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FOM Newsletter January 2004
Morocco Week in Review 
January  31 2004

Morocco-US FTA Shall Accommodate Economic and Social Implications, Moroccan Chief Negotiator
FTA with USA Implies Same Copyright Conditions as WTO, Moroccan Official
Police break up Morocco protest against trade deal.
Government Spokesman Deplores False Ideas about Free-Trade Agreement with USA
US Ambassador Underscores importance of Morocco-US FTA
Morocco, WHO Sign 2004-2005 Cooperation Programme.
Generalizing Primary Education is Morocco's Priority for 2004-2005 academic year
US-Financed Program on Elimination of Child Labour Launched
Islam Not Contradictory with Space Exploration, Says Moroccan Scientist in NASA
Morocco enters new era in gender equality
Prime Minister Dedicates Premises of New Family Jurisdiction
Creation of Amazigh culture institute not meant to contain Moroccan Amazigh culture, institution rector
Morocco Bans Import from Bird Flu-Infected Countries
EU Allocates 79 Mln Euros for Moroccan Administration Reform, EU Official.
Morocco decides to have trial court for corrupt ministers and civil servants
Morocco holds two 'most wanted'.
35 suspected extremists nabbed in Morocco: Policeman, Muslim fundamentalist killed when police raid villages of Ain Lahjar, Ain Chebbik near Meknes
New Mars rock hints at past water
World Cup 2010: Moroccan Banks Allocate US $1 million to Promote Morocco's Bid
Morocco: On a dream and a prayer
Moroccan Government, Jet Air Company Sign Partnership Convention
Morocco's Electricity Demand Hits Record in 2003
Alcohol ads raise more important issue of press financing, says minister
Three New Economical Cars to be Sold in Morocco
Casablanca Bids for 2009 World Championship in Athletics
Morocco to Host Information Technology Expo
Official Opening of Moroccan Pavilion in Global Village

Morocco-US FTA Shall Accommodate Economic and Social Implications, Moroccan Chief Negotiator
RABAT, Jan.28 - The Morocco-US free-trade agreement, currently being negotiated, will be drafted according to a comprehensive vision that takes
into consideration its economic and social consequences, said on Tuesday Moroccan delegated minister on Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Taib Fassi Fihri.

Answering an oral question at the chamber of advisors (upper parliamentary chamber), on the consequences of the free-trade agreement, Fihri, who is serving as Morocco's chief negotiator for the FTA with the USA, said negotiations have reached an advanced stage in numerous sectors.
Negotiations on sectors which have social and economic consequences, such as agriculture, textile, intellectual property concerning generic medicine, reached a decisive stage in the last months, Fassi Fihri added.

The minister underlined that the US approval of Morocco's request to create a special negotiation group for agriculture represents an asset, given that similar free-trade negotiations previously held between the USA and other countries were based on the general principle of "market access".

Concerning cereals, meat and poultry, negotiations are based on the gradual and limited enforcement of privileged treatment, said Fassi Fihri, focusing on the need for long-enough transition periods for these products, in addition to technical support arrangements and appropriate protection and commercial measures to prevent any negative impact on national production.

The minister added that Morocco, as a cereal importing country, is only negotiating preferential conditions that would be granted to the USA as part of the annual importation target, in order to protect national production and Moroccan farmers income.

Fassi Fihri also noted that means to assure the commercialization of fresh or processed agricultural products are currently being examined in order to benefit from the removal of customs duties on national products, which will allow producers to face several constraints, such as transportation costs.

Concerning sea products, the minister stated that these products would benefit from free access to the American market, knowing that this
preferential treatment is only granted to a few countries whose products do not, apparently, compete with Moroccan canned products.
© MAP 2004 http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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FTA with USA Implies Same Copyright Conditions as WTO, Moroccan Official
RABAT, Jan.28 - The Morocco-US free trade agreement, currently being negotiated, implies the same provisions on intellectual property as the
World Trade Organization's, said here on Tuesday Taib Fassi Fihri, minister delegate for foreign affairs and cooperation and Moroccan chief negotiator with the USA.

Talking to the chamber of advisors (parliament's upper chamber), the official said Morocco is bound by the WTO agreements on medicine patents and by its domestic law that sets maximum duration for the patent at 20 years. The kingdom is also bound by the pre-condition to protect for five years information before medicine marketing authorization.

He went on that the free trade agreement with the USA, scheduled to be signed this year, does not contain any new conditions compared to Morocco's commitments vis-à-vis the world trade organization.

Regarding the trade of services, the Moroccan chief negotiator voiced Morocco's resolve to protect the present and future level of the national
sector of services (financial services such as insurance, banking and stock exchange services, and telecom, culture, tourism, transport and energy
services). He went on that Moroccan negotiators are endeavoring to leave considerable margin to legislation and regulation in the sector of services, while keeping up the present level of liberalization. He also assured that Moroccan negotiations are trying to tap on the opportunities offered by the agreement and contain any potential negative effects.

He further responded to the advisors' worries on effects of the FTA with the USA on the Moroccan economy that the agreement would open promising perspectives to Moroccan industrial goods, especially those that face high customs duties in the USA.  MAP 2004 http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Police break up Morocco protest against trade deal.
RABAT, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Moroccan police armed with truncheons on Wednesday broke up a sit-in by protesters opposed to a free trade deal with the United States which they say could hurt the North African country's most vulnerable people.  One of the around 300 demonstrators at a parliament building in the capital Rabat lost consciousness after he was beaten by police who moved in to disperse the protest shortly after it began, witnesses said.  Police and interior ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

The U.S.-Moroccan Free Trade Agreement, still under negotiation, is expected to be signed in the next few months. Moroccan farmers have voiced fears that a flood of cheap American imports could undermine the agricultural sector which employs around half of the population.  Pharmaceutical firms and health groups have said the deal would drive up drug costs for the majority of Moroccans. Cultural groups are concerned about the protection of Moroccan traditions.  A spokesman for the country's main independent human rights group AMDH said its chief, Abdelhamid Amine, lost consciousness for 15 minutes after being beaten by police. It was not immediately clear if police had authorized the protest. The spokesman said the protesters did not need prior permission as the sit-in did "not threaten public order".  Morocco has already embarked on a 12-year gradual free trade accord with the European Union that will reach maturity in 2012.
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L28314244.htm
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Government Spokesman Deplores False Ideas about Free-Trade Agreement with USA
RABAT, Jan.29 - Morocco's communication minister, Nabil Benabdellah, deplored on Thursday the "false ideas being circulated" about the free-trade
agreement (FTA) that Morocco is currently negotiating with the USA. 

Asked about a demo by a group of artists, cultural figures and human rights militants to protest "repercussions" of the FTA, Benabdellah, who is also spokesman of the government, told reporters after the government weekly meeting the agreement should not be a source of concern and its (negative) effects on Morocco should not be exaggerated.

He went that the Moroccan negotiators are keen on protecting Morocco's rights and interests.

The protests are expressed by a small minority of persons, said Benabdellah who also recalled that the government is conducting regular consultations on the FTA with various interested sectors. As these sectors become more organized, consultations will become easier, he insisted, stressing that the Moroccan negotiators team has not given in an iota of national interests.

Regarding fears about the Moroccan audio-visual and cultural sector, he explained that the Moroccan negotiators have made it clear that subsidies to national production will be maintained and provisions on the encouragement and protection of audio-visual production stipulated in the draft law on the audio-visual sector will be applied. He also explained that as far as pharmaceutical industry is concerned, the problem concerns production that does not abide by the standards of copyright and that it is impossible to defend some points that run counter to international agreements.

Meanwhile, he went on, there are no protest from the agriculture sector which is well-organized. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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US Ambassador Underscores importance of Morocco-US FTA
RABAT, Jan.28 - US ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Riley, stressed here on Tuesday how the signing of a free trade agreement between Morocco and the USA will usher in a new process for the development of economic exchanges between the two countries.

The US diplomat told the Moroccan TV channel "TVM" the agreement, scheduled to be signed this year, would also promote investments and consolidate Morocco-US friendship bonds.

Riley stressed that the visit to Washington by prime minister Driss Jettou, early this month, has allowed considerable headway and enabled to overcome obstacles mainly those related to agriculture.

Since the plan to conclude an FTA was first announced in April 2002 during the visit by HM King Mohammed VI to the USA, Moroccan and US negotiators have held since January 2003 six rounds of negotiations in Washington and Rabat.

Last week, Assistant US representative for trade and US chief negotiator, Catherine Novelli, said she was convinced that the FTA will be submitted to Congress this year for approval.

Novelli who voiced hope that talks on the agreement will be over next month said talks with Morocco are at an advanced stage in several sectors and after the settlement of some minor details.  © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/news/politics/pol_019.htm
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Morocco, WHO Sign 2004-2005 Cooperation Programme.
RABAT, Jan.28 - Morocco and the World Health Organization (WHO) signed here on Tuesday, the 2004-2005 cooperation programme intended for improving the Moroccan population's health situation and the performance of the Moroccan health system.

The programme, part of the broader scheme of sustained human development and Morocco's commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Objectives, was signed by the Moroccan health minister, Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah, and the WHO representative in Morocco, Raouf Benammar.

The programme aims, primarily, at improving the planning and orientation capacities of the Moroccan health policy in order to provide useful data
necessary for decision-making. Priority will be given to actions permitting the assessment of the health situation, the performance of the health system and the control of supply. 

Morocco and WHO cooperation will be building on 50 years of cooperation through the continuation of vaccination and anti-tuberculosis and
anti-malaria programs.

Under the two-year program, WHO will be helping in enhancing the health ministry's priority programmes, mainly epidemiological surveillance,
maternal health, safe maternity, AIDS/STD programs and the elaboration of national response to emerging problems.

Under the program, the UN specialized organization will enhance Morocco's decentralization of health care systems, health care accessibility, the
reorganization of health services and improving healthcare for child diseases. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/news/economy/eco_2111.htm
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Generalizing Primary Education is Morocco's Priority for 2004-2005 academic year
RABAT, Jan.28 - Moroccan minister of national education and Youth, Habib El Malki, called here on Tuesday for making the generalization of primary education the main goal of 2004-2005 academic year.

Addressing a coordination meeting of the regional education and training academies' directors and the ministry's regional delegates, El Malki said that the "general guidelines set up for the next academic year consist in endeavouring to build on achievements in primary education and mobilizing for its generalization", calling the audience to draw lessons from the current academic year, which he considered "acceptable", in order to fulfil
next year's objectives.

Other general guidelines for the next academic year, that start on September 8, 2004, also include upgrading secondary education, enforcing the reforms of professional training at secondary schools, to be launched in the 2005-2006 academic year and implementing measures for the prevention of school abandonment, a serious handicap to the success of the education and training reforms, said the minister.

Besides, it has been decided to raise the schooling rate to 95% for the 6-11 age bracket and 78% for children aged from 12 to 14 years old, said El Malki, stressing the need for coordination between the regional academies and the central administration.

Regarding the improvement of education quality, the minister recalled the agreements signed with "Maroc Telecom" and the secretariat of state in charge of vocational training in addition to the creation of a "training coordination council". Equally, the education department is working, jointly with the communication ministry, on the project of an educational TV channel. In this respect, a special commission was set up to draft the project legal framework and means of implementation. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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US-Financed Program on Elimination of Child Labour Launched
RABAT, Jan.27- The International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), a program for which the USA earmarked US$ 2 million, was launched here this Tuesday during a seminar in Rabat under the theme "Fighting Child Labour Through the Creation of a favourable national environment and direct actions in rural zones".

Part of Morocco-US free trade agreement negotiations, the USA extended Morocco US$ 2 million for the program that will be carried out in partnership with the International Labour Office (ILO) and the Moroccan government.

The three-year long programme aims at consolidating national mobilization, conducting direct actions in rural areas for the benefit of 5,000 children, who suffer from the worst forms of child labour in 40 villages in the Gharb (west) and Taroudant (south) regions, and setting up a control and follow-up program.

In Morocco, a rural child is 6 times more exposed to labour than an urban child. A rate of 84 pc of rural children work in agriculture, 96 pc of which work for their family, according to a nationwide enquiry on labour conducted in 2000.

The new labour law, recently adopted by the parliament, introduced several innovations concerning child labour, such as the prohibition of labour for children aged under 15, said Moroccan Employment social Affairs and Solidarity Minister, Mustapha Mansouri.

"Morocco can count on the American people's help in this noble cause", said US ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Riley, hailing the launching of this programme, which is the second one of the kind financed by the USA in Morocco. The first Morocco-US agreement, worth 3 million dollars, was signed last October to provide children working as maids with education.

The US ambassador also hailed the decision to teach Amazigh Language in more than 300 elementary schools, as an initiative that will reduce the rate of school drop among Berber children. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Islam Not Contradictory with Space Exploration, Says Moroccan Scientist in NASA
WASHINGTON, Jan.29 - Islam is not contradictory with universe exploration but, rather, calls for the quest of knowledge, scientific research and opening towards other cultures and religions, said Kamal Oudghiri, a Moroccan scientist who is a member of the NASA (National American Space Agency) team that supervised the landing of the American rovers Opportunity and Spirit on Mars.

It is on the basis of this conviction that I am permanently motivated by my work, the telecommunications engineer told MAP correspondent in Washington.  When you plan for a specified objective and you carry on your efforts, success is certain, thanks to God, stated Oudghiri.

Concerning the space mission, he explained that its main aim is to find evidence to the existence of water, and consequently the presence of a form of life on the Red Planet. He went on that the successful landing of the two rovers on two different spots, previously chosen by NASA will be vital in Mars soil analysis, as it may help scientists prove the potential existence of life form on the planet.

NASA chose to send two rovers at the same time in order to increase success chances, given the difficulties which may face such a mission, noted the Moroccan scientist, stressing that contact has been established and a flood of data reaches NASA Space Center in Pasadena, California through American satellites, Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey.

Oudghiri pointed out that these space missions will last for 90 days, given the different difficulties faced by NASA scientists, such as sand storms, a recurrent phenomenon in Mars, high temperature, which may reach 150°C, and dust on the rovers solar panels, which may reduce the efficiency of batteries, which supply several machines with solar energy.  The engineer is part of the Tiger team that succeeded in establishing contact between the American rovers and Passadena Center.

Living since late 1980's in the US where he first went to carry on his higher education in telecommunications in Southern California University, Kamal Oudrhiri is now project director of a NASA multi-mission programme specialised in Mars exploration. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Morocco enters new era in gender equality
(DPA) 28 January 2004
MADRID/RABAT - Moroccan men now have to ask their wives for permission to go out at night and even to watch television, if a joke making the rounds in Morocco is anything to go by.  A man asks a friend: "Have you already received the forms to fill out asking for your wife's permission to go out tonight?" The other replies: "No, but I have the forms to request her authorization for me to watch television." When parliament approved legislation regulating the rights of women recently, the North African kingdom entered a new era. The reform makes Morocco one of the most progressive Arab countries in terms of women's rights and is considered nothing less than a social revolution. The reformed family code championed by King Mohammed VI will soon take effect after being approved unanimously by both chambers of parliament, including the Islamic party Justice and Development (PJD), the third strongest force in the lower house. "This is a key for the kingdom to accede to modernity," enthused Omar
Azziman, chairman of the Human Rights Council, which advises the government. Yet implementing the legislation will not be easy in a largely rural society entrenched in tradition and with an illiteracy rate of more than 50 per cent.

The reformed Mudawana or family code introduces changes, which would have seemed almost unthinkable just a few years ago. The law abolishes the principle of the wife's obedience to the husband and gives her joint responsibility for the family. The minimum marrying age for women will be raised from 15 to 18 years. They no longer have to consent to arranged marriages, and do not need permission from their fathers to marry.
Polygamy, although very rare in Morocco, will be banned unless authorised by the first wife and a judge. A man may no longer divorce his wife by simply repudiating her, but divorces must be authorised by courts. Women can seek divorce and gain custody of their children. Feminists say the reform will vastly improve the situation of women in a country where many young girls are still married off by their parents and many women become impoverished once their husbands have repudiated them.
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2004/January/middleeast_January598.xml&section=middleeast&col=
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Prime Minister Dedicates Premises of New Family Jurisdiction
RABAT, Jan.27- Morocco's prime minister, Driss Jettou, dedicated on Monday a building for the new family jurisdiction, provided for by the new family code unanimously adopted by the two parliamentary chambers.

The building comprises various sections for cases of inheritance, civil statute, minor affairs, in addition to a hearing room and a museum displaying old judiciary acts tracing the history and the development of the Moroccan judiciary system.

Shortly after spelling out reforms to the old family code (known as Mudawana), HM King Mohammed VI had instructed the justice minister to set up
"suitable" family justice facilities in Moroccan courts, in support of the reforms implementation.

The sovereign had also underscored, in a letter to the justice minister, the importance of the family judicial system, endowed with the necessary
material and human resources as well as clear procedures, stressing that it has been noted that inadequacies and shortcomings noted during the enforcement of the Mudawana as it stands are mostly due to the absence of a family judicial system.

Justice minister, Mohamed Bouzoubaa, told reporters following the jurisdiction dedication that competent magistrates were assigned to the family courts in order to fulfil the goals set by the new family code.

The Rabat family court is accommodated in the same premises as the administrative and trade courts, a move that will save the state a monthly
420,000 DH (around US$ 40,000).

Changes to the Mudawana, hailed by Moroccan and international observers as the most progressive one in the Arab world, imposes stringent conditions that make polygamy almost impossible. They also raise the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 and give wives "joint responsibility" with their husbands in family matters. MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Creation of Amazigh culture institute not meant to contain Moroccan Amazigh culture, institution rector
Morocco, Culture, 1/27/2004
The creation of the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture (IRCAM), in October 2001, was not designed to contain the Moroccan Amazigh culture but came to fulfill the Amazigh cultural movement aspirations, said IRAM rector, Ahmed Boukous.

Boukous told on Sunday "Assahra Al-Maghribya" daily that the creation of the institute that fulfilled the aspirations of the Amazigh cultural movement is part of efforts to "redress stereotypes circulated by some circles attempting to exclude this culture."

The institute is open to all trends and potentials, mainly researchers interested in the Amazigh culture, he added before calling for the conclusion of partnership for the standardization of the language, developing pedagogical tools and archiving and analyzing literary texts.

Asked on the presence of the Amazigh language in the Moroccan mass media, Boukous said in addition to the existing daily news bulletins in Amazigh, there is a need for cultural and training programs in Amazigh language.
http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/040127/2004012720.html
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Morocco Bans Import from Bird Flu-Infected Countries
RABAT, Jan.30 - Morocco announced Friday a ban of poultry meat and products imports from countries infected by the bird flu. The Moroccan agriculture and rural development ministry said Friday in a release this measure was taken following the recent outbreak of the highly-contagious avian influenza virus in several Asian countries. The ministry said it has taken a train of measures to keep the disease away.  Veterinary services were informed about the new measures to consolidate vigilance and a committee was set up to guarantee the epidemiological follow-up of the disease both at the national and international levels.  So far, the release points out, no suspected cases of the disease were reported in the Kingdom.  Cases of the avian influenza were found in poultry and human beings in Thailand, Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Laos, Taipei and China. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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EU Allocates 79 Mln Euros for Moroccan Administration Reform, EU Official.
RABAT, Jan.27 - The European Union plans to allocate 79 million Euros to the Moroccan public administration reform in 2004, said here on Monday head of the European Communities delegation in Morocco, Ambassador Sean Doyle.

Doyle told a press conference the European Union means with this aid to improve the Moroccan administration efficiency, by training human resources and introducing new management techniques, like those applied in the private sector.  The EU ambassador suggested that Morocco should reduce the public salary bill by encouraging early retirement.

Another 42 million Euros will be earmarked by the European Union to expand to the Algerian borders, the Mediterranean bypass, currently under
construction, along the Mediterranean coastal cities, he said. In addition 80 million Euros will be extended to quality road infrastructure linking the
economic poles of Tangiers-Tetuan (northwestern Morocco) and those of Berkane-Oujda (northeastern).

He added that the European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend Morocco 150 million Euros for the waste and rain water sanitation of the cities of Fez,
Casablanca and Mohammedia. These loans, he explained, granted at easy terms, will be financed from the European Union's resources, part of the MEDA program. The MEDA programme, the Eu's main financial instrument for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, offers technical and financial support measures to accompany the reform of economic and social structures in the south Mediterranean countries.

For the second year in a row, Morocco is the best user in the south Mediterranean region of the MEDA funds earmarked for the 12 countries of the
Euro-Med partnership, he said describing this performance as a "record". Consequently, he went, Morocco is the largest recipient of MEDA funds.

Regarding the first session of the EU-Morocco sub-committee on "justice and security" slated for this January 29 in Brussels, the diplomat said this is a "premiere" in the Mediterranean region. On its agenda are issues of drugs, immigration and trade justice. It will also be an opportunity for Moroccan participants to expose the justice and family law reforms enacted in the Kingdom. MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Morocco decides to have trial court for corrupt ministers and civil servants
28 January 2004
RABAT - The Justice, Legislation and Human Rights Committee of the Moroccan House of Representatives has called for a draft law for the setting up of a special court at the High Court level to deal with crimes committed by government members during their tenure.  The committee's chairman, Lahbib Choubani, said that the draft law "aims at creating a High Court specialised in cases of crimes and offences committed by members of the government in the period of their tenure." The Moroccan constitution stipulates that the "government members are legally responsible for crimes and offences committed during their term as ministers." Article 89 of the constitution underlines that "they (government members) may be indicted by the two Houses of Parliament and referred to the High Court of Justice for trial."
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2004/January/middleeast_January604.xml&section=middleeast&col=
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Morocco holds two 'most wanted'.
Tuesday, 27 January, 2004,
Two top terror suspects have been arrested during a raid on an Islamic militant cell, say Morocco's police.  A suspect and a policeman died when police conducted an operation near the town of Meknes which resulted in the arrest of 35 people.  The Moroccan authorities have been on the hunt for Islamic fundamentalists since five bomb blasts killed 45 people last May in Casablanca.  The raid is reported to have uncovered explosives and forgery equipment.  Four other policemen were injured during the raid.  Official sources have confirmed that among those arrested were Mohcine Bouarfa and Tawfiq Hanouichi.  Both men have been at the top of Morocco's most wanted list, suspected of involvement in the Casablanca bombings.  Police say the two men belong to the same Islamic extremist group which carried out the murder of a Jewish Moroccan man, on 11 September last year.  Moroccan police belileve they have cracked a significant terrorist cell, seizing explosives, detonating devices and false papers during the raids.  Meknes, some 100 kilometres from the capital, Rabat, is known to be the home of several radical Islamic groups.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3433315.stm
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35 suspected extremists nabbed in Morocco: Policeman, Muslim fundamentalist killed when police raid villages of Ain Lahjar, Ain Chebbik near Meknes.
RABAT - A policeman and an Islamic fundamentalist were killed in Morocco when police arrested 35 suspected extremists in two raids on villages near the town of Meknes, the Map agency reported Monday.  Sources said that the operations overnight Sunday were carried out as part
of continued police investigations into May 16 attacks in Casablanca, which killed 45 people including 12 suicide bombers.  The raid on the villages of Ain Lahjar and Ain Chebbik uncovered explosives, detonators, handcuffs, cutlasses as well as equipment for falsifying documents and banknotes, the authorities said.  One "criminal gang member" and a policeman were fatally hurt during the raids, while four other police were also injured, Map said, without giving the names of the victims.  Police have questioned two fundamentalists who were injured and escaped during the raid on Ain Chebbik.  "Two other members of the criminal group which was dismantled including someone by the name of Taoufik Hanouichi sought as part of the inquiry after the terrorist attacks of May 16 in Casablanca" were found, Map reported.  "Hanouichi was the right arm of Rebbaa, sentenced to capital punishment in a case linked to the criminal acts of May 16," the agency added.  A source said that the police officer was killed after being accidentally hit by a shot fired by one of his colleagues and not by the fundamentalists.

Among the 35 people arrested was Mohcine Bouarfa, wanted by police on suspicion of murdering several of their colleagues.  Less than a month after the Casablanca bombings, the kingdom, which prides itself on its moderate form of Islam, passed stringent anti-terrorist laws.  Sixteen people have already been sentenced to death under the laws, and dozens of life sentences and other heavy terms of up to 30 years have been handed down.
http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=8654
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New Mars rock hints at past water
By Dr David Whitehouse BBC News Online science editor
Wednesday, 21 January, 2004
A rock found in the Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco in 2001 has been confirmed as Martian in origin.  The meteorite's chemical signature was checked out by researchers at the UK's Southampton Oceanography Centre.  The team that found it was led by experienced meteorite hunters Carine Bidaut and Bruno Fectay, who have now found six rocks from Mars - a record.  The meteorite would have been blasted off the Red Planet by an impact and may hold clues to Mars' watery past.

Space oddity
It was picked up by a local worker on an isolated plateau in the mountains at a location which is now being kept secret because of fears it may be
spoilt by visitors.  "For 30 years the locals have been searching the region for fossils so they know the area very well," Bruno Fectay told BBC News Online. "A few years ago we taught them to look for meteorites.  "The rocks of the region are mostly light in colour whereas meteorites are
dark, so they can be easily spotted."  The meteorite - although in two fragments, it is classified as the same body - has been officially called the North-West Africa 1950, but has been nicknamed the Jules Verne, after the French author.  It is described as a peridotite, an extremely rare type of Mars rock consisting of the minerals olivine, pyroxene and plagioclase glass. 

Planet passport  Scientists say the fragments are magmatic rocks. Magmatism is the main process by which water moves from the core of planets to their surface.  "It is a remarkable experience to hold it in your hand," Bruno Fectay said. "When you hold it you are in a Martian magmatic chamber, deep in a volcano under the surface of Mars.  "We will never be able to go to such a place. This rock is our passport."  Further analysis will help clarify the processes that produced magmas on Mars, and perhaps make it possible to estimate the quantity of fluids - and therefore water - released by volcanic activity on the planet in the past.

Life on Mars
Mars meteorites are extremely rare - fewer than 20 confirmed examples have been identified - and all are believed to come from the same body of rock that was blasted off the planet when it was hit by a large asteroid or comet.  They have traveled through space and then fallen to Earth.
Martian meteorites are distinguished by their relative youth, being at most 1.3 billion years old, compared with 4.5 billion years old for other
meteorites.  They also show evidence of rare gases found in the planet's atmosphere.  In 1996 a team of scientists from the US space agency Nasa controversially claimed to have found evidence of past life in a meteorite from Mars.  Although they have been exposed to the Earth's weather and contamination from its biosphere, Martian meteorites open a new way to study Mars because they are basaltic rocks formed in the presence of water and so illuminate the story of water on Mars.
More to follow
Only one other example of a so-called SNC meteorite equivalent to NWA 1950 has been found on Earth - a chunk of rock discovered in Antarctica in 1977.  And apart from Nasa, no other scientific laboratory has had the opportunity to examine such a specimen.  Bidaut and Fectay have a stock of over 1,000 meteorites waiting to be taken up by financial sponsors so they can be examined in European labs.  "It takes us a while to get our finds analysed," said Bruno Fectay. "We may have more of the remarkable meteorites from Mars waiting to be examined."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/3414143.stm
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World Cup 2010: Moroccan Banks Allocate US $1 million to Promote Morocco's Bid
CASABLANCA, Jan. 24 - Moroccan banks have decided to give a financial aid of 10 million Dhs (US $1 million) to the Association Morocco 2010 that is organizing Morocco's bid to host world cup 2010, it was announced here Friday.

The Professional Grouping of Moroccan Banks (GPBM) said in a release it will put at the disposal of Association Morocco 2010 communication tools to promote the candidacy of Morocco inside the country and abroad. The kingdom is bidding with four other countries to host the most prestigious sports event in the world, namely Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and South Africa.

The decision was taken after a meeting, Tuesday, between members of the GPBM and chairman of Association Morocco 2010, Saad Kettani, who gave an overview on the different steps made so far to promote Morocco's candidacy.

GPBM aims through this support to confirm their "mobilization for the realization of projects that would contribute to the economic and social
development of a new, dynamic, open and tolerant Morocco."

FIFA will announce on May 15 the name of the country that will host the world cup. MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Morocco: On a dream and a prayer.
January 2004

The narrow strip of sea, known in English as the Strait of Gibraltar is only 11 miles across at some points. Riding the ferry westwards from Spanish
Algeciras to Moroccan Tangiers, it feels as if you could almost reach out and touch both rocky coastlines, bridging the gap between the two.

That gap however, in economic terms, is widening at an ever-increasing rate. To the south lies Africa, home to deepening pockets of poverty and despair.

To the north is Europe, a comparative paradise of open borders where a host of consumer goods, including highly prized electrical items, seem to cost less, not more, every year. The tantalising proximity - you can see the lights of European cars on the roads at night - is too much for some.
Clandestine emigrants converge on Morocco's coastline to cross the water illegally, often in woefully inadequate dinghies known as pateras.

"The strait has become a cemetery", according to Mohammed Ali Tabji, a political activist based in Tangier. Nobody knows how many have drowned in their attempt to cross. The Spanish authorities recovered 35 bodies in 2001, 86 in 2002, while 2003 broke all records with 45 found drowned between the last week of October and the first week of November alone. The crossing costs from $2,000 for passage on a simple outboard motor-powered patera to $3,000-$5,000 for a faster Zodiac inflatable craft or a concealed berth in a container vehicle. It is said that children receive favourable terms.

Khalil Jemmah, of an association for the friends and family of victims (AFVIC), said his organisation had been able to identify 200 bodies between
May and November of last year. Almost half were from the Tadla-Azilal region, not even a very poor area in Moroccan terms. But, it seems, Moroccan youth is experiencing a kind of fever akin to that of the gold rushes of North America. According to the National Statistical Institute in Rabat, 45,000 Moroccans emigrate clandestinely each year, not including those who overstay their visas or emigrate to join family already abroad.

It is not only Moroccans who are drawn to the narrow waterways between Spain and Moroccan territory. Sub-Saharan Africans and Asians cross many borders until they reach sight of their destination across the strait. At least that used to be the case, until 2001 when the Spanish government invested ?120m in a sophisticated electronic detection system, called SIVE to invigilate the waterway. The result has been that to escape detection and arrest at sea, clandestines have shifted their line of attack to the less guarded but also less narrow and therefore more perilous regions of the strait.

Increasingly, parties of prospective immigrants leave from the coast of Western Sahara, attempting to reach the Canary Islands, a considerably
longer voyage. Of the 16,504 illegal immigrants arrested by the Spanish security forces in 2002, more than half were discovered in the Canary
Islands.

This policing of the southern borders is causing a headache to Spain, which has so far failed to persuade its European Union colleagues to share the task of patrolling so-called 'fortress Europe'. The issue has also been a thorn in bi-lateral relations between Spain and Morocco, with the European nation accusing its neighbor of laxity in its efforts to control the departure of clandestines.

According to agreements between the two countries, poorer Morocco accepts responsibility for all those who arrive illegally in Spain having departed from Morocco. Spain regularly returns Moroccans immediately, without employing a complicated legal process, but the process stalls with the return of others because Rabat demands proof of their original point of departure; a fact frequently impossible to ascertain.

The Moroccan National Statistical Institute points out that in 2002 Moroccan security services detained almost 30,000 "candidates" for clandestine
emigration, half of whom were Moroccan, half from other countries of origin. But Morocco's land borders are long and, in many places, deserted. Many would-be clandestines enter the country from Algeria, others come from Mauritania to the south.

Moroccan officials are frustrated when they hear the Spanish foreign minister, Ana Palacio, say she has "no problem" with Algeria in terms of
illegal immigration, when 80,000 sub-Saharan Africans arrive in the Maghreb each year with the intention of making the leap across to Europe via Libya, Algeria and ultimately, Morocco.

After 18 months of frosty relations between Madrid and Rabat, the low-point being the brief Moroccan 'occupation' of a tiny desert island over whch Spain claims sovereignity, the leaders of the two countries met in Rabat in December to seal their reconciliation. However, aside from the cordial greetings, little in the way of progress on key issues, such as clandestine emigration was made. The details of an ?300m aid package announced by Spain's King Juan Carlos after the May 2003 terrorist attacks on Casablanca are still to be finalized.

Although, the Spanish public have grown used to news of drowned bodies washing up on beaches in ones and twos, the events of late October and early November served as a vivid reminder of the daily struggle for a better life which takes place off their shores. On 26 October the captain of a passenger boat contacted the emergency rescue services, having seen a Zodiac vessel with around 50 people aboard, in distress. An hour and a half later, the boat was washed ashore with three survivors.

Over the next week 36 bodies emerged from the sea amid a controversy over why the patrol took so long to respond to an emergency call.

In Morocco too there was a reaction. The government announced the formation of two new official bodies to fight clandestine emigration: one, a police squad specifically detailed to frontier observation, the other a policy organization to collate data and form new strategies. Spain and Morocco also managed to agree to the creation of a bi-lateral body of high-level civil servants to share information about the groups involved in the people-smuggling trade.

Meanwhile, on moonless nights, men women and children continue to take a chance, floating on a flimsy vessel and a dream. Those who arrive in Spain safely, and avoid being arrested, simply disappear into Europe's burgeoning cheap labour markets. Traditionally, Spain was a transit country, where they might work for a while before moving on to France, Germany, Belgium or elsewhere. These days, the country has the fastest-growing immigrant population of all EU states. © The Middle East 2003
http://www.africasia.com/themiddleeast/index.php
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Moroccan Government, Jet Air Company Sign Partnership Convention
RABAT, Jan. 26- The Moroccan government signed over the week end a partnership convention with the company Jet Air, a Belgian subsidiary of German travel giant TUI group.

The convention deals with air transport and the marketing and the promotion of Moroccan destinations.

Jet Air will increase its flights between Agadir and Marrakech to double the frequency in a three-year period. The company also undertakes to invest, in partnership with the Moroccan Tourism office (ONMT), in a comprehensive marketing strategy for the promotion of Moroccan destinations in the Belgian market.

The accord comes in implementation of the general framework-agreement signed in July 2003 between the Moroccan government and the German travel company related to the French market and the servicing of round trips between Paris and Marrakesh and Paris and Fez. Similar agreements meant to increase tourist arrivals from Germany, Great Britain and Scandinavian countries are also due to be signed.

Prime minister, Driss Jetou, gave during the signing ceremony a brief overview of Morocco's tourism projects that includes the creation of new sea resorts and the liberalization of air transport.

TUI which transports 8 million tourists annually organizes 20 million travels worldwide and possesses or manages 150,000 beds worldwide. It has a network of 45,000 selling points in Europe and an international fleet of 94 planes.

TUI. Chairman, Michael Frenzel, who voiced the company's commitment to support Morocco's efforts to attract an annual 10 million tourists by 2010 said the agreement evidences Morocco's concrete determination to develop tourism industry, praising the Kingdom's sky-opening move.

On his part, transport and equipment minister, Karim Ghallab, pointed out that 10-million tourists target is a both a challenge and an important opportunity for the development of Moroccan air transport, underlining that "the objective is to move from 5.8 millions to 15.6 millions passengers and from 600 to 1,300 flights per week".  MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Morocco's Electricity Demand Hits Record in 2003
RABAT, Jan.28 - Electricity demand in Morocco hit a record 16.77 GWH (gigawatt hour) in 2003, rising by 8% compared to 2002, says the state-owned electricity company (ONE).

The figures released during ONE's administrative board meeting show that the 2003 record demand was met at 57% by purchases from concession production. ONE's direct producers supplied 34% of the demand while imports through inter-connections was 9%.

In the same year, the production of ONE-managed plants progressed by 27.5% while water-generated electricity reached 1,442 GWH, compared to 842 GWH in 2002, thanks to good rainfalls in 2003.

The office also reports an increase of 10% of its customers (2.4 million), including 216,000 new subscribers and 104,000 customers who were connected through the general rural electrification program (PERG).

In 2003, ONE investments reached 3.2 billion DH, including 1.1 billion DH to connect rural areas to the electric grid. In 2004, investments will reach 4.1 billion DH, including 1.7 billion for rural electrification that will be intensified until the end of the PERG program in 2007. The investment program also plans to carry on strategic projects, especially the consolidation of the conveyance network, inter-connection with neighbouring countries, improvement of production capacities of thermal, hydraulic or wind-generated electricity and the upgrading of customer services.

It was also announced that electricity will be supplied to 288,000 households in rural areas, in order to reach 70% of rural electrification by end 2004. In 2003, 161,000 households were equipped with electricity, 33% more than in 2002.

As a result, the rate of rural electrification nationwide stood at 62% by end 2003, as compares to 55% by end 2002.

ONE's administrative board also examined findings of a study on the sector liberalization conducted by a consulting firm and decided to submit it to the government.

Spain is presently among Morocco's most important trade partners, both as regards direct investments and financial cooperation, concluded Azoulay who invited the Spanish business community active in Morocco to share their experience with would-be investors both in Spain and in Europe.  © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Alcohol ads raise more important issue of press financing, says minister
Politics, 1/29/2004
Moroccan Communication minister and government spokesman told representative on Wednesday the issue of ads for alcohol beverages raises the more important issue of press financing.

Nabil Benabdellah, who was answering a question by a representative, said Moroccan newspapers and magazines are generally fulfilling their duties in the respect of the constitution, the law and the code of ethics.

He told representatives the question on alcohol beverages ads in Moroccan newspapers concerns privately-owned newspapers which are not bound by the same standards regulating advertisement in state-owned media organizations, stressing that the question raises the fundamental issue of press financing and means to develop its financial resources. "Considerable efforts by the state which grants newspapers an annual subsidy are not enough to enable the media play their information and awareness-promotion role," he went on.

The government is currently working with the federation of newspapers editors on a new approach based on the conclusion of a contract-program for the upgrading of written press enterprises, said Benabdellah, who also underlined that the advertisement aspect is also being examined with the ministry working to organize the ads sector and clarify links between various advertisement acts, namely advertisement agencies, media and
consumers.

He also announced that the communication projects to submit a draft law regulating the sector in order to open new perspectives for the media and advertisers "in the respect of our references and objectives."
http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/040129/2004012916.html
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Three New Economical Cars to be Sold in Morocco
RABAT, Jan.27 - Renault-Maroc and Sopriam, an affiliate of Morocco's conglomerate "ONA" will manufacture three economical cars for the Moroccan market, starting in the coming two or three weeks.  The two groups signed Tuesday in Rabat an agreement to this end with the Moroccan ministry of industry, trade and telecommunications to start marketing the three low-cost cars after Fiat-Auto car maker will cease its activities in the Kingdom.

The two companies will manufacture the cars in SOMACA plants after Morocco sold last July for 95 million DH (US$ 10 million) the 38% shares it had in SOMACA capital to Renault. With the cession, Renault has become the largest shareholder in SOMACA, with 46% of shares, followed by Fiat and Peugeot that hold 20% each.

An annual production of 9,000 to 10,000 Citroen-Berlingo and Peugeot-partner, two brands used both as family and utility cars, is projected. These vehicles will be sold at a unit price of about 110,000 Dirhams (over US$ 10,000), which is 12 to 15% cheaper than prices applied so far.

Meanwhile, the new Renault-Kangoo will be sold at a unit price of 110,900 DH (over US$ 11,000).  © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Morocco-US FTA Shall Accommodate Economic and Social Implications, Moroccan Chief Negotiator
RABAT, Jan.28 - The Morocco-US free-trade agreement, currently being negotiated, will be drafted according to a comprehensive vision that takes into consideration its economic and social consequences, said on Tuesday Moroccan delegated minister on Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Taib Fassi Fihri.

Answering an oral question at the chamber of advisors (upper parliamentary chamber), on the consequences of the free-trade agreement, Fihri, who is serving as Morocco's chief negotiator for the FTA with the USA, said negotiations have reached an advanced stage in numerous sectors. Negotiations on sectors which have social and economic consequences, such as agriculture, textile, intellectual property concerning generic medicine, reached a decisive stage in the last months, Fassi Fihri added.

The minister underlined that the US approval of Morocco's request to create a special negotiation group for agriculture represents an asset, given that similar free-trade negotiations previously held between the USA and other countries were based on the general principle of "market access".

Concerning cereals, meat and poultry, negotiations are based on the gradual and limited enforcement of privileged treatment, said Fassi Fihri, focusing on the need for long-enough transition periods for these products, in addition to technical support arrangements and appropriate protection and commercial measures to prevent any negative impact on national production.

The minister added that Morocco, as a cereal importing country, is only negotiating preferential conditions that would be granted to the USA as part of the annual importation target, in order to protect national production and Moroccan farmers income.

Fassi Fihri also noted that means to assure the commercialization of fresh or processed agricultural products are currently being examined in order to benefit from the removal of customs duties on national products, which will allow producers to face several constraints, such as transportation costs.

Concerning sea products, the minister stated that these products would benefit from free access to the American market, knowing that this
preferential treatment is only granted to a few countries whose products do not, apparently, compete with Moroccan canned products.  © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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FTA with USA Implies Same Copyright Conditions as WTO, Moroccan Official
RABAT, Jan.28 - The Morocco-US free trade agreement, currently being negotiated, implies the same provisions on intellectual property as the World Trade Organization's, said here on Tuesday Taib Fassi Fihri, minister delegate for foreign affairs and cooperation and Moroccan chief negotiator with the USA.

Talking to the chamber of advisors (parliament's upper chamber), the official said Morocco is bound by the WTO agreements on medicine patents and by its domestic law that sets maximum duration for the patent at 20 years. The kingdom is also bound by the pre-condition to protect for five years information before medicine marketing authorization.  He went on that the free trade agreement with the USA, scheduled to be
signed this year, does not contain any new conditions compared to Morocco's commitments vis-à-vis the world trade organization.

Regarding the trade of services, the Moroccan chief negotiator voiced Morocco's resolve to protect the present and future level of the national sector of services (financial services such as insurance, banking and stock exchange services, and telecom, culture, tourism, transport and energy services). He went on that Moroccan negotiators are endeavoring to leave considerable margin to legislation and regulation in the sector of services, while keeping up the present level of liberalization. He also assured that Moroccan negotiations are trying to tap on the opportunities offered by the agreement and contain any potential negative effects.

He further responded to the advisors' worries on effects of the FTA with the USA on the Moroccan economy that the agreement would open promising perspectives to Moroccan industrial goods, especially those that face high customs duties in the USA.  MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Casablanca Bids for 2009 World Championship in Athletics
RABAT, Jan.29 - The Moroccan Athletics federation (FRMA) submitted officially, on Wednesday, Casablanca's bid for hosting in 2009 the 12th World Championship in Athletics.

The World track and field Championship is considered the world's third most prestigious sport event after the Olympic games and the football world cup.

"The Moroccan Royal Athletics federation is proud to take on this new challenge through which Morocco will once again demonstrate its know-how, its proficiency in organizing large scale events and its unique sports practice model", said a communiqué of the FRMA.

Spurred by the outstanding performance of Moroccan athletes who stand on top of IAAF international rankings, the FRMA decided to propose Casablanca, a city equipped enough to become the world athletics capital in 2009, as a venue for this international event.

Besides Casablanca, four other international cities presented their candidacy to host the event, namely Berlin, Valencia, Brussels and Belgrade.

Morocco has hosted three times the world cross country championships, two in Rabat in 1966 and in 1977, and one in Marrakech (1998). The latter has been a success and was considered by specialists the "century's edition".

Marrakech has won the unanimous approval of the, Monaco-based, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to host the World Junior Athletics Championships from July 14 to 17, 2005. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/eng.htm
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Morocco to Host Information Technology Expo
CASABLANCA, Jan.29 - The Moroccan economic capital, Casablanca, will host on February 18-21 the 12th edition of information technologies  exhibition (SitExpo) 2004, held under the theme of innovation.

Organizers said the event is aimed at encouraging partnerships and investments, and promoting the image of Morocco as an ideal platform to conquer the European, Arab and African markets.

Some 250 companies will participate in the expo where 50,000 visitors are expected. A 10,000 m2 area was dedicated to the exhibition.

Seven conferences, to be held on the fringes of the expo, will discusse-government, e-tourism, e-finance, e-energy, e-health in addition to information and telecommunication systems. Some 1,000 people are due to take part in these conferences, including decision-makers and national and foreign experts.
 
According to statistics revealed by the Information TechnologiesProfessionals Association (APEBI), that is organizing the event, there was no more than 500,000 internet users in Morocco in 2002.

APEBI noted that the number of Moroccan websites is estimated at 4,500, and only 5% of Moroccan households have a computer at home. © MAP 2004
http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/news/economy/eco_0013.htm
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Official Opening of Moroccan Pavilion in Global Village
The Global Village, housed in the Dubai Festival City, saw the opening of the Moroccan Pavilion on 24th January 2004.
United Arab Emirates: Sunday, January 25 - 2004
It was attended by Aziz Hussain, Moroccan Consul-General to the UAE, Mohammed Munir Bin Saeed, Minister of the Moroccan Ministry for Inward Investor and the Manager of the Moroccan Tourism Office in Dubai, as well as Ibrahim Abdul Rahim, Global Village Director.

The Opening Ceremony began with a traditional Moroccan folkloric show, which was followed by a Moroccan fashion show on the special stage in the Global Village. Mr. Hussain cut the ribbon to the pavilion, and he was taken on a tour of the outlets before moving to the special salon.

Aziz Hussain said, 'The Moroccan pavilion has been greatly enhanced for DSF 2004 and reflects the great success that DSF enjoys each year. I am sure that our participation in the Global Village is doing wonders for the relations between the two countries, and in educating people about the
traditions and products of Morocco.'

Ibrahim Abdul Rahim, Global Village Director, said, 'The area of the Moroccan pavilion has exceeded 1000 sq.m., which is almost exactly double of last year. The number of outlets within the pavilion is 30, showcasing different traditional Moroccan products like bottles, women's clothing, food, trinkets and others. The Moroccan pavilion has a special area for the Moroccan Ministry for Inward Investment, whose goal is to promote investment within their country, and to dispel information about the facilities and benefits there."

The pavilion has a stall run by the Moroccan Tourism Department, which gives visitors information about tourism products there as well as screening ad films about their natural splendor. In the pavilion, there is a special section that is dedicated to non-resident Moroccans to learn about the developments in their home country, enabling them to make purchase or investment decisions.

A traditional Moroccan group will perform special shows called 'Bu Kadir', showcasing art forms from different parts of Morocco on the Global Village stage.

The Global Village, one of the most popular DSF attractions, consists of 38 country pavilions, a huge Fun Fair and a food court that features an equal amount of cuisines. The Village also has a rich cultural calendar of folkloric performances from different countries of the world held every day at a specially constructed stage.

The Village features Family Days on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. On Mondays, the Village is open only for Ladies, while Thursdays and Fridays will be open for all visitors.

Global Village 2004 is jointly produced and managed by DSF and the Al-Futtaim Group, the owner/developer of Dubai Festival City.
http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/33991.html
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