30 September, 2007

Morocco: Through 'The View From Fez'

One blog that I enjoy very much regularly reading, is 'The View From Fez'. Not only because of my great liking and admiration for Morocco and Moroccans, 'The View From Fez' - unlike most blogs from the Middle East - is loaded with information. Useful and instructive information, on Morocco and on Fez in particular.
Currently, it has eight contributors who give a unique, objective insight and perspective on Morocco and life there - its: people, culture, traditions, music, languages, cuisines, politics, the arts, life style and much more. And very helpfully, they regularly give very useful information, advice and tips on Moroccan: real estate and property; and on travel there.

A few excerpts from 'The View From Fez':

Although Moroccan Arabic and French are the languages most people associate with Morocco - there are also the Berber languages (Tamazight) such as Tarifit, Tashelhit and Amazigh.

Fès has a long and proud history and the people consider themselves very different from the rest of the country. In many ways they are.

For hundreds of years the Berbers in the South Western part of Morocco in an area covering 700,000-800,000 hectares have let their goats climb the argan trees(Argania spinosa). These spiny evergreens produce a slightly larger than olive-sized fruit, the pits of which pass right through the goat’s digestive system and are collected by the Berbers. The pits are then split open and the three small kernels are ground to produce the aromatic oil.

One of the wonderful things about travelling around Morocco is the variety of food. From coastal areas with great fish to inland with its olives, fruit and meats and everywhere there are spices.

One of the amazing things about living in Fès is that with only a few hours travel you can be in very different geographic conditions. From the coast at Essaouira to the Rif Mountains, to Ifrane and it's Swiss chalets and on over the High Atlas to the dunes.

Morocco is ruled by a monarchy, but its constitutional reforms and civil society stand in contrast to most Islamic states. Sufism, the mystical humanist face of Islam, is represented in Fez by the many brotherhoods active there. Embodied as it is in the tenor of daily life and high-level policy-making, the Moroccan Sufi spirit is akin to the voice of liberalism here—a force for moderation and inclusion.

Unions are very fashionable these days... Just ask Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez he's keen on a South American Union. Asia is organising itself and of course every country in Europe wants to be part of the European Union. So, what about the Maghreb Union? - Despite ringing appeals for unity, the North African nationsknown as the Maghreb - "the place where the sun seats" - seem to be drifting apart. Others have described it as "a paper camel".

Diversity characterizes Moroccan Islam. Women's fashions, for example, range from head scarves to miniskirts. According to a recent Pew Research Center global survey, 79 percent of Moroccans - compared with 11 percent of Jordanians and 43 percent of Pakistanis - believe violence against civilians in support of Islam is never justified.

If you have the good fortune to visit Fès, then don't waste the opportunity. Instead of staying in a large Western hotel, enjoy the real Medina by staying in a riad.

Moroccan recipe - Chicken with olives and preserved lemon Samir's M'qalli chicken with olives and preserved lemon

For sale - a slice of Moroccan heaven!

Moroccan food - An Indian perspective.

Morocco boasts a dozen micro-credit associations, which have granted 2 million micro credits amounting to $655 million (USD). One very positive outcome is that 75% of the beneficiaries are women, and the reimbursement rate reaches 99%.

For a long time the major interest in Moroccan property was from Spain and France. Now that is changing. According to many of the major players the Irish and English are rivaling the traditional markets.

Morocco - film studio to the world.

Casablanca Restaurant Guide

Stories of adventures in Moroccan taxis are common. Usually the involve missing handles for winding down windows or meters that either don't work or have a life of their own. Other stories are about the religious music being played very loud and the refusal of taxis to carry you if you have a bottle of wine in your bag.

Restaurants in Fez

The sweet smell of Fez in Spring

An exciting development today on the blogging front. A blog called A Moroccan Kitchen has started up and is run by two Moroccan women - one of whom had never touched a computer in her life until this morning. A few years ago this could neverhave happened and such a step forward is wonderful, not just for the two women, but as an example to their friends of how the internet can open up the world to them and them to the world.

Around 4,3 million tourists visited Morocco during the first seven months of 2007, that is a 10% rise compared with the same period of last year, according to figures released by the Department of Tourism.

'The View From Fez' not only has such interesting and informative posts, it has too - wonderful and beautifully taken photos to go with most posts. For any one interested in Morocco, Fez in particular, then 'The View From Fez' is a must read.