Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tangier's El Minzah Hotel in Trouble

The El Minzah is not only a hotel but also an iconic monument. Since it was opened back in 1930,  it has numbered the rich, the famous and the notorious amongst its guests. Now, it is struggling to survive

Following an inspection by the tourism commission of control, the El Minzah has been stripped of two of its five stars.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, inspections revealed serious shortcomings, particularly in the kitchens where they found lack of maintenance as well as a severe lack of hygiene and food safety. Several shortcomings and deficiencies were also found in accommodation.

The Commission decided to grant the hotel fifteen days for it to comply with the hygiene and food safety requirements. Failure to meet the standards within this time will result in the hotel being closed. In the meantime it is reduced to a three star hotel.

El Minzah is now only 3 stars

Opened in April 1930 by  English aristocrat,  Lord Bute, this hotel is distinguished by its Moorish style. Over the years El Minzah and its famous Caid's Bar have played host to the actors Rita Hayworth and Rock Hudson, the designer Yves Saint-Laurent and writers Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles. Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci shot part of his Bowles inspired film The Sheltering Sky in the halls of El Minzah, as were some scenes of the recent Spanish series The Time Between Seams.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

One of the Famous Arches of Legzira - is Gone

The Arch of Legzira has for years been a Moroccan national tourist emblem, but no more. It has fallen - reduced to rubble

Described as "one of the world's top beaches" Legzira beach near Sidi Ifni was most famous for its natural arches carved by centuries of tidal flows. The eight kilometres of beach was a popular destination for locals and tourists interested in a variety of water sports. The arches were particularly photogenic and attracted photographers from around the world.

The largest and most spectacular had been showing signs of stress that were first noticed back in March when local residents noticed cracks on each of its sides. From then on it was only a matter of time before nature took its toll.

Back in 2014 the Huffington Post cataloged the best beaches in the world and of the 40 listed Legzira was in 29th spot. The beach, located about ten kilometers from Sidi Ifni, is described as a "site where winds and waves have sculpted arches and tunnels in the red cliffs, making the coast a paradise for surfers in search of adventure."

Suddenly, that has sadly all changed.


Politics May Solve Free Voice Call Ban in Morocco

Moroccan citizens have been angry at the blocking of VoIP calls on the internet and see a ray of hope in the upcoming elections.  Ilyas El Omari, the leader of the Party of Authenticity (PAM) has promised to restore WhatsApp in Morocco if his party wins the legislative elections

Ilyas El Omari, "I will restore WhatsApp in Morocco"

The legislative elections scheduled to take place on October 7.

At a news conference last week, El Omari, secretary general of PAM, promised that if his party is elected and he becomes the head of government, Moroccan citizens will be able to make calls on WhatsApp.

According to a report carried by Morocco World News, El Omari did not provide any detail how he would keep his promise to restore phone service for WhatsApp, nor did he mention unblocking Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger and all the other VoIP-based communication systems.

There was anger in Morocco since the beginning of this year when the major telecom providers colluded in blocking VoIP-based systems.

It turned out to be a relatively useless exercise as Moroccans quickly adapted to this loss by downloading various alternatives such as VPN (Virtual Private Networks) or using IP-altering programs like Hotspot Shield.

Despite the public anger and citizens' ability to avoid the blocking, Maroc Telecom, Inwi, and Meditel have refused to reverse their decision.

The Justice and Development Party is currently the ruling party since forming a coalition in November 2011. PJD advocates Islamism and Islamic democracy - they have been criticised for not opposing the VoIP blocking.

PAM, said El Omari in a recent interview with al Horra, stands “for the separation of religion from politics. If that means secularism, then we are secular. We stand for the concept of civil state, not a religious one,” El Omari said.

If PAM are elected, Moroccans citizens and business people, hope to be reconnected to the rest of the world on WhatsApp and the other VoIP systems.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sufi conferences and Samâa on the 28th/29th of October

Two special evenings of lectures and Samâa from Moroccan tariqas (Sufi Brotherhoods) on Friday 28th and Saturday, October 29th, 2016. The purpose of the two events is to have a dialogue with the regular participants of the Sufi Festival.

Please note that those events are organised at a private level and are not part of the Fès Festival of Sufi Culture.

Deux soirées de conférences et de Samâa de Tariqas du Maroc seront organisées le vendredi 28 et samedi 29 octobre 2016.

Friday, October 28, 2016: conference and round table: Sufism and Poetry
Samaa Evening: Tariqas of Morocco
Saturday, October 29, 2016: Conferences and round tables: The Seven Cities of Love
Samaa Evening: Tariqas of Morocco

Pour réserver cliquez ici:  To reserve a place please book here:  October Sufi Event

For more information email


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Free Photography Workshop in Fez

Street Photography - Sunday, September 18, 10:30 AM‬
(Meet in front of Batha Fountain)

The ALC-ALIF Photography Club invites you to join them to explore the streets of the Fez Medina. You will be able to gain an insight into street culture and enjoy the beauty of the most ancient parts of the city.


ALC–ALIF Photography Club
Omar Chennafi
GSM: 0659661502


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Photography : in the heart of the Fez Medina

The artist residency program organised by Takafes, the art and cultural innovation centre in Fes took place from July 15th to August 15th. Mohammed Hamdouni reports

Omar Chennafi, Hamza Ben Rachad, Mohamed Thara and Amine Bouyarmane

The initial impetus of the four authors and photographers, Amine Bouyarmane, Hamza Ben Rachad, Mohamed Thara and Omar Channafi, gave rise to a new reading of the heart of the Medina of Fes, through their own journey in old Fes alleys.

They are questioning the making of a city spatially and temporally and focused an independent, singular gaze on the urban spaces, revealing their specificity, morphology and history. At the same time they revisited the complex relationship between space and photography as a medium through a work process, built up by repeating a daily pathway deep in the Medina.

The landmarks captured during the walks, became photographic traces and are an attempt to capture light, time, and (negative)space as a fundamental component of photography. They question the concept of emptiness and how it bounds with space; virtual and real space, physical and mental, private and social, cultural and natural, perceptual and representative space.

Space in Moroccan popular culture is space which is not occupied by objects. It interacts with other aesthetic elements and different representations. A close relationship rose up between photography and the urban space being traversed. The immateriality in the photographs of the four artists manifests itself as a vacant space with greater emphasis. The empty space works as a great filler. From the reality to the photograph, the notion of space, its mental and physical structure are in continuous change. A wide empty area allows a contemplative, spiritual connection with the world.

The public space is governed by the representations that organise the forms of appropriation and general perception made about them. The photographs have very important argumentative possibilities in a world where images are intended to move around.

Photos - Mohamed Thara 

Thus, the silhouette of the woman in black Niqab, photographed by Mohamed Thara, locates her according to her surrounding while she walks in the Medina’s space.

Photos; Omar Chennafi 

Between shadow and light, the way the silhouette of the man with the straw hat is disposed in Omar Chennafi photograph, conditions largely the motion and the rhythm of his moves. The example of the man in the djellaba, in Amine Bouyarmane photograph, contemplating the empty space in an empty alley, or the young lady, photographed by Hamza ben Rachad from behind, running from darkness and seeking light.

Photos: Hamza ben Rachad 

In those photographs, space is often empty or occupied by people, or rather their silhouettes, located in its volume, surface or even different dimensions. Silhouettes can be spotted in relation to each other by measuring the distance or the direction. Space and its character are conditioned by emptiness, made visible by the negative space in the photographs - an interpretation of the labyrinthine, conflictual space and its transformation through the seasons, between a slow developing medina and man’s attempt to overpower it.

Photos: Amine Bouyarmane

In all the photographs shot during Takafes residency, shapes meet in space, enter in collision and plastically melt in each other. Behind each photograph, there is always a story, every mark being piece of remembrance. No photographic image can be accessed otherwise than the fictional appropriation filter. They conform to space constraints that photographers work with, highlighting the ambiguity of the notion of public place. The result is a photographic essay, beyond social and historical borders, that forms a unique ethnographic and iconographic testimony to the Medina of Fes.