Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wet and Cold - with hail - Morocco's Rough Weather

Morocco's National Meteorological Department (DMN) is warning that locally strong thunderstorms are expected from today through to Friday at 03:00 in parts of the Kingdom

These showers will be experienced in the provinces of Casablanca, Mohammedia, Benslimane, Rabat, Skhirat-Témara, Salé, Kénitra, Larache, Sidi Kacem, Sidi Slimane and Nouacer.

Salé has had a lot of rain already

Locally severe thunderstorms are expected from Thursday at 6 pm until Friday at 12:00 in the provinces of Chefchaouen, Al Hoeima, Tetouan (relief), Taounate, Sidi Kacem, Sidi Slimane, Ouazzane, Meknes, Moulay Yacoub, Fez , El Hajeb, Khénifra and Khouribga. The DMN warns that these showers will be accompanied by hail falls in some places.


Casablanca Becomes a War Zone - For Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan casts downtown Casablanca as a setting for the Yemeni civil war - much to the surprise of the locals

The new film by Chinese star Jackie Chan, "Desert Storm", which deals with the current civil war in Yemen, turned the centre of Casablanca into a war zone.

Locals were bemused to discover that some areas of their city had been transformed into a battlefield. The scene in the neighbourhood next to the Casablanca central market was no longer familiar, but rather like scenes usually seen on news reports from Yemen.

Amidst the smoke and devastation were the mangled bodies of burnt-out cars, pickup trucks armed with anti-aircraft cannon and machine-guns, troop transports and heavily armed soldiers.

A few days ago, it was the Dakar tunnel, leading to the Boulevard de la resistance, which served as a set.

Moroccan moviegoers will have to be patient, before discovering a transformed Casablanca, in the feature whose release date has not yet been revealed. Those hoping to see Jackie Chan were disappointed to learn that the man himself was not on set.

The Dakar tunnel, the main stage of earlier shooting, was cut with barricades of sandbags and patrolled by armoured vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft guns and military transport trucks.

Jackie Chan was not on the set

The shooting took place with a large number of extras - some in military uniform and others in traditional Yemeni clothing, all of them armed for war.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Moroccan Tourism - Latest Update

The latest figures from Morocco's Tourism Observatory show a slight improvement with a total of 10.3 million tourists visiting Morocco during 2016, up 1.5% from 2015. The number of foreign tourists decreased by 0.9%, while arrivals of Moroccans living abroad increased by 4%

Spanish, Dutch and Belgian tourist arrivals increased by 2%, 3% and 2% respectively, the observatory said, adding that arrivals from the United Kingdom, Germany and France showed decreases of 6%, 2% and 1%.

The biggest gains have been in the Chinese and Russian markets which showed increases by 32,329 and 23,921 of arrivals compared to 2015.

Tourist accommodation professionals point out that total overnight stays in classified accommodation establishments increased by 4.5% compared to the end of 2015 , Reflecting a 1.4% increase in non-resident tourists and an 11% increase in residents.

The two tourist centres of Marrakesh and Agadir, alone accounted for 60% of total overnight stays in the past year, registering increases of 6% and 4%, respectively, the observatory said.

Other destinations posted contrasting results, with Casablanca (+ 6%) and Tangier (+ 9%), but stagnation in Rabat and a decline in Fes (-6%). Questions are being asked about why Fez is so quiet - given it is one of the most intriguing places in Morocco!

The occupancy rate, which stands at 40% until the end of December 2016, has remained unchanged compared to the same period in 2015, the statistics show.

At the end of 2016, revenues generated by the tourist activity of non-residents in Morocco amounted to 63.24 billion dirhams against 61.15  in 2015, an increase of 3.4%.

During the month of November 2016, the number of tourist arrivals at border posts increased by 11.2% compared with 2015 + 14.4% for foreign tourists and 7.4% for Moroccans resident abroad.


Three Days of Great DJs in Tangier

Electronic Music Festival 2-4 March 2017 Tangier-Morocco - Festival de Musique Électronique 2-4 Mars 2017 TANGER-Maroc

From 2 to 4 March 2017, the association Maroc Créations will be holding the 2nd edition of the electronic music festival TangerGround.

Twenty DJs of 9 nationalities will spin their turntables before the enthusiasts of this musical genre.

In a statement, the initiators of the event explain that the objective of this second edition is to promote electronic music and promote an exchange between Moroccan and foreign DJs.

Lighting is promised to be spectacular

For three days, the Tangiers will celebrate. On offer are great sound and sophisticated lighting. For this second edition, the association Morocco Créations announces the participation of DJ enthusiasts who will mix before hundreds of people.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Earthquake Hits Agadir

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

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

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

Agadir 1960

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

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


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stolen Italian Artwork Recovered in Casablanca

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

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

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

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

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

Detail from the painting

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

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