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Found 11 results

  1. Morocco is the biggest producer of hashish in the world-AFP RABAT: Moroccan custom officials said Tuesday that they had seized 240 kilograms of hashish squeezed into orange juice cartons destined for export at the port city of Casablanca. Authorities said the stash was found after a check of the supposed shipment of fruit drink showed up some "discrepancies". After a search, bricks of cannabis resin totalling 240 kilograms (530 pounds) were found "carefully concealed inside cartons of orange juice from a local brand," said a statement by the customs authorities carried by local media. In a bid to outfox officials the smugglers had added sand to the shipment to make it weigh the same as a consignment of juice, it said. North African nation Morocco is the biggest producer of hashish in the world and one of the major exporters of cannabis resin, which is mainly shipped to Europe, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some 50,000 hectares of agricultural land were used for the production of cannabis, mostly in the impoverished northern Rif region, statistics from 2015 said.
  2. A general view of Jerusalem shows the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount December 6, 2017. REUTERS/file RABAT: Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Morocco´s capital Rabat on Sunday as demonstrations against US President Donald Trump´s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel´s capital continued to spread. Waving Palestinian flags, a sea of demonstrators marched from Rabat´s Bab el-Had square to Morocco´s parliament building, down Mohammed VI Avenue, the city´s main thoroughfare. "Jerusalem, capital of Palestine!" read a banner carried by the protesters, who included families, sympathisers, trade unionists and local activists. "The Palestinian people have suffered so much and continue to suffer because of Israel´s barbaric colonisation," said one of the protesters, 43-year-old Mustapha. "We must, more than ever, make our voices heard against this decision by Trump that will deprive the Palestinians of their land," said the lawyer from Casablanca, accompanied by his six-year-old daughter. Morocco´s King Mohammed VI earlier expressed his "deep concern" over Trump´s move, acting as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation´s Al-Quds Committee, which lobbies on issues related to Jerusalem. Trump´s decision -- which upended decades of US diplomatic practice -- has drawn global condemnation, sparked demonstrations across the Muslim world and led to days of unrest in the Palestinian territories.
  3. File RABAT: Fifteen people were killed and five more injured when a stampede broke out in the southwestern Moroccan town of Sidi Boulaalam on Sunday as food aid was being distributed in a market, the Interior Ministry said. King Mohammed ordered that the victims? families be given any assistance they needed, the ministry said in a statement, adding that a criminal investigation had been opened. No more details were immediately available. Last month, the king dismissed the ministers of education, planning and housing, and health after an economic agency found ?imbalances? in implementing a development plan to fight poverty in the northerly Rif region. The Rif saw numerous protests after a fishmonger was accidentally crushed to death in a garbage truck in October 2016 after a confrontation with police, and he became a symbol of the effects of corruption and official abuse. In July, the king pardoned dozens of people arrested in the protests and accused local officials of stoking public anger by being too slow to implement development projects.
  4. File Photo MADRID: Spanish and Moroccan police have netted close to four tonnes of cocaine with a street value of over 100 million euros and arrested 40 people in a long-term anti-trafficking operation, Spain's interior ministry said Friday. The ministry said that 1.3 tonnes of the drug and more than 13 million euros in cash had been seized in Spain since the launch of the joint operation last year. Morocco's DGST domestic intelligence service meanwhile said it had seized 2.6 tonnes of cocaine in the joint operation, which had input from the US, Italian, and German law enforcement agencies. Madrid said the operation had "dismantled a major criminal organisation based in Spain and Morocco, directed from Venezuela by a wanted Spanish national". In all, 34 men and six women of Spanish, British, and Moroccan nationalities were arrested as part of the operation. One Spanish national was detained in Germany "while trying to flee to Venezuela", the ministry said. It added that the amount of cocaine seized could have been sold in Spain for "more than 103 million euros ($120 million). Spain is one of the main entry points for cocaine in Europe, and the busts are some of the biggest in recent years. In May, Spanish authorities said they had intercepted a boat carrying 2.4 tonnes of cocaine in the Atlantic. And three tonnes of the drug was seized in December 2015 in the northern region of Galicia and Spain's Mediterranean Costa del Sol.
  5. Huddling against a hillside in northern Morocco is a tourist town famed for the striking blue of its buildings, and now the mayor is mixing in another colour ? green. Photo: AFP CHEFCHAOUEN: Huddling against a hillside in northern Morocco is a tourist town famed for the striking blue of its buildings, and now the mayor is mixing in another colour ? green. Chefchaouen ? known locally as Chaouen ? wants to become a model for sustainable development at a time when the northwest African kingdom has shone a spotlight on its commitment to the environment and a greener future. Take Aziz, a local council employee in his forties. He whizzes silently around town on an electric bicycle doing his job as an inspector of building sites. Mohamed Sefiani, mayor of the town of some 45,000 residents where visitors come to admire hundreds of hues of blue, says Chefchaouen began to go green more than seven years ago. Photo: AFP "It?s a practical and eco-friendly way of getting around!" he says. "It respects the environment and allows us to get around easily without using polluting modes of transport," Aziz says, wearing a fluorescent safety vest and with a helmet firmly on his head. Mohamed Sefiani, mayor of the town of some 45,000 residents where visitors come to admire hundreds of hues of blue, says Chefchaouen began to go green more than seven years ago. "In April 2010, the municipal council took a unanimous decision aimed at transforming Chaouen into an ecologically sustainable town," he says. Chefchaouen ? known locally as Chaouen ? wants to become a model for sustainable development at a time when the northwest African kingdom has shone a spotlight on its commitment to the environment and a greener future. Photo: AFP Local political commitment to the project is strong, the mayor says, but much still needs to be done. "Chefchaouen isn?t an ecological town yet, but it certainly has the will to become one," says a smiling Sefiani. "We are in a transition phase. At a Moroccan and African level, we?re among the most advanced towns in this respect." Raising awareness A newly inaugurated municipal swimming pool equipped with solar energy is near an "ecology centre" built from recycled containers where the town?s green projects, funded mainly by the European Union and backed by several NGOs, are highlighted. France?s GERES ? Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity ? was asked to help transform Chefchaouen. "It was at the town?s request that we came here to support its energy and climatic transition," says the NGO?s Virginie Guy, who is coordinating the project. Among the initiatives is an "info-energy" centre to raise awareness about energy savings, photovoltaic panels at several sites, such as the municipal library, that contribute to electricity production, and an environmentally oriented museum is also nearly complete. The info-energy centre?s Houda Hadji explains the basics of eco-construction, energy efficiency and the benefits of energy-saving lightbulbs, among other green topics. "There?s very strong interest" from visitors to the centre, says the young guide, her hair concealed under an elegant veil. "This is the first initiative in Morocco working on energy upgrading in buildings, and providing information about savings, targeting both businesses and individuals," she adds. Chefchaouen is one of 12 southern Mediterranean locations to benefit from a European programme that has granted it around 10 million dirhams ($1 million, 900,000 euros) and declared the town "a model and initiator of change in sustainable energy management". But not everything is green yet in the little blue town. "The public dump is not yet up to standard," Mayor Sefiani concedes. "We?re working on a landfill and recovery centre, and I think that by 2021, we will have ironed out all the problems." Renewable energy With "green" mosques, solar and wind farms, electric buses and a ban on plastic bags, Morocco has been forging ahead with environment-friendly policies over the past few years. It regularly trumpets its proactive strategy in terms of green energy, instigated by King Mohammed VI. Late last year, in the southern city of Marrakesh, the country hosted the COP22 international climate conference, and has begun an ambitious plan to develop renewable energy. In a country devoid of hydrocarbon resources, the aim is to increase the share of renewable energies nationally to 52 percent by 2030 (20 percent solar, 20 percent wind, 12 percent hydro). A massive flagship project was inaugurated by the king in February last year. The Noor solar power plant is on the edge of the Sahara desert, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) outside Ouarzazate. Spread over an area equivalent to more than 600 football pitches, the plant?s half a million metal mirrors follow the sun as it moves across the sky and store the energy collected from its rays. Despite pushing its green credentials, Morocco still has many environmental hurdles to clear on its way to cleaner horizons. A recent World Bank report covered by Moroccan media spoke of "alarming" peaks of atmospheric pollution in the country?s major cities. And a number of eco projects announced to great fanfare during the 2016 COP22 conference remain just that ? announcements.
  6. Morocco's team players celebrate a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Africa Group C qualifying football match between Ivory Coast and Morocco at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, November 11, 2017. AFP/Issouf Sanogo JOHANNESBURG: Morocco scored twice in five minutes during the first half to defeat the Ivory Coast 2-0 Saturday and qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Nabil Dirar opened the scoring off a cross-cum-shot on 25 minutes in Abidjan and Medhi Benatia doubled the lead after a corner on the half-hour. Morocco ? whose last World Cup appearance was in 1998 ? won Group C with 12 points followed by the Ivory Coast with eight, Gabon six, and Mali four.
  7. RABAT: Residents angered by persistent water shortages in southern Morocco have taken to the streets in a series of "thirsty protests" that has grabbed the attention of the country´s king. Since the start of the summer, inhabitants in the region of desert town Zagora have been left parched and furious as water supplies are cut off for hours -- or even days -- at a time. "The situation is critical. It means daily suffering for the people in this region," Jamal Akchbabe, head of an environmental group in the town, told AFP by phone. "Families are going for days without tap water, while others don´t have any for several hours each day. And this water is undrinkable." In a bid to express their discontent over the crisis, residents began organising regular peaceful protests in the town of some 30,000, around 700 kilometres (430 miles) from the capital Rabat. At first, they were tolerated by the authorities, but then on September 24 security forces stepped in to break up a rally and arrested seven people for taking part in an "unauthorised demonstration", local rights activist Atmane Rizkou said. The situation only got worse when residents tried again to march on October 8, activists said. The attempt descended into violence as police boxed in the town and used force to break up the gathering and detained 21 people, said Akchbabe. "The protesters were subjected to repression, insults and humiliation," he said. "The town is in a state of siege." Watermelons to blame? Residents put the shortages roiling this arid region down to the overuse of sparse resources for agriculture, especially the cultivation of watermelons. Akchbabe says locals accuse the ministry of agriculture of allowing this water-intensive production "which provides profit for big farmers to the detriment of the inhabitants". University professor Abdelmalek Ihazrir, who has written about Morocco´s water policy, says that rare rains have led to the overexploitation of groundwater across the country. "The rains are scarce and strong heatwaves lead to evaporation from water at the source, above all in the south," he told AFP. "We need to develop a new, more rational policy and alternative measures." Officials appear to have heeded the anger -- but so far their response has entailed mainly just words. At the end of September Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani promised "emergency measures" after the national water and power authorities admitted there were "constraints" hindering the system. A few days later the country´s powerful monarch Mohammed VI called for the establishment of "a commission that will look at the issue with a view to finding an adequate solution in the coming months". Sensitive timing The protests come at a sensitive time for Morocco as the authorities are desperate to avoid a repeat of social unrest that has seen months of demonstrations rock the long-marginalised Rif region in the north. But the water issues roiling the country are common across North Africa and the Middle East where access to the precious resource has long been a problem. The World Bank estimates that over 60 percent of people there live in areas that suffer from a scarcity of water, compared to a worldwide figure of just 35 percent. In neighbouring Algeria to the west, water shortages in 2000 and 2013 erupted into violent clashes. Meanwhile, in Tunisia, where residents are especially reliant on winter rainfall to fill up dams, droughts caused supplies to be cut in summer 2016 for periods that sometimes lasted weeks at a time.
  8. RABAT: Morocco´s football federation (FRMF) announced on Friday it had told the sport´s world governing body FIFA it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup. It would be Morocco´s fifth candidacy having come up short already in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010. "Morocco considers itself capable of organsining a World Cup," youth and sports minister Rachid Talbi Alami told AFP. "We have the necessary infrastructure in terms of stadiums, transport, hotel capacity and sanitation." In April, the United States, Canada and Mexico had already announced a joint North American bid to host the tournament. If successful, Morocco would become only the second African country to host football´s flagship event following South Africa in 2010. The north Africans have received backing from African confederation (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad. "We are convinced that Morocco could organise this competition just as was done by South Africa in 2010," said Malagasy Ahmad after he was elected to succeed Cameroon´s Issa Hayatou as head of the African body. However, FIFA last year accepted that the country had paid bribes to the former head of the North and Central American Confederation in trying to win the right to host the 1998 and 2010 tournaments -- something that could prejudice any future bid. But FIFA president Gianni Infantino has echoed Ahmad´s endorsement, saying that Morocco has the necessary "infrastructure and organisational capacity" to host the World Cup. The 2026 tournament will be the first with an expanded 48-team tournament, up from the current 32 qualifiers. Morocco had won the right to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations but pulled out at the 11th hour over concerns related to the Ebola outbreak in western Africa at the time. But the country has embarked on a professionalisation drive to improve its football infrastructure while increasing its candidacies for various tournaments in order to improve its chances of landing a much coveted World Cup. Morocco has hosted two Club World Cup tournaments, in 2013 and 2014, although that is a vastly smaller and shorter tournament.
  9. Katrina Kaif is an extremely talented actress and there is no denying that. Since the time she made her entry in Bollywood and till date, we have seen various shades of her. And just recently we came across her new skill. The actress took to Instagram and shared a video where she is trying to learn surfing in Morocco. The beautiful diva captioned the video, "First time surfing Essaouira." But she doesn't look like a first timer at all. Looking at her we feel like packing our bags and go surfing as well. First time surfing in Essaouira 🏄🏻♀️ A post shared by Katrina Kaif (@katrinakaif) on Jul 21, 2017 at 8:58am PDT Wondering what is she doing in there, well she is shooting for her upcoming movie ‘Tiger Zinda Hai' with Salman Khan and director Ali Abbas Zafar. Since the time the film was announced, fans are very excited to see their favourite couple back on screen. Abbas recently also shared a video where Tiger (Salman) is seen taking serious horse riding lessons and within no time that video went viral as well. Straight from New York , with no sleep @BeingSalmanKhan jumps in for horse riding training @TigerZindaHai #morocco 😊 pic.twitter.com/mfOgbuUlDY — ali abbas zafar (@aliabbaszafar) July 17, 2017 In one of the interviews, Katrina mentioned that this film is very special to her and have people who will help her in every step, "Ali is one of my closest friends and I have known Salman since I have entered the film industry. These are two people who know me and have trust in me, especially in the work capacity. I know they are there to make sure that the best happens to the film. Salman has the added advantage of knowing me well as a person, while Ali is one of my dearest friends, so that's the best possible place possible anyone can work in. And that's exactly what I feel when I am on the sets of TZH — I know that I'm in really good hands and I have people like them to help me every step of the way." Although the duo parted their ways, they still share a very strong bond with each other. We have always seen Salman by her side whenever she needs him. And just like many, we are excited to see them back on screen as well.
  10. UNITED NATIONS: Troop and police contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping operations launched an informal group on Friday under the leadership of Pakistan and Morocco to discuss strategic issues affecting their personnel and to brainstorm responses to the new challenges facing world peace and security. The group, co-chaired by Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi and her Moroccan counterpart Omar Hilale, met on the sidelines of Chiefs of Defence Conference at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting was largely attended by ambassadors and senior diplomats from the troop countries who praised the initiative taken by Pakistan and Morocco for discussions of their common problems and offered their full support in ensuring that the group's voice was heard. "This group will serve as a sounding board for new ideas and innovative solutions to confront the emerging challenges to international peace and security," Ambassador Lodhi told the inaugural meeting. She said it will also be a collective reaffirmation of the troop contributing countries abiding commitment to bring the promise of hope and prosperity to those affected by war and conflict. The calls for doing more with less, despite the fact that peacekeeping was the most cost effective way of restoring peace and lives, was neither realistic nor sustainable, Ambassador Lodhi said, while outlining the factors that prompted the formation of the group. Also, she said, the demands for cuts in peacekeeping budgets needed to be questioned and countered. The ongoing review of the UN peace and security architecture and the impending strategic reviews of peacekeeping missions provide troop and police contributors an opportunity to have their voices heard, the Pakistani envoy said. In addition, Ambassador Lodhi said the need to provide a balance to the trend of focusing just on a few black sheep who tarnish the image of Blue Helmets rather than looking at the full picture. "The efforts and contributions of our heroes who take huge risks and make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold international peace and security need to be more effectively highlighted." Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that troop and police contributing countries place their best resources and expertise at the UN's disposal, and have a huge stake in the success of these peacekeeping missions. "It is therefore imperative that we, as a group, should be able to voice their views and concerns effectively." She said there was need to focus on some areas, including that the success of UN peacekeeping hinges on having a robust political track that leads to political solutions. As such, addressing the root causes of conflicts was critical. Among others areas was the optimum use of modern technology in peacekeeping, and adequate resources for effectively carrying out diverse mandates. Ambassadors and senior diplomats from Uruguay, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, China and Ethiopia endorsed the views expressed by the Pakistani envoy and wished the group a success in its efforts to highlight the issues facing the troop contributing countries. In his concluding remarks, the Moroccan Ambassador said that the group would be open, flexible and provide an opportunity to share their experiences. It would also look for out-of-box solutions aimed at making peacekeeping more efficient. Earlier, Ian Martin, a senior UN peacekeeping official, welcomed the formation of the group and briefed its members about efforts being made at UN to streamline the peacekeeping operations.
  11. "If nothing is done, this species will disappear within 10 years," warns a poster on Ahmed Harrad's ageing 4x4 showing Morocco's famed Barbary macaque monkey. Harrad spends his time crisscrossing northern Morocco to try to convince locals to protect the endangered monkey. The only species of macaque outside Asia, which lives on leaves and fruits and can weigh up to 20 kilogrammes (45 pounds), was once found throughout North Africa and parts of Europe. But having disappeared from Libya and Tunisia, it is now restricted to mountainous regions of Algeria and Morocco's northern Rif region. Another semi-wild population of about 200 individuals in Gibraltar are the only free-ranging monkeys in Europe. Today, the only native primate north of the Sahara, apart from humans, is in danger of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservationists blame illegal poaching, tourists who feed the monkeys and overexploitation of the cedar and oak forests that form the species' natural habitat. In response, Morocco has launched a campaign to save the species. "We are working on two areas -- monitoring and making a census of the species in the Rif and raising awareness among locals so that they actively help rescue it," Harrad said. As head of a local association, Barbary Macaque Awareness & Conservation (BMAC), Harrad has become a tireless advocate for the animal. He says it is often sold to buyers in Europe for between $110 and $330 (100 and 300 euros) despite laws forbidding the trade. "A lot of foreigners buy monkeys as pets," he said. Seen as quiet and cute when it is young, the adult monkey can become a burden, Harrad said. "It breaks things, bites, fights with children and climbs the curtains," prompting many owners to abandon their pets, he said. Macaque remains in ashes of Pompeii But that hasn't stopped the tailless monkeys, with their thick grey-and-ginger fur, being highly sought-after by passing travellers throughout the ages. According to National Geographic, skeletal remains of macaques have been discovered "in the ashes of Pompeii, deep within an ancient Egyptian catacomb, and buried beneath an Irish hilltop where the Bronze Age kings of Ulster once held court". Zouhair Ahmaouch, an official at Morocco's High Commission for Water, Forests and Combating Desertification, said the new conservation plan focused on tackling poaching. But Morocco "can't repatriate monkeys released in Europe, because we don't know whether they came from Gibraltar, Algeria or Morocco", he said. The North African kingdom has never conducted a nationwide census of the macaque, but scientists believe its numbers fall every year. Based on various studies, they estimate that Morocco is home to between 3,000 and 10,000 macaques today, compared with 17,000 three decades ago. They believe Algeria had around 5,500 Barbary macaques in the late 1980s. The number has since almost halved, according to the IUCN. Algiers has also responded with plans to protect the species. While the macaques are hard to spot in the wilds of Morocco's Rif, some individuals in the forests of the Middle Atlas are tame, attracting tourists who come to feed them. But Ifrane National Park head Lahcen Oukennou said feeding can cause "health problems such as obesity, which affects their health and especially their reproductive capacity". Anouar Jaoui, director of Talassemtane National Park in northern Morocco, home to several dozen macaques, said the conservation strategy includes measures to "rehabilitate and rebuild the species' habitat". That requires "reducing the pressure from overexploitation of natural resources", he added. In the forests of the Middle Atlas, authorities are organising awareness-raising sessions for tourists to discourage them from feeding or approaching the monkeys. Pupils at local schools are also being educated about the species. Last October, the Barbary macaque was listed as a species threatened with extinction on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). That makes buying and selling the monkeys illegal except under exceptional circumstances. Ahmaouch welcomed the move. "It will allow Morocco and other countries to unify their efforts to fight against the illegal trade in Barbary macaques," he said. Morocco has a "global responsibility to conserve this heritage".