now in his thirties, appeared on stage and the crowd surged forward, past security to the front of the stage. The sea of waving arms, smart phones and cameras held aloft made glimpsing the singer a little difficult and photography impossible, but the music told the story and the crowd rewarded Douzi with a tsunami of applause.

Halfway through the concert there was a large crowd locked out

The only criticism of the evening was the Festival's underestimation of the size of the crowd. Numbers were so great that the doors of Bab Makina had to be shut to prevent the hundreds still waiting outside to enter. Not only is overcrowding unpleasant, causing many people to stand for the duration, but it raises serious safety issues.

Despite those problems, the Festival was judged an overwhelming success and showed just how tangible "intangible cultural heritage" can be.

Photos & Video; Sandy McCutcheon


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Festival of Malhoun Music in Fez

The 15th edition of the National Festival of Art of Malhoun will take place from the 21st to 29th of July in Fez under the theme "for the preservation of our artistic heritage"

Organised by the urban community of the city of Fez, this cultural event aims to perpetuate and enhance intangible cultural heritage and to promote its influence.

The Malhoun Festival includes a wide range of cultural activities and thematic conferences with professionals and researchers in the field.

This festival performances are planned in many areas of the spiritual capital such as Jnan Sbil and Jardin Lalla Amina. It is expected to involve a dozen Malhoun groups and orchestras from various regions of Morocco.

Mohamed Soussi (photo Sandy McCutcheon)

It includes exhibitions on the subject including publications of the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco and a ceremony in homage to the artist Mohamed Soussi, president of the association "Thami El Medghari for the art of Malhoun".


Morocco's Heatwave Continues

According to today's bulletin from Morocco's Meteorology Office, the heat wave will persist from Saturday to next Tuesday in several regions of the Kingdom with maximum temperatures oscillating between 37 and 46 ° Celsius

Temperatures ranging from 42 to 46 ° C will be recorded on Saturday and Sunday in Aousserd, Oued Eddahab, Boujdour, Smara, Assa-Zag, Tata, Zagora, Errachidia, Tan Tan, Guelmim, Sidi Ifni, , Beni Mellal, Rhamna, Kalaa Sraghna, Khouribga, Fqih Ben Saleh, Settat, Youssoufia, Khemisset, Meknes, Fez, Taounate, Moulay Yacoub, Sefrou, Sidi Kacem, Sidi Slimane, Ouezzane and the interior of Larache and Essaouira.

The mercury will climb up to 38/41 ° C in Figuig, Boulemane, Taourirt, Jerada, Guercif, Taza, Chefchaouen, El Hajeb, Khenifra, Berrechid, Benslimane, Sidi Bennour, Chichaoua, Safi, Tiznit, Chtouka a Baha , Inzegane, Agadir (interior), Ouarzazate, Azilal and Kenitra (interior).

On Monday and Tuesday, maximum temperatures between 41 and 44 degrees will interest Taroudant, Tata, Zagora, Aousserd, Smara, Assa Zag, Marrakech, Rhamna, Taounate and Moulay Yacoub.

The temperatures will be 37 to 40 degrees in Fez, Meknes, Ouazzane, Sidi Kacem, Sidi Slimane, Larache (interior), Khemisset, Khouribga, Fqih Ben Saleh, Settat, Youssoufia, Kalaa Sraghna, Beni Mellal, Errachidia, Oujda, Taourirt, Guercif and the interior of Safi and Essaouira.

The hot weather will persist in the southeast and eastern regions of the Sahara on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 July.


Morocco's Heatwave - Understanding the "Chergui"

In a recent bulletin the Directorate of National Meteorology indicated that the very high temperatures are due to the “chergui”. The View From Fez received a flurry of emails asking "what is the chergui?"

The chergui or sharqi (Arabic: شرقية‎‎ šarqīa) is the name of a continental easterly or southeasterly wind which blows on the southernmost part of Morocco, a hot and dry wind coming from the Sahara Desert. This wind can be compared with the sirocco, a very hot and very dry desert wind.

The Arabic word means "coming from the east", as the chergui emanates from the desert east of the Atlas Mountains. This is a rain shadow wind, and it descends after passing over the top of the mountain range as very hot and dry air into the coastal plains area towards the Atlantic ocean. This brings soaring temperatures typical of the desert, often over 40 °C (104 °F), and can even bring about 48 °C (118.4 °F) during the day. The relative humidity is extremely low, nearly always below 15%.

The chergui can also (more rarely) blow in wintertime, and is responsible for warm, sunny and dry weather.