Western sahara Major events

Morocco To Start Liberalising Dirham By June – Cenbank

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 08:23

by Samia Errazzouki

* Morocco working with IMF on currency reforms

* Cenbank sees gradual liberalisation of dirham

* Finance minister says local sukuk before summer (adds currency rate, trade deficit)

Morocco plans to start the process of floating its dirham currency by June, the central bank governor said on Tuesday, setting a tight schedule for a key part of an economic liberalisation programme agreed with international lenders.

In comments to Reuters, Abdellatif Jouahri also said the process to full exchange rate flexibility might take 15 years.

North Africa’s biggest energy importer, Morocco has been working with the International Monetary Fund on liberalising its currency as its finances have strengthened, helped in part by lower global oil prices.

Late last year, the government said the first stages of a move to a flexible exchange rate would be implemented in the second half of 2017.

On Tuesday Jouahri signalled an earlier start.

“We will begin the first phase of liberalising the dirham in the second quarter,” he said at an Arab finance ministers meeting in Rabat. “I can’t tell how long the duration of each phase will take, it depends on the market.”

The dirham’s exchange rate is currently tightly controlled via a 60 percent weighting to the euro and 40 percent to the dollar. On Tuesday one dollar bought 10.03 dirham.

Last year sources told Reuters that Morocco was considering widening the official fluctuation bands for the currency by around 5 percent in 2017.

A source at the central bank said there had been discussions about pushing back the start of the currency liberalisation process to the second half of 2017 due to delays in setting up a government after last October’s election. A new government was finally formed in April under Prime Minister Saad Eddine el-Othmani of the Islamist PJD party.

Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid said on Tuesday the planning had been for the second half of the year, but if the central bank decided on the second quarter it would be opportune because of the strong value of the dirham.

He said delaying currency reforms could fuel inflation, which would reflect some of the difficulties faced by Egypt after it floated its pound currency last year.


Boussaid also said Morocco planned to issue a local sukuk bond before the summer but there were currently no prospects for an international sukuk. Last year, he said Morocco would issue its first ever domestic Islamic bond in the first half of 2017.

Islamic banks and insurers are setting up in Morocco after it adopted legislation allowing them into the domestic market. The central bank has set up a central sharia board with the country’s body of Islamic scholars to oversee the new industry.

Morocco’s trade deficit rose 20.6 percent to 45.47 billion dirham ($4.53 billion) for the first three months of 2017 versus the same period a year ago as imports increased, the state foreign exchange regulator said on Tuesday.

Wheat imports fell 27 percent from a year earlier to 2.54 billion dirhams as a higher rainfall improved the harvest.

Total exports rose 3 percent from a year earlier to 60.13 billion dirhams, helped up by a hefty rise in phosphate exports.

Tourism receipts fell by 4.9 percent, while remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans who live abroad fell 2.3 percent to 13.82 billion dirhams. Foreign direct investment fell 23.2 percent to 6.6 billion dirhams.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Morocco’s Trade Deficit Rose 20.6 pct To 45.47 Bln Dirhams In 1st Qtr – Regulator

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 08:00

by Samia Errazzouki

Morocco’s trade deficit rose 20.6 percent to 45.47 billion dirham ($4.53 billion)for the first three months of 2017 versus the same period a year ago as imports increased, the state foreign exchange regulator said on Tuesday.

($1 = 10.0320 Moroccan dirham)

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; writing by Patrick Markey)

Morocco Foresees Bump Cereal Harvest To Exceed 10 Mln Tons

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 04:20

Global Times cn

Morocco expects its cereal harvest to hit a 10.2 million tons, an increase of 203 pct in cereal harvest year-on-year.

The forecast was made on Monday by agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch in a meeting at the eve of the opening of the annual International Agriculture Fair in the northern city of Meknes.

In 2015, a severe drought hit the country, which compromised the 2016 agriculture production, and on the top of which cereal harvest.

Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the north African country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The good rainfall since October has helped Morocco’s economy grew by 4.3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with 1.7 percent in the same period of previous year, according to the official High Commission for Planning.

The commission said in a note on the Moroccan economy that this growth was mainly due to the rise in agricultural output by 12.9 percent in the first quarter this year, up from nine percent last year.

Morocco’s International Agriculture Fair, which invited Italy as its guest of honor, will be held on April 18-23

Molinari Makes Magic In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 01:15


Edoardo Molinari: A winner again.

Edoardo Molinari clinched his first European Tour title in seven years as he beat overnight leader Paul Dunne in a play-off at the Trophée Hassan II.

Molinari finished his fourth round with an eagle to snatch the outright lead but Dunne held his nerve to card a birdie at the last to get to nine under and take the contest to a play-off.

Molinari then boxed his par putt from two feet out for the win after Dunne made five at the first play-off hole.

“It’s fantastic,” Molinari smiled afterwards.

“I’ve been through some very hard times with injuries and bad form.

“To be able to win this week deletes a lot of bad memories and hopefully I can keep going down this road.

“It just shows that you should never give up, you should always keep trying, keep working hard.

“I’ve probably been the player who has spent the most time on the driving range over the last three years. This is a great reward for so much hard work.”

Englishman Paul Waring was alone in third on eight under after carding four birdies and a bogey in his final-round 70.

The venue for the year’s final major, the PGA Championship, is a Pete Dye masterpiece.

The World’s Most Discreet Hotel: Inside Morocco’s Royal Mansour

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 15:52

Daily Mail UK
By Naomi Leach For Mailonline


> Royal Mansour opened in 2010, taking three years to build. It sprawls over 1.5 hectares, with 1km of tunnels
> Hand-crafted by over 1,500 artisans, the prestigious address owned by the king had a limitless budget
> The team on Amazing Hotel: Life Beyond the Lobby go behind the scenes to discover unmatched service

A luxurious sanctuary in the ancient medina of Marrakech, the Royal Mansour is arguably one of the world’s most discreet hotels.

Staff navigate one kilometre’s worth of tunnels snaking beneath the lavish property so that service is unrivalled, intuitive and barely seen by guests.

Hand-crafted by over 1,500 artisans, the prestigious address was said to have a limitless budget – and it has a number of spectacular details. The team on BBC show Amazing Hotel: Life Beyond the Lobby visit to unearth its many treasures.


A luxurious sanctuary in the ancient medina of Marrakech, the Royal Mansour is arguably one of the world’s most discreet hotels


Staff navigate one kilometre’s worth of tunnels snaking beneath the lavish property so that service is unrivalled, intuitive and barely seen by guests


Hand-crafted by over 1,500 artisans, the prestigious address was said to have a limitless budget with a number of spectacular details.

Presenters Giles Coren and Monica Galetti go behind the scenes of this glamorous property in the latest episode of the BBC show.

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Royal Mansour opened in 2010 having taken three years to build. It contains over 1.5 hectares of gardens, pools and day pavilions with each guest staying in an individual riad around a ‘medina within the medina’.

The iconic property is owned by King Mohammed VI of Morocco and is designed to regal high standards.

The team on BBC show Amazing Hotel: Life Beyond the Lobby visit to unearth its many treasures. From the private butlers to the silk carpets and opulent chandeliers, the team discover an unexpected magic, hidden in the frenzied chaos of Marrakesh

Royal Mansour has four restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno.

Monica visits a farm where saffron used in these eateries is picked by Berber women.

Royal Mansour opened in 2010 having taken three years to build. It contains over 1.5 hectares of gardens, pools and day pavilions with each guest staying in an individual riad around a ‘medina within the medina’

Privacy is of the utmost importance, with each of the 53 riads boasting three floors where guests can unwind in their own living room, bedrooms and on rooftops that come complete with their own pool and sun loungers.

Hotel guests can indulge in the hotel’s spa, which features a hammam, or take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains.

Here there are opportunities to ride camels over the sand dunes, dine under Bedouin tents or take a hot air balloon over the Sahara.

Privacy is of the utmost importance, with each of the 53 riads boasting three floors where guests can unwind in their own living room, bedrooms and on rooftops that come complete with their own pool and sun loungers.

Hotel guests can indulge in the hotel’s spa, which features a hammam, or take a daytrip to the Atlas Mountains.

The iconic property is owned by King Mohammed VI of Morocco and is designed to regal high standards.


The hotel opened in 2010.

In the fourth episode, restaurant critic Giles Coren dons a butler uniform and heads into the labyrinth of tunnels to see how high levels of service are delivered to heads of states, holidaymakers and royalty alike.

He also has an opportunity to test drive the hotel’s luxury fleet of ten cars, driving a Bentley while working as a chauffeur.

Chef Monica Galetti, meanwhile, discovers the intricate detail that goes into the hotel working with executive housekeeper Laurence, who hand sets 350 pairs of curtains.

In the fourth episode, restaurant critic Giles Coren dons a butler uniform and heads into the labyrinth of tunnels to see how high levels of service are delivered to heads of states, holidaymakers and royalty alike

Chef Monica Galetti, meanwhile, discovers the intricate detail that goes into the hotel working with executive housekeeper Laurence, who hand sets 350 pairs of curtains

Hotel guest have the opportunity to take luxury excursions including riding camels over the sand dunes, dining under Bedouin tents or taking a hot air balloon over the Sahara

Each guest has their own roof terrace in their riad so that they can unwind under the stars in absolute privacy

A luxurious sanctuary in the ancient medina of Marrakech, the Royal Mansour is arguably one of the world’s most discreet hotels
Royal Mansour has four restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno.


Monica visits a farm where saffron used in these eateries is picked by Berber women.

From the private butlers to the silk carpets and opulent chandeliers, the team discover an unexpected magic, hidden in the frenzied chaos of Marrakesh.

Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby will screen on BBC Two on Monday 17 April.

Morocco: 9,000 Streets & 40,000 Dead Ends

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:25

National geographic Traveller
By Pól Ó Conghaile

From the labyrinthine Medina of Fez, and the sparkling blue city of Chefchaouen to the mysterious holy town of Moulay Idriss — if you want to get to know Morocco, take a road trip in low season, and get talking to the locals

I’m pinned to the floor of a centuries-old hammam in the foothills of Mount Zerhoun. A bald and bearded attendant in shorts is holding me down like a toddler, scrubbing my skin with a bristly kessa (exfoliating glove) and rinsing the soap off with sloshing buckets of hot water. Just when I think we’re done, he starts stretching me into positions that would make an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter blush. At one point, my spine pops, chiropractor-style. A steaming group of local men and boys, washing themselves in the small chamber, observe with glee.

If I’d asked for Morocco like a local, this would’ve been the moment I got it. The hammam lies underground in the holy town of Moulay Idriss, northern Morocco. Its chambers are heated by burning thick chunks of aromatic olive wood. The scrub-down peels away embarrassing amounts of dead skin, leaving me the colour of smoked salmon. Steam continues to rise from my head as I return through the medina alleyways to my homestay. It feels like a hazing ritual is complete; that momentarily, this bruising baptism has made me part of the village.

Forget camels and carpets. I’ve come to Morocco in the off-season, seeking to dive deeper than sand dunes and sun resorts. I’d flown into Marrakech, but didn’t stay long. The following morning, I rose early and struck out with a guide and driver towards the Atlas Mountains, starting an itinerary that would also include the hive-like Medina of Fez and the blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen. It’s winter, and tourism is barely a trickle.

“If you want fresh news in Morocco, you need to talk to two people,” says Majid Rouijel, my guide in Moulay Idriss. “The baker and the barber.”

Majid is a honey-voiced local man, born and bred in the tangled-twine alleyways of this hill town (“I spent five years working in insurance in Casablanca,” he tells me. “I didn’t like it. I did an about-turn.”) Majid wears a creamy djellaba (the long, hooded cloak traditionally worn by Moroccans) and seems to know every single soul we pass. When we find the baker, he’s sitting watching a tiny TV perched among shelves loaded with bread. Many families make their own mix in the morning and bring it here for baking, Majid explains. “If a person who usually brings two loaves comes in with four, then something is going on,” he winks.

My walk with Majid is magical because it is so ordinary. Moulay Idriss is a holy place, named for (and home to the remains of) the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandson. Every August, a religious festival packs out the town, with pilgrims dancing in the streets. It’s just a few miles from the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, but few Westerners get this far — in fact, non-Muslims weren’t even allowed to stay overnight until 2005. We see a tailor, twirling threads together from an old nail outside his shop. We listen to the call to prayer, and stand aside to let a young man riding a donkey while engrossed in his smartphone go past. We chat about Islam, Morocco’s young population, its European flavours. ‘Bonjour’ is a common greeting here.

At one point, Majid pauses by a studded townhouse door. He points out its modesty, the lack of frills, and hinges containing the Hand of Fatima to ward off the evil eye. Medina houses rarely give much away about who or what lies within, he says. “You never really know until you step inside.”

Luckily, I get to do just that at La Colombe Blanche, a modest riad converted to a guesthouse by Mohamed Zaimi and his wife. That night, we chat in the kitchen as a couscous, chicken and chickpea stew steams and taktouka (a salad of chopped tomatoes and peppers) simmers on the stove. “Moroccan bread is one-day bread,” Mohamed says, when I describe my visit to the baker. “You can’t have it the next day. We like things fresh and in season.” When dinner is ready, we gather around a table surrounded by mosaic tiles, tucking into a hearty feast, followed by a plate of fresh oranges with stems and leaves attached.

After the meal, Mohamed confers with my guide. “Would you like to go where we’re going?” they ask. “Where’s that?” I ask. “The hammam. We’re going for a bath.”

Hamid Filali, a coppersmith at work in the Medina of Fez. Image: Pól Ó Conghaile
It was back in Fez that I’d first asked to meet the owner of a riad (traditional Moroccan house arranged around a courtyard). Mohamed Merri, my guide and translator, took me to Rachid Azami’s home — a 200-year-old building just inside the medina walls. Several generations of Rachid’s family used to live here, he told us over a cup of sweet mint tea, but in recent years they’d converted it into a guesthouse, and had just finished developing another — a ritzier riad just a short walk away. True to Moroccan form, we were soon touring Riad Marjana, with its sparkling tilework, artisan-crafted wood carvings, glittering pool and lush cushions and drapes. The epitome of exotic Moroccan luxury — all it needed was floating flower petals.

“You can go to a hotel anywhere,” Rachid said, proudly posing for a photograph. “But in a riad, you get to feel history as well as see and hear it.”

Bit by bit, my sense of Morocco was filling out. Holidaymakers have been warier of North Africa since the Arab Spring and recent terror attacks, but the Moroccans I spoke to were keen to distinguish their country — as a gateway between East and West, a place with Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, rich in Arabic and Berber heritage, but also with French, Andalucian, Jewish and other threads of influence. Of course, there are niggles — jarring clashes of poverty and wealth, litter in the countryside, Morocco’s infamous faux guides, and the need for a thick skin in souks (particularly for women). Common sense, regular tea breaks and a firm ‘no, shukran’ (no, thanks) should help you keep your cool, however.

The drive from Marrakech to Fez takes nine hours, with stops. From there, it’s almost four hours to Chefchaouen, 3.5 hours looping back to Moulay Idriss and another three to Casablanca. All bum-numbing, but fascinating. The dusty, ochre-tinted outskirts of Marrakech give way to a landscape dotted with olive farms and shepherds tending flocks. In Azrou, storks nest atop of a minaret. In M’Rirt, a man walks an ostrich down the street. Banged-up old Mercs, Peugeots and Renaults trundle along and roadside shacks are commonplace, with fresh flanks of mutton and beef hanging in the open air. We stop at one, ordering a few chops to have grilled over charcoal at the cafe next door.

“My father did this,” the butcher tells me, thwacking the meat so hard with his cleaver it sends specks of bone into the air. His belly is big; his yellowing teeth looking like the last pieces on a chessboard. But he speaks almost perfect English. I ask about the sprigs of mint and coriander tied to the cuts beside us. “The meat is killed and we refrigerate it for about two days,” he says. “Then it’s ready. Moroccans don’t like frozen meat.”

Within a few minutes, the mutton is grilled and delivered — along with a loaf of bread, tomatoes and onions — to our table. We sprinkle pinches of salt and cumin over the meat. It’s messy, finger-lickin’ Moroccan street food. In Fez itself, all roads lead to Fez el Bali (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Medina of Fez). Dating from the ninth century (‘New’ Fez followed in the 14th century, with a later wave of French development completing the mix), the medina is reputedly one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world. “Inside are 9,000 streets and 40,000 dead ends,” quips my guide, Ghazali Hicham, who grew up and went to school inside this maze. “It’s the biggest labyrinth on the planet.”

Fez, a former capital of Morocco, has other attractions — not least the Royal Palace; a busy Jewish Quarter where we stop to taste sfenj (fried Moroccan doughnuts); and Art Naji, where I watch artisans shape, paint and bake their meticulous mosaic tiles and ceramics. But its medina is the highlight. Viewed from the surrounding hills, the old quarter is a dead ringer for Granada’s Albaicín — albeit much, much larger; its chino-coloured houses stacked so densely you can’t see the alleys between them. Inside, it’s like stepping into medieval times.

Two or three turns is all it takes for me to get lost. “What about that one?” Ghazali smiles, gesturing to the dimly-lit laneway ahead. “Is it a way out, or a dead end?” Gradually, we wind our way towards the markets. I marvel at the blue hands of a clothes dyer; at a camel’s head suspended from a hook; at men washing hides in the great colourful vats of a tannery — overhead, tourists watch from the balconies of leather shops, holding mint under their noses to ward off the stink.

If Djemaa-el-Fna, in Marrakech, can seem like a carnival, this is pure street theatre. Wasps buzz around sticky treats. Antique shops glimmer. Keyhole doors lead to centuries-old schools and mosques. You might catch the whiff of goat’s cheese, or hear the whirr of a loom. School kids brush by with satchels; men wander past, Jedi-like in their djellabas. Every now and then, there’s a cry of ‘balak!’ (‘watch out!’) as a worker barges by with a cart or a mule. There are hidden riads and restaurants like Cafe Clock — established by Mike Richardson, the former maître d’ of London’s The Wolseley and The Ivy (I stop by, and am persuaded to try the camel burger). All of human life seems packed into this ancient honeycomb.

On Place Seffarine, coppersmiths hammer pots and pans, as they have done for centuries. I ask one of them, Hamid Filali, what his apprenticeship was like. “The kiss was as sweet as the bite was tough,” he replies cryptically, beating out the metal to a hypnotic rhythm — bam-bam-ba-bam, bam-bam-ba-bam…

I feel like a time traveller, but wonder how long it’ll all last. Ghazali’s father was a shoemaker here, but he didn’t want his children to be. “It was just too hard a life,” his son tells me.

Chefchaouen, three hours north in the Rif Mountains, is similarly exotic. The old town here is an Instagramer’s paradise, almost completely painted blue. Why? There are several theories — one that the limewash helps keep mosquitoes away; another that it originated with Jewish residents, who believed the colour echoed the sky, encouraging a more spiritual life. Whatever the origin, it’s enchanting — Morocco’s ‘Blue Pearl’ is like the pueblos blancos of Andalucia taken to another, almost psychedelic level. Brightly coloured flower pots, shady vines, lazing cats, bunches of mint and hanging rugs punctuate the backdrop.

Of course, Chefchaouen is no longer really a ‘secret’ — in warmer months, Moroccan visitors and travellers taking the ferry from Spain clog the streets (there’s no shortage of souvenir shops or laminated menus). But visiting in low season skips both the heat and the crowds — as does getting up early.

At 5.30am, I’m woken by the twin alarms of cocks crowing outside the Dar Echchaouenhotel and calls to prayer moaning from the minarets. I grab a quick breakfast, before hiking a 20-minute trail up a mountain behind the hotel for a view over the town. ‘Chaouen’, as locals call it, takes its name from the Berber word for ‘horns’, sitting as it does between two peaks. Walking back down through the medina, I chance on a Thursday market where women from Berber villages have laid their wares out on blankets — tiny turnips (“very small, but very delicious,” as Mohamed says) and milk in reclaimed plastic vessels. Some wear traditional straw hats and red-and-white-striped aprons. I ask what kind of milk they’re selling. “Moo!” replies an older lady, and we share a chuckle. With Mohamed translating, we swap little details about our children and the weather, and we exchange blessings. As we take our leave, I ask one of the ladies if I can take her photo. She demurs. “Mafi mouchkila,” I say — using one of the most adaptable Arabic phrases I’ve learned on my trip. “No problem.”

One place the women’s turnips won’t end up is in the belly of Mustafa Bakkali, whom I find flitting between the kitchen and dining rooms of Bab Ssour. Three years ago, this intimate clutch of rooms — which we enter via a small grocery shop — was a family home. Today, the same food is being cooked by the same women in the same kitchen, only now it’s served to a mix of locals and tourists sitting elbow-to-elbow in a restaurant. Voices snap from a kitchen visible through an arched gap in the wall (“It sounds like they’re arguing, but they couldn’t be happier,” Mustafa says), and I gobble up a goat tagine that arrives sizzling in a skillet and costs all of 35 dirham (£2.70). “It’s the same food we eat at home,” Mustafa adds. I wonder which dish is his favourite. “I eat it all,” he replies with impressive gesticulations for such a small space. “Except turnip.”

After a week exploring the cities, towns and villages of the north, driving into Casablanca feels like a return to the real world. Snarling traffic marks the entrance to Morocco’s biggest city, and any romantic notions based on the 1942 movie are quickly scotched (there’s a replica Rick’s Bar, a gin lounge and restaurant dating from 2004, but the Humphrey Bogart classic was shot on a Hollywood sound stage). I stay for a night, moseying around the medina, Hassan II Mosque, corniche and art deco strips, stopping for a final mint tea, poured from a silver teapot near Place 16 Novembre.

It’s all well and good, but I’m surprised how quickly I begin to pine for Fez, Moulay Idriss and Chefchaouen. “Hello, friend! Bonjour!” a hustler hisses. “Berber market? Berber market, this way!”
“No, shukran,” I reply.

Getting there & around

Royal Air Maroc flies from Heathrow to Casablanca. TAP Portugal also flies via Lisbon; as does Iberia via Madrid. A range of airlines, including British Airways, Ryanairand EasyJet, fly from the UK to Marrakech.

Average flight time: 3h 15m.

Trains, buses, and grands (collective) and petits (local) taxis cover most of Morocco. Self-driving (on the right) is an option, with regular police checkpoints and a decent network of motorways.

When to go

Avoid the peak-season (July-September) heat and mayhem; spring and autumn are less crowded with fresher weather. Winter can be cold, but you’ll be one of very few tourists. Ramadan is 16 May-14 June.

More info

How to do it

Intrepid Travel offers a nine-day North Morocco Adventure, starting from Casablanca and travelling to Moulay Idriss, Fez, Chefchaouen and Tangier before finishing in Marrakech. From £530 per person, including accommodation, transport, guides, activities and selected meals (flights extra).
Published in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Morocco’s Noor: Capturing The Sun To Bring Light

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 08:00

Business Standard

Four years ago, Morocco imported 93 percent of its energy needs. By 2030, it hopes to get 52 per cent from renewables. Just how serious the country is about solar power comes across loud and clear to visitors as soon as one crosses the Mohamed V International Airport here.

Large solar panels along the road and street lights topped with solar panels line the way for a few miles — highlighting how the north African nation is moving firmly ahead in its mission to become a solar superpower.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI earlier this month launched the fourth and final phase of the world’s largest solar energy plant — Noor Solar in Ouarzazate, on the edge of the Sahara desert. Noor is the Arabic word for light.

The first phase of the $9 billion project was launched in 2013, while the second and third phases were launched in 2016.

When completed in 2018, the desert solar power complex will have a 582 MW capacity, enough to power 1.1 million homes — and would measure the size of capital Rabat.

Morocco’s leadership in renewable energy was highlighted at last month’s Crans Montana Forum where Said Moufti, Research Director of the Royal Institute for Strategic Studies, pointed out that solar and wind power plants had been set up all over the southern provinces. “Morocco is showing by way of example,” he said.

The first phase of Noor, which was commissioned in February 2016, uses 500,000 curved mirrors spread over thousands of acres of desert to generate up to 160 MW, making it one of the world’s biggest solar thermal power plants.

The mirrors are part of technology called concentrated solar power (CSP). The 39-foot-tall parabolic mirrors focus the sun’s energy to heat fluid in pipelines, which when mixed with water, produces steam to drive a turbine.

This system can store power after the sun goes down and generate power at night.

While Phases II and III are also CSP projects, Noor IV, the final phase, uses photovoltaic (PV) technology to produce electricity.

The entire Noor project, when ready, will help reduce CO2 emissions by 760,000 tonnes a year and by 17.5 million tonnes over 25 years, according to reports.

Morocco’s stress on renewable energy will not only help the country reduce its energy imports, but also generate revenue from exporting energy across the Mediterranean to Europe and to its neighbours in Africa.

Morocco, a country of 33 million people, is the only African country with a power cable link to Europe.

The stress on renewable energy will also create jobs.

Morocco currently employs about 3,000 people in the renewable energy sector. According to a study by the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Institutes of Economic Sciences (FEMISE), the country is expected to create between 270,000 and 500,000 new green jobs by 2040.

The report was released at the COP22 held in Marrakech last year.

The Noor project is being developed on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis by ACWA Power Ouarzazate, a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), Aries and TSK.

Morocco is also focusing on wind energy. It has set up the Tarfaya wind farm complex — said to be the largest in Africa — stretching more than 100 sq km across the Sahara desert, on the southern Atlantic coast.

(The writer was in Morocco at the invitation of the Crans Montana Forum. Ranjana Narayan can be reached at ranjana.n@ians.in)



Klara Spilkova Becomes First Czech Republic Winner On Ladies European Tour At Lalla Meryem Cup

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 04/16/2017 - 11:10

Sky Sports
By Keith Jackson

Klara Spilkova created Ladies European Tour history in Morocco as she claimed a superb one-shot victory at the Lalla Meryem Cup.

Final leaderboard

Spilkova fired a flawless final-round 66 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to edge out the vastly-experienced Suzann Pettersen and become the first player from the Czech Republic to win an LET title.

The 22-year-old, who was making her first start of the year on the main Tour, came from four strokes behind to claim her maiden win after matching the low round of the week, while Pettersen missed a chance to force a play-off when she came up short with a 15-foot birdie putt on the final green.

1836 Tour,Wednesday 19th, 09:00am

Warrington Outright

Klara Spilkova closed with a bogey-free 66 to win her first Ladies European Tour title

Spilkova began her charge up the leaderboard with three birdies in four holes from the fifth, and she picked up another at the 10th to move to six under par.

Another gain at the 13th lifted her into a share of the lead, and she soon led outright when she converted from six feet at the next hole before parring safely in to set a challenging clubhouse target.

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Pettersen looked on course for victory when she birdied the sixth and seventh, but dropped shots at 10 and 15 left her with much to do before she holed from 15 feet at the penultimate hole with a nervous Spilkova watching intently from the scorers hut.

But the Norwegian veteran could not get her birdie putt to the hole at the last as she signed for a disappointing 71 to leave Spilkova celebrating an unlikely victory as well as a cheque for 67,500 euros – the biggest payday of her career by some distance.

Suzann Pettersen cannot believe she left her birdie putt short on the final green.

“I just took almost a two-month break to work on myself more than anything else, and I didn’t play much golf,” she said. “I was trying to get my mind in the right place and it worked. I feel much better than last year.

“The hardest challenge is always your ego. I just won for myself, because I felt no ego. I can’t believe it. It’s just great. I don’t really have any emotions now.”

Pettersen added: “Obviously I’m very disappointed not to win, I didn’t have my best game from tee to green and it’s cost me this tournament. I had a putt on the last, which ended short when it was in my hands to at least get into a play-off.

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“I kept the hope alive with a birdie on 17 but when you shoot 66 on Sunday you should be there or thereabouts to win the tournament so credit to Spilkova.”

Annabel Dimmock made a birdie-birdie start to share the lead with Pettersen and stayed in contention with another gain at the seventh, but two bogeys after the turn proved costly as a closing 70 left her in third place on six under par.

Dimmock’s compatriots Georgia Hall (66) and Felicity Johnson (71) shared fourth on four under, but Welsh pro Lydia Hall carded three double-bogeys and crashed to a 78 in the final group to slide to one over.

Outright Winner

Warrington Outright

Morocco: North African Oasis Offers A Vision Of Stability

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 04/15/2017 - 18:00

The Australian
by Greg Sheridan

As Syria groaned under the dictator’s bombs and the military campaigns, well intentioned or the reverse, of the outside powers, as Egypt grieved over the horrible sectarian suicide bombing of a Christian church, as Libya grappled with the lawless, violent factionalism that has replaced Muammar Gaddafi — all of this misery rolling out of the Arab Spring — this week I witnessed an altogether different scene in the heart of the Arab world.

I was delayed checking into a mid-range resort hotel by a large, voluble group of French family holiday-makers, arguing good naturedly with check-in staff over why their rooms were not ready.

Apart from the striking, glorious, international domesticity of the scene, what was remarkable was that the holiday-makers were part of a much bigger group of Jewish visitors seeking their two weeks of summer sun and sand and buffet breakfasts. Their incidental religious affiliation was instantly recognisable because al­most all the men were unself­cons­ciously wearing Jewish skullcaps.

Where was this oasis of intercommunal harmony and innocent bourgeois holiday-making? Marrakesh, the fabled cultural jewel of Moroccan antiquity, that’s where.

Of all the Arab states of North Africa and the Persian Gulf, none has a serious case for emerging from the Arab Spring in better shape than Morocco. Its economic growth rate is better than 4.5 per cent; it has had two democratic elections ultimately producing stable governments; it has free trade agreements with the US and Europe; its society is functioning; it is a stable military ally of the US; its last significant terrorist attack was in 2011 (in Marrakesh). And it wants a new and more intimate relationship with Australia.

How did all this come about?

I ask this of Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s foreign minister, a man of singular charm and urbanity. A career diplomat, he has just been appointed foreign minister by the newly formed coalition government, dominated by a notionally Islamist, though certainly moderate, party.

I am the first journalist to interview him as foreign minister and we meet in his vast office in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, overlooking the green fields and surviving walls of the ancient Chellah site, first a city under the Phoenicians, long before the birth of Christ, then settled by the Romans and later the Berbers and Arabs and all who prospered under them.

“I think there were many reasons,” Bourita says. “Many observers from Australia or the West tend to think of the Arab world as a single bloc. But it’s not the case. Every country is different. Morocco is not Libya, which is not Yemen, which is not Saudi Arabia. Morocco was a state for more than 13 centuries.

“This dynasty (of His Majesty King Mohammed VI) has been here for more than three centuries. Morocco for all this time was a sovereign state and a monarchy except for 40 years of the French presence.”

The contrast, though the minister doesn’t draw it, is with most of the rest of the Arab world, which had centuries of Ottoman dominance followed by European colonisation. When Mohammed VI ascended the throne, says Bourita, he explicitly sought to modernise Morocco with a new vision of a developed, modern and moderate nation.

“For Arab countries, the question was whether historical legitimacy was enough for the future. His Majesty brought a new social contract,” Bourita continues. “He chose stability through reform.

“There were some (in the region) who believed stability could be achieved through the status quo, through freezing everything. Our stability was achieved through a new constitution, through transitional justice, through improvement in the status of women, through big projects for human development.”

Taken together with the calming influence of a popular monarchy over a republic in the Middle East, these factors do offer a persuasive explanation for Morocco’s relative success and peace. They do not, however, necessarily offer that much guidance for nations that may not have the benefits of 13 centuries of sovereignty and a prestigious monarchy.

Nor has everything been perfect in Morocco. Not far short of 3000 Moroccans found their way to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

Morocco is neither complacent about its own problems with Islamist extremism, nor indifferent to the problems of its regional neighbours.

The same day I meet the foreign minister I spend the morning at the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, also in Rabat. This large, white, elegant campus was built in direct response to the rise of the terrorist movement and a number of terror bombings in Morocco more than a decade ago.

I am taken on a tour by the institute’s director, Abdesselam Lazaar, a sprightly, genial man of 70 summers.

The first things I notice about this commodious campus is that it is international and coeducational. The institute caters to students from Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Chad, Mali, Guinea and France. And while there are more young men than young women, there are plenty of young women. It seems that while women do not become imams in the sense of leading formal prayers in the mosque, they do many other jobs associated with the mosque.

The students are taught in their respective national groups because, apart from the common need for Arabic for the Koran, the students need to be taught in the language of their home nation. I am invited to stick my head into many classes and each is co-ed. This, I am told, is strikingly unusual in such an institution.

In some classes the boys are down the front and the girls up the back; in others the seating seems more egalitarian.

I am invited into the mosque to witness students memorising verses of the Koran and here, while the boys are in one group and the girls in another, the two groups are beside each other. Neither is privileged over the other.

Even more surprising, perhaps, for an institute devoted to training imams, the students study a professional or trade syllabus as well as a religious one, for the benefit of those who may end up not being imams after all. They can choose a range of professional qualifications, from electronics to agriculture to sewing.

The institute, which has been going only a couple of years, has graduated 1800 men and 700 women.

Lazaar is softly spoken, quietly proud of his students. “One of the main objects of this institute is to correct the extremist reasoning and understanding of religion,” he explains. “The extremists misuse religious reasoning for extremist purposes. This institute corrects the reasoning of extremists. Then the extremists can talk only with weapons. One day the extremists will understand they have nowhere left to work because this institute has filled their space.”

The state is heavily involved in religion in Morocco. Anyone who wants to become an imam in the future in Morocco will need to go through Lazaar’s institute. Imams are paid a salary by the state and there are limits on what they can say. His institute has taken international students at the request of neighbouring governments. Morocco foots the bill for everyone.

A day or two later, across the street from Rabat’s magnificent, ancient Medina, which sits watchfully, timelessly, over the sea, I meet Ahmed Abbadi, from the League of Religious Scholars.

Like many Moroccan intellectuals, he criticises the West for its failure to regulate, or at least involve itself, in religious practice.

Bourita, the foreign minister, refers me to men such as Lazaar when I inquire about extremism.

He thinks counter-terrorism and security is one area where Australia and Morocco could co-operate even more closely than they already do.

Canberra has recently announced it will soon open a resident embassy in Morocco, which will go some way to filling the gaping hole of our representation in this part of the world.

But Bourita envisages a much broader partnership. He thinks the relationship has a substantial unrealised potential.

“We have very good relations already but we are not maximising our potential. There is much more we could do together on investment and people to people exchanges.

“We agree on many things but there is a lot still to share in political dialogue, in sharing our assessments of our region and your assessments of your region.”

As Humphrey Bogart once remarked in a famous Moroccan scene: “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

Greg Sheridan visited Morocco as a guest of the Moroccan government.

Morocco Officially Opens Its Embassy In Kigali

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 04/15/2017 - 07:13

By: Jean D’Amour

Minister for Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo and Youssef Imani, the Moroccan Ambassador to Rwanda raise the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali. Nadege Imbabazi.

THE EXISTING bilateral relations between Rwanda and Morocco will grow faster thanks to the new Moroccan embassy in Kigali, officials have said.

Officials were speaking yesterday during the official hoisting of the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali.

The embassy started operations earlier this year in February but it had not officially been launched.

Guests chat during the official raising ceremony of the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali. Nadege I

Speaking at the event, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo, said the flag-raising was symbolic.

She stressed that the bilateral relations between the two countries were smooth and growing even before the embassy was opened.

Last October, Rwanda and the Kingdom of Morocco signed 19 agreements to facilitate creation of opportunities for citizens of the two nations.

The agreements followed official visits of heads of state from either country.

Last year, President Paul Kagame visited Morocco and this was followed by the reciprocal visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI, four months later.

After the agreements, Moroccan companies visited Rwanda for the African Business Connect summit earlier this month and expressed their interest to invest in the energy sector, finance, transport and logistics, information and technology, construction and real estate, among other sectors.

“The flag-raising is just a symbolic thing, the bilateral cooperation between the two countries is strong and what we are doing is just a diplomatic gesture and a way of receiving you (embassy) in Rwanda,” said Mushikiwabo, after raising the flag along with Youssef Imani, the Moroccan Ambassador to Rwanda.

“Morocco is in North but now that it is here the message is that ‘‘The flag presents the desire for better collaboration, for us the doors are open whenever need be,” she added.

Amb. Imani said the hoisting of the flag in Kigali means the embassy is officially operational, and is expected to ease bilateral cooperation as well as facilitate investments in either country.

“Before this embassy was opened, whoever wanted Morocco visa services had to go to Nairobi (Kenya), so the problem was time and distance but now we have a physical presence and visa services and others will be offered from here,” he said.

He said there are huge opportunities that investors from either side can benefit from.

Guests during the official raising of the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali. Nadege Imbabazi.

Benjamin Gasamagera, chairperson of Private Sector Federation, said Rwandan investors will now find it easy to get travel documents to go to Morocco.

“The official opening of the Moroccan embassy will ease the process of getting travel documents, this is as if Morocco was brought closer,” he said

He added that following the Moroccan business executives visit, the Private Sector Federation is organising a visit to Morocco to learn from their experience in areas where they have advanced skills, such as in tourism, agriculture, and leather industry.

“Moroccans will feel free to invest more in Rwanda because they have an embassy, they will feel represented, Rwandans will also feel free to do business in Morocco,” he added.

Women-only Rally Takes On The Moroccan Sahara With Just A Compass

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 12:37

By Thomas Page, CNN

Try as you might to stop it, the Sahara will still find a way to assault your senses. If the heat doesn’t get you, the sunlight might. The psychology of the task at hand is enough to break most people.

For Kiera Chaplin, the Sahara struck deep within her inner ear. After crossing rolling dunes in a customized 4×4, the car’s soft suspension and the constant up and down had her disorientated and off-balance. It was sea-sickness, by way of sand.

Watch: Africa’s only all-female rally

“You’re surfing on the waves,” she recalls, “you just glide.” But a serene experience took on added venom when the car rolled to a halt. Climbing gingerly up a dune, she surveyed the landscape, consulting her map and compass and made a judgment. “That way.”

Chaplin was in the middle of the toughest stage of the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles du Maroc — Africa’s only all-female off-road rally.

When the event began in 1990 it was the first of its kind in the world. Touting both its eco-credentials and empowering ethos, the rally’s petrol-head sorority has careened around Morocco’s eastern reaches for nearly three decades, always racing on its own terms.

Unlike other rallies, there are no prizes for speed. And while most competitions use a host of technologies, the so-called “Gazelles” must negotiate the terrain without GPS. Instead, contestants win for completing each stage while driving the shortest distance, meaning accuracy and bravery are key.

Expert teams travel kilometer to kilometer, says Chaplin, constantly readjusting their route. Drivers need to hit flag points along each stage; getting lost or looping back is fatal to one’s chance of winning.

Western Sahara: New UN Chief Calls Polisario, Algeria To Order

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 15:45

Sahara News
by Ali Haidar

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was, in the annual report on Western Sahara he submitted, on Monday, to the appreciation of the 15 members of the Security Council, more pragmatic, balanced and unbiased, unlike his predecessor, the Korean Ban Ki-Moon.

Not only did the UN chief summon the Polisario to “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw its armed elements from the buffer zone of the Guerguarat border crossing point, he demanded that Algeria and Mauritania contribute a little more to the settlement process of the Sahara conflict.

For progress to be made, Guterres insisted in his report that “Algeria and Mauritania, as neighboring countries, can and should make important contributions to this process.”

Regarding the Guerguarat crisis, the new boss of the UN welcomes the unilateral withdrawal of Morocco from the buffer zone, but expresses disappointment at the Polisario’s refusal to retreat from this zone and urges the Security Council to exact that “the Polisario Front withdraws completely and unconditionally” from the zone.

In reiterating the idea of ??a mutually acceptable political solution and the need for compromise, Guterres refers exclusively to the post-2006 period and the realism concept introduced in 2008 by the former UN mediator, Peter Van Walsum, who had concluded before the Security Council that “the independence of the Western Sahara was not a realistic option”.

“Over the years, the Council has provided guidance that negotiations must take place without preconditions, in good faith, given the efforts made since 2006 and the subsequent developments,” Guterres recalled, indirectly referring to the Moroccan autonomy initiative proposed in 2007.

The Guterres report has banned all phrases and wordings so dear to the Algerian regime and the Polisario, such as “non-autonomous territories”, “referendum”, “plundering natural resources”… He has not referred to the interference of the African Union and European justice in the Sahara issue, thus giving the UN the pre-eminence and exclusivity in dealing with this territorial dispute.

The end of the era of the Ban Ki-Moon / Christopher Ross tandem and the term of the Portuguese Antonio Guterres at the helm of the United Nations are surely a good omen for Morocco.

Morocco, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire Conduct Naval Exercise

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 13:57

North African Post

Morocco’s Royal Navy conducted an at sea military exercise with Senegalese and Ivorian Navies focusing on improving maritime safety and hostage rescue operations.

Ivorian news outlet Fratmat.com reported that the drills took place off Côte d’Ivoire’s coast on the sidelines of the participation of the three navies in the Obangame Express 2017 maritime exercises under the supervision of the US Africa command, Africom.

The exercise between the three navies reflects the excellent political and economic ties between the three West African countries bordering the Atlantic.

Morocco’s Hassan II frigate took part in the exercise along with Cote d’Ivoire’s patrol boat, Emergence and Senegal’s Fouladou.

The three navies have earlier participated in the Obangame Express 2017, which aims at providing participating countries with an opportunity to work together, share information and refine tactics, techniques and procedures in order to assist Gulf of Guinea maritime nations with building capacity to monitor and enforce their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.

The Participating nations in the Obangame Express 2017 include Angola, Benin, Belgium, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

King Mohammed VI Of Morocco Launches The Noor PV I Program In Ouarzazate

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 13:51


Dubai, UAE: His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco chaired the ground breaking ceremony of the NOOR Ouarzazate IV plant. The program is the first phase of Photo Voltaic Power (PV) generation plants of the NOOR Solar Plant.

The ground breaking ceremony of NOOR Ouarzazate IV plant, with a generating capacity of 72 MW, follows the agreement that was signed in November 2016 at COP22 at Marrakech by a consortium led by the leading water and power developer, ACWA Power, to develop and operate the plant. The total cost of NOOR PV I project is US $ 220 million.

ACWA Power was selected through an international tender and will, in collaboration with the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) and the Chint Group, be responsible for the development, construction and long term operation of Ouarzazate plant under a BOOT (Build, Operate, Own and Transfer) scheme.

The levelized electricity tariff of USD 4.797¢/kWh (MAD 0.46/kWh) at which the contract has been awarded is one of the most competitive tariffs compared to the lowest contracted anywhere else in the world taking into account equalizing factors such as terms of contract and location and country specific factors.

A consortium of Sterling & Wilson, Shapoorji Pallonji and Chint Solar will undertake the delivery of the facilities under a Delivery, Procurement and Construction contract, on behalf of the sponsors.

Western Sahara: New UN Chief Calls Polisario, Algeria to Order

Sahara News - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 11:45
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was, in the annual report on Western Sahara he submitted, on Monday, to the appreciation of the 15 members of the Security Council, more pragmatic, balanced and unbiased, unlike his predecessor, the Korean Ban Ki-Moon. Not only did the UN chief summon the Polisario to “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw its armed […]

Sahara-UN: Polisario’s back against the wall

Polisario-confidential - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 11:42
The Polisario finds itself cornered after the warning shot of the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. Guterres actually asked the Security Council to exact that the separatist front withdraws completely and immediately from Guerguarat, the buffer zone it currently occupies in violation of the ceasefire. Guterres said in the report he submitted to the Security Council on […]

Morocco Could “Support” The UK As Its Ally After Brexit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 07:16

Marie Le Conte
Tiksa Negeri / Reuters

“Morocco has a very old relationship with the UK and Brexit is a way for us to renew that relationship.”

Moroccan newspapers, bankers, and senior private sector figures have spoken out about wanting their country to get closer to the UK post-Brexit, as the lord mayor of London visited Casablanca as part of a tour of North Africa.

Representing the City of London, Andrew Parmley met a number of Moroccan officials and businessmen on Wednesday to talk about reinforcing trade between the two countries.

During one of the meetings, Casablanca stock exchange director Karim Hajji told Parmley: “As your country is currently in the process of leaving the EU, we would like to point out how many opportunities for growth there are in Morocco, in all areas.”

Faïçal Mekouar, the vice president of the CGEM – the body that represents the private sector in Morocco – told the British delegation that “though the UK is only Morocco’s 12th biggest client and provider, our country still is Britain’s main partner in North Africa.”

According to news website La Tribune, Mekouar also pointed out that “Morocco is the only country in North Africa with access to the Atlantic coast, as well as having a well-developed infrastructure, modern laws, and a financial system with the most advanced regulatory framework in Africa.”

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, CGEM director Hakim Marrakchi said he had been very pleased by the meeting, and that the timing was good for the two countries to get closer.

“Of course, Morocco has a very old relationship with the UK and Brexit is a way for us to renew that relationship,” he said, “and we have noticed that there are several strategic opportunities for Morocco.”

“There is a possibility for us to renegotiate better deals as the interests of certain European countries aren’t necessarily the same as Britain’s,” he added. “It’s a way to build the future of Morocco’s relationship with Britain.”

The sectors discussed as potential areas of enhanced trade between the two countries, Marrakchi said, were “aeronautics, the automobile industry, energy, and renewable energy in particular”.

England has had diplomatic ties with Morocco since 1213, long before the UK existed, when King John of England sent the country’s first embassy to Morocco.

According to current affairs weekly Tel Quel, Morocco imported 5.850 million dirhams (£463,516) worth of products from the UK between January and September 2016, and exported 5.138 million (£407,091).

While this may not be much, Jamal Eddine El Ansari from the British Chamber of Commerce in Morocco has high hopes, telling the magazine that it wants to “reach over a billion dirhams in exchanges between the two countries before 2020, by diversifying sectors”.

“Products and services in finance are very well developed in London – British companies could help Moroccan banks,” he added. “That way, we’d gain new expertise and they’d gain new markets.”

In the same piece, Tel Quel warned: “Morocco needs to start lobbying right now, as the negotiations which will lead to the Brexit will come to an end in under two years. Morocco needs to start investing, as Britons are more likely to turn towards Gulf countries instead of north Africa.”

The relationship could also be a diplomatic one. Though the Moroccan government hasn’t announced any initiative yet, Marrakchi is confident that the kingdom would be an ally to Britain if its relationship with the EU were to become frosty.

“Morocco can offer support to the United Kingdom, it could be interesting”, he told BuzzFeed News. “We’re not a huge economy but we’re fairly close and just like 800 years ago, and even a bit after that, the UK had issues with the continent and Morocco offered its support then. It’s a really old relationship.”

Morocco Dismantles ISIS-Linked Cell

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:01

News 24

The Moroccan authorities said on Wednesday that they had dismantled a “terrorist cell” that was recruiting volunteers for the Islamic State group.

The ISIS-affiliated cell, which was active in the northern city of Fez and nearby town of Moulay Yacoub, had seven members, an interior ministry statement said.

They “recruited and sent Moroccan volunteers to Iraq and Syria” where the jihadist group holds territory, it said.

Police seized bladed weapons, military uniforms, money and electronic equipment during the raid.

The authorities have regularly announced the dismantling of ISIS cells and arrest of suspected jihadist recruiters in recent months.

The kingdom has been spared deadly jihadist attacks since a 2011 bombing in the central city of Marrakesh which killed 17 people, mainly European tourists.

A Secluded Moroccan Palace Favored By Hollywood’s A-List

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 16:00

Bloomberg LP
More stories by James Tarmy

The 15-bedroom Riad Sultan, yours for just $3.7 million.

Most of the houses in the Medina section of Marrakech—the city’s historic center and now a UNESCO heritage site—aren’t much to look at from the outside. Narrow streets are hemmed in by high, virtually windowless walls. The only indication of life behind them is the odd piece of foliage peeking above the painted stucco.

An alcove in the Riad Sultan.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
The Riad Sultan, a former palace located a few minutes’ walk from the Jemaa El Fna square is no different. But inside the Riad’s ornate wooden door, you’ll find one of the most elaborate private homes in the city, now up for sale.

Ceilings throughout the house are decorated in elaborate, hand-painted ornaments.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
Originally owned by the country’s grand vizier, Madani el Glaoui (whose brother, known to English speakers as Lord of the Atlas, was the fabulously wealthy Pasha of Marrakech), the palace passed through multiple hands until 1998, when the French publicist Homero Machry and his partner, Thierry de Beaucé, an author, diplomat, and former secretary of state to the French minister of Foreign Affairs, bought it.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
“It was one extended Moroccan family living in the whole house,” Machry said in a phone interview. “Like eight separate families, who’d separated it into apartments.” The new owners did a “tiny” amount of work to return the more than 16,000-square-foot house to its unified whole. It now has 15 bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), three large reception rooms, four courtyards, a (former) harem room, a tower, and a rooftop swimming pool.

A hallway decorated with artwork from China. Everything in the house is for sale.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
The couple filled the house with objects from their travels: large canvases from China, prints by Picasso (they threw a birthday party for Picasso’s daughter Paloma), carvings from Africa, Louis XV chairs from France, and lamps from Indonesia, where de Beaucé was once France’s ambassador.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
Though they have a staff of six, both Machry and de Beaucé feel that now, the palace is too much house for two people. They have put it on the market with Kensington Luxury Properties Group, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, for €3.5 million ($3.7 million). “It became too big for us,” Machry said. “It will be easier for us to live in a more modern space, too.” To that end, he hopes to sell all the furnishings as well. “It would be impossible to put all of these paintings and furniture into a small house,” he said. “Luckily we’ve already had a few offers about the furniture.”

Photographer: Riad Sultan
For more than a decade, the couple operated the house as a bed and breakfast, which became the go-to for a certain Hollywood and fashion set. Charlotte Rampling, Kate Moss, Ridley Scott, Calvin Klein, Naomi Campbell and others all stayed at the Riad Sultan over the years. Several movies were shot in the residence as well. “Nicole Kidman was in one,” Machry said, though he was unable to recall which. (There’s a good chance it was Queen of the Desert, directed by Werner Herzog, which received a rating of 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.) A few years ago, Machry said, the house reverted back to a private residence.

The house has one of the largest private gardens in the Medina.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
The house has almost a quarter-acre of gardens—remarkable, given the densely packed metropolis outside its walls—which are filled with cypress, olive, and orange trees. The garden is fed by one of the few wells in the Medina, which also supplies water to the multiple courtyard fountains.

The lush gardens are fed by a rare spring.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
It’s next to the smallest of these that Machry said he finds the most peace. “It’s very quiet,” he said. “All you hear is the birds.”

Zgounder Silver Mine Produces Monthly Record Of 53,829 Ounces Ag In March 2017

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 14:55


Maya Gold & Silver (“Maya” or the “Corporation”) (TSX VENTURE:MYA) is pleased to report a monthly record production of 53,829 ounces (1,674 Kg) of silver during the month of March 2017 at its Zgounder silver mine in Morocco.

March 2017 Production Highlights

A silver production of 53,829 ounces represents a 15.74% increase from the March 2016 output;
A total of 5,270 tons processed yields a 5.78% increase from the total of March 2016;
This is the highest monthly silver output since the start of mining operations in September 2014;
The total recovery rate of 88.14% indicates an increase of 16.97% from that of March 2016

Operational Highlights

Development highlights at the Zgounder Mine

During the month of March 2017, underground exploration and development consisted of 870.8 metres of percussion drilling in seven mine workings. Highlights of the work completed are:

Percussion drilling was carried out on level 2030.

Panel 1 was extended to the western zone of level 2100. The mineralization lies at the the dolerite dyke /Neoproterozoic metasediments contact at the intersection of EW- and NS-oriented structures. The mineralization consists of disseminated sulphides (sphalerite, galena and pyrite) accompanied by trace amounts of native silver within fractures and quartz veinlets. Panel 5y, located at the contact of the dolerite dyke and metasediments, manifests a strong clhorite and sericite alteration and is affected by an intense fracturation. The panel is contained within schistosed sandstones mineralized in sulphides (sphalerite, galena and pyrite) and exposing numerous plates of native silver in fractures.

Other percussion drill holes determined the extent of silver mineralization between levels 2006 and 2012, in panel 09 and at level 2000 (P8).

Qualified Persons

The technical content of this news release has been provided by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining and has been reviewed and approved by Michel Boily, PhD, geo from GÉON; an independent Qualified Person under NI 43-101 standards.


Maya Gold & Silver Inc. is a Canadian publicly listed mining corporation focused on the exploration and development of gold and silver deposits in Morocco. Maya is initiating mining and milling operations at its Zgounder Mine owned by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining (“ZMSM”), a Maya 85% owned joint venture with l’Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (“ONHYM”) of the Kingdom of Morocco (15%).

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Forward-looking statements

This news release contains statements about our future business and planned activities. These are “forward-looking” because we have used what we know and expect today to make a statement about the future. Forward-looking statements including but are not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work and analyses. Forward-looking statements usually include words such as may, intend, plan, expect, anticipate, and believe or other similar words. We believe the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable. However, actual events and results could be substantially different because of the risks and uncertainties associated with our business or events that happen after the date of this news release. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. As a general policy, we do not update forward-looking statements except as required by securities laws and regulations.


Maya Gold & Silver Inc.:
R Martin Wong CPA CA
Interim Chief Executive Officer

Maya Gold & Silver Inc.:
Noureddine Mokaddem

Maya Gold & Silver Inc.:
Nathalie Dion
Investor Relations
450-435-0700 ext. 202