Monday, February 20, 2017

Earthquake Hits Agadir

This morning Agadir was shaken by a low intensity magnitude earthquake. The earthquake, measuring 4.5 degrees on the Richter scale, shook the outskirts of Agadir but first reports say there was no material damage and no injuries

The quake, which only lasted for three seconds, was reportedly felt by residents of Agadir’s Chtouka Ait Baha region, while the government-run National Institute of Geophysics issued a statement putting the earthquake’s epicentre in the region of Ait Amira.

According to local media, residents of the area vacated their homes on Monday morning after feeling the tremors, fearing something as destructive as Agadir's 1960 earthquake.

Agadir 1960

The 1960 Agadir earthquake occurred on the 29th of February at 23:40 Western European Time (UTC+00:00). Despite the earthquake's moderate magnitude of 5.7, its maximum perceived intensity was X (Extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale. Between 12,000 and 15,000 people (about a third of the city's population of the time) were killed and another 12,000 injured with at least 35,000 people left homeless, making it the most destructive and deadliest earthquake in Moroccan history. Particularly hard hit was the Talbordjt area. The earthquake's shallow focus, close proximity to the port city of Agadir, and unsatisfactory construction methods were all reasons declared by earthquake engineers and seismologists as to why it was so destructive.

In 2014, Agadir was hit by a similar low-intensity earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stolen Italian Artwork Recovered in Casablanca

The art world has welcomed the recovery of a priceless Italian art work by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as  Guercino. To the surprise of many, it was discovered, not in Rome, Paris or New York, but in Casablanca

The work by Guercino, "Madonna with Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory Healer" (1639), an oil on canvas of three meters high and almost two in width, was stolen on August the 12th, 2014, from the church of San Vincenzo in corso Canalgrande in the Italian city of Modena.

At the time of the theft, the parish priest, Don Giovanni Gherardi said it was..."the most precious picture and that we have had here since the church was built".

The initial theory was that the painting had been stolen on commission. The church of San Vincenzo is located a few steps from the Modena Court. The prosecutor,  on-site scientific police and the examining magistrate, put forward the hypotheses that as the door of the church was not damaged the thieves had been hiding in the church before closing. The Church of San Vincenzo is not a parish, and therefore is not open all week; was closed Sunday evening, after Mass, so the thieves were able to act undisturbed and left no trace.

Immediately after the discovery of the theft of the painting in Modena, there was a worldwide alarm in the hope of finding what is widely considered a masterpiece of Italian art.

Detail from the painting

Italian art critic, Vittorio Sgarbi, estimated that the painting was worth possibly five million to six million Euro and was "a monumental work of early maturity".  At the time, Sgarbi described it as sensational theft, and suggested it wast also inexplicable, since it is a work that is virtually unsellable. "There can not be a customer, no museum and no private collector who would ever buy it" he said "I think this theft can only be the work of a band of unsuspecting foreigners, people who do not know anything about the laws of the market and maybe think to ask for a ransom. "

It seems that Vittorio Sgarbi was correct, for the stolen painting was offered for sale to a Moroccan businessman by three fences, who asked for 10 million dirhams (about 940,000 euro). Fortunately, the businessman recognised Guercino's masterpiece and immediately alerted the police, who arrested the fake art dealers. One of the Moroccan's arrested has lived in Italy for a number of years,


Morocco - Africa's #1 Fish Producer

With its two maritime, Mediterranean and Atlantic seaboards, a coastline stretching over 3,500 kilometres and a maritime area of ​​about 1.2 million square kilometres, reputed to be among the most fish-rich areas in the world, Morocco has a very important fishing heritage

According to a report published recently by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Morocco has some 110,000 fishermen and aquaculturists. With $ 1.59 billion of export revenue, Morocco ranks first among fish producers in Africa and 17th worldwide, according to the National Fisheries Board (ONP).

Moroccan fishermen recorded catches of more than 1.35 million tonnes last year. It is the world's top sardine producer and, along with China and Mauritania, one of the top 3 exporters of octopus in the world.

Morocco, is holding the 4th edition of the industry forum, Halieutis Salon, (15-19 February) in Agadir.

The fisheries sector occupies an important place in the economy of Morocco. With catches of over 1 million tonnes, it accounts for between 2 and 3% of GDP, and generates close to 700 000 direct and indirect jobs. Moroccan exports of seafood accounted for nearly $ 1.59 billion, contributing 58% of agri-food exports. The sector's turnover has grown at an average annual rate of 5% since 2001.

Fact File: Production is...
  • 95% by 1,800 inshore fishing vessels and 14,000 small craft boats;
  • 5% by the offshore fleet of 356 vessels;
  • 2% by other activities.
The national production resulting from the landings of the inshore and artisanal fisheries is destined for:
  • 80% to supply the seafood processing industry with 305 units ashore.
  • 20% to the supply of fresh produce to the local market.
The seafood processing and processing industry gives birth to various processed products:
  • The canned goods ;
  • Semi-preserves;
  • Frozen products;
  • Fresh fish;
  • Flour and fish oil.
This industry accounts for 50% of Morocco's agro-food exports, ie 7% of its total exports in value terms.


International Festival of Nomads - 16th to 18th March

Morocco is famous for its many unique festivals but one in particular is not to be missed - the International Festival of Nomads

An open-air event in harmony with nature and with the nomads' world, the International Festival of Nomads is a forum for freely expressing and exchanging ideas in a friendly environment, showcasing a civilisation of children, women and men with a strong cultural identity of the values ​​and wisdom that are the legacy of their ancestors.

Various cultural activities highlight the tangible and intangible heritage of the nomadic tribes and contributing to preserving their cultural identity. Economic and social solutions are presented during the conferences and workshops, to encourage collective and associative initiatives and open new opportunities to local development.

Set in a colourful and exotic setting, the 14th Nomads Festival will be once again a great meeting of nomadic cultures, an exploration for the visitors and a model for the younger generations, who have an opportunity to open up to new borders while preserving their traditions .

An ode to the discovery of another culture and to the familiarisation of the history of the Saharan nomads, the festival was initiated by the Association Nomades du Monde,  thanks to the vision of its director Noureddine Bougrab. This Arabic teacher had the primary goal of "involving young people" in this adventure.

The event, which is free and citizen-oriented, allows for "three days of music, debates, games, dromedary races, gastronomy and crafts that make the whole region live" Life and to bring it closer to this way of life, the same source said.

Thursday 16, Friday 17 and Saturday 18 March 2017, the public is invited to M'Hamid El Ghizlane, in the province of Zagora to join this most musical celebration. Indeed, this edition will be marked by the participation of Tuareg guitarist Bombino and the Malian group Terakaft, among others. The kingdom will be represented by the legendary group Nass El Ghiwane, the rising star of the Gnawas Mehdi Nassouli, the Sahrawi diva Saïda Charaf, the rocker Mohamed Jbara as well as the traditional dancers of Ahwach de Ouarzazate.

During the festival there will be three days of conferences, round tables and workshops are offered on various subjects: nomadism, heritage, flora, fauna, agriculture, environmental protection, economy, health and education.

The culinary art is present through one of the essential preparations in the desert: sand bread (mella).

And there is sport, with a demonstration of nomadic hockey and a camel race called "ellaz".

sand bread preparation

M'hamid El Ghizlane ("the plain of gazelles"), the last village before the vast expanses of the Sahara, is a rural municipality of the Zagora province, in the southern Drâa - Tafilalet region. It is located at the end of the N9 road, after Tamegroute, and it shares its southern border with Algeria.

An ancient cultural crossroads - its territory used to be a stop for trans-Saharan traders - M'hamid El Ghizlane is part of a nomadic area. With its little adobe shacks made of mud or clay bricks, the little ocher village seems to come right out of sand.

The climate is dry, with high temperatures in the summer, and cool in winter. The landscape is arid. Due to the land's barrenness and dryness, and the shifting national borders, a great number of nomads have abandoned their itinerant lifestyle. However, the people of M'hamid treasure the traditions of their ancient lifestyle, and preserve the noble legacy of their ancestors.

M'hamid El Ghizlane is sheltered in a palm grove stretching for 16 km along the river Drâa (oued Drâa). One of the banks is M'hamid Bali, the old town, which holds an important kasbah. On the other side, M'hamid Jdid, (the new village), offers essential facilities: groceries, craft shops, cafes, restaurants, family hotels and tourist agencies.

The legendary Nass El Ghiwane will perform at the festival 

Every Monday there is a souk, an opportunity to see the famous "blue men", desert camel-herders, and to buy local products, bathed in the colours and fragrances of these goods.

Getting there is easy. M'hamid El Ghizlane is accessible from the international airport of Ouarzazate and then by road to Zagora. There are rental cars at the airport or in town. Local transport is available with regular bus connections. The CTM (Compagnie des Transports du Maroc) is present in all bus stations

For accommodation, visitors can choose between different categories of hotels, riads, guesthouses or desert camps. M'hamid El Ghizlane has established itself as the main departure point for desert excursions, especially to the dunes of Erg Lehoudi and Erg Chegaga.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Electric Blues in Fez - Free Concert Thursday

Teri & The Electric Blues Parade in Concert! Thursday, February 16 at 7 PM - ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Batha

Singer songwriter and guitar vocalist Teri has a versatility that enables her to sing in an acoustic setting with her rich soothing vocal style, but is also at ease belting out songs in an almost 'Joplinesque' manner.

The Electric Blues Parade feature a selection of musicians from across Lancashire, England with a wealth of experience between them. With guitarist Tom Vernon and drummer Tony Harisson alongside Gary Ward on bass, the band brings to the table a mutual love of psychedelic blues rock, space funk and dub soul.

As well as Teri's well crafted self-penned arrangements, Teri & The Electric Blues Parade draw influence from the era when the blues became psychedelic: The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, and Janis Joplin.

This concert, organized by the ALC-ALIF Music Club, is free and open to the general public.