Sunday, April 20, 2014

Moroccan News Briefs #114


Marines land in Morocco to demonstrate crisis responsibility capability

In today's security environment, the ability to quickly place military personnel on a location anywhere on the globe is at a premium. In order to stay ready for that task, the U.S. Marines of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force conducted a training mission in Tifnit, Morocco, in April 2014.


Their mission was executed in conjunction with African Lion 14, a combined-joint exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves approximately 150 soldiers of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, 350 U.S. service members and additional military personnel from European and African partner nations.

The Marines flew approximately 500 nautical miles in MV-22B tiltrotor Ospreys from Moron Air Base, Spain, to their landing zone in Tifnit. Once they arrived, a platoon of Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which is the ground combat element for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, quickly established security of the area.

"Our task was to provide assault support for the tactical insertion of the platoon from the GCE into a simulated U.S. compound in Morocco in order to safeguard U.S. citizens and government property," said Capt. Kyle Stuart, the flight lead for the African Lion 14 mission.

The Crisis Response's flight and insert also demonstrated the rapid-response capability to multinational observers from 14 different countries during the "Observer Program" of African Lion 14. The countries included: Mauritania, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Senegal, Poland, Turkey, Italy and France.


Opera Opens in Rabat

The premiere of "Don Giovanni" in Morocco was held Saturday, April 12 at the National Theatre Mohammed V in Rabat. The premiere of the work was part of the project "Come to the opera!" dedicated exclusively to young elementary school and college students.



It was performed for the first time in 1787 under the direction of the composer himself at the Theatre of the Estates Prague where it met with huge success . It took 227 years to arrive in Morocco but as the audience agreed it was "better late than never!"

The Philharmonic Orchestra of Morocco (OPM) has previously presented eleven operas and under the baton of Benedict Girault, they showed their mastery of the style.

The staging of the colorful and smart "dramma giocoso" was directed by Jean-Marc Biskup with 20 singers,  8 soloists and 68 musicians. A teleprompter was installed to translate texts in French, in order to follow the plot. The production was considered risky for a first in Morocco, but the singers, the orchestra and sets provided 3 hours of "pure happiness."


The new Fez airport terminal to to open in September

The announcement of the commissioning date for the new Fez-Sais terminal was made this week after a visit  to the site by the Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Logistics , Aziz Rabbah and a parliamentary delegation.


According to the CEO of the Airport Corporation (ONDA) Mohamed Zouhair El Oufir , the new terminal ..."tends to dynamics that accompany the tourist needs in the Fès- Boulemane region and accomplishes the strategic objectives of Vision 2020."

Built on an area of ​​17,000 m2, the new terminal is part of a major airport expansion project whose total cost amounts to 479 million dirhams. Eventually, the airport will increase its capacity welcome 2.5 million passengers each year as against 500,000 currently . The work is funded by the National Office of Airports (ONDA )and the African Development Bank.


Airshow in Marrakech - April 23 to 26

Under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, the fourth edition of the International Exhibition of Aerospace Industries “Marrakech Airshow 2014″ will take place from April 23 to 26 at the Royal Air Force military base in Marrakech.



“The fourth Marrakech Airshow will be hosting once more, African and Mediterranean civil and military delegations as well as senior corporate executives in order to confederate Marrakech Airshow’s exchange platform and consolidate the position of Morocco within the development of the African aerospace industry,” according to the Marrakech AirShow website.



The Marrakech Air Show, an International Aerospace Exhibition and Conference, is a gateway for better communication and greater opportunity for businesses working within the field of aerospace.

More than 50 official delegations will attend the 2014 Marrakech Airshow.

According to a statement from a French industrialist, published on Eturbonews, “Dassault Aviation will present its large cabin, long range Falcon 7X at the fourth Marrakech Air Show.” It will be Dassault’s second appearance at the show, which bills itself as the foremost trade show in the African region.


The flagship Falcon 7X, the first business jet equipped with digital flight controls, has a range of 5,950 nautical miles and can comfortably fly from Marrakech to Beijing, Los Angeles or Cape Town non-stop.

In related news the French manufacturer of small aircraft LH Aviation is preparing to open a new facility in Morocco and plans to produce the first 100% made in Morocco plane.

Soon to be constructed in Morocco

The Moroccan facility will be producing initially around 80 aircraft per year and may double the number afterwards.


Morocco to crack down on informal importing

Every day between 150 and 200 vans driven by Moroccans living abroad (MRE) cross into Morocco. The goods they carry are intended for local markets and until now checks on goods and payment of customs duty has been haphazard.


Now the customs rules will change. From May 1st MRE carrying goods will be registered in a commercial register  after a declaration to the Customs service. Thorough searches of vehicles suspected of carry illegal goods will now take place.

All merchandise will then be the subject of a detailed statement and all items will be included on an invoice for indicating the type and quantity, weight and value. Customs will then determine the amount of taxes and import duties payable.

The changes were originally to take effect on January 1 but postponed to the beginning of the summer season when the flow of travelers and tourists as well as MRE reaches the peak.

According to the Department of Customs and Indirect Taxes ( SDII ), about 150 vans full of all kinds of goods cross borders every day to supply the market local. The same source has always decried the "bad quality" of some of these goods.

The Department of Customs and Indirect Taxes (SDII)  say that Moroccans abroad are  "engaging in an activity that competes unfairly with both foreign trade, local industry and international transport companies and it is understood that many MRE offer transport for hire or reward, because loads often belong to third persons."

To avoid unpleasant surprises for MRE that land in ports of the kingdom, Customs began an information campaign through diplomatic missions to educate Moroccans abroad. For some of them in Europe, risking the import of goods in personal vehicles is a result of Moroccans in Spain and Italy being very affected by unemployment because of the economic crisis .


Brilliant Fez Surgeons relocate man's penis

A team of Moroccan surgeons managed to relocate a penis on a 35 year old male victim of a violent assault. After 6 hours of operation, the man was able to retain his penis. The news was released in a study published April 9 in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.



The man was violently assaulted by a stranger, with a razor blade cut to his body 3 cm from the pubis. By "luck" the amputation was not complete and after being admitted to the emergency department he was subjected to an operation that lasted six hours, during which members of Urology, University Hospital, Fes were able to reseal the organ.

Having lost a lot of blood and the operation itself causing heavy bleeding, the patient had received a blood transfusion. A temporary plastic restraint was placed at the base of the penis in order to reduce bleeding.

Doctors say that if amputation of the penis is very rare, the success of such an operation is even more so and in this case the appearance and function of the penis have been restored "

The medical team who carried out the intervention was welcomed success. Because the patient was able to gradually regain normal use of his penis. "The appearance and function of the penis have been restored," say the doctors. In particular, they noted the absence of tight urethra.

And erectile function and sensitivity are now considered normal for this patient.

No microsurgery was undertaken to reconnect each blood vessels. "Our case study allows us to demonstrate that even without restoration of blood vessels, good postoperative results can be achieved," said the doctors.


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mohamed Briouel and Friends Close the Sufi Festival in Style


The final night of the 2014 Fes Festival of Sufi Culture gathered together some fine musicians for an evening of Andalusian music. However, when audience members turned up at the advertised venue, at the Zalagh Park Hotel, they were directed to a dark and empty fifth floor. One "official" claimed it had been moved to the Jnan Palace, while another suggested that it had moved back to the Batha Museum

Arriving at the Batha Museum at 8 PM, an hour before the concert began, it was still possible to get a seat, but as the concert started there was still a crush of around 150 to 200 people backed up to the entrance and a great number of people standing inside, blocking aisles.

Part of a large crowd at the Batha Museum - blocking all exits

When Faouzi Skali began his introductory speech a chant of protest erupted about the lack of seating. It was clear that the number of tickets sold greatly exceeded the capacity of the venue. Skali apologised, saying the concert couldn't be held at the usual venue of the Jnan Palace, as this was being renovated. As on the night before, with the lack of public safety because of the crush, questions are being asked about why more tickets are sold than are seats available and why public safety is not put before profits. It was not a good note on which to end the festival.


With a circle of Sufis seated at the front, and the orchestra onstage behind them, the performance went some way towards saving the evening. The music of Mohamed Briouel's Andalusian Orchestra was greeted with the enthusiasm for this star of the Fez music scene that it deserved.

On this occasion Briouel was joined by some big names such as Mohamed Bajeddoub, Said Chraibi and Mohmed and Abdelfatah Bennis as well as the up and coming star, Marouane Hajji.

Mohamed Briouel at the Fes Sacred Music Festival 

Mohamed Briouel, known as Sheik Mohamed, was born in the city of Fez, in 1954. From 1963, Mohamed Briouel studied music alongside Haj Abdelkrim Rais, one of the masters of the Arab-Andalusian Music in Maghreb. He was the first Moroccan to receive the first prize of music theory and the prize of honor in Arab-Andalusian music. Mohamed Briouel is the director of the Conservatory of Music in Fez, where he also teaches music theory.

In 1986, he won the Prix du Morocco for the publication of his study, Moroccan Andalusian music: Nouba Gharibat Al Husayn, in which are transcribed into Western notation for the first time, eleven Andalusian scores.


In recent years he has directed his own orchestra, the Andalusian Orchestra of Fez, and travel widely both in Morocco and abroad, in the dual context of the Arab-Muslim music and also Sephardic music in the company of Albert Emile Zrihan, and  Françoise Atlan.

Over the last few years he has worked with young singers in Fez in a choir that has already appeared to acclaim in past editions of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music .

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Ali Keeler & Al Firdaus and Tariqa Wazzaniyya at Sufi Festival



Ali Keeler

Friday night at the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture drew the largest crowd of the festival so far. The double-bill opened with Ali Keeler and the Al Firdaus Ensemble with Keeler featuring on vocals and violin. The music varied from Andalusian to a delightful surprise - a Celtic tune that started much like a slow Irish air before picking up the tempo and developing into a reel - albeit with unmistakably Islamic vocals.


Keeler was ably supported by his group who included some fine voices and wonderful bass cello. However it was his choice of material that won over the crowd with their simple but deeply religious message. The audience needed little prompting to join in the singing.

Al Firdaus - moving the audience


The Tariqa Wazzaniyya

The youngest Sufi

The Al Firdaus Ensemble was followed by the popular Wazzaniyya Tariqa. They entered in single file behind a beating drum and immediately had the audience on their feet. They were in fine voice and clearly had many devotees amongst the audience.


The Wazzaniyya, like the Charqawiyya, are an offshoot of the Jazuliyya-Shadhiliyya. They were founded by Moulay (saint) ‘Abd Allah al-Sharif (d.1678), who had been a member of the Jazuliyya order, and unlike the others take their name not from their master or founder, but from the town in which they are based: Wazzan, located in the south-west of Morocco and founded by al-Sharif in the first half of the 17th Century, and which, according to Halima Baali-Cherif, “is considered sacred to this day”. It is known by many Moroccans as “Dar Dmana” (The Abode of Protection).



A note on public safety:

Several members of the audience commented to The View from Fez that they felt insecure because of the size of the crowd. While the Batha Museum is a fine venue, this evening it was unfortunately packed beyond its capacity. The overcrowding and the placing of last minute "reserved seats" in front of audience members who had come early to get a good vantage point, caused entire sections to reposition their seats. This resulted in the complete blocking of aisle and exits. Fortunately there was no incident that required their use, but it was a situation that was far beyond normal health and safety practices. Ticket sales are important, but so is the safety of the public.

Tomorrow: A great evening of Samaa at the Hotel Zalagh Parc Palace. Please note the event is sceduled to start at 8.30 pm


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