Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Moroccan Photo of the Day ~ A Box of Cats

Walking the Fez Medina this morning, photographer Suzanna Clarke came across what she described as "pre-packaged cats"

See more in our series Photo of the Day 

The View from Fez welcomes contributions to our Photo of the Day Series


Morocco's Push For English Gains Ground

On March 17, the Ministry of Handicrafts, Social Economy and Solidarity launched an English training program for trainees or graduates from handicrafts institutions in Fez. The move comes as part of a larger movement across the Kingdom to raise the status of English as a language essential to development and tourism

The struggle to spread the use of English has been going on for the last few years. Back in November 2016 the Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Rachid Belmokhtar, declared that the Ministry has taken serious procedures to expand and improve the use of the English language among students in the Moroccan Kingdom.

At the time Belmokhtar revealed that, in response and accordance with the reform project called for by King Mohammed VI, the Ministry of Education has adopted new approaches and methods to expand and improve the comprehension of school pupils in the country’s newly adopted second foreign language of English. “We’ve tried to encourage the creation of English clubs in all high-schools to encourage students to be able to speak it,” Belmokhtar said.

The move towards promoting English has recieved support, not only within Morocco, but also from abroad. Prominent Kuwaiti businessman and Muslim scholar Tariq Al-Suwaidan has been quoted as saying publicly, “French language is useless and a waste of time.”

Muslim scholar Tariq Al-Suwaidan 

Al-Suwaidan went on to say, “I am serious, French is not the language of tourism, science and civilisation. France is a backward country in terms of administration.” He pointed out that...“Today, the language of science is English – keep it in your minds. I see proof that Arabic was the historic language of science, however, the current [leading] language of science and tourism is English,” noting that “80% of scientific researches in every field are released [and conducted] in English and the 20% of [researches are conducted] in other different languages.”

“French ranks as the 16th most widely spoken language. So, it is useless in the fields of tourism, science and civilisation,” he said.“I think, according to your history and the dominance of the francophone [culture], which you have to get rid of it – you are still attached to French [language]. We need to break this barrier, because it is useless. [Please] pay to attention to this and learn English.”

Over the past years, the issue of English has become controversial, but, according to a 2015 survey, conducted by news website Hespress, 85.98% of Moroccans want to replace French with English as the country’s first foreign language.

300 Artisans will gain increased proficiency in English 

Morocco World News reports that the new project for artisans is part of a partnership agreement between the ministry, the American Embassy, and the American Language Center to provide beneficiaries with tools to communicate with tourists and improve the sale of their products.

More than 300 artisans in the Msala and Aouinat Hajjaj handicraft institutions will benefit from this program, which will be assisted by the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah  and the handicraft chamber of the Fez and Meknes region.

“The program aims to empower young trainees with various tools including communication, to enable them integrate in the labor market and to develop this sector which is considered one of the pillars of the national economy,” said Fatema Marouane, the head minister.

The American Language Center in Fez is a major partner in the program

The program, launched in the presence of the Wali of Fez-Meknes region, Said Zniber, and the representatives of all partners of the program, will comprise 36 hours of educational activities which might be expanded, along with certificates to be given to the beneficiaries by the ALC.


Monday, March 20, 2017

The View From Fez - 4 Million Visitors!

On Monday, March the 20th, 2017, The View From Fez reached a milestone of 4 million visitors!

Since our first story back on October 24th 2005 The View From Fez has posted more than 5,200 stories about Fez and Morocco. Over that time we have had contributions from many talented photographers, writers, artists and journalists - to them: our thanks!

While our stories are read in over 100 countries, the top 10 contains only one surprise - the growing interest from Russia. Also growing in importance, though not yet in the top 10, is China, which provides a growing number of visitors.

Since we started analysing our numbers with Google Analytics, our 4 million visitors have contributed to more than 5,524,159 page views and around 30% are regular visitors. For those who enjoy statistics, 30% of our visitors are aged between 25 and 24, with 45% being female and 55% male.

All our posts are searchable, which has resulted in some pages being particularly popular. Top among them are: Moroccan Recipes (125,000 visits), Beginners Guide to Moroccan Carpets ( 116,000 visits) and Basic Facts about Morocco (66,000 visits).

One of the great pleasures of working on the blog is the interaction with local artisans and artists as well as having become a Media Partner with the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music as well as the Fes Festival of Amazigh Culture.

We would like to thank our sponsors who, year after year, have allowed The View From Fez to contribute to our local community through such things as paying for surgery for a young female burns victim, the Girls Home in Ziat and the Medina Children's Library. In addition we were able to take the Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood to Australia for two major Festivals; Woodford and the Sydney Festival in 2015.

The Hamadcha performing in Australia

The View From Fez would not be possible without the hard work of photo-journalist, Suzanna Clarke, who not only contributes to the blog but also assists in answering the floods of emails!

Finally, a big thank you to our readers and our local community here in Fez.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

King names Saad Eddine El Othmani New PM

After months of failure to form a new government, Benkirane is gone and Morocco has a new Prime Minister.  On Friday HM King Mohammed VI appointed Saad Eddine El Othmani of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) as head of government and instructed him to form the new government
"The Ministry of the Royal House, Protocol and Chancellery announces that His Majesty King Mohammed VI received Friday 18 Joumada II 1438 of the Hegira, corresponding to 17 March 2017 at the Royal Palace in Casablanca, Mr Saad Eddine El Othmani, of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), whom the Sovereign has appointed as Head of Government in accordance with The Constitution and instructed him to form the new government" - communiqué from the Ministry of the Royal House, Protocol and Chancellery
Saad Eddine Othmani served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abdelilah Benkirane’s first government between January 2012 and October 2013 and is seen as less "hot headed" than his predecessor, Benkirane. Morocco World News reports that Othmani is known for his wisdom and tendency to measure his words before making any public statement. He is also known to be a man of consensus, preferring dialogue to confrontation.

Many think that Othmani, who is the party’s second influential member after Benkirane, has the best profile to break the deadlocked negotiations to form a new coalition government.

Abdelilah Benkirane has welcomed that the King’s decision

For his part, Abdelilah Benkirane has welcomed that the King’s decision to dismiss him of his duties after five months of unfruitful negotiations with different political parties that resulted in a tenacious deadlock, adding that while it did in fact affect the party, the PJD was “proud of its journey” and its efforts in leading the country.

Saad Eddine Othmani

Saad Eddine Othmani is an Amazigh (Berber) Moroccan politician and psychiatrist. He was born in 1956 in Inezgane, near Agadir, in the Souss region. He obtained a Doctorate in Medicine from Hassan II University of Casablanca in 1986, and in psychiatry in 1994. He also earned Master and DEA degrees in Islamic studies in 1983, 1987 and 1999. He has written numerous books on psychology and Islamic law, and worked as the editor-in-chief of many magazines and publications. In 2004, after the withdrawal from politics of Abdelkrim Alkhatib, Saadeddine Othmani became the head of the Justice and Development Party (PJD).

While his appointment is generally accepted as a positive move towards resolving the failure to form a government, he has a long way to go to convince many Moroccans. In Fez, the word on the street is less than positive about Othmani. Much of negative talk, however, is more a reflection of the public's disillusionment with politicians in general than Othmani in particular. Time will tell if he can gain the confidence of the people.


Friday, March 17, 2017

The Private Life of Insects - Movie and Concert in Fez

On Tuesday, March 21 at 19h, Dar Batha, as part of the France-Morocco Cultural Season 2017, FICAM presents a concert movie with Laurent Marode on piano and Nicholas Thomas, vibraphone - The Private Life of Insects

Using a seamless combination of animation and real life, the insect world comes to life in this award-winning series of French animated shorts exploring all things insects and bugs. Note: it is a family show, for children aged 3/4 years.

In a sunny clearing, the small world of insects going about their daily business -that is until an entomologist arrives in search of specimens to take back to his lab. With the help of a mysterious machine he capture insects and locks them in his lair. But heroic a ladybug will do everything to free the unfortunate trapped critters ... On an original musical creation of the duo Laurent Marode (piano) and Nicholas Thomas (vibraphone) that revisits the brutal, burlesque and poetic world of tiny insects!