Thursday, July 21, 2016

Extraordinary Security at Mohammed V Airport Upsets Travellers

Both local travellers and tourists are united in condemning the security measure that has caused visitors arriving to welcome friends, family or tourists, being forced to wait outside the terminal building in the extreme summer heat

The situation has been described by The Economist as "a mess" and describes the situation as "harsh". Tourist operators are more blunt, saying that treating people like sheep is embarrassing and does not give arriving visitors a feeling of being welcomed by the usual Moroccan hospitality. Similar conditions are replicated at other airports such as Fez.

The reason for this herding outside of the public is not a response to the summer influx, but rather a rather ham-fisted security measure. As The Economist points out... "It remains an open question as to its effectiveness: the crowds (and soliciting clients by taxi drivers) is now avoided inside but eventually ends up at ... outside! Which slows the flow of travellers and gives rise to messy scenes".

On the other hand the increased security inside the terminal appears to be working well.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers at Mohammed V airport in Casablanca has grown by 4.47% in May compared to the same period last year. The figures were released by ONDA, the national airport office.

The figures show that 707,790 travellers used the airport in May compared to 677,514 the same period a year earlier.

Passengers on board flights to or from Europe decreased by 1.56%, whereas travellers to or from Latin America and Asia registered a considerable rebound of 47.56% and 16.35% respectively. The number of domestic passengers rose by 9.56%.

In terms of the number of travellers by country, France tops the list with 150.310 passengers, followed by Italy (51, 327), Spain (36,502) and Turkey (26,497).

SHARE THIS!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2017



The dates have been announced for the 23rd edition of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. It will take place between May 12th and 20th

Now that the dates are known it is important to book accomodation as soon as possible as it can be in short supply.

In 2017 The View From Fez will once again be an official Media Partner and bring you the most extensive previews and reviews. You can have a look back at the 2016 Festival HERE



SHARE THIS!

Talent Show in Fez

The American Language Center in Fez is holding a special event on Sunday, July 24th, to collect books for children in two centres in Fez.  They need books in English, French and Arabic


You can help by coming along to the ALC Fes Talent show - price of admission is a book!

The Amazing Talent Show and Book Drive will take place at 6 PM in the garden of the ALIF Villa Residence, 28 Rue Mohammed Diouri, across from the ALC.

Your book contribution will assist  in building libraries for the Girls' Centre in Ziat and the Boys' Centre in Batha.


SHARE THIS!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Will Barack Obama Visit Fez?

The Moroccan rumour mill is working overtime with whispers that the American President may soon visit Morocco. This follows on from Michelle Obama's recent trip to Marrakech
 King Mohammed VI, Nov. 22, 2013, in the Oval Office of the White House

The rumours about Barack Obama visiting Morocco started in Rabat when it was suggested that several "American tourists" staying at the Sofitel were not quite like most visitors.

According to the newspaper, Akhir Saâ, these "tourists" are in fact members of a special US security unit that prepare the ground work for visits by top members of the US administration.

It is understood that the officers conducted inspection tours in Rabat and Fes.

This has led to speculation that the President will make a flying visit. One thing is for certain, if Barack Obama visits Fez he will certainly get a very warm welcome. The View From Fez will certainly have some fresh mint ready to make the President a glass of tea!

Michelle Obama's trip resulted in substantial funding of education for young girls.

Michelle Obama and Princess Lalla Salma in Marrakech

The “Let Girls Learn” initiative, launched in March 2015 by President Barack Obama and the first lady, is to be extended to Morocco, the White House announced Tuesday. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign aid agency working in partnership with the Moroccan government, is investing nearly $100 million to transform secondary education in the country. USAID is also giving $400,000 to create five new girls’ dormitories to improve educational opportunities for girls from rural areas.

“The investment in an education now will reap benefits in years to come and that is what my family knew instinctively,” the first lady said. “My parents didn’t go to university. We didn’t have a lot of money. But one of the things … was that my parents understood the value of an education. And they fought for me, they sacrificed, they saved.”

SHARE THIS!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Morocco Bans Importing Italian Waste After Uproar


The public uproar over the arrival in Morocco of 2,500 tons of waste has forced the Moroccan government to finally end the controversy surrounding waste - a stunning win for Morocco's environment movement

Mustapha El Khalfi - "Morocco will ban waste imports"

Following a cabinet meeting the Communications Minister Mustapha Khalfi announced that Morocco had decided to ban the import of waste from Italy.

Silvia Velo, Italy's Under the Secretary for the Environment, had claimed that the 2,500 tons of waste shipped June 17 to Morocco was not dangerous. She said in essence that it was the debris of plastic, cardboard and wood in particular. However, the newspaper Le Monde and the Italian Health Institute both confirm the high toxicity of waste imported from Italy. Earlier, Moroccan officials  had claimed that the Italian waste is safe.

 The Italian Parliament has just received a report from the Institute of Hygiene confirming the danger of such waste on humans and on the environment. The same report indicates that the burning or burial of such wastes cause chronic diseases especially in infants and children. The report points out that such waste can cause cancer and burial causes the poisoning of groundwater.

The Moroccan authorities decided on a second analysis of waste. If the analysis shows non-compliance of with current standards, incineration permits will not be issued by the Ministry, and "the waste will be returned to the country of origin at the expense of cement factories who intended to burn the waste," said environment Minister Hakima El Haite.

There have been loud calls for the resignation of the Environment Minister. On a possible resignation or dismissal of the Minister of the Environment Hakima Elhaité El Khalfi simply replied: "This issue was not raised at the Council of the Government."

SHARE THIS!

At Least 4 Moroccans Died in Attack in Nice

(UPDATED)

Moroccan consular sources are reporting that at least four Moroccans were killed in the Thursday evening attack in Nice

This provisional assessment is yet to be confirmed by the French authorities. However, the indications are that the Moroccan victims included a 13-year-old girl, and two women, one aged 43, the other 49 and a man aged 50. All of the victims were resident in France

Another Moroccan child is said to have been seriously wounded in the attack.

An information service has been put in place at the Consulate General of Morocco in Marseille to gather information on possible victims in Nice, This monitoring mechanism is also in constant contact with the Embassy of Morocco in France.

Meanwhile, many Moroccans are preferring to stay in Morocco with large numbers crowding the beaches as the hot weather and post-Ramadan holidays are enjoyed across the Kingdom.

Moroccan's are choosing the safety of their own beaches for their holidays

SHARE THIS!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Hammams of Fez - Free Lecture


ALIF Lecture Series Presents The Hammams of Fez Their History and Architecture A lecture by Kamal Raftani 


Morocco is one of the countries with the greatest number of traditional living hammams. Despite this fact, this key civic building type remains poorly studied by researchers and professionals.

This lecture presents the Moroccan hammam and sheds some light on the formation and evolution of this traditional urban space. It focuses on the hammams of the world heritage city of Fez and presents an analysis of the architecture of this building type and its relationship with its urban environment. It investigates the historic context of the hammam, its origin, and the different influences that have contributed in shaping its architectural identity. It also assesses its current state and discusses its elements of sustainability.

Wednesday, July 13th at 6:15 PM ALIF Annex - Open to the public


SHARE THIS!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Beware Fake Hotel Reviews

Fake reviews are nothing new and happen in almost every country. The problem is just as bad in Morocco where Booking.com and Trip Advisor are well known for glowing reviews posted by staff and family members and damming reviews from competitors. Several riads in Fez are known for their extravagant fake reviews - sadly few get named publicly

Australian visitor Tania Wittensleger from Melbourne recently received an email thanking her for a review that she hadn't written.

Tania Wittensleger

According to a report carried by the online Daily Mail Tania Wittensleger used Booking.com to book the Palais El Yazid hotel in Fes, Morocco, for a three-night stay with her partner.

The pair ended up checking out early and on returning to Melbourne Ms Wittensleger was shocked to receive an email thanking her for her positive review of the hotel on the Booking.com website.

The fake review

She said she selected the Palais El Yazid hotel in part because of other favourable reviews, which read: 'All in all a very good hotel. Lovely staff ... that is keen on fulfilling even special requests.'

In her real review, Ms Wittensleger said her trip was blighted by the discovery of bed bugs.

Booking.com only lets verified guests log in and leave reviews, but Ms Wittensleger remembered that a manager at the hotel had photographed her confirmation email. She later realised that her PIN and booking reference contained in the email were used to log in to her booking on the site and post a review.

The genuine review

On Facebook, Ms Wittensleger told friends she was 'absolutely disgusted' this had happened.
She wrote: 'The [review] was clearly not written by me and when I went back and read other reviews which helped me in my own selection, I realised that they sounded a lot like my forged review.'

Moroccan news site Yabiladi  reports that employees of a number of Moroccan hotels have hacked the email addresses of foreign customers to post positive reviews.

The security flaw in the Booking.com system which allows imposters to change or cancel a hotel booking, or even leave a fake review was first identified by MoneySavingExpert.com.

She now knows the PIN number and booking reference contained in that email were used to log in to her booking on the site and write a review after she'd checked out.

A spokesperson for Booking.com said: "The manager at the accommodation did indeed break the rules by photographing Ms Wittensleger’s booking confirmation and subsequently using the information collected (including the reservation ID and PIN code) to fraudulently leave a review on her behalf. We contacted the hotel in Morocco and received a response from the owner. He said he had been out of the country for several months, blamed the issues on those managing the hotel in his absence and said he had now cancelled the "management contract". He added: “I assure you it will never happen again.”

The PIN should be confidential

Booking.com says "Your PIN code is the 4-digit number on your booking confirmation, which in combination with your booking number, allows you to log in to 'MyBooking.com'. On ‘MyBooking.com’ you can view, change or cancel your booking. Please keep your PIN code confidential."

When asked about the issue of the PIN code Booking.com responded, "Customers do not need to show their actual booking confirmation when they check in at a property, as the property should always have the name for the reservation on file."

ABTA, the UK’s largest travel association, says: “Members of the public have become increasingly reliant on customer reviews when choosing their holiday arrangements and it is incredibly important that they should be able to trust these reviews. The ABTA would expect that travel companies should have adequate procedures in place to prevent false posts and take immediate action when they have evidence that abuse is taking place. Inaccurate, false reviews don’t just mislead the public - they also drive business away from legitimate, honest businesses.”

Another way to spot a fake review is to check out the style of language used - or misused! The unusually extravagant praise of a hotel's staff is often a giveaway. In the recent case in Fez, one review raved that "breakfast was delicious" and had been served by one staff member who was "phlegmatic and sympathetic" and another who was an "easygoing and trustworthy polyglot".

Another enthused about a staff member who was "beyond helpful. He is witty, funny, wants to make sure you have a great time and has a very good heart (...) we truly found another brother from a different mother." All phrases that are not in common use.

SHARE THIS!