The moroccan press
The setting up of reliable, green and resilient infrastructure is a requisite to achieve sustainable development, said, on Wednesday in Rabat, state secretary for sustainable development Nezha El Ouafi.
Head of Government & President of Spanish Congress of Deputies Praise Friendly, Good-neighborly Relations between the two Kingdoms
Head of government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, and President of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, Ana Maria Pastor, praised here on Wednesday the friendly and good-neighborly relations between the kingdoms of Morocco and Spain.
During a meeting held as part of Pastor’s working visit to Morocco, the two sides lauded bilateral cooperation in several areas, while expressing their wish to hold as soon as possible the Moroccan-Spanish high-level meeting in order to boost the partnership between the two countries, said a statement by the head of government's department.
David S. Bloom
September 7, 2017
In the wake of the latest terrorist attacks in Western Europe, there has been much consternation in the press over who or what is responsible, as people look for patterns and try to understand what ties these incidents together. It is a natural response in the search for answers and eventual solutions. Many point to social and economic marginalization. Many more point to religion or country of origin and don’t give it another thought. Yet the obvious truth is that the problem has always been a complex one, and the root issues cannot be addressed if the presumed cause is one-dimensional and misappropriated.
After the recent attacks in Spain and Finland this month, many news articles tried to make the somewhat lazy assertion that this wave of terrorism is of Moroccan “origin.” The term itself is draws complications, in this case pooling native Moroccans together with multi-generation Europeans. Many jumped to counter the assertion, arguing that even despite their widely varying connections to Morocco, most of the perpetrators were clearly radicalized in Europe, where the vast majority spent their formative years. A microcosm of this debate played out on the pages of the Financial Times, where an article, “Spain atrocities throw spotlight on Moroccan militants,” inspired a letter to the editor entitled “Morocco is a partner in fight against terrorism,” which inspired its own letter to the editor, entitled “Beware of drawing too simple conclusions on counter-terrorism.” Morocco’s own press had a series of articles and responses as well as it grappled with the domestic implications of the issue.
A recent report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) made excellent work of this confusion. First, it dispelled the simplistic approach of much of the recent press that attempted to draw conclusions about Moroccan connections to extremism. While the perpetrators of the Finland attacks were “economically and socially marginalized” as “underemployed, transient, unsuccessful asylum seekers,” the Barcelona attackers were “relatively well integrated into their Spanish communities and did not suffer from any demonstrable economic hardships.” So there’s no simple explanation there. And while “ideology seems to have been the dominant fuel” for the Barcelona attack, some of those involved had track records of drug offenses, and their leader was radicalized relatively recently while in a Spanish prison and had “acquaintances who had been convicted of terrorism-related offenses.”
But what about Morocco? The WINEP report describes Morocco’s effective approach to violent extremism. First, sympathy for extremist groups declined sharply in Morocco following the 2003 Casablanca bombings. Morocco’s government has also adopted a comprehensive approach to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that dovetails short-term and long-term strategies. A 2003 antiterrorism law bolstered the security apparatus and has proven effective.
Perhaps more importantly, the WINEP report notes that Morocco has “pursued a series of reforms in the religious realm aimed at reducing the influence of extremist ideologies.” From adopting school curricula to “promote Islamic teachings compatible with notions of human rights” and tolerance, to working hands-on in prisons to stymie a convenient pool of radicalization, Morocco has demonstrated an advanced understanding of the multifaceted nature of violent extremism. Morocco has also invested heavily in imam training, incorporating moderate values and emphasizing the role of women as an important weapon against radicalization. This imam training program has attracted a flow of students from across Africa and even Europe, making Morocco a global exporter of CVE.
The lesson here, according to WINEP, is:
“…the recent prominence of Moroccan expatriates in jihadist terrorism appears to reflect not the prevalence of fundamentalist extremism in their country of origin but the opposite: Morocco remains relatively inhospitable to such violence for a combination of cultural and security reasons. As a result, the small proportion of Moroccans inclined in that direction have evidently sought sanctuary abroad; others may have become radicalized in their adopted European homes, rather than importing the ideology from Morocco.”
While this is not to say that violent extremism is exclusively Europe’s problem, it does counter many of the shortsighted assertions in the media about the nature of this problem. Rather than seek to assign blame, the public would be better served by examining the deeper context and nuances of these attacks rather than putting a magnifying glass to their lowest common denominator.
The post The Problem of Assigning Extremist Origins – David S. Bloom appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
Every year in the 15 countries on the shores of the eastern and southern Mediterranean, 19,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 212,000 with breast cancer. Of these, 7,800 die of cervical cancer and 62,200 of breast cancer.
A project, reports the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), is being promoted by the Turin Center for Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention to reduce the death toll from these types of tumors in Albania, Morocco and Montenegro.
The four-year project has a 4.16-million-euro budget and its primary aim will be to strengthen monitoring of women at risk of cancer, helping countries to improve protocols to prevent and fight the disease. The project will also serve to improve healthcare services in the three countries, reducing delays in cancer diagnosis and, as a result, the social costs of treatment. The project also calls for providing information to women about healthier lifestyles, the introduction of HPV testing and vaccinations for it.
Over 45,000 disadvantaged women between the ages of 25 and 65 will be tested for cervical and breast cancer and will be informed of risks and the importance of prevention. The project will also include ad hoc training for over 300 professionals of the healthcare sector in the three countries to learn how to conduct screenings in the best possible way.
The project calls for cooperation between healthcare institutes to improve procedures to for cancer prevention and to draw up strategies specific for the different populations, to improve the health of women in the lower and middle classes through the Mediterranean. The Italian health ministry and Paris’s National Cancer Institute contributed funding to the project. (ANSAmed).
Morocco’s High-Resolution Earth Observation Satellite To Be Launched By Arianespace In November 2017
Moroccan press sources are reporting that the kingdom’s first high-resolution Earth observation satellite – currently designated as MN35-13 – is being readied for launch on an Arianespace Vega space launch vehicle from Kourou in French Guiana on November 7 or 8, 2017.
The MN35-13 satellite has been built by French-based companies Airbus Defence and Space, who built the bus, and Thales Alenia Space, who manufactured the imaging payload. A second Earth observation satellite for Morocco, and built by the same companies, is scheduled to be ready for launch in 2018.
The Moroccan Earth observation satellite programme has been shrouded in mystery, with a deal between Rabat and Airbus Defece and Space and Thales Alenia Space widely rumoured to have been inked as far back as 2015, but none of the parties officially involved made any public statement.
It is also believed by industry insiders that the two satellites are similar to the birds being developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the United Arab Emirates, known as Falcon Eye. Both pairs of satellites are thought to be upgraded versions of the Pléiades-HR Earth observation satellite that has a resolution of 70cm across a 20 kilometer swath, a storage capacity of 600GB and a downlink data rate of 450MB per second. The Pléiades-HR has an operational lifetime of approximately five years.
It is not known whether the Moroccan versions of the satellites have the same, if not better, payload capabilities, but the UAE Falcon Eye satellites are listed as sharing the Pléiades-HR features.
NASA’s Terra satellite captures a dust storm off of the west coast of Morocco. Image courtesy of NASA.
Morocco’s geographical position and national security situation provides justification for the two Earth observation satellites, as it is situated on the the northwest African coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar, a busy shipping and smuggling route. To the southwest of Morocco is the disputed territory of the Western Sahara, where Moroccan forces have frequently clashed with the Polisario Front. To Morocco’s east is Algeria, a large country that has a deep desert interior and that has continually been in conflict with Islamic extremists that have sought to overthrow the government.
Possessing the ability to autonomously monitor threats on land and at sea long before they manifest themselves as imminent dangers should provide Morocco with an improved security process and the more efficient use of scarce capabilities to deal with those threats.
Original published at : https://spacewatchme.com/2017/09/moroccos-high-resolution-earth-observation-satellite-launched-arianespace-november-2017/
Caitlin Dearing Scott
September 6, 2017
Morocco’s Atlas Lions made it one step further in their quest to qualify for the 2018 Soccer World Cup, drawing with Mali after having beaten the Malian squad 6-0 on September 1. For the moment, the Lions remain in second place in Group C behind Ivory Coast and will face Gabon October 7 and Ivory Coast November 6. To qualify, Morocco will need to win Group C. According to ESPN, the race between Ivory Coast and Morocco looks set to go down to the wire, with the November 6 game a “potentially explosive winner-takes-all clash.” If they can pull it off, it will be the first time Morocco has qualified in over 20 years.
Off the pitch, Morocco is also seeking big victories. In late August, FIFA confirmed Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup, putting it in competition with the joint bid from the US, Canada, and Mexico. Morocco can count on the support of the Confederation of African Football, whose President, Ahmad Ahmad, has called Morocco a “stronghold of African and world football,” but its success will depend on getting support from the European and Asian Federations (which are prohibited for bidding to host based on FIFA’s host rotation rules).
There are a few reasons for hope. As The National noted, Morocco “has plenty of merits for FIFA to consider,” including a convenient location (and time zone) for European fans, six stadiums with capacities of over 45,000 to comply with FIFA requirements, and demonstrated success in hosting the FIFA Club World Cup in 2013 and 2014. That said, billions would still need to be invested in stadiums and other infrastructure. Though the bid may be a long shot, it nevertheless demonstrates Morocco’s long-term interests in becoming a sports leader in Africa, part of a broader effort led by King Mohammed VI to expand Morocco’s political and economic engagement on the continent.
The vote for the 2026 World Cup won’t take place until May 2020, giving Morocco plenty of time to demonstrate its sports leadership. In the meantime, the hope is that the Lions will get the chance to represent Morocco – and Africa – on the field.
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The Central bureau for judiciary investigations (BCIJ), under the general directorate for territory surveillance (DST), dismantled, on Wednesday, a terrorist cell composed of five extremist supporters of the Islamic State organization (IS), including a Spanish of Moroccan origin residing in Melilla, who were operating in the region of Beni Chiker (Nador outskirts).
According to a statement by the Interior ministry, this operation coincided with the arrest by the Spanish security services in Melilla of another accomplice of the members of this terrorist cell.
Italian Interior Minister Hails Morocco’s Help to Extinguish Wildfires that Swept through his Country
Italian Interior Minister, Marco Minniti, hailed on Tuesday in Rome Morocco's support to help extinguish the wildfires that swept across several regions in southern Italy.
Minniti was speaking at a ceremony organized by the Italian Civil Aviation at Ciampino Airport in Rome in honour of the Royal Armed Forces personnel dispatched on Canadair aircrafts upon Royal instructions to help Italy extinguish the wildfires that swept across 41 regions in Southern Italy.
Business Brief: Popularity of Argan Oil Spurs International Competition; High-speed Train on Schedule; and Economic Indicators Improving – Jean R. AbiNader
Growing demand for argan oil has spawned competitors to Morocco’s industry; latest report shows progress of high-speed train construction is on track, while the latest economic news is largely favorable for Morocco’s economic growth.
Argan market continues expansion as international competition increases. According to Grand View Research, as reported in the Digital Journal, the argan oil market exceeded 1300 million tons in 2016. Demand is increasing rapidly, with expectations of a market size of more than $1 billion by 2025.
The increased demand is due to many factors, including the growing importance of argan in medical applications, such as the treatment of certain cancers and arthritis. Given that increased population in Morocco is increasing local demand, Israel, Mexico, and Algeria have started their own production to compete for global market share.
As the press release from Grand View Research point out, “Argan oil is a developing industry in the US which is gaining importance on account of its high-performance ingredients. Growing disposable income, demand for branded luxury cosmetics, and preference for organic ingredients is anticipated to augment growth. The widening of distribution channels has made these products readily available to the consumer. Ongoing R&D investments and technological advancements in the area of processing ingredients have been the key factors responsible for driving industry growth over the past few years.”
Currently, there is a limited supply of argan oil, which has resulted in a price war among producers. “Argan oil draws its greatest demand from cosmetics, food, and medical industries. The cosmetics segment accounted for the largest market share in 2015. Argan oil is also gaining acceptance in the food industry, where it is used for seasoning salad and as cooking oil in high-end restaurants in the US.” According to the report, cosmetics accounted for almost 41% of the market volume in 2016, and the highest growth rate in the next eight years will come in the medical segment where “Argan extracts help accelerate wound healing process, lower cholesterol levels, improve digestion, protect the liver, manage diabetes, reduce inflammation, and boost heart health.”
High-speed rail from Tangier to Casablanca to have first tests in September. On time, at 92% completion, the high-speed rail system promises to be a first in Africa and the Middle East, according to the Abdelkader Amara, the Minister of Equipment, Transport, and Logistics, who recently visited the future station in Tangier as well as the nearby maintenance workshop and viaduct construction, according to a Morocco World News story.
The General Director of the railways authority, Rabie Khlie, said that the upcoming tests will involve trains traveling in excess of 200 mph on an 80 mile stretch of track. Concurrently, training for conductors, maintenance personnel, and commercial staff is also on schedule. If steps are completed in time, the system will be fully tested in the first half of 2018 with a commercial start-up later that summer.
Minister Amara noted that “the El Hachef viaduct, with an investment of MAD 1.092 billion ($110 million), constitutes the longest viaduct of the line with 3.5 kilometers, and one of the most spectacular works of the project,” adding that it presents “impressive technical characteristics and illustrates the magnitude of the component of this large-scale project, noting that it has 12 viaducts, 169 road bridges and railway bridges, and more than 100 hydraulic structures, 80% built by Moroccan companies.”
Government statistics show economic growth. The Directorate of Economic Studies and Financial Forecasting (DEPF) released additional statistics regarding Morocco’s growth in the first half of 2017. As noted previously, the dramatic rebound of cereal production by some 203% during this year’s growing season, contributed to a sharp increase in economic growth.
As quoted in Morocco World News, “By component of cereal production, barley recorded the largest increase compared to the previous season, with a 366.2% increase year-on-year, followed by durum wheat by 166.2% and soft wheat by 166.1%, according to the DEPF.” With more agricultural supplies, it is not surprise that agricultural exports increased through July 2017 along with food and construction products.
On the industrial side, “The production of phosphate derivatives, an important component of the chemical industry, grew by 35.8% at the end of May 2017, compared to a 7.7% increase in 2016,” noted the DEPF. In the construction and building sector, a strong recovery in cement sales was measured in July by some 42.2% after a sharp decline in June by some 30.6%. “This improvement is attributable to the resumption of the activity of self-construction, as well as of the public works market,” says the DEPF.
In terms of the services sectors, there was an increase in overall tourism through June of 9.2% with overnight stays up by 17.7%. Air traffic was up by 11.5% and port traffic increased by 10.1% in the same period. Although mobile telephone activity was up only slightly, by 1.5%, Internet penetration grew by 29.3%.
The post Business Brief: Popularity of Argan Oil Spurs International Competition; High-speed Train on Schedule; and Economic Indicators Improving – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
By Baher Kamal
Report from Inter Press Service
With the highest temperatures on record and unprecedented heat waves hitting Europe this year, Africa’s ‘Great Desert’, the Sahara, is set continue its relentless march on the Southern European countries until it occupies more than 30 per cent of Spain just three decades from now.
The Sahara is the largest hot desert on Earth, covering more than 9,000 square kilometres, comparable to the surface of China or the United States. Called originally in Arabic “Al Sahara Al Kubra’ (the Great Desert), it comprises much of North Africa, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan.
It stretches from the Red Sea in the West and the Mediterranean in the North to the Atlantic Ocean in the West, including 10 countries: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia.
For its part, the European Union’s RECARE project (Preventing and Remediating degradation of soil in Europe through Land Care), estimates that 20 per cent of all Europe’s land surface is already subject to erosion rates above 10,000 hectares per year, while soil sealing (the permanent covering of soil with an impermeable material) leads to the loss of more than 1,000 sq km of productive land each year.
The European Union also reports that between 1990 and 2000, at least 275 hectares of soil were lost per day in the EU, amounting to 1,000 sq km per year. Between 2000 and 2006, the EU average loss increased by 3 per cent, but by 14 per cent in Ireland and Cyprus, and by 15 per cent in Spain.
Meantime, Africa is prey to a steady process of advancing droughts and desertification, posing one of the most pressing challenges facing the 54 African countries, home to more than 1.2 billion people.
Right now, two-thirds of Africa is already desert or dry-lands. While this land is vital for agriculture and food production, nearly three-fourths of it is estimated to be degraded.
In a parallel process, desertification manifests itself in many different forms across the vast region of Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations reports. Out of a total land area of 4.3 billion hectares reaching from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Pacific, Asia contains some 1.7 billion hectares of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid land.
Land degradation varies across the region. There are expanding deserts in China, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, encroaching sand dunes in Syria, steeply eroded mountain slopes of Nepal, and deforested and in Laos and overgrazed in central Asia counties. In terms of the number of people affected by desertification and drought, Asia is the most severely affected continent.
In 2015, Asia-Pacific continued to be the world’s most disaster-prone region. Some 160 disasters were reported in the region, accounting for 47 per cent of the world’s 344 disasters.
The region bore the brunt of large-scale catastrophic disasters with over 16,000 fatalities — more than a two-fold increase since 2014. South Asia accounted for a staggering 64 per cent of total global fatalities — the majority was attributed to the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in April, which caused 8,790 deaths.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean are home to some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world, according to the World Resources Institute’s report The Restoration Diagnostic.
The region holds about half of the world’s tropical forests, and more than 30 per cent of its mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians.
But despite the region’s ecological importance, more than 200 million hectares of land has been completely deforested or degraded in the past century, an area the size of Mexico.
Summit in China
These are just some of the facts that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will put before the eyes of world leaders during the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Ordos, China (6 -16 September 2017).
The Convention will also highlight to political leaders, decision makers, experts and civil society organisations participating in COP13 the fact that Africa is severely affected by frequent droughts, which have been particularly severe in recent years in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.
And that the consequences are there: widespread poverty, hard socio-economic conditions, and many people dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.
For many African countries, says UNCCD, fighting land degradation and desertification and mitigating the effects of drought are prerequisites for economic growth and social progress.
But not all news is bad news. In fact, increasing sustainable land management (SLM) and building resilience to drought in Africa can have profound positive impacts that reach from the local to the global level.
The UNCCD has elaborated ways how to achieve this vital objective thought its Regional Implementation Annex for Africa, which outlines an approach for addressing desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) on the African continent.
Work in Progress
Meanwhile, progress is underway. All African countries are Parties to the UNCCD and most of have developed and submitted National Action Programmes (NAPs). Also in order to facilitate cooperation on issues related to land degradation, African countries have created five Sub-Regional Action Programmes (SRAPs) and a Regional Action Programme (RAP).
The RAPs compose six thematic programme networks (TPNs) that concern integrated water management; agro-forestry; soil conservation; rangeland management; ecological monitoring and early warning systems; new and renewable energy sources and technologies, and sustainable agricultural farming systems.
Since the adoption of the UNCCD’s 10-Year Strategy, the sub-regional entities have begun aligning their action programmes to it, particularly the North, Central and Western African programmes. The other two sub-regions have already benefited from training by the UNCCD on how to align their programmes to the Strategy.
Similar actions to mitigate, halt and prevent the widespread process of advancing droughts and desertification are being implemented in all other impacted regions, and further efforts will be required. Not an easy task for decision-makers in this COP 13 in Ordos, China.
UK player gets commercial proposal for up to $100 million to finance key facility to develop Tendrara gas field.
UK player Sound Energy is closing in on funding of up to $100 million for a key pipeline set to exploit its Tendrara gas field in Morocco.
The London-listed player has an indicative non-binding commercial proposal from the fund manager of its partner Oil & Gas Investment Fund (OGIF) that could lead to the construction of a 20-inch pipeline.
The proposal from Advisory & Finance Group Investment Bank (AFG) is for between $60 million and $100 million.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari vowed on Monday to further strengthen bilateral relations.
During a phone call between the two leaders, they underlined their will to reinforce bilateral relations in all areas and carry out projects agreed upon during the king’s visit to Abuja, the king’s office said in a statement.
These projects cover many sectors, including agriculture, fertilizer production and security cooperation, the statement added.
As for the joint venture to construct a major gas pipeline, the two sides lauded the tangible achievements made in this strategic project, mainly through regular meetings by joint bodies set up for this purpose, it noted.
In May, Morocco and Nigeria signed agreements to construct a major gas pipeline linking West African countries.
The Gazoduc pipeline project, which will pass through several West African countries and may stretch to Europe, was finalized during the visit of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to Nigeria in December, 2016.
The pipeline will have a positive impact on more than 300 million inhabitants, as it would serve as the basis for a competitive electricity market in all West Africa.
Collaboration with Morocco on Religious Leaders Issue is Guarantee of Success, Spanish Islamic Bodies
The collaboration with Moroccan official institutions helped ensure a successful appointment of Imams (religious leaders) to Spanish Mosques and spot radicalized ones, said the "Agrupación de Mezquitas de España - AME" (Federation of the Union of Mosques in Spain and the Islamic Cultural Center in Fuenlabrada (Madrid region).
The wise policy of HM King Mohammed VI helped Morocco gain a strong political and economic presence in Africa and made it an influential regional power that is respected by African peoples and leaders, said, on Thursday in Rabat, foreign minister Nasser Bourita.
Hajj 2017: Saudi King Receives Heads of Official Delegations, Instructs Moroccan Minister to Convey Greetings to HM the King
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, received, on Saturday in Mina, the heads of official delegations who performed Hajj rituals this year, including Moroccan minister of Culture and Communication, Mohamed Laaraj.
In a statement to MAP, Laaraj said that he had transmitted to the Saudi King the fraternal greetings of HM King Mohammed VI as well as the thanks and esteem of the Sovereign for the efforts made by Saudi Arabia to allow pilgrims to perform Hajj rituals in a quiet environment.
State Secretary for Fisheries Mbarka Bouaida met, on Wednesday in Rabat, with chairman of the Japan-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Association Hirofumi Nakasone, who is on a visit to the Kingdom, to discuss means to reinforce cooperation in the fisheries field.
This visit is very crucial for Morocco regarding the historical and friendly relations between the two countries, and mainly concerning cooperation in the fisheries field, Bouaida underlined in a statement to MAP following this meeting.
Jeune Afrique's Association of Morocco and Terrorism 'Unacceptable, Provocative", Govt. Spokesperson
The choice by "Jeune Afrique" of a cover associating Morocco with terrorism is an unacceptable, provocative and deplorable act, said, on Thursday in Rabat, minister delegate for relations with parliament and civil society, spokesperson of government Mustapha El Khalfi.
During a press briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting, El Khalfi said that he has contacted "Jeune Afrique" and voiced his condemnation of this act, underlining that the magazine's cover runs counter its content which say that it is absurd to say that Morocco is exporting terrorists.
by Georgina Enzer
Capital Intelligence Ratings (CI Ratings or CI), the international credit rating agency, has affirmed the ratings of Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BMCI), based in Casablanca, Morocco.
The Financial Strength Rating (FSR) is affirmed at ‘BBB-’. The rating is supported by a solid level of capitalisation, adequate loan-loss provisioning, and reasonable profitability at the operating level. The rating is constrained by a high level of non-performing loans (NPLs), modest returns, and a mixed liquidity profile, specifically the high loans to customer deposits ratio. BMCI’s Long- and Short-Term Foreign Currency Ratings (FCRs) are maintained at ‘BBB-’ and ‘A3’, respectively. The Outlook for all ratings remains ‘Stable’. Downward pressure on the ratings could occur if asset quality (rise in NPLs and/or lower coverage) and or liquidity weakened further. The Support Rating of ‘2’ is affirmed, reflecting the support and strength of BNP Paribas (BNPP).
BMCI is majority owned by the French banking Group BNPP and has a reasonable banking position in the Moroccan banking sector. It is the fifth largest bank in the country, controlling around six per cent of assets. Although considerably smaller than the large domestic banks such as Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Populaire and BMCE Bank, BMCI has a solid position in the corporate and retail sectors. The Bank receives operational, risk and executive management support from the BNPP and looks to exploit synergies with the parent bank, particularly in product offering.
The year 2016 was a challenging year for BMCI. Both gross income and operating profit fell due to continued weak loan and asset growth, and in turn lower net and non-interest income. The economy and the credit environment remained difficult in 2016. Despite a lower cost of risk, net profit and returns fell. The return on average assets (ROAA) is at a weak level. The NPL ratio remains high and asset quality continues to cause some pressure but it should be noted that the French-owned banks in Morocco are more conservative in their classification. Provision coverage is adequate.
Loan-based liquidity ratios are tight, particularly loans to customer deposits. The customer deposit market in Morocco remains very challenging and competitive, with limited growth for some years. Aiding BMCI’s overall liquidity position is its good capital adequacy level and majority ownership by BNPP. CI Ratings believes BNPP has significant resources to support BMCI in case of need, and that the latter remains an important (although very small in the context of BNPP’s overall size and resources) part of its north African and wider African operations.
From 1964 to 1973, BMCI operated as Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie – Afrique, which was part of what is now the BNPP. Incorporated with local capital in 1973, the Bank’s principal shareholder remains BNPP, which holds a 66.74 per cent stake. At end 2016, total assets stood at MAD64.4 billion ($6.3 billion).
MANSOURIA, Morocco (AP) — In Morocco, an ancient tradition of horsemanship survives the test of time.
Thousands gathered recently in Mansouria, a small town south of the capital Rabat, to attend one of the oldest festivals in Morocco. Nineteen horse troupes came from different parts of the kingdom to celebrate a three-day event that blends courage, skill and tradition.
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_67208 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and hold their rifles as other line up for their turn during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. Thousands gathered recently in Mansouria, a small town south of the capital Rabat, to attend one of the oldest festivals in Morocco. Nineteen horse troupes came from different parts of the kingdom to celebrate a three-day event that blends courage, skill and tradition. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_40632 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a horseman waves to the crowd after a successful charge during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_76418 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and fires their rifles during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_86700 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, horsemen dress in ceremonial robes before taking part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_63333 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and hold their rifles before firing, during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. Thousands gathered recently in Mansouria, a small town south of the capital Rabat, to attend one of the oldest festivals in Morocco. Nineteen horse troupes came from different parts of the kingdom to celebrate a three-day event that blends courage, skill and tradition. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_25426 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, people pray in a tent before the start of Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_24687 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a horseman is surrounded by gunpowder smoke after a successful charge while taking part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
- Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_23749 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, horsemen prepare to take part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
- Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_29156 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a woman cooks couscous for horsemen taking part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
- Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_62413 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and fire their rifles during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
- Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_11025 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, crowds gather to attend and judge Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. The banner in Arabic reads “horsemanship is an identity and a path for development”. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
The competitive, synchronized horse riding is known as Tabourida, or La’ab Al-Baroud, “The Game of Powder.” The display mimics and pays tribute to military parades performed by Arab and Berber tribes since the 15th century. It has become an integral display for many festivals across the country. Famed French artist Eugene Delacroix popularized Tabourida on canvas in the 19th century, dubbing it Fantasia, and the name has stuck.
Al-Mahdy Hayzoun, 23, has been riding in his troupe for 12 years, though he couldn’t compete in this year’s festival because of a recent gunpowder injury to his hand. He said Tabourida brings together people from all walks of life.
“There is the poor and the rich, people of different backgrounds,” he said. “But once we’re all on the field, next to each other, we’re all equal, with the same goal.”
Each troupe, or sourba, of 10 to 30 riders is judged on their synchronicity as a group. After lining up at the top of a track, wearing ceremonial robes and with their horses dressed in elaborate bridles and brightly-colored saddles, the lead rider calls out and the troupe races down the field.
After another signal from the leader, or muqadim, the riders brandish their guns and each fires a single shot in unison.
Although competition is fierce, today, there is no prize, and the only judge present is the audience. The more synchronized the display, the louder the cheer from the crowds. It takes skill, talent and a lot of discipline.
It also is an expensive and dangerous sport. Arabian or Berber horses of the highest stock can cost as much as 300,000 Dirhams ($30,000.) Inexperienced riders frequently fall from their horses, and troupes run the risk of hitting a barrier at the end of the track if they are unable to stop their horses in time.
In 2008, the Moroccan government established the Royal Complex for the Equestrian Arts and Tabourida, to preserve the sport and the handicrafts that go with it. They run national competitions for professional troupes with large cash prizes.
In some cases, the job of leading a troupe is passed down through families, while in others the troupe picks the most respected person to lead them.
“We inherited this,” said Khalid Qarqoury, a 43-year-old public worker who leads his sourba, a position his father held before him. “Some do this for a year or two, but when you have the passion, you hold on the rifle for the rest of your life.”
The North Africa Post
Morocco remains largely the most insulated country from terrorist attacks in the region thanks to a three-pronged strategy that combines security measures with promoting moderate religious discourse and fighting poverty, underscored the Times of India.
In an opinion article entitled “Get Facts Right: Morocco is a shining example of how to counter radicalisation and terrorism,” Rudroneel Ghosh discarded the aspersions spread in some Western media in the aftermath of the Barcelona terrorist attacks trying desperately to link Morocco with terrorism.
“To insinuate that Morocco itself is a hotbed of terrorism is plain rubbish,” he said, noting that such extrapolation is discredited on the ground by Morocco’s “praiseworthy record” in fighting Islamic radicalisation at home through a multilayered strategy.
Ghosh highlighted the efficiency of Morocco’s security services, which adopt a proactive approach further bolstered by intelligence sharing with other countries.
“Morocco is a pioneer in promoting the moderate tenets of genuine Islam to counter the influence of radical religious thought,” he made it clear, pointing out to Morocco’s Imam training program.
Morocco has also attached utmost importance to stemming the breeding grounds causing radicalisation and extremism through fighting poverty, he wrote.
Ghosh added that Morocco is “at the forefront of fighting terrorism in North Africa”, explaining that “attacks in Europe by Moroccan-origin people represent a failing of these European states.”
Therefore, he explained, “to allege that Morocco is producing terrorists is utter nonsense. In fact, if anything, Moroccan society and the Islam practised in Morocco are significant deterrents against extremism and terrorism. A visit to Morocco is enough for anyone to realise how liberal a Muslim nation Morocco is.”
He went on to say that Morocco “is a country where Jews enjoy equal status as their Muslim brethren and where 167 Jewish cemeteries have been carefully restored under the direction of King Mohammed VI. Morocco is a country where within the same family the mother can wear a hijab but her daughter can sport western-style shorts.”
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