Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jazz in the Chellah - 22nd Edition

Rabat's, Jazz au Chellah, is back from the 28th of September to October 1st, bringing together European jazzmen and Moroccan musicians from diverse backgrounds, in a magical setting

During this 22nd edition, artists from Austria and Spain will open the festival on Thursday the 28th of September with Vicens Martín Dream Big Band, followed by Shake Stew, an Austrian group of seven musicians. The group will be joined by Nabyla Maan, for an unforgettable encounter that should set the tone for this event.

The second day, Denmark and the BeNeLux countries will be represented by two unique musical experiences. In the early evening, Mathias Heise Quadrillon will perform with his FuRo Jazz, a fusion jazz of Rock and Funk. In the second part of the evening, Dock In Absolute, a Belgian-Luxemburg trio, will push the limits of jazz with a new progressive approach presented by a trio of virtuosos. Their piano, their percussions and their bass will be enriched by the saxophone of the talented Axel Camil and the Moroccan percussions of Mohamed Amine Bliha, for a Moroccan-European fusion.

Dalindeo - the Helsinki based Finnish group

The third evening will be dedicated to the extremities of Europe. Dalindeo, a Finnish jazz group, described as "a delirious mix of surf punk, hot jazz, Finnish tango with a touch of Ennio Morricone", will create a psychedelic journey carried by its six talented musicians. Finland will then give the stage to a Portuguese trio Maria João,  in a surprising marriage between traditional Portuguese music and electronic music, with an encounter with the talent of Moroccan multi-instrumentalist M'hamed El Menjra.

The closing Sunday, October 1st,  is a true epic throughout the world, a whirlwind of the senses from Germany to Egypt. Gregory Gaynair Trio will bring a resolutely human and brilliant touch to modern jazz followed by the Egyptian group Eftekasat, offering an oriental, enchanting and engaging jazz, integrating Balkan, African and Latin influences. The last meeting promises sparks with the Tagnaouite influence of the guembri of Asmaa Hamzaoui & Bnatt Timbouktou. A merger between Morocco, Europe and the Afro-Mediterranean space that will mark this end of edition.

Also on the sidelines of this cultural event are Masterclasses, 4 free concerts at the Bab Mrissa stage in Salé, as well as other surprises.

Since its creation in 1996, Jazz au Chellah has presented to the public a living showcase of jazz from the European Union. These unique concerts are not limited to the festival, but sometimes give rise to musical projects and new musical collaborations between the artists.


Monday, September 25, 2017

From Smart Phones to Short Films

Students at the American Language Center in Fez have moved from watching movies to also making them. Suzanna Clarke reports

On Saturday September 23, a premiere was held at the ALC, showing four short films made by students using their smart phones. Three were dramas, and one was a comedy.

“I want you to make your own movies,” said teacher Jamal Morelli. “There are four horror films being made, so I encourage you to get involved.”

With mainstream directors like Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) regularly using an iPhone to shoot his films and video clips, and film festivals such as Sundance showcasing films like Tangerine, shot entirely on phones, the democratisation of film-making is now a reality. With a knowledge of basic film technique, judicious editing and new apps, as well as vision and determination, the art form is within the realm of anyone with a smartphone.

The results of yesterday’s ALC Film Premiere were mixed - but what the students lacked in professionalism they made up for with enthusiasm.

Directed by Simo Ouzzani, the short film Beneath the Black Veil was preceded by a lively discussion among the students on the nature of terrorism. The film followed a personal journey into the motivations of a female suicide bomber.

Other films included The Janitor, about a young man who is forced to take on paid work to support his family, but who still succeeds in pursuing his dream of an education; a film about the process of making a film, Room 6, and Me and I, a contemporary Moroccan comedy which used slapstick and other classic comic traditions to the great enjoyment of the audience.

Amine Wali Alami worked on Me and I. "With this project I did about forty per cent of the direction, thirty per cent of the script writing and all the editing. I got lots of experience, especially in editing and shooting. I learned tricks about transitions, sound, team work and shooting conditions. It was absolutely amazing and fun. Would I try it again? Hell yeah!"

Amine and his team are planning a sequel to Me and I. He is also working on a horror movie and a documentary about heavy metal music in Morocco.

Between the films were brief performances by students - two sang, one did a skilful vocal percussion number, producing up to seven sounds simultaneously using only his mouth, another did a couple of Hip Hop dances, and one young man, Oussama Hasni, gave an edgy standup comedy performance.

Oussama Hasni delivers the comic touch 

The Film Premiere was reminiscent of the early days of films, when silent movies and variety shows were seen by the same audience.

The students were clearly engaged and motivated; keen to develop their filmmaking and English speaking skills. And despite being a little rough around the edges, there was real talent in the room.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Shisha Crackdown in Meknes

The Mayor of Meknes has made a bold move in his struggle against the growth of  hookah cafes which have sprung up around the city. For now, tourists may find it difficult to find a venue for enjoying shisha.

In the latest raids 100 shisha cafes have been ordered to close their doors until further notice. Crowds of local people were astonished to see, not only the closing of their favourite cafes, but also  the arrest of many customers, managers and waiters.

The businesses targeted were all located in the city centre in the busy area of ​​Al Hamria. Other areas of the city have been told to expect similar raids as officials want to eradicate the shisha industry in Meknes.

Other cities in the country may be less keen to follow the example of Meknes as the smoking of shisha is popular with tourists. However, Meknes authorities are resolute in their drive to wipe out shisha as they believe it exposes adolescents to crime and prostitution and to a significant and dangerous trend of out-of-school education.

Tourism operators are not concerned and offer the shisha experience to their clients. Many tourist websites claim shisha is part of the experience of Morocco. Some have guides to the etiquette of shisha smoking.
"When visiting another country, engaging in some of the more unique local practices is something you should try out. While in the mystical city of Marrakesh, taking part in a shisha-smoking session will let you experience an ancient communal event and appreciate the culture of Morocco a little better." - Canadian Traveller.com


Thursday, September 21, 2017

This Friday - Have a Happy Islamic New Year 1439!

The Islamic New Year or Hijri New Year (Arabic: رأس السنة الهجرية‎‎ Raʼs al-Sanah al-Hijrīyah) is the day that marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year, and is the day on which the year count is incremented. The first day of the year is observed on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.

The first Islamic year begans in 622 AD with the emigration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. All religious duties, such as prayer, fasting in the month of Ramadan, and pilgrimage, and the dates of significant events, such as celebration of holy nights and festivals, are calculated according to the lunar calendar.

Morocco's Ministry of Habous and Islamic Affairs says the new year of Hegira 1439 will be Friday, September 22

To all our readers - Happy New Year!


"Starting School" - Photography Session

The ALIF-ALC Photography Club will be documenting the beginning of the school year with primary school students.

Starting School will focus on the photography of children and exploring their world. After photographing local students and their environment, the American Language Center will provide free prints as gifts to the future generation.

As always, everyone is welcome to join in.

Starting School
Saturday, 23 September at 10:30 AM
Meet in front of Batha Fountain


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"The Fall of the Angels" Exhibition in Fez

The painter Hanae El Ouadghiry's exhibition  is showing at the French Institute in Fez until the end of September. It is well worth a visit

The artist's exhibition, entitled "the fall of the angels", ventures through a skilful mixture of forms and colours in a quest for a dream world that settles on the canvas.

The colours printed of her pictures are traversed by brutal gestures and sometimes by the sweetness of an unacknowledged wound, a bitterness retained.

A certain bitterness which comes back in the artist's words, which confers that the choice of "the fall of the angels" as a title assumes, of course, a purely figurative meaning, but nevertheless refers to "a departure, a sadness, a bitterness, a wound hardly concealed in works."
"I claim the silence of the work to the violent contact with the sounds of this world" -Hanae El Ouadghiry.
The round form of her paintings, a dozen in total, refers, according to her, to time and the vagaries of life's sensations.

Christophe Steyer, director of the French institute in Fez,  says that "even if the artist says humbly that she has nothing to say, she expresses so many feelings. Her pictorial work has many things to express through the explosive nature of works, by this very violence of the gesture that it transmits to us."

After participating in exhibitions both in Morocco and abroad, "the fall of the angels" is the first of Hanae El Ouadghiri at the French institute of Fez. It took two years of work to produce.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Portugal to Fez with TAP

Starting today TAP is adding flights to yet another destination in Morocco to its route network

The city of Fez is located in one of the most exotic and attractive parts of Morocco, with the added advantage of its proximity to tourist hotspot Meknès. It is now the fourth Moroccan city the Airline flies to.

Commencing 30 October, TAP will offer six weekly flights to this destination during the IATA winter season, with daily flights by summer 2018.

Direct flights between Lisbon and Fez will run using ATR-72 aircraft with a capacity for 70 passengers, Monday to Saturday, leaving Lisbon at 14:00 and returning from Fez at 16:35, with daily flights starting from the 2018 IATA summer season onwards.

In 2016, TAP carried approximately 110 thousand passengers to Morocco – Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier – while between January and June this year it has enjoyed an annual growth thus far of more than 200 per cent over the entirety of Moroccan routes. By adding Fez to the route map, TAP foresees an increase its capacity to Morocco of around 20 per cent.

If your final destination is neither Lisbon nor Porto, passengers can also take advantage of the Portugal Stopover program on their way out or during their return flight, stopping in Portugal for one, two or three nights for no additional charge to their fare. Since its launch in summer 2016 until the end of last July, almost 70 thousand passengers have already made the most of this offer provided by the Airline, and with these new destinations numbers are expected to rise even further.

The addition of Fez to TAP’s route network is expected to consolidate its strategic positioning on the African continent, which continues to be one of the major investments of the Company. Now with flights to Fez, TAP will fly to 17 destinations in 11 African countries, four of which in Morocco. In total, TAP’s global network includes 85 destinations in 35 countries.


Fez Tourism On the Increase Again

Tourism activity in Morocco has maintained the pace of growth that began at the beginning of the year, with an increase of 8% in arrivals of tourists at border posts during the first seven months of 2017. Fez has done particularly well

Chinese tourist numbers have grown by 406%

The Ministry of Tourism reports that the volume of foreign tourist arrivals increased by 13.5% while Moroccans resident abroad increased by 3%.

The main markets of the Kingdom continue to show strong growth, particularly Germany (+ 11%), the Netherlands (7%), Spain (+ 6%) and Italy (+ 6%). Emerging tourism markets also maintained their upward trend with + 406% for China , + 46% for Japan, + 44% for South Korea, + 23% for the United States and + 47% for Brazil.

The same positive trend is reflected in the number of tourist nights spent in classified tourist accommodation establishments which was up 17% compared with the end of July 2016 (+ 21% for non-resident tourists and + 9% for residents). This rise in overnight stays has affected all destinations in the Kingdom.

Fez has done particularly well with an increase of 38%. Tangier tourism showed a growth of 26%. Marrakech and Agadir maintained their development and recorded an increase of + 20% and + 16% respectively.

Similarly, foreign tourism receipts reached DH 34.4 billion at the end of July 2017 , an increase of 4.3% compared with the same period of the previous year.

The  number of Brazilian tourists is set to increase due to exposure on Brazilian television. The GNT channel has just finished filming a documentary in Fez. One of the producers told The View From Fez that it will be shown early next year.

This filming was assisted by the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) and supervised by the Agency for the Development and Rehabilitation of the City of Fez (ADER), as part of the tourism and cultural promotion of Morocco's spiritual and cultural capital.

The hour long TV programme,  Pedro Pelo Mundo, examines the tourist attractions, culture, traditions, customs and gastronomy of various international destinations. It has an audience of more than 13 million Brazilian homes and more than 32 million viewers.

A Sufi Ceremony was also filmed

The Brazilian television team filmed the Chouara tanneries, the Jnan Sbil gardens, the Mellah, the Al Attarine medersa, the Al Qaraouiyine library, the Mérinides necropolis and Bab Boujloud. In addition they filmed a Sufi performance at Riad Zany. (See story here)

Besides the tourist sites, Brazilian viewers will discover local aspects of the art of living, gastronomy, music and the genius of Fez's master craftsmen.

Presented by a famous Brazilian journalist, Pedro Andrade, the show has already covered a number of international destinations, including Egypt, Iceland, Greece, Denmark, Cuba, Singapore, Oman, Japan, Germany, Portugal.