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New UN Envoy For Western Sahara To Make Regional Tour

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 04:22

Daily Mail
By Afp

Former German president Horst Kohler, pictured speaking to reporters on behalf of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)as IMF Managing Director in 2003, will serve as the UN envoy to Western Sahara.

The UN’s new envoy for Western Sahara will travel to Morocco at the weekend as part of a regional tour aimed at kick-starting talks on ending the decades-old conflict over the disputed territory.

Former German president Horst Kohler will travel to Rabat on Sunday before heading to Algeria and Mauritania, UN sources said.

The visit comes ahead of his first report to the Security Council on October 24 on prospects for re-launching negotiations that have been comatose for years.

The council adopted a resolution in April that called for a new UN push for talks between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire in the former Spanish colony.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

One of the hurdles in the way of restarting talks was cleared when long-serving UN envoy Christopher Ross resigned in March following tensions with Morocco, which accused him of bias in favor of the Polisario.

The 74-year-old Kohler is a former International Monetary Fund chief and served as president of the European bank for reconstruction and development.

The United Nations opened negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front in 2007 and there have been several rounds since, with the latest held outside of New York in 2012.

There has been little progress however over resolving the future status of Western Sahara.

The United Nations has a mission of 450 staff, mostly military observers, who monitor the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario.

Siemens Gamesa Cuts Ribbon On Moroccan Rotor Blade Factory

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 05:14

Renewables Now

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA (BME:SGRE) on Wednesday inaugurated a new rotor blade manufacturing plant in Morocco, the first facility of its kind in Africa and the Middle East.

The factory in the northwestern city of Tangier spans on an area of 37,500 sq m (403,647 sq ft). Being operational since April, it is producing 63-metre (207-ft) composite blades for Siemens Gamesa’s SWT-DD-130 turbine platform for local projects and exports to other African countries, Europe and the Middle East.

In the future, Siemens Gamesa can also start making turbine blades of up to 75 metres at the Moroccan plant.

The company’s CEO Markus Tacke noted that Morocco currently presents very good business opportunities that are “stronger than ever before.” “This location in Tangier provides us with direct access to some of the most important markets of tomorrow – here in Morocco, throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and in the Mediterranean Region,” he added,

Under its national programme, Morocco has set a goal to source up to 52% of the electricity it produces from renewables by 2030, with wind accounting for 20% of the total. The North African kingdom aims to have 2,000 MW of wind and 2,000 MW of solar power plants by 2020.

Siemens Gamesa, which has a 72% market share in Morocco, last year won the preferred bidder status in a 850-MW wind power tender in Morocco under a consortium with Italy’s Enel Green Power SpA (BIT:EGPW) and Moroccan Nareva Holding.

Morocco Increases Its Intellectual Property Official Fees

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 05:07

Inventa International

The Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC) recently announced an increase on its Intellectual Property official fees, including trademarks, patents and industrial designs.

Although Morocco has a comprehensive regulatory and legislative system for IP protection, in 2015, the authorities concerned voted into law the agreement between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Moroccan Patent Office, which simplified the patenting system in Morocco.

This increase in the oficial fees, which will be effective starting October 1st of 2017, will grant a reduction of up to 50% of users using the OMPIC online services.

You can consult the news fees here: http://www.ompic.org.ma/en/actualites/nouvelle-decision-des-tarifs-en-vigueur-partir-du-1er-octobre-2017

This country remains with high ambitions which welcomes foreign investments. Along with local development, this will certainly contribute for Morocco’s growth.

Africa’s Fastest Train: Morocco Tests New 200mph Service

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:58

By Annabel Fenwick Elliott, travel writer

The high-speed service will link Casablanca (pictured) with Tangier Credit: Getty.

Africa’s railway system is about to get a major upgrade with the launch of its fastest ever train.

Engineers in Morocco are testing trains capable of reaching 200mph – the top speed of the Eurostar – slashing journey times between the country’s key economic hubs by almost two thirds.

The 215-mile journey from Casablanca to Tangier via the capital city of Rabat will now take just over two hours, rather than five, when the service launches next summer.

During testing on Monday, one train reached 170 mph along a stretch of track between the northern cities of Kenitra and Tangier, it was revealed.

“This is already the fastest train on the African continent,” announced French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was in Morocco to sign a €2 billion (£1.7bn) loan deal between the French Development Agency and Morocco’s national railway operator, the ONCF.

He said the railway, dubbed the LGV and 50 per cent financed by France, was “emblematic of the Franco-Moroccan bilateral relationship”.

The trains will match the Eurostar for speed Credit: getty

According to the latest figures, the project is set to go around 15 per cent over budget, but ONCF head Rabii Lakhlii said the project had still cost “less than €9 million euros per kilometre (£13million per mile), compared to a European standard of €20 million euros per kilometre”.

The route, first mapped out in 2005, was made more complex by hilly terrain and strong winds and required the building of several viaducts including some more than two miles long.

The high-speed trains will be supplied by French conglomerate Alstom, 14 in total, each capable of carrying 533 passengers.

What does this mean for tourists?

The ONCF expects the line to attract six million travellers within its first three years, with other expansions in the North African country planned for the next three decades.

27 reasons why trains are better than planes

It currently costs in the region of 136-261 Moroccan Dirham (£11-£21) to take the line all the way from Casablanca to Tangier on the ONCF’s existing service, and Mr Lakhlii said that tickets will cost about 30 per cent more when the LGV rolls out.

Why has it sparked controversy?

Moroccan leaders have heralded the project as a key step in modernising the country’s infrastructure.

But opponents say the project, which has been under construction for six years, unfairly favoured French companies when handing out contracts.

Leading the way: China’s bullet train, the fastest in the world 00:43

Critics have also argued that the money, the total cost of which is around €2 billion, could have been better spent in a country where many live in poverty.

Morocco – which gained its independance from France in 1956 – has a gross national income of just 26,800MAD (£2,159) per capita, according to the World Bank.

Supporters argue, however, that if the new high-speed railway succeeds in attracting more tourists, it will boost what is already one of the most lucrative sectors in the Moroccan economy.

Siemens Opens Wind Turbine Blades Factory In Morocco

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 09:36

Source: Xinhua

Siemens opened on Wednesday in the northern Moroccan city of Tangier a wind turbine blades factory, the first ever in the entire Middle East and Africa region.

The launching ceremony of the plant, with total investment of 118 million U.S. dollars, was attended by Morocco’s Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

The facility spans over a surface area of 37,500 square meters and offers 600 jobs.

Apart from supplying local market, the factory will export primarily to the Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Morocco Rejects Spanish Catalonia’s Independence Move

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 07:20

Source: Xinhua

Morocco rejected on Wednesday Catalonia’s “unilateral” independence move, voicing its support to neighboring Spain’s territorial integrity.

“Morocco rejects the unilateral process of the independence of Catalonia, and expresses its attachment to the sovereignty, national unity and the territorial integrity of Spain,” the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence, but halted implementation to allow negotiations.

Deeming Catalonia’s government move as “irresponsible and unsustainable,” Morocco said the move is a source of “instability and division not only in Spain but throughout its European neighborhood.”

The north African kingdom said it is is confident in the Spanish government’s ability to manage wisely this situation to uphold constitutional order and serve the supreme interest of Spain and Europe.

Russian Prime Minister Strikes Energy Deals In Morocco

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 04:34

Fox News

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a string of energy, military and other deals with Morocco during a North Africa tour.

Medvedev met Wednesday with Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani and presided at a signing ceremony for 11 bilateral agreements.

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The agreements cover cooperation in areas such as customs, agriculture, the military and culture, as well as energy efficiency and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The disputed Western Sahara region that Morocco annexed in the mid-1970s also was a topic of the talks.

Medvedev is traveling with a large Russian government delegation and Russian business executives. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI hosted a lunch in the prime minister’s honor.

He arrived in Morocco after a visit to Algeria, where he discussed oil prices and energy cooperation.

Catalans Have No Choice But To Delay, Says Former Adviser

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 04:25

Matt Robinson

Catalonia’s president has no choice but to suspend secession since it is unlikely anyone will recognize the Spanish region on the basis of a disputed referendum, a former British diplomat who has advised the Catalans and other secessionist movements said.

Carne Ross, who as founder of the diplomatic consultancy Independent Diplomat has worked with Kosovo, South Sudan, Western Sahara and Catalonia on their respective bids for sovereignty, said there would be no solution to the crisis without a legal plebiscite agreed to by Madrid.

To get there would require pressure from Spain’s European Union partners, Ross told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“A full declaration of independence would have been very problematic, would have led to obvious confrontation with Madrid and he (Catalan President Carles Puigdemont) was under enormous pressure not to declare independence, including I assume from the countries that Catalonia would look to for recognition,” said Ross.

“At the end of the day, if you’re to be independent, you need to be recognized as such.”

“I think they are only likely to get international recognition if there is a legal referendum that Madrid accepts.”

Puigdemont declared on Tuesday that Catalonia had the mandate for independence but proposed suspending sovereignty to allow for talks with Madrid on an agreed solution. On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for clarity as to whether or not Catalonia had declared independence and raised the specter of Madrid suspending the region’s autonomy.


Catalonia’s Oct. 1 referendum was declared illegal by a Spanish high court and mustered only 43 percent turnout as many independence opponents stayed at home. Hundreds of people were injured by baton-wielding police as they intervened to close polling stations.

Ross said many Catalans had been “radicalized” by Madrid’s resistance and police behavior. “Fuel has been added to the fire,” he said.

“In my view, legitimate independence can only be legitimately declared when it has a clear majority of the population. I don’t think it is right to declare independence when you don’t have that clear majority. And as things currently stand, Catalonia does not have that clear majority.”

Ross formerly headed the Middle East section of the British mission to the United Nations but resigned from the civil service in 2004 over the invasion of Iraq. His work with Independent Diplomat was the subject of the documentary Accidental Anarchist that was broadcast in July on the BBC.

Ross, who advised the Catalan government between July 2013 and September 2015 and is a committed advocate of self-determination, said it was “unrealistic” to expect a mediated solution resulting in, for instance, greater autonomy for Catalonia.

He cited the examples of Montenegro and Scotland, in which referendums were held on the basis of negotiated terms in 2006 and 2014 respectively. Montenegro narrowly voted to leave a state union with Serbia, while a majority of Scots opted to remain with Britain.

“I think that the international community should be calling for Madrid to do what Britain did with Scotland, which is to allow a legal referendum to resolve this once and for all.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has rejected a call by Puigdemont for EU mediation, but Ross said the bloc should state clearly to Madrid “that it needs to find a more consensual solution”.

Asked if the Catalans had erred in holding a referendum that Madrid did not agree to, Ross replied: “They had no other option to build up the pressure for that dialogue.”

Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Richard Balmforth

Africa NDC Dialogue Highlights The Need For Capacity Building, Finance

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 02:30


A Regional Dialogue on NDCs for Africa considered ways to enhance implementation, identify challenges and opportunities and build capacity.

Participants engaged in discussions on many topics, including on practical entry points for engagement and strategies for effective private sector involvement in NDC implementation.

They discussed how local and regional planning approaches can ensure local ownership and lasting results of the policies and measures put in place.

28 September 2017: A Regional Dialogue on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Africa aiming to support countries as they move towards the implementation stage of their NDCs explored topics related to NDC implementation. These included: experiences, best practices, opportunities and challenges in the region; capacity building gaps and needs; climate finance needs and strengthening the role of the private sector; local authority-level policies, actions and initiatives; and entry points to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into NDC implementation and planning.

Convening over three days from 26-28 September 2017, in Rabat, Morocco, the Regional Dialogue on NDCs for Africa was part of the fourth round of regional NDC dialogues. It brought together representatives from 50 African countries, international organizations and technical experts.

Participants considered, among other issues: key provisions of the Paris Agreement relating to NDCs; relevant outcomes of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC; planning for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue; and an overview of submitted Intended NDCs (INDCs) and initial NDCs, including trends from the African continent. Discussions addressed: country priorities for implementing NDCs; capacity building gaps and needs experienced by African countries in NDC implementation; and tools to improve transparency and comparability between alternative mitigation actions to implement NDCs.

Deliberations on climate finance and transparency addressed practical entry points for engagement and strategies for effective private sector involvement in NDC implementation.

Participants also considered ways to appropriately reflect the interests, concerns and priorities of local authorities, including how coordination and communication across government and non-governmental agencies can be improved. Deliberations on climate finance and transparency covered issues including: developing funding strategies to consider opportunities for mobilizing resources from national budgets and planned investments; practical entry points for engagement and strategies for effective private sector involvement in NDC implementation; the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework; and country-level experiences with measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems.

Representatives from the Governments of Morocco and Kenya, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) spoke about tools and approaches to integrate gender considerations into NDCs and national climate policies. [Regional Dialogue on NDCs for Africa Webpage] [Meeting Agenda]

Russia’s Rosatom, Morocco Sign Cooperation Agreement

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 23:25

© Donat Sorokin/TASS
Business & Economy

Rosatom and the Energy Ministry of Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Energy Ministry of Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, TASS reports from the scene on Wednesday.

The document was signed by Alexander Voronkov, Director of the Middle Eastern Office of Rosatom, and Khalid El Mediouri, Director-General of Morocco’s National Centre for Nuclear Energy, Sciences and Technology.

SDX Celebrates Gas Discovery

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:21

Energy Voice
Oil & Gas
Written by Energy Reporter

SDX today confirmed a gas discovery in its Morocco play.

The North Africa focused oil and gas company revealed a gas discovery has been made at its KSR-14 development well on the Sebou permit in Morocco, which it owns a 75% interest in.

Chief executive Paul Welch said: “This positive result follows the Company’s recent oil discovery at our West Gharib Concession in Egypt and demonstrates the real momentum developing across our portfolio.

“This outcome in Morocco is an excellent start to our nine well programme, where we are targeting an increase in our local gas sales volumes in Morocco by up to 50%. I look forward to reporting on the flow rates from today’s KSR-14 discovery and last week’s Rabul 2 discovery in the near term along with updating our shareholders on further progress on our South Disouq Development activities in due course.”

The KSR-14 well was drilled to a total depth of 1830 meters and encountered 20 meters of net conventional natural gas pay in the Guebbas and Hoot formations over 4 intervals. The initial results have exceeded pre-drill estimates, and work is currently underway to further evaluate the well’s accurate recoverable volume estimate, according to the firm.

Once the drilling rig has left the location, the Company expects that the well will be connected to the existing infrastructure and produced. The well is anticipated to be on production in approximately 30 days.

SDX is headquartered in London, England, UK, with a principal focus on North Africa. In Egypt, SDX has a working interest in two producing assets, 50% North West Gemsa & 50% Meseda, located onshore in the Eastern Desert, adjacent to the Gulf of Suez. In Morocco, SDX has a 75%.

Russian Prime Minister, Moroccan Leader To Discuss Energy, Agriculture

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 11:28


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who arrived in Morocco late on Tuesday, will hold talks with that country’s leaders to discuss cooperation in the energy and agricultural sectors and cultivating tourism, the press service of the Russian government said.

Medvedev arrived in Morocco from Algeria.

Medvedev’s two-day visit includes talks with Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani and speakers of both houses of Morocco’s parliament. “The talks will focus on the current state of and cooperation prospects in various spheres, including energy, industry, agriculture, tourism, cultural and humanitarian ties,” the government’s press service said. “It is planned to sign a number of intergovernmental, inter-ministerial and corporate agreements and documents.”

According to a government administration official, Medvedev is paying a visit to Morocco at the invitation of his Moroccan counterpart. “Russia highly appreciates the traditionally friendly relations with Morocco and attaches exceptional significance to the expansion of bilateral cooperation in various areas,” the official said.
Apart from that, a Russian-Moroccan business forum organized by the Russian Export Center will be held on the sidelines of Medvedev’s visit.

2017 Oilibya Rally Of Morocco: Hero Motorsports Rider JROD Finishes Seventh Overall, CS Santosh 15th

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 07:21


The 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco ended on October 10, 2017, on a celebratory note for Hero MotoSports Team Rally with their Portuguese rider Joaquim ‘JRod’ Rodrigues maintaining his position through the last stage despite a busted chin to finish seventh overall in the motorcycle category.

Indian rider CS Santosh recorded his best-ever finish in this rally with 15th overall, bettering his result from the previous year. The closing stage of the 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco in Erfoud was a respite and went by smoothly, while earlier stages had been affected flooded riverbeds and bad weather which led to several changes to the schedule. The final stage comprised a 180km loop in the area around Erfoud.

Maintaining his pace was even more challenging for Rodrigues who had a rough time crossing the dunes during the last stage. In the beginning, the stage was going good where I was riding at a decent pace. Then when we started crossing the dunes, I jumped over one of them and landed in the flat. I bruised my chest and my chin, and had to take five stitches,” he said. Rodrigues further said that with the bike feeling better and his seventh overall finish here, things are now looking good and the team is ready for the Rally Dakar.

Santosh too looked confident with the new rally bike. Going into this rally we knew it was going to be an important test with the new bike. I was really excited to see the evolution of our rally machine. From day one I made good progress and built up every day. I definitely did not repeat the mistakes I made last year. Back then I struggled a lot but, this year I have a better feeling with the new bike and everything is working really well,” said CS Santosh, adding that he is happy to go to Dakar feeling like this.

Meanwhile, Hero MotoSports team manager Wolfgang Fischer said he could not ask for more, with both the team motorcycles finishing the OiLibya Rally of Morocco without any technical problems. This final round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship brings us the first top ten result for Joaquim Rodrigues in a world championship event. Overall, we draw a very positive summary of the whole year’s work and preparation. We’re looking forward to the next big target, the Rally Dakar,” he said.

Provisional overall standings after stage 5
1. Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM 10:03:49 hrs
2. Kevin Benavides, ARG, Honda +13:42 min
3. Ricky Brabec, USA, Honda +16:58
4. Antoine Meo, FRA, KTM +18:27
5. Juan Pedrero, SPA, Sherco TVS +22:28
6. Pablo Quintanilla, CHI, Husqvarna +37:22
7. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero +44:29
15. CS Santosh, IND, Hero +1:49:37

France Reaffirms Polisario Will Not Take Part In EU-Africa Summit

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:38

The North Africa Post

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pointed out that only sovereign states are entitled to participate in the EU-Africa Summit, to be held in Abidjan, thus making it clear that France rejects categorically the attempts by separatist proponents to impose the participation of the separatist SADR entity.

The Minister said Monday in Rabat at a joint press briefing with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, that the polisario is not eligible to represent the Sahara and has no right to partake in such a sovereign summit open only to UN member states.

Le Drian reiterated on the same occasion his country’s firm stand in support of Morocco’s autonomy proposal as a sound basis for negotiations.

He added that the UN Secretary General is called upon to take initiatives on the basis of the autonomy proposal.
“We hope that the EU-Africa summit will take place in best conditions. The choice of participating countries should be taken by consensus between sovereign states,” he added.

For his part, Bourita noted that Morocco insists on maintaining the summit will take place at a special continental context requiring collective efforts. Therefore, he warned against derailing the summit and indulging in unnecessary debates.

As it endures setbacks one after the other in its ideologically anachronistic foreign policy, Algeria indulges in terminology games claiming that the African Union and the EU are in negotiation to change the appellation of the event into EU-AU Summit in a scheme to impose the participation of its puppet Sahrawi Republic.

The fake news was propagated by the Algerian government mouthpiece, Algeria Press Service news agency, which relayed the fallacious statements of its Ambassador in Brussels, Amar Belani, saying that the Polisario will receive an invitation to attend the EU-Africa summit.

Such statements show the short memory of the Algerian diplomacy, which seems not to learn from past mistakes. Sources within the EU maintain that only countries that are member of the UN are entitled to take part in the EU-Africa summit. No decision has been made to change the name of the event that will be hosted by Abidjan on November 29-30.

Posted by North Africa Post

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.

Morocco Prepares To Test ‘Fastest Train In Africa’

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 17:40

News 24

Engineers in Morocco are preparing to test the Arab world’s first high-speed railway this week with trains reaching 320km/h, the country’s rail office said on Monday.

One train reached 275km/h on Monday along a stretch of track between the northern cities of Kenitra and Tangier, the ONCF said.

“This is already the fastest train on the African continent,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was in Morocco to sign a loan deal between the ONCF and the French Development Agency.

He said the railway was “emblematic of the Franco-Moroccan bilateral relationship”.

The 350km link between Casablanca and Tangiers via the capital Rabat will slash journey times between the North African country’s economic hubs by almost two thirds, to just over two hours.

Morocco’s TGV, which gets its name from the French abbreviation for high-speed trains, is set to enter service in summer 2018.

The project is 50% financed by France with loans of around $2.4bn.


It is set to go around 15% over budget, according to figures released on Monday.

But ONCF head Rabii Lakhlii said the project had cost “less than €9m/km, compared to a European standard of €20m/km”.

The route, made more complex by hilly terrain and strong winds, required the building of several viaducts including one about 3.5km long.

The ONCF expects the line to attract six million travellers within its first three years.

Lakhlii said tickets would cost about 30% more than those for the current rail link.

Moroccan leaders have heralded the project as a key step in modernising the country’s infrastructure.

But opponents have criticised it, saying the money could have been better spent in a country where many live in poverty.

They also argue that it unfairly favoured French companies.

Fourth Committee Approves 19 Draft Resolutions as It Concludes General Debate on Decolonization Questions

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:56


General Assembly Fourth Committee
Seventy-Second Session, 9th Meeting (AM)

Concluding its consideration of decolonization questions today, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved 19 draft resolutions for adoption by the General Assembly, 5 of them by recorded vote.

Taking up the draft resolution titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.114), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 40 abstentions.

By the terms of that draft, the General Assembly would urge administering Powers to effectively safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources. The Assembly would, by other terms, call upon the administering Powers concerned to terminate military activities and eliminate military bases in the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories under their administration, in compliance with the relevant resolutions.

The Committee also approved a draft resolution titled “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.42) by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).

By that text, the General Assembly would request that the administering Powers concerned, in accordance with their Charter obligations, transmit or continue to transmit regularly to the Secretary‑General for information purposes, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories under their respective responsibility, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.

Also requiring a recorded vote was a draft resolution titled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.47). The Committee approved it by a recorded 104 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 50 abstentions.

By its terms, the General Assembly would recommend that all States intensify their efforts, through United Nations specialized agencies and other entities, to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and other relevant resolutions. It would also urge specialized agencies and organizations that had not yet provided assistance to Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible. Further by the text, the Assembly would request that the Secretary‑General continue to assist those agencies and organizations in working out appropriate implementation measures for relevant United Nations resolutions, and to prepare for submission to the relevant bodies a report on the implementation action taken.

Also today, the Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Rwanda, Togo) — a draft resolution titled “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.112).

By that text, the General Assembly would — while stressing the importance of visiting missions of the Special Committee on Decolonization contributing substantially to the dissemination of information on decolonization — request that the Department of Public Information continue its efforts to update web‑based information on assistance programmes available to Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. It would also request that the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Public Information implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Decolonization and continue their efforts through all available media.

Acting without a vote, the Committee also approved draft resolutions on the following individual Non‑Self‑Governing Territories: Gibraltar, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, French Polynesia, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

The Assembly also approved, without a vote, a draft on Western Sahara, by which it would call upon parties and States of the region to cooperate with the Secretary‑General and his Personal Envoy in efforts to resolve the dispute over that Territory. It would also welcome the parties’ commitment to work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations.

Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved a text on offers of study and training for inhabitants of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories.

In other business today, the Committee concluded its general debate on decolonization issues, hearing from representatives of Vanuatu, Botswana, Morocco and Algeria.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 11 October, to begin its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

General Debate

ODO TEVI (Vanuatu) said the fate of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories remained unresolved and expressed hope that their aspirations would be realized in the near future. Concerning New Caledonia, he noted that the proposed referendum on that Territory’s self‑determination under the Nouméa Accord was scheduled to take place in 2018, but 20,000 New Caledonians remained excluded from the electoral roll. On French Polynesia, he said his delegation would like to see it remain on the list of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. Regarding Western Sahara, he said Vanuatu was in full support of the ongoing political process, which was exclusively under the oversight of the United Nations Secretary‑General.

EDGAR SISA (Botswana) expressed regret that despite the Secretary‑General’s efforts to resolve the Western Sahara question, the Sahrawi continued to be denied their inalienable right to self‑determination and independence. Emphasizing the importance of reviving the negotiation process and improving those people’s living conditions, he encouraged all parties to approach the negotiations in a spirit of tolerance, compromise and good faith. He also urged the international community to continue supporting efforts to hold the self‑determination referendum in that Territory, including by creating an environment conducive to the vote.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) called for the General Assembly to stop examining the issue of Western Sahara, thereby allowing his country to conduct the negotiation process leading to a mutually acceptable solution. The question was not one of decolonization, he emphasized, explaining that Morocco’s recovery of its territory from colonial Powers had been gradual and based on negotiated agreements. Recalling that the Frente Polisario had not existed in 1965, he said it thus could not claim any rights over Western Sahara. Algeria had only raised the principle of autonomy in order to prevent Morocco from recovering its territory, he said. General Assembly resolution 1541 stipulated that self‑determination could never apply to a part or region of a sovereign State, and usually applied only to a group that was ethnically and linguistically distinct from the administering State, he recalled. By contrast, Sahara was a geographic continuity of Morocco, Arabic was spoken there, Islam was practised, its culture and traditions were the same, and its tribes were aligned in allegiance to the Moroccan King.

He went on reiterate that Algeria had distorted the principle of self‑determination when it had insisted on a referendum in Western Sahara, pointing out that such a mechanism was not enshrined in General Assembly resolutions 1514 or 1541, and even less in resolution 2625, all of which constituted the cornerstones of that principle. “The option of a referendum is definitively a non‑starter for Sahara,” he emphasized, pointing out that for the past 17 years, the Security Council had decided that a political resolution through dialogue was preferable to a referendum. Regrettably, Morocco’s good faith efforts at negotiations had been met with intransigence by Algeria, which was responsible for the failure of peace efforts to date, he said, adding that Algeria remained opposed to a census in the Tindouf camps. That country must resume its full responsibility and sit at the negotiating table, a view that was shared by several envoys of the Secretary‑General, he said. Contrary to the despair of people in the Tindouf camps, Morocco offered hope in the southern provinces, he added.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said that while his country’s name had been mentioned more than 40 times in the preceding statement, he would speak only about Western Sahara and not Morocco. Citing the United Nations Charter, he said “we tend to forget it, overlook it”, in reference to the need to respect other nations, the right to self‑determination and the right of people to choose their own government. It was with bitterness and frustration that the international community was still debating colonialism in 2017, he said, adding that it was also truly appalling that there were still 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories.

There could be no discussion over the merits of colonialism and domination, he continued, expressing hope that “there is some consciousness being built here”. He asked: “Are we going to celebrate colonialism in 50 years?” Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., he said: “The time is always right to do something right.” No difference of opinion on colonization could legitimately exist, he emphasized, urging the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly to speak up. Colonialism was a man‑made system that must be ended, he declared.

He went on to affirm that the dispute over Western Sahara was indeed a decolonization issue, describing it as the last unsolved question of colonialism in Africa, having been on the Committee’s agenda for more than 54 years. The legal status of Western Sahara “suffers no ambiguity,” he said, recalling that the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice concluded that there were no legal ties between Western Sahara and the two concerned neighbouring countries. All United Nations resolutions adopted by both the General Assembly and the Security Council reaffirmed, continuously and constantly, the legal nature of the conflict, he stressed, also citing various other United Nations and African Union resolutions and decisions on Western Sahara.

Welcoming the appointment of the Secretary‑General’s new Personal Envoy, he reaffirmed his country’s steadfast support for his efforts in moving the negotiating process forward. The African Union remained engaged in efforts to find a solution to the dispute, mobilizing African and United Nations efforts on the negotiating process and stressing the urgent need to address the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara. Algeria remained committed to resolving the dispute, he said, emphasizing that there was no alternative to the United Nations doctrine on decolonization. Quoting José Martí, he declared: “We are free, but not to be evil, not to be indifferent to human suffering.” Addressing the Chair, he added: “I admire your fairness and commitment to treat everyone equally.” He requested that those remarks of praise, made publicly and directly, be noted in the meeting, as the press communiqué had suggested otherwise. “Our words are the ones you have heard and not the ones written,” he said.

Action on Draft Resolutions

Taking up several draft resolutions, the Committee Chair began by noting that, considering recent natural disasters, especially hurricanes, there was concern that the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories in the Caribbean region were not receiving enough attention. He therefore proposed postponing consideration of the draft resolution “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.44), saying the Special Committee wished to discuss the inclusion of additional language to support those Territories given the extraordinary hurricane‑related events. There were no objections to that proposal.

Moving to take action on all 19 remaining draft resolutions, the Committee first approved a text on “Information from Non‑Self‑Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.42) by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in explanation of position, said her country continued to meet its obligations to its overseas Territories but believed that the decision as to whether Non‑Self‑Governing Territories had reached sufficient development for self‑determination was for that Territory and its administering Power and not for the General Assembly.

Taking up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.47), the Committee approved it by a recorded 104 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 50 abstentions.

The representative of the United Kingdom reaffirmed her delegation’s support for specialized agencies in the humanitarian, technology and other fields, but cautioned that the statutes of those agencies must be carefully respected. The United Kingdom had therefore abstained.

The representative of Argentina said the text should have been applied in accordance with the relevant decisions of the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and Special Committee on Decolonization.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.6).

The representative of Cuba, making a general statement, pointed out that only 9 out of 193 Member States had informed the Committee about any of their contributions to the development of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, a matter that Cuba insisted needed greater attention. In addition to its timely response to the request for information, Cuba had sent an update in August, reporting on the numbers of graduates from Western Sahara who had been studying public health and other subjects in the country. Cuba had provided 38 fellowships in various specialities during the current academic year, and in spite of the consequences of the criminal and unjust trade blockade imposed on the country by the United States, the Government was making efforts to contribute further, he said, reiterating the need for greater attention to that subject.

The Committee then approved that draft resolution without a vote.

The Committee then took up the agenda item “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”, containing draft resolutions on each individual Non‑Self‑Governing Territory.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union on Western Sahara, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s commitment to relaunching the negotiating process in accordance with Charter principles, as well as the appointment of his Personal Envoy and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2351 (2017) to relaunch the political process. The parties must demonstrate the political will to enter the new negotiations in good faith and without preconditions, she said, welcoming the return of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to full functionality and urging the international community to provide it with critical resources and funding.

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on the Gibraltar question, expressed great regret that the Special Committee on Decolonization continued its outdated approach, failing to take into account the ways in which the United Kingdom had modernized its relationship with its overseas Territories. Those living there had all freely chosen to retain their link with the United Kingdom, she emphasized.

The Committee then took up the draft resolutions relating to the following individual Territories: Western Sahara (document A/C.4/72/L.5*); Gibraltar (document A/C.4/72/L.7); American Samoa (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.52); Anguilla (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.57); Bermuda (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.61); British Virgin Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.65); Cayman Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.69); French Polynesia (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.73); Montserrat (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.81); Pitcairn (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.91); Saint Helena (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.95); Tokelau (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.99); Turks and Caicos Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.102); and the United States Virgin Islands (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.107).

It approved them all without a vote.

The Chair noted that action on the New Caledonia and Guam draft resolutions had been postponed in order to add statements delivered during the hearing of petitioners, expressing hope that the task would be completed in a timely manner. Going through each draft resolution may seem repetitive, but it was a good method which must remain, he said.

The Committee then took up the draft “Dissemination of information on decolonization” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.112), approving it by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Rwanda, Togo).

The representative of the United Kingdom, in explanation of position, said that placing the obligation to publish decolonization issues on the Secretariat represented an unacceptable drain on United Nations resources.

The representative of Argentina said that, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the text under consideration should be applied according to previous relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Special Committee. All pronouncements on the Malvinas[1] qualified it as a special and particular situation, representing a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom as the only parties. Therefore, the only way to resolve the dispute would be a renewal of bilateral negotiations to reach a fair solution, he emphasized.

Finally, the Committee took up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (document A/72/23, chapter XIII, p.114).

The representative of Australia said his country was a strong supporter of the right of the peoples of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to self‑determination and had consistently supported the draft in previous sessions. Regrettably, however, Australia would now vote against the text because its operative paragraph 14 called for terminating military activities and closing military bases and could not be accepted, he said. Such activities need not contradict the interests of peoples of the Territories, and in many cases they were beneficial, he said, citing the Pacific region, where France, Australia and New Zealand coordinated forces and fought transnational crime and illegal fishing. Australia looked forward to the removal of that language from future iterations of the draft resolution so that it could continue to vote in its favour.

The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Israel, Morocco, United Kingdom, United States), with 40 abstentions.

The representative of the United Kingdom said her country continued to find some elements of the text unacceptable and had again voted against it. Despite that vote, however, the United Kingdom remained committed to modernizing its relationship with its overseas Territories.

The representative of Spain said her country had abstained, but that did not mean it did not support the principle of self‑determination. However, that was not the only relevant principle on decolonization issues, she said, noting that in the case of sovereignty disputes, such as Gibraltar, territorial integrity was also relevant. She added that visiting missions could only be sent to Territories to which the self‑determination principle applied, not where there were sovereignty disputes. Any such mission must be approved by the General Assembly, she stressed.

The representative of Argentina said that visiting missions only proceeded where free determination applied and where there was no dispute over sovereignty, emphasizing that the Special Committee was clear on that matter. Visiting missions must be considered on a case‑by‑case basis and take place in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, he said, emphasizing that if a visiting mission were to take place, it must be approved by the General Assembly.

The representative of Belgium said her country was a strong supporter of the rights of the peoples of Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, and its abstention was due to its concern about operative paragraph 14 on military activities, which were especially important during natural catastrophes.

The representative of the United States spoke in explanation of position on several draft resolutions, saying her delegation was proud to support the right to self‑determination, but the texts under consideration placed too much weight on independence as a one‑size-fits-all option.

The Territories could speak for themselves, he emphasized. In addition, operative paragraph 14 of the draft “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” included an outdated call for the termination of all military activities and bases in Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, she noted. The United States had a right to carry out such activities in its own interest and it was facile to assume that they were incompatible with the rights of the people of those Territories. The long‑standing view of the United States was that the right of self‑determination was to be exercised by the whole people of a Non‑Self‑Governing Territory, not just one part, she said, adding that that right must be consistent with human rights obligations and non‑discrimination as well as universal and equal suffrage.

[1] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.

Spain Loans Morocco 14.3 mln USD For Seawater Desalination Project

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 02:48

Source: Xinhua

Spain has granted Morocco 14.3 million U.S. dollars in loan to finance seawater desalination project, local media reported on Saturday.

The project consists of planning and setting up a factory for seawater desalination, which will supply water to the northeastern provinces of Al Hoceima and Nador, the financial daily L’Economiste pointed out.

The factory will be built by the Spanish company of Tedagua, the same source noted.
Morocco is witnessing an increasing demand for drinking water as the country went through severe drought in 2015.

To ensure the country’s water security, the Moroccan government worked in 2015 a National Water Plan which aims at providing universal access to drinking water, improving the output of drinking water supply networks and water use efficiency.

It also seeks to enhance water storage, boost desalination projects, encourage the reuse of treated wastewater, and the possibility of transferring water from areas having excess to those suffering shortage.

Is A New Civil War Looming Over Algeria?

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 11:04

Global Risks Insights
by Anas Abdoun

A bleak economic outlook and years of falling oil prices have set the stage for popular unrest in Algeria. The country also faces major security challenges, including the presence of terrorist groups, porous borders, and the threat of contagion from neighbouring Libya and Mali.

This GRI Special Report looks at how the situation reached a crisis point, and where it is heading.

The oil crisis

Algeria invested heavily in its oil and gas industry in an effort to grow its exports to Europe, which represent 97% of its export revenues and 60% of the state budget. Then the oil price began to fall on world markets – with devastating consequences. Algiers lost 30% of its total budget, and in 2015 was forced to implement austerity measures for the first time. To soften the blow, the government decided to use the national sovereign fund to balance the budget, but after two more years of low oil prices, the fund has all but dried up.

Making matters worse, Algeria’s oil and gas reserves are nearly exhausted, and production decreases each year. The government tried to buy time by prospecting new oil and gas reserves in 2016. State-owned energy firm Sonatrach claimed to have discovered 32 new potential exploration zones.

However, most new fields are shale gas, located in southern Algeria. Shale gas extraction requires huge quantities of water, in order to perform hydraulic fragmentation. In a country well below the UN water poverty threshold and one of the driest in the world, this is unlikely to be a long-term solution, especially in view of widespread protests.

In the best possible scenario, Algeria could produce gas at current rates until 2030. This gives the country only a little over a decade to find alternative sources to fund 60% of its budget revenue.

From oil crisis to economic crisis

Algeria urgently needs to diversify its economy, but faces a number of obstacles. The gutting of the sovereign wealth fund has curtailed the country’s ability to invest domestically. Algerian private enterprise, marginalised by the state’s focus on the oil sector, suffers from lack of competitiveness. The underdeveloped tourism industry has been labelled as a top-five priority by the government, but continues to stagnate amid insufficient promotion and long-term vision.

Meanwhile, excessive bureaucracy and lack of supportive legislation are a major obstacle to foreign investment, even for large multinational groups. All too often, investment flows to neighbouring Morocco instead. French automotive group Renault, for example, did invest in a small factory in Algeria, but positioned its biggest foreign factory complex in Morocco. Similarly, although Chinese construction companies have taken up a few Algerian public contracts, such as the Great Mosque of Algiers, Morocco is a much more important partner with $10 billion of investment in the ‘Mohamed VI Tangier-Tech’ project alone.

Running out of options

It’s increasingly clear that Algeria is falling behind even its resource-poor neighbours, and that the wealth of the country has been mismanaged by the ruling elite: the Panama Papers scandal revealed the vast scale of corruption between the government and Sonatrach. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ill health has made it even more obvious to Algerians that real power is not in his hands, but shared between the military, the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party, and the DRS secret services.

This has in fact been the case since the independence of the country in 1962. At first, the government derived its legitimacy from its role in the War of Independence; in the 1990s, it buttressed its power using the war against terrorism. With the growth of oil prices in the 2000s, the ruling powers used oil revenues to appease the population’s demands for progress, employment, and social freedoms. During the Arab Spring, Algeria sought to avoid unrest by means of massive redistribution of wealth by the government. And six months ago, when a protest movement arose in Kabylie region against the 2017 budget, the minister of interior announced a $10 billion plan to preserve Algerians’ purchasing power.

But as state coffers grow ever-emptier, the ruling elites are running out of options to contain social unrest. And Algerians have plenty of reasons to be dissatisfied.

A perfect storm

The oil crisis of the 1980’s and the inflation that followed were key contributing factors to the ensuing civil war between the government and Islamic groups, which caused more than 200,000 deaths. All the ingredients that led to civil war in the early 1990s are present in Algeria today: a major economic crisis, the corrupt FLN, Islamic leaders still preaching over corruption, and tribal identity-related tensions.

Indeed, identity issues are generating unprecedented violence, especially in the Kabylie region where the revival of the Amazigh (Berber) legacy is in opposition to the Arab and Muslim identity. Meanwhile, Ali Belhaj, a former leader of the FIS, an Islamist militant group, has increasingly been making public appearances, seemingly with the permission of the authorities. A month ago, when Ali Belhaj visited a mosque in a popular district of the capital Algiers, hundreds of people welcomed him as a hero.

Add to this Algeria’s demographics problem: most of the population is young, with an average age of 27.7 years. Not only are youth more likely to go out into the streets, but importantly, this also means that a large part of the population has no memory of the ‘black decade’ that followed the previous civil war.

The final destabilising element in this situation is the president’s illness, which has led to a power struggle within the elite – a clash of the clans.

Fatal infighting?

There are signs that a clash of clans could be taking place, involving the president’s inner circle, the oligarchs, the secret services (DRS), and the army’s chiefs of staff. To appreciate the implications, it’s essential to understand that the Algerian regime is somewhere between a military dictatorship and a police state with a democratic façade, in which alliances shift and change depending on what interests are at stake.

There are alliances between the military hierarchy and the DRS on the one hand; and the FLN, the world of finance, and powerful elite families on the other. These groupings fight over the embezzlement of billions of dollars in oil revenues, through the collection of hidden commissions on major import and export contracts. This has occasionally come to light, most recently in Italy, where a trial is ongoing over embezzlement involving executives of Sonatrach.

In short, the elites are very likely preoccupied with their own survival, detracting from their ability to address social and economic problems at this critical juncture.

A high-risk period

In a speech this September, Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia stated that from November onwards, the country has no option but to resort to non-conventional funding to be able to pay its civil servants. But he also confirmed that no social welfare will be cut, that pensions will increase, while taxation will remain untouched. What this means is that Algeria will keep the same pace of expenditure, with no increase in income but at the expense of increasing loans. Such policies may lead to a high inflation in the coming two years, and a decline in per capita GDP that would have negative repercussion on households.

Algeria’s stability has thus far rested on two pillars: economic growth from oil revenues, and the reluctance of older generations to relive the traumas of the civil conflict. With these pillars now weakening, Algeria is on the cusp of a high-risk period of instability.

Marrakesh: Why Morocco’s Red City Is The Perfect Springtime Getaway

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 01:59

by Katharina Hahn

Magnificent architecture, foodie treats, top trinkets and SUN

Fancy a spring break with magnificent architecture, foodie treats, a bit of pampering, top trinkets and SUN? Head to Marrakesh, Morocco’s ‘red city’. It may be Africa, but it’s a mere three hours away, so brush up on your school French and pack your (half-empty) bags…

Where to stay

La Mamounia

La Mamounia is still the grandest address in the city – Churchill, Chaplin and Hitchcock stayed there, and you’ve got to visit, even if it’s just for a cocktail in the bar or tea in the beautiful garden. It’s a proper oasis, with gorgeous rooms, a superb spa and soothing views of olive trees.

Other contenders for most stylish hotel include the sumptuous Royal Mansour, owned by King Mohammed VI, no less, with its souk-style riads, or El Fenn, hidden away in the medina, with its dreamy rooftop terrace. Or there’s the newest kid on the block, Jasper Conran’s ravishing Thirties-style L’Hôtel Marrakech. If you’re set on a small riad, opt for tranquil Riad Daria, with its orange-tree-filled yard and pancake breakfasts served to the sound of crowing roosters.

Where to eat

Jemaa el-Fna
Katharina Hahn

All roads lead to Jemaa el-Fna square, the beating heart of Marrakesh’s medina, and it can be daunting, with its snakecharmers, drummers and shouting hawkers. Watch the mayhem from the safe distance of Zeitoun Café’s lantern-adorned terrace and order a pastilla (savoury pastry) with a mocktail – this is a good time for a detox; many restaurants are alcohol-free.

Hidden away in the souks (give Google Maps a challenge) is Riad Dar Tim Tam: think delicate salads, followed by fruit and miniature sweets, in a leafy courtyard.

Café Clock in the Kasbah is not just any old café but a ‘cross-cultural zone’, offering workshops, music and storytelling events as well as rooftop yoga. But you can also simply enjoy a date milkshake – or a camel burger if you’re feeling that way inclined.

What to see

Jardin Majorelle
Katharina Hahn

It may sound touristy, but clip-clopping through the medina in a horse-drawn calèche is a fantastically easy way to see Marrakesh. Afterwards, relax in the gardens of the Koutoubia mosque and breathe in the jasmine-scented air. Make sure you visit Palais Bahia, with its intricately decorated courtyards, and go stork-spotting at El Badi Palace (the birds make their nests on the walls).

The YSL Museum

Don’t miss Jardin Majorelle (expect great photo ops and a long queue), with its bamboo forests, cactuses and striking cobalt-blue villa. Created by the painter Jacques Majorelle, it was later bought by Yves Saint Laurent, and – fashion lovers, rejoice! – the brand-new YSL museum opens on 19 October. Designed by hipster architects Studio KO, the red-brick building mimics the weave of fabric (clever), with an airy interior and all-black (of course) gallery showing Saint Laurent’s most famous designs. There’s a funky café and brilliant book shop too.

What to buy

A souk
Katharina Hahn

It’s not all spices, carpets and magic herbs: the Jardin Majorelle museum shop offers elegant coffee-table books plus tasselled bookmarks, and the nearby 33 Majorelleconcept store will tempt you with homewares with a twist, pouches and poufs and ‘Keep Calm and Eat Tagine’ prints. Also worth checking out are the La Mamounia shop (go for the scented candles) and Ensemble Artisanal, an artisan cooperative: it’s the souks distilled into calmer form, and it has ‘one of everything’ but at fixed prices.

Morocco To Flesh Out On Strategy To Ensure Water Security

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 23:37

News 24

The Moroccan government has set up a ministerial commission to elaborate on a strategy ensuring the country’s water security.

Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani said on Thursday during a government meeting in Rabat “the issue of water is now a strategic issue for the government”.

The commission, created at the request of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, will start work next week.

In recent months, residents of several villages in Morocco have organised demonstrations to protest against the difficulty of accessing drinking water, the delays experienced by some water supply projects or the poor quality of the water.

Droughts in Morocco also push rural populations toward the cities each year.

The Moroccan government has been involved for several years in the creation of dams, wastewater treatment plants and desalination plants.