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Molinari Makes Magic In Morocco

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 01:15


Edoardo Molinari: A winner again.

Edoardo Molinari clinched his first European Tour title in seven years as he beat overnight leader Paul Dunne in a play-off at the Trophée Hassan II.

Molinari finished his fourth round with an eagle to snatch the outright lead but Dunne held his nerve to card a birdie at the last to get to nine under and take the contest to a play-off.

Molinari then boxed his par putt from two feet out for the win after Dunne made five at the first play-off hole.

“It’s fantastic,” Molinari smiled afterwards.

“I’ve been through some very hard times with injuries and bad form.

“To be able to win this week deletes a lot of bad memories and hopefully I can keep going down this road.

“It just shows that you should never give up, you should always keep trying, keep working hard.

“I’ve probably been the player who has spent the most time on the driving range over the last three years. This is a great reward for so much hard work.”

Englishman Paul Waring was alone in third on eight under after carding four birdies and a bogey in his final-round 70.

The venue for the year’s final major, the PGA Championship, is a Pete Dye masterpiece.

Klara Spilkova Becomes First Czech Republic Winner On Ladies European Tour At Lalla Meryem Cup

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 11:10

Sky Sports
By Keith Jackson

Klara Spilkova created Ladies European Tour history in Morocco as she claimed a superb one-shot victory at the Lalla Meryem Cup.

Final leaderboard

Spilkova fired a flawless final-round 66 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to edge out the vastly-experienced Suzann Pettersen and become the first player from the Czech Republic to win an LET title.

The 22-year-old, who was making her first start of the year on the main Tour, came from four strokes behind to claim her maiden win after matching the low round of the week, while Pettersen missed a chance to force a play-off when she came up short with a 15-foot birdie putt on the final green.

1836 Tour,Wednesday 19th, 09:00am

Warrington Outright

Klara Spilkova closed with a bogey-free 66 to win her first Ladies European Tour title

Spilkova began her charge up the leaderboard with three birdies in four holes from the fifth, and she picked up another at the 10th to move to six under par.

Another gain at the 13th lifted her into a share of the lead, and she soon led outright when she converted from six feet at the next hole before parring safely in to set a challenging clubhouse target.

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Pettersen looked on course for victory when she birdied the sixth and seventh, but dropped shots at 10 and 15 left her with much to do before she holed from 15 feet at the penultimate hole with a nervous Spilkova watching intently from the scorers hut.

But the Norwegian veteran could not get her birdie putt to the hole at the last as she signed for a disappointing 71 to leave Spilkova celebrating an unlikely victory as well as a cheque for 67,500 euros – the biggest payday of her career by some distance.

Suzann Pettersen cannot believe she left her birdie putt short on the final green.

“I just took almost a two-month break to work on myself more than anything else, and I didn’t play much golf,” she said. “I was trying to get my mind in the right place and it worked. I feel much better than last year.

“The hardest challenge is always your ego. I just won for myself, because I felt no ego. I can’t believe it. It’s just great. I don’t really have any emotions now.”

Pettersen added: “Obviously I’m very disappointed not to win, I didn’t have my best game from tee to green and it’s cost me this tournament. I had a putt on the last, which ended short when it was in my hands to at least get into a play-off.

Live Ladies European Tour Golf

April 22, 2017, 10:00am

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“I kept the hope alive with a birdie on 17 but when you shoot 66 on Sunday you should be there or thereabouts to win the tournament so credit to Spilkova.”

Annabel Dimmock made a birdie-birdie start to share the lead with Pettersen and stayed in contention with another gain at the seventh, but two bogeys after the turn proved costly as a closing 70 left her in third place on six under par.

Dimmock’s compatriots Georgia Hall (66) and Felicity Johnson (71) shared fourth on four under, but Welsh pro Lydia Hall carded three double-bogeys and crashed to a 78 in the final group to slide to one over.

Outright Winner

Warrington Outright

Morocco: North African Oasis Offers A Vision Of Stability

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 18:00

The Australian
by Greg Sheridan

As Syria groaned under the dictator’s bombs and the military campaigns, well intentioned or the reverse, of the outside powers, as Egypt grieved over the horrible sectarian suicide bombing of a Christian church, as Libya grappled with the lawless, violent factionalism that has replaced Muammar Gaddafi — all of this misery rolling out of the Arab Spring — this week I witnessed an altogether different scene in the heart of the Arab world.

I was delayed checking into a mid-range resort hotel by a large, voluble group of French family holiday-makers, arguing good naturedly with check-in staff over why their rooms were not ready.

Apart from the striking, glorious, international domesticity of the scene, what was remarkable was that the holiday-makers were part of a much bigger group of Jewish visitors seeking their two weeks of summer sun and sand and buffet breakfasts. Their incidental religious affiliation was instantly recognisable because al­most all the men were unself­cons­ciously wearing Jewish skullcaps.

Where was this oasis of intercommunal harmony and innocent bourgeois holiday-making? Marrakesh, the fabled cultural jewel of Moroccan antiquity, that’s where.

Of all the Arab states of North Africa and the Persian Gulf, none has a serious case for emerging from the Arab Spring in better shape than Morocco. Its economic growth rate is better than 4.5 per cent; it has had two democratic elections ultimately producing stable governments; it has free trade agreements with the US and Europe; its society is functioning; it is a stable military ally of the US; its last significant terrorist attack was in 2011 (in Marrakesh). And it wants a new and more intimate relationship with Australia.

How did all this come about?

I ask this of Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s foreign minister, a man of singular charm and urbanity. A career diplomat, he has just been appointed foreign minister by the newly formed coalition government, dominated by a notionally Islamist, though certainly moderate, party.

I am the first journalist to interview him as foreign minister and we meet in his vast office in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, overlooking the green fields and surviving walls of the ancient Chellah site, first a city under the Phoenicians, long before the birth of Christ, then settled by the Romans and later the Berbers and Arabs and all who prospered under them.

“I think there were many reasons,” Bourita says. “Many observers from Australia or the West tend to think of the Arab world as a single bloc. But it’s not the case. Every country is different. Morocco is not Libya, which is not Yemen, which is not Saudi Arabia. Morocco was a state for more than 13 centuries.

“This dynasty (of His Majesty King Mohammed VI) has been here for more than three centuries. Morocco for all this time was a sovereign state and a monarchy except for 40 years of the French presence.”

The contrast, though the minister doesn’t draw it, is with most of the rest of the Arab world, which had centuries of Ottoman dominance followed by European colonisation. When Mohammed VI ascended the throne, says Bourita, he explicitly sought to modernise Morocco with a new vision of a developed, modern and moderate nation.

“For Arab countries, the question was whether historical legitimacy was enough for the future. His Majesty brought a new social contract,” Bourita continues. “He chose stability through reform.

“There were some (in the region) who believed stability could be achieved through the status quo, through freezing everything. Our stability was achieved through a new constitution, through transitional justice, through improvement in the status of women, through big projects for human development.”

Taken together with the calming influence of a popular monarchy over a republic in the Middle East, these factors do offer a persuasive explanation for Morocco’s relative success and peace. They do not, however, necessarily offer that much guidance for nations that may not have the benefits of 13 centuries of sovereignty and a prestigious monarchy.

Nor has everything been perfect in Morocco. Not far short of 3000 Moroccans found their way to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

Morocco is neither complacent about its own problems with Islamist extremism, nor indifferent to the problems of its regional neighbours.

The same day I meet the foreign minister I spend the morning at the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, also in Rabat. This large, white, elegant campus was built in direct response to the rise of the terrorist movement and a number of terror bombings in Morocco more than a decade ago.

I am taken on a tour by the institute’s director, Abdesselam Lazaar, a sprightly, genial man of 70 summers.

The first things I notice about this commodious campus is that it is international and coeducational. The institute caters to students from Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Chad, Mali, Guinea and France. And while there are more young men than young women, there are plenty of young women. It seems that while women do not become imams in the sense of leading formal prayers in the mosque, they do many other jobs associated with the mosque.

The students are taught in their respective national groups because, apart from the common need for Arabic for the Koran, the students need to be taught in the language of their home nation. I am invited to stick my head into many classes and each is co-ed. This, I am told, is strikingly unusual in such an institution.

In some classes the boys are down the front and the girls up the back; in others the seating seems more egalitarian.

I am invited into the mosque to witness students memorising verses of the Koran and here, while the boys are in one group and the girls in another, the two groups are beside each other. Neither is privileged over the other.

Even more surprising, perhaps, for an institute devoted to training imams, the students study a professional or trade syllabus as well as a religious one, for the benefit of those who may end up not being imams after all. They can choose a range of professional qualifications, from electronics to agriculture to sewing.

The institute, which has been going only a couple of years, has graduated 1800 men and 700 women.

Lazaar is softly spoken, quietly proud of his students. “One of the main objects of this institute is to correct the extremist reasoning and understanding of religion,” he explains. “The extremists misuse religious reasoning for extremist purposes. This institute corrects the reasoning of extremists. Then the extremists can talk only with weapons. One day the extremists will understand they have nowhere left to work because this institute has filled their space.”

The state is heavily involved in religion in Morocco. Anyone who wants to become an imam in the future in Morocco will need to go through Lazaar’s institute. Imams are paid a salary by the state and there are limits on what they can say. His institute has taken international students at the request of neighbouring governments. Morocco foots the bill for everyone.

A day or two later, across the street from Rabat’s magnificent, ancient Medina, which sits watchfully, timelessly, over the sea, I meet Ahmed Abbadi, from the League of Religious Scholars.

Like many Moroccan intellectuals, he criticises the West for its failure to regulate, or at least involve itself, in religious practice.

Bourita, the foreign minister, refers me to men such as Lazaar when I inquire about extremism.

He thinks counter-terrorism and security is one area where Australia and Morocco could co-operate even more closely than they already do.

Canberra has recently announced it will soon open a resident embassy in Morocco, which will go some way to filling the gaping hole of our representation in this part of the world.

But Bourita envisages a much broader partnership. He thinks the relationship has a substantial unrealised potential.

“We have very good relations already but we are not maximising our potential. There is much more we could do together on investment and people to people exchanges.

“We agree on many things but there is a lot still to share in political dialogue, in sharing our assessments of our region and your assessments of your region.”

As Humphrey Bogart once remarked in a famous Moroccan scene: “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

Greg Sheridan visited Morocco as a guest of the Moroccan government.

Morocco Officially Opens Its Embassy In Kigali

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 07:13

By: Jean D’Amour

Minister for Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo and Youssef Imani, the Moroccan Ambassador to Rwanda raise the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali. Nadege Imbabazi.

THE EXISTING bilateral relations between Rwanda and Morocco will grow faster thanks to the new Moroccan embassy in Kigali, officials have said.

Officials were speaking yesterday during the official hoisting of the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali.

The embassy started operations earlier this year in February but it had not officially been launched.

Guests chat during the official raising ceremony of the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali. Nadege I

Speaking at the event, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo, said the flag-raising was symbolic.

She stressed that the bilateral relations between the two countries were smooth and growing even before the embassy was opened.

Last October, Rwanda and the Kingdom of Morocco signed 19 agreements to facilitate creation of opportunities for citizens of the two nations.

The agreements followed official visits of heads of state from either country.

Last year, President Paul Kagame visited Morocco and this was followed by the reciprocal visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI, four months later.

After the agreements, Moroccan companies visited Rwanda for the African Business Connect summit earlier this month and expressed their interest to invest in the energy sector, finance, transport and logistics, information and technology, construction and real estate, among other sectors.

“The flag-raising is just a symbolic thing, the bilateral cooperation between the two countries is strong and what we are doing is just a diplomatic gesture and a way of receiving you (embassy) in Rwanda,” said Mushikiwabo, after raising the flag along with Youssef Imani, the Moroccan Ambassador to Rwanda.

“Morocco is in North but now that it is here the message is that ‘‘The flag presents the desire for better collaboration, for us the doors are open whenever need be,” she added.

Amb. Imani said the hoisting of the flag in Kigali means the embassy is officially operational, and is expected to ease bilateral cooperation as well as facilitate investments in either country.

“Before this embassy was opened, whoever wanted Morocco visa services had to go to Nairobi (Kenya), so the problem was time and distance but now we have a physical presence and visa services and others will be offered from here,” he said.

He said there are huge opportunities that investors from either side can benefit from.

Guests during the official raising of the Moroccan flag at the new embassy in Nyarutarama, Kigali. Nadege Imbabazi.

Benjamin Gasamagera, chairperson of Private Sector Federation, said Rwandan investors will now find it easy to get travel documents to go to Morocco.

“The official opening of the Moroccan embassy will ease the process of getting travel documents, this is as if Morocco was brought closer,” he said

He added that following the Moroccan business executives visit, the Private Sector Federation is organising a visit to Morocco to learn from their experience in areas where they have advanced skills, such as in tourism, agriculture, and leather industry.

“Moroccans will feel free to invest more in Rwanda because they have an embassy, they will feel represented, Rwandans will also feel free to do business in Morocco,” he added.

Women-only Rally Takes On The Moroccan Sahara With Just A Compass

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 12:37

By Thomas Page, CNN

Try as you might to stop it, the Sahara will still find a way to assault your senses. If the heat doesn’t get you, the sunlight might. The psychology of the task at hand is enough to break most people.

For Kiera Chaplin, the Sahara struck deep within her inner ear. After crossing rolling dunes in a customized 4×4, the car’s soft suspension and the constant up and down had her disorientated and off-balance. It was sea-sickness, by way of sand.

Watch: Africa’s only all-female rally

“You’re surfing on the waves,” she recalls, “you just glide.” But a serene experience took on added venom when the car rolled to a halt. Climbing gingerly up a dune, she surveyed the landscape, consulting her map and compass and made a judgment. “That way.”

Chaplin was in the middle of the toughest stage of the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles du Maroc — Africa’s only all-female off-road rally.

When the event began in 1990 it was the first of its kind in the world. Touting both its eco-credentials and empowering ethos, the rally’s petrol-head sorority has careened around Morocco’s eastern reaches for nearly three decades, always racing on its own terms.

Unlike other rallies, there are no prizes for speed. And while most competitions use a host of technologies, the so-called “Gazelles” must negotiate the terrain without GPS. Instead, contestants win for completing each stage while driving the shortest distance, meaning accuracy and bravery are key.

Expert teams travel kilometer to kilometer, says Chaplin, constantly readjusting their route. Drivers need to hit flag points along each stage; getting lost or looping back is fatal to one’s chance of winning.

Western Sahara: New UN Chief Calls Polisario, Algeria To Order

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 15:45

Sahara News
by Ali Haidar

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was, in the annual report on Western Sahara he submitted, on Monday, to the appreciation of the 15 members of the Security Council, more pragmatic, balanced and unbiased, unlike his predecessor, the Korean Ban Ki-Moon.

Not only did the UN chief summon the Polisario to “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw its armed elements from the buffer zone of the Guerguarat border crossing point, he demanded that Algeria and Mauritania contribute a little more to the settlement process of the Sahara conflict.

For progress to be made, Guterres insisted in his report that “Algeria and Mauritania, as neighboring countries, can and should make important contributions to this process.”

Regarding the Guerguarat crisis, the new boss of the UN welcomes the unilateral withdrawal of Morocco from the buffer zone, but expresses disappointment at the Polisario’s refusal to retreat from this zone and urges the Security Council to exact that “the Polisario Front withdraws completely and unconditionally” from the zone.

In reiterating the idea of ??a mutually acceptable political solution and the need for compromise, Guterres refers exclusively to the post-2006 period and the realism concept introduced in 2008 by the former UN mediator, Peter Van Walsum, who had concluded before the Security Council that “the independence of the Western Sahara was not a realistic option”.

“Over the years, the Council has provided guidance that negotiations must take place without preconditions, in good faith, given the efforts made since 2006 and the subsequent developments,” Guterres recalled, indirectly referring to the Moroccan autonomy initiative proposed in 2007.

The Guterres report has banned all phrases and wordings so dear to the Algerian regime and the Polisario, such as “non-autonomous territories”, “referendum”, “plundering natural resources”… He has not referred to the interference of the African Union and European justice in the Sahara issue, thus giving the UN the pre-eminence and exclusivity in dealing with this territorial dispute.

The end of the era of the Ban Ki-Moon / Christopher Ross tandem and the term of the Portuguese Antonio Guterres at the helm of the United Nations are surely a good omen for Morocco.

Morocco, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire Conduct Naval Exercise

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 13:57

North African Post

Morocco’s Royal Navy conducted an at sea military exercise with Senegalese and Ivorian Navies focusing on improving maritime safety and hostage rescue operations.

Ivorian news outlet Fratmat.com reported that the drills took place off Côte d’Ivoire’s coast on the sidelines of the participation of the three navies in the Obangame Express 2017 maritime exercises under the supervision of the US Africa command, Africom.

The exercise between the three navies reflects the excellent political and economic ties between the three West African countries bordering the Atlantic.

Morocco’s Hassan II frigate took part in the exercise along with Cote d’Ivoire’s patrol boat, Emergence and Senegal’s Fouladou.

The three navies have earlier participated in the Obangame Express 2017, which aims at providing participating countries with an opportunity to work together, share information and refine tactics, techniques and procedures in order to assist Gulf of Guinea maritime nations with building capacity to monitor and enforce their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.

The Participating nations in the Obangame Express 2017 include Angola, Benin, Belgium, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

King Mohammed VI Of Morocco Launches The Noor PV I Program In Ouarzazate

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 13:51


Dubai, UAE: His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco chaired the ground breaking ceremony of the NOOR Ouarzazate IV plant. The program is the first phase of Photo Voltaic Power (PV) generation plants of the NOOR Solar Plant.

The ground breaking ceremony of NOOR Ouarzazate IV plant, with a generating capacity of 72 MW, follows the agreement that was signed in November 2016 at COP22 at Marrakech by a consortium led by the leading water and power developer, ACWA Power, to develop and operate the plant. The total cost of NOOR PV I project is US $ 220 million.

ACWA Power was selected through an international tender and will, in collaboration with the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) and the Chint Group, be responsible for the development, construction and long term operation of Ouarzazate plant under a BOOT (Build, Operate, Own and Transfer) scheme.

The levelized electricity tariff of USD 4.797¢/kWh (MAD 0.46/kWh) at which the contract has been awarded is one of the most competitive tariffs compared to the lowest contracted anywhere else in the world taking into account equalizing factors such as terms of contract and location and country specific factors.

A consortium of Sterling & Wilson, Shapoorji Pallonji and Chint Solar will undertake the delivery of the facilities under a Delivery, Procurement and Construction contract, on behalf of the sponsors.

Morocco Could “Support” The UK As Its Ally After Brexit

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 07:16

Marie Le Conte
Tiksa Negeri / Reuters

“Morocco has a very old relationship with the UK and Brexit is a way for us to renew that relationship.”

Moroccan newspapers, bankers, and senior private sector figures have spoken out about wanting their country to get closer to the UK post-Brexit, as the lord mayor of London visited Casablanca as part of a tour of North Africa.

Representing the City of London, Andrew Parmley met a number of Moroccan officials and businessmen on Wednesday to talk about reinforcing trade between the two countries.

During one of the meetings, Casablanca stock exchange director Karim Hajji told Parmley: “As your country is currently in the process of leaving the EU, we would like to point out how many opportunities for growth there are in Morocco, in all areas.”

Faïçal Mekouar, the vice president of the CGEM – the body that represents the private sector in Morocco – told the British delegation that “though the UK is only Morocco’s 12th biggest client and provider, our country still is Britain’s main partner in North Africa.”

According to news website La Tribune, Mekouar also pointed out that “Morocco is the only country in North Africa with access to the Atlantic coast, as well as having a well-developed infrastructure, modern laws, and a financial system with the most advanced regulatory framework in Africa.”

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, CGEM director Hakim Marrakchi said he had been very pleased by the meeting, and that the timing was good for the two countries to get closer.

“Of course, Morocco has a very old relationship with the UK and Brexit is a way for us to renew that relationship,” he said, “and we have noticed that there are several strategic opportunities for Morocco.”

“There is a possibility for us to renegotiate better deals as the interests of certain European countries aren’t necessarily the same as Britain’s,” he added. “It’s a way to build the future of Morocco’s relationship with Britain.”

The sectors discussed as potential areas of enhanced trade between the two countries, Marrakchi said, were “aeronautics, the automobile industry, energy, and renewable energy in particular”.

England has had diplomatic ties with Morocco since 1213, long before the UK existed, when King John of England sent the country’s first embassy to Morocco.

According to current affairs weekly Tel Quel, Morocco imported 5.850 million dirhams (£463,516) worth of products from the UK between January and September 2016, and exported 5.138 million (£407,091).

While this may not be much, Jamal Eddine El Ansari from the British Chamber of Commerce in Morocco has high hopes, telling the magazine that it wants to “reach over a billion dirhams in exchanges between the two countries before 2020, by diversifying sectors”.

“Products and services in finance are very well developed in London – British companies could help Moroccan banks,” he added. “That way, we’d gain new expertise and they’d gain new markets.”

In the same piece, Tel Quel warned: “Morocco needs to start lobbying right now, as the negotiations which will lead to the Brexit will come to an end in under two years. Morocco needs to start investing, as Britons are more likely to turn towards Gulf countries instead of north Africa.”

The relationship could also be a diplomatic one. Though the Moroccan government hasn’t announced any initiative yet, Marrakchi is confident that the kingdom would be an ally to Britain if its relationship with the EU were to become frosty.

“Morocco can offer support to the United Kingdom, it could be interesting”, he told BuzzFeed News. “We’re not a huge economy but we’re fairly close and just like 800 years ago, and even a bit after that, the UK had issues with the continent and Morocco offered its support then. It’s a really old relationship.”

Morocco Dismantles ISIS-Linked Cell

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:01

News 24

The Moroccan authorities said on Wednesday that they had dismantled a “terrorist cell” that was recruiting volunteers for the Islamic State group.

The ISIS-affiliated cell, which was active in the northern city of Fez and nearby town of Moulay Yacoub, had seven members, an interior ministry statement said.

They “recruited and sent Moroccan volunteers to Iraq and Syria” where the jihadist group holds territory, it said.

Police seized bladed weapons, military uniforms, money and electronic equipment during the raid.

The authorities have regularly announced the dismantling of ISIS cells and arrest of suspected jihadist recruiters in recent months.

The kingdom has been spared deadly jihadist attacks since a 2011 bombing in the central city of Marrakesh which killed 17 people, mainly European tourists.

A Secluded Moroccan Palace Favored By Hollywood’s A-List

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 16:00

Bloomberg LP
More stories by James Tarmy

The 15-bedroom Riad Sultan, yours for just $3.7 million.

Most of the houses in the Medina section of Marrakech—the city’s historic center and now a UNESCO heritage site—aren’t much to look at from the outside. Narrow streets are hemmed in by high, virtually windowless walls. The only indication of life behind them is the odd piece of foliage peeking above the painted stucco.

An alcove in the Riad Sultan.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
The Riad Sultan, a former palace located a few minutes’ walk from the Jemaa El Fna square is no different. But inside the Riad’s ornate wooden door, you’ll find one of the most elaborate private homes in the city, now up for sale.

Ceilings throughout the house are decorated in elaborate, hand-painted ornaments.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
Originally owned by the country’s grand vizier, Madani el Glaoui (whose brother, known to English speakers as Lord of the Atlas, was the fabulously wealthy Pasha of Marrakech), the palace passed through multiple hands until 1998, when the French publicist Homero Machry and his partner, Thierry de Beaucé, an author, diplomat, and former secretary of state to the French minister of Foreign Affairs, bought it.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
“It was one extended Moroccan family living in the whole house,” Machry said in a phone interview. “Like eight separate families, who’d separated it into apartments.” The new owners did a “tiny” amount of work to return the more than 16,000-square-foot house to its unified whole. It now has 15 bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), three large reception rooms, four courtyards, a (former) harem room, a tower, and a rooftop swimming pool.

A hallway decorated with artwork from China. Everything in the house is for sale.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
The couple filled the house with objects from their travels: large canvases from China, prints by Picasso (they threw a birthday party for Picasso’s daughter Paloma), carvings from Africa, Louis XV chairs from France, and lamps from Indonesia, where de Beaucé was once France’s ambassador.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
Though they have a staff of six, both Machry and de Beaucé feel that now, the palace is too much house for two people. They have put it on the market with Kensington Luxury Properties Group, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, for €3.5 million ($3.7 million). “It became too big for us,” Machry said. “It will be easier for us to live in a more modern space, too.” To that end, he hopes to sell all the furnishings as well. “It would be impossible to put all of these paintings and furniture into a small house,” he said. “Luckily we’ve already had a few offers about the furniture.”

Photographer: Riad Sultan
For more than a decade, the couple operated the house as a bed and breakfast, which became the go-to for a certain Hollywood and fashion set. Charlotte Rampling, Kate Moss, Ridley Scott, Calvin Klein, Naomi Campbell and others all stayed at the Riad Sultan over the years. Several movies were shot in the residence as well. “Nicole Kidman was in one,” Machry said, though he was unable to recall which. (There’s a good chance it was Queen of the Desert, directed by Werner Herzog, which received a rating of 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.) A few years ago, Machry said, the house reverted back to a private residence.

The house has one of the largest private gardens in the Medina.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
The house has almost a quarter-acre of gardens—remarkable, given the densely packed metropolis outside its walls—which are filled with cypress, olive, and orange trees. The garden is fed by one of the few wells in the Medina, which also supplies water to the multiple courtyard fountains.

The lush gardens are fed by a rare spring.

Photographer: Riad Sultan
It’s next to the smallest of these that Machry said he finds the most peace. “It’s very quiet,” he said. “All you hear is the birds.”

Zgounder Silver Mine Produces Monthly Record Of 53,829 Ounces Ag In March 2017

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 14:55


Maya Gold & Silver (“Maya” or the “Corporation”) (TSX VENTURE:MYA) is pleased to report a monthly record production of 53,829 ounces (1,674 Kg) of silver during the month of March 2017 at its Zgounder silver mine in Morocco.

March 2017 Production Highlights

A silver production of 53,829 ounces represents a 15.74% increase from the March 2016 output;
A total of 5,270 tons processed yields a 5.78% increase from the total of March 2016;
This is the highest monthly silver output since the start of mining operations in September 2014;
The total recovery rate of 88.14% indicates an increase of 16.97% from that of March 2016

Operational Highlights

Development highlights at the Zgounder Mine

During the month of March 2017, underground exploration and development consisted of 870.8 metres of percussion drilling in seven mine workings. Highlights of the work completed are:

Percussion drilling was carried out on level 2030.

Panel 1 was extended to the western zone of level 2100. The mineralization lies at the the dolerite dyke /Neoproterozoic metasediments contact at the intersection of EW- and NS-oriented structures. The mineralization consists of disseminated sulphides (sphalerite, galena and pyrite) accompanied by trace amounts of native silver within fractures and quartz veinlets. Panel 5y, located at the contact of the dolerite dyke and metasediments, manifests a strong clhorite and sericite alteration and is affected by an intense fracturation. The panel is contained within schistosed sandstones mineralized in sulphides (sphalerite, galena and pyrite) and exposing numerous plates of native silver in fractures.

Other percussion drill holes determined the extent of silver mineralization between levels 2006 and 2012, in panel 09 and at level 2000 (P8).

Qualified Persons

The technical content of this news release has been provided by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining and has been reviewed and approved by Michel Boily, PhD, geo from GÉON; an independent Qualified Person under NI 43-101 standards.


Maya Gold & Silver Inc. is a Canadian publicly listed mining corporation focused on the exploration and development of gold and silver deposits in Morocco. Maya is initiating mining and milling operations at its Zgounder Mine owned by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining (“ZMSM”), a Maya 85% owned joint venture with l’Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (“ONHYM”) of the Kingdom of Morocco (15%).

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Forward-looking statements

This news release contains statements about our future business and planned activities. These are “forward-looking” because we have used what we know and expect today to make a statement about the future. Forward-looking statements including but are not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work and analyses. Forward-looking statements usually include words such as may, intend, plan, expect, anticipate, and believe or other similar words. We believe the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable. However, actual events and results could be substantially different because of the risks and uncertainties associated with our business or events that happen after the date of this news release. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. As a general policy, we do not update forward-looking statements except as required by securities laws and regulations.


Maya Gold & Silver Inc.:
R Martin Wong CPA CA
Interim Chief Executive Officer

Maya Gold & Silver Inc.:
Noureddine Mokaddem

Maya Gold & Silver Inc.:
Nathalie Dion
Investor Relations
450-435-0700 ext. 202

UN Chief Wants New Talks In 40-year Western Sahara Impasse

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 10:47

The Washington post
By Reda Zaireg | AP

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he wants renewed negotiations to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, which has pitted Morocco against the Polisario Front independence movement for 40 years.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council this week, Guterres proposed relaunching the negotiations “with a new dynamic and a new spirit.”

The goal, he said, should be reaching “a mutually acceptable political solution” that would include “an accord on the nature and form that the exercise of self-determination” would take for the disputed and mineral-rich Western Sahara area.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front. The U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and to help prepare a referendum on the territory’s future that has never taken place.

What’s next for Algeria?

The North African country looks toward the future of energy, tourism, diplomacy and industry.  Morocco considers the Western Sahara its “southern provinces” and has proposed giving the territory wide-ranging autonomy. The Polisario Front insists on self-determination through a referendum for the local population, which it estimates at between 350,000 and 500,000.

Guterres said in the report that he hopes to start new negotiations “on the basis of consultations with the parties and neighboring states, members of the Friends of Western Sahara Group and the Security Council as well as other important parties.”

Morocco’s government wants Algeria to be involved in any future talks and considers the neighboring North African country a party to the conflict. Algeria says it is not directly involved in the conflict and supports the U.N. process.

The U.N. chief expressed concern about the tense situation in Guerguerat, a town in the buffer zone on the Morocco-Mauritanian border, and asked the Polisario to “pull out completely and unconditionally” from the site.

Morocco Dismantles ISIS-Linked Cell

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 06:26

News 24

The Moroccan authorities said on Wednesday that they had dismantled a “terrorist cell” that was recruiting volunteers for the Islamic State group.

The ISIS-affiliated cell, which was active in the northern city of Fez and nearby town of Moulay Yacoub, had seven members, an interior ministry statement said.

They “recruited and sent Moroccan volunteers to Iraq and Syria” where the jihadist group holds territory, it said.

Police seized bladed weapons, military uniforms, money and electronic equipment during the raid.

The authorities have regularly announced the dismantling of ISIS cells and arrest of suspected jihadist recruiters in recent months.

The kingdom has been spared deadly jihadist attacks since a 2011 bombing in the central city of Marrakesh which killed 17 people, mainly European tourists.

Why Did The Arab Spring Fail? No Democracy Without Women’s Rights

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 17:00

By University of Gothenburg

Study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women.

Why did the Arab spring fail? Despite a number of revolutions in the Arab world, in the end only Tunisia emerged as a functioning democracy. Results from an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Gothenburg indicate that the problem might be traced partially to the lack of women’s civil rights in the region.

A new study published in the European Journal of Political Research discusses the importance of women’s rights for countries to become democratic. The researchers used a dataset developed by V-Dem, a research institution cohosted by the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). The dataset includes the state of democracy in 177 countries over the years 1900 to 2012.

The study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. This is particularly true for the Arab Spring countries, where the failure to foster women’s rights compromised any attempt at democratic governance in the area.

According to Professor Staffan Lindberg, director of the V-Dem Institute, the result is important because it shows that democratic development is not gender blind: societies transitioning from authoritarian regimes strongly need women in order to develop functioning democratic governments.

Consistent pattern

The study revealed that civil rights for both men and women – rights to own property, freedom of speech and movement, and freedom from forced labor – were always present at a high level before constitutional rights were implemented. This pattern can be observed in almost all cases of successful democratization from 1900 onward in the 177 countries investigated.

“Our results clearly indicate the importance of women’s civil rights, because women’s rights increase the costs of authoritarian repression and enable women to organize in democratization movements. Without these basic rights, no country has managed to democratize fully,” says Yi-Ting Wang, the lead author of the study.

The only country that is different in this regard is Tunisia, whose progressive president Habib Bourbuiba implemented several basic rights for women already when the country gained independence in the 1950s. Consequently, the only country that made a successful transition to democracy during the Arab spring was Tunisia.

Inspired by evolutionary biology

The international team of scholars used a novel methodological approach inspired by evolutionary biology.

“We strongly believe in methodologies inspired by natural sciences. In fact, we think that this cross-disciplinary approach will help us, as political scientists, to better understand democratic transitions and other phenomena in the future”, says Staffan Lindberg.

The research article “Women’s rights in democratic transitions: A global sequence analysis, 1900-2012. European Journal of Political Research” can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-6765.12201/abstract

The international team behind this study includes Staffan I. Lindberg and Aksel Sundström from the University of Gothenburg, Patrik Lindenfors and Fredrik Jansson from Stockholm University, Yi-ting Wang from National Cheng Kung University, and Pamela Paxton from the University of Texas.

Fairmont Opens In Morocco

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 10:07

By Iuliia Tore

AccorHotels today announced the signing of a hotel management agreement (HMA) with New Mauritius Hotels Limited, one of the oldest and largest owning and management hospitality companies based in Mauritius.

The new agreement will see AccorHotels relaunch the existing property under the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts brand in May 2017. The reflagging will mark a major step for the luxury brand in Africa.

Located just 12 kilometers from the bustling city of Marrakech, Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech is nestled within the heart of a century-old olive grove, spanning 231 hectares with uninterrupted views of the Atlas Mountains. The hotel also boasts unmatched resort amenities including an expansive 6,608 meter, 18-hole golf course created by renowned architect Cabell B. Robinson.

Olivier Granet, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director, AccorHotels Middle East & Africa said: “We are delighted to have the first Fairmont hotel in operation in Morocco, a unique brand that represents some of the most iconic and distinctive hotels in the world. ” He further added: “Morocco is a strategic market for us and one in which we are witnessing solid growth and momentum. With 37 hotels currently within our portfolio, we look forward to complementing the country’s already robust tourism development plan, and to reinforce our global development objective for Africa overall by doubling our network to reach 200 hotels.”

Gilbert Espitalier-Noël, Chief Executive Officer, New Mauritius Hotels Limited said: “We are delighted to have signed this management agreement with the luxury division of AccorHotels. The Royal Palm Marrakech is an exceptional resort which we are proud to have developed. We are confident that the management and commercial strength of the AccorHotels Group, with its newly acquired Fairmont brand, will contribute to establishing the Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech as Morocco’s premier resort.”

Featuring 134 guestrooms including five Presidential Suites, one Penthouse Suite, and 10 Prince villas, the resort currently also offers 94 private residences consisting of two, three and four-bedroom villas. Subsequent phases of the development will include both Fairmont Royal Palm Residences and Fairmont Royal Palm Estates, joining Fairmont’s exclusive portfolio of branded private residences. Currently, under development, the branded residences will be serviced by Fairmont, enabling residents to enjoy the full benefits of a resort lifestyle. Each Residence is elegantly designed, ranging from 200 square meters for a two bedroom to over 500 square meters for a four-bedroom villa. Optional furniture packages will be available, featuring inspired designs that reflect the local heritage and cultural influences, as well as high quality materials, fabrics and appliances.

Hamid Bentahar, Executive Vice President, Luxury & Upscale Brands, Africa & Indian Ocean, AccorHotels, added: “We’re delighted to announce this new mixed use property that combines luxury residences and a five-star hotel. Our exceptionally strong residential expertise means we offer one of the most attractive hospitality options to guests. Fairmont Royal Palm is the latest step in our journey to becoming one of the premium luxury operators in Morocco.”

The resort currently features four restaurants and lounges including Le Caravane, an international restaurant on the terrace; L’Olivier, overlooking the swimming pool and serving Mediterranean cuisine; Al Ain, a traditional Moroccan restaurant; and Le Bar, offering an evening respite with its own cigar cellar. Due to open shortly, The Golf Course Country Club will add even more options for guests. Serving also as the club house for residence owners, The Country Club will comprise of a lounge, restaurants, and a health club and swimming pool.

Leisure options include a 25 meter year-round heated, ozonized swimming pool as well as a 3,500 sqm spa including a bespoke private area. In addition to its own golf club, highlighted by an expanse of 75 hectares, Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech is surrounded by three of the eleven golf courses in the city. It is also the nearest resort to the acclaimed Assoufid Golf Club, award winner of the World Golf Awards 2016 in Morocco.

The vast estate, which lies at the foot of the Atlas mountain range and only a 10minute drive from Menara Airport, is within close proximity to the mythical Red City offering travelers a culturally enriching and quaint experience with a range of local attractions.

The addition of a landmark hotel in a strategic African market supports AccorHotels’ goal of brand growth and expansion, particularly in the luxury sector. With more than 70 hotels worldwide, Fairmont continues to expand globally with recent openings including Fairmont Quasar Istanbul, Fairmont Chengdu in Western China and Fairmont Fujairah the Middle East. New luxury hotels scheduled to open later in 2017 include the 317-room Fairmont Amman in Jordan, the 298-room Fairmont Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and the 1048-room Fairmont Austin in Texas. Beyond that, other hotels in development include Fairmont Kuala Lumpur, Fairmont Jeddah Hotel & Resort and Fairmont Costa Canuva in Mexico’s burgeoning Riviera Nayarit region, to name a few.

German Prosecutors Investigate Moroccan Man’s Plan To Attack Russia Embassy

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 08:52

by Erik Kirschbaum

A 24-year-old Moroccan man is being investigated in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack on the Russian embassy in Berlin, a spokesman for the Dresden state prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

“We have started an investigation into the man under suspicion of planning an act of violence against the Russian embassy in Berlin,” Steve Schulze-Reinhold told reporters.

Schulze-Reinhold said the suspect had been detained at a refugee centre in the Saxon town of Borsdorf near Leipzig.

No further details into the investigation were provided.

Fourteen people were killed and 50 wounded in last week’s suicide bomb attack on the St Petersburg metro. Russian state investigators said the suspected bomber was Akbarzhon Jalilov, a 23-year-old born in the mainly Muslim ex-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan.

(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

U.N. Chief Calls for Western Sahara Talks, Parties Wary

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 08:39

US News & World Report
By Patrick Markey and Samia Errazzouki

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for new talks on the decades-old Western Sahara conflict, saying negotiations should address proposals from both Morocco and the Polisario independence movement.

The U.N. call for a restart to talks came after months of tensions in the disputed territory, which Polisario says belongs to the Sahrawi people who fought a guerrilla war against Moroccan rule until a 1991 U.N.-backed ceasefire.

U.N. efforts have repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the desert territory, contested since 1975 when the colonial power Spain left.

“I intend to propose that the negotiating process be relaunched with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” the U.N. chief said in his report presented for review to the Security Council on Monday.

“For progress to be made, the negotiations must be open to both parties’ proposals and ideas. Algeria and Mauritania, as neighboring countries, can and should make important contributions to this process.”

In initial reactions, a Moroccan foreign ministry source called the U.N. report more objective in tone than past ones, while a Polisario representative said the Sahrawi movement was ready for talks that were serious and without preconditions.

The UN report said talks must aim for a mutually acceptable political solution over the ultimate status of Western Sahara, including through agreement on “the nature and form of the exercise of self-determination”.

The 1991 ceasefire called for a U.N.-supported referendum on the region’s future, including the possibility of independence. The vote never happened.

Morocco has since made its own proposal for autonomy under the kingdom’s sovereignty, but Polisario insists on the U.N. referendum.


“The fundamental difficulty is that each party has a different vision and reading of the history and documents that surround this conflict,” the report said.

Last year, Morocco clashed with the U.N. over its MINURSO peacekeeping mission after former U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon visited Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria. Rabat kicked out dozens of MINURSO staff from the Western Sahara, saying Ban was biased.

“The tone has clearly changed, and the parameters have taken into consideration a realistic approach that demonstrates the will to protect a certain degree of objectivity,” the foreign ministry source said of the new report, noting also the call for neighboring countries to participate.

“Everything has its time,” the source said when asked about whether the report would lead to participation in talks.

Polisario insists on the referendum with independence as an option and says only Morocco and Polisario should be at the negotiating table.

A Polisario representative said talks should not abandon progress made by former U.N. Western Sahara envoy Christopher Ross, who resigned last month.

“First MINURSO should return, and should be able to do its work to prepare the referendum,” the representative said. “We hope the new envoy will continue with what Ross started and not start from the beginning again.”

Since the end of fighting Western Sahara has effectively been split in two, part controlled by Morocco and part by Polisario forces, divided by a heavily mined earthen berm.

Last year, tensions spiked during a standoff in the remote Guerguerat area. U.N. peacekeepers stepped in after Moroccan gendarmerie went outside Moroccan-controlled areas in what they said was a road-clearing operation, prompting the mobilization of Polisario forces.

Morocco in February said it had withdrawn its troops from the buffer zone but Polisario says it will remain in the area as a precaution.

In his report, the U.N. chief called on the Security Council to “urge” the Polisario to “fully and unconditionally” withdraw from the Guerguerat buffer strip, noting that the “risk of an incident or accident remains high.”

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Roche)

New Manchester Airport Route Connects North West With Morocco’s Atlas Mountains

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 09:51

by Richard Bell

Air Arabia Maroc is set to introduce a new route between Manchester and Morocco this winter.

From October, the low-cost carrier will fly twice weekly between the North West and Agadir, a city and beach resort located on the southern Atlantic coast of Morocco.

Air Arabia Maroc confirmed it will operate the service every Thursday and Sunday with an Airbus A320.

Adel Al Ali, Air Arabia’s group chief exec, said: “We look forward to connecting Manchester with Agadir and we are confident that this step will further cater to the needs of our growing customer base.

“Agadir offers a great tourism experience year around with its unique beaches, mountains, golf resorts and excellent dining options.”

The deal will make Manchester the only UK airport outside London served by the airline.

Stephen Turner, the airport’s commercial director, commented: “It’s great news that Air Arabia Maroc will start flights to Agadir from Manchester this winter.

“Agadir is a great beach resort that also offers fantastic access to the Atlas Mountains.“

He added: “This route will provide the 22m people in our catchment area with further choice on how to reach this exciting destination.“

European Men’s And Ladies’ Tours Join Forces In Morocco

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 09:43

Bruce Young

The European Tour is back in business this week when the Trophee Hassan II is played at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat in Morocco, the event being played for the seventh consecutive year but the prize money has jumped by €1 million euro to €2,500,000.

The European Tour event will be played concurrently with the Ladies European Tour event, the Lalla Meryem Cup, although the LET event is to be played on the 36-hole venue’s alternate layout, the Blue Course.

Similar concepts have been adopted on the Japan Tour and the Australasian Tour where men’s and women’s events are played at the same venue and, in the case of the Australian events, the men’s and women’s Victorian Opens at Thirteenth Beach, are actually played on the same layouts.

The Ladies European Tour event pales in comparison in terms of prize-money with the women playing for only €450,000.

The increase in prize money for the men has not really worked in terms of attracting a stronger field and the event’s position in the schedule the week after the Masters makes it difficult to attract any of the game’s elite.

Australians currently entered in the Trophee Hassan II are Wade Ormsby, Richard Green and Nathan Holman.

Ormsby has a strong record in the event with two top-10s from two previous appearances, has shown improved form in recent starts and the chance to play a venue that he clearly enjoys might help to continue his improvement.

Holman is in Morocco for the first time and has missed five of six cuts in 2017 and will need a significant turnaround.

Defending champion, Korea’s Jeunhung Wang, is the leading world-ranked player in the field (48th) having also won the Mauritius Open and Qatar Masters in the last 12 months in addition to a runner-up finish at the Nedbank Challenge.

21-year-old Wang is considered one of the game’s rising stars and his return to the scene of his first European Tour victory will be watched with interest despite his missed cut last week at the Masters.

Amongst the field for the Lalla Meryem Cup, Suzann Pettersen is the standout especially given her impressive recent showing at the ANA Inspiration.

Australians Whitney Hillier, Sarah Kemp, Stacey Peters and rookie Celina Yuan are also in the field.


About The Author : Bruce Young
A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce’s extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia’s leading golf journalists and commentators.

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