Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Navigating Tangier's Old City

The New York Times has this nice slide show of Tangier. For someone who has lived in Morocco, it makes you miss the simple quiet moments of comradery. Check out the pictures here:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Morocco Rolls Out "Smart" Hi-Tech Passports

Here is a piece from about new state of the art passports that have been designed for Moroccans. Now, we just hope for some help getting visas!

Gemalto supplies smart passport to Morocco
Morocco begins roll out of next generation biometric, contactless passports

By Staff Writer September 19, 2010

Smart card specialist Gemalto has announced the delivery of a next generation biometric passport program for the Kingdom of Morocco.

The solution, which has been provided to the Moroccan Mint: Dar As-Sikkah (Bank Al Maghrib), is the first deployment of new generation biometric passports outside of the European Union.

The new passports contain an integrated contactless microprocessor, containing the holder's digital fingerprint and photo. Gemalto has provided its secure operating system Sealys eTravel, along with its turnkey personalization solution Coesys Issuance, plus training and maintenance services for the project.

For citizen data acquisition, Gemalto provides the Ministry of Interior with its Coesys Enrolment solution in cooperation with its Moroccan partner Netopia

Lahcen Hadouni, head of Dar As-Sikkah said: "A long-term partnership between Dar As-Sikkah, Gemalto and Netopia has been created through this program. The project's success reflects the close fit between the various players and the sustained commitment shown by a multidisciplinary team."

"This is the first time electronic passports have been issued in the Maghreb Region, and this initiative highlights Morocco's commitment to establishing itself at the forefront of technological innovation," added Jacques Seneca, Executive Vice-President, Gemalto. "By supplying an end-to-end solution, cooperating with its partner Netopia, Gemalto takes full responsibility for its delivery and implementation, enabling our customers to focus on their core business."

"Netopia is delighted to have contributed, alongside Gemalto, to this project's outstanding success," said Zaki Narjisse, Chairman and CEO of Netopia. "This partnership will open up greater possibilities for cooperation both in Morocco and other countries."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Economics Change the Dynamics of Moroccan Marriage

Continuing on the topic of marriage in Morocco, here is another piece on the subject. This time from Public Radio International. If you click on the link you can listen to the radio story.

Tough economy changes marriage in Morocco

From PRI's The World 08 September, 2010 04:07:00

Marriage is expensive in the Arab world, and a tough economy is changing relationships in Morocco.

Marriages in Arab countries like Morocco can cost between four and ten times the per capita income. "Everything is getting really expensive," Morroco resident Mohammed Mahoufi, who recently married off his eighth child, told PRI's The World. He explains:

Now the people are really demanding. The people will not accept just anything or to live just anywhere. They ask for very nice furniture and marriage has just become really, really hard for someone who has a limited salary.

Since young men are expected to have a good job and an apartment before they pop the question, Moroccan men have begun to marry later and later. A generation ago, the average age of a Moroccan man on his wedding day was 24. Today, it's 32.

Those changes are having profound effects on Moroccan culture. Some men have been looking to women to help them out with finances, a situation that would have been unthinkable in the past.

"Before the husband must pay anything, but now, about the situation, the world has changed," Jawad, an unmarried fish salesman in Casablanca told The Word. "So, she must help her husband a little bit."

The delayed marriages may also be fueling "a sexual explosion in Morocco," according to sociologist Abdel-Samad Aldealmi. He says the changing norms have led to "a lot of premarital sex, non-marital sex, emergence and visibility of homosexuality and lesbianism. A lot of emergence of prostitution also."

The tough economy can also make it very difficult for people who can't afford to get married. "My father is always telling me, all the time: Without wife you are always weak in my eyes," Jawad told The World.

Housing prices continue to rise faster than wages, and Jawad estimates it will cost about $40,000 to buy and furnish an apartment and pay for the wedding. In the meantime, his sweetheart's family is encouraging her to find someone with a better job and more money.

"Here in our community, in our society, if you are married, you are an important person," he says. "And if you are like hanging out in the streets and with your friends, you mean nothing in your society."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moroccan Bachelors Seek Wives who Work

This piece from Magharebia about the status of marriage and mate selection in Morocco now speaks for itself.
Moroccan bachelors seek wives who work


The process of courtship and marriage is changing for many Moroccans, with financial questions looming larger than ever.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 09/08/10

The classic Moroccan ideal of marriage is giving way to modern necessities. Men's pursuit of a soul mate is changing, as are the days of parents choosing the right bride for their sons.

These days, many men begin by looking at the financial situation of their future spouse. Although not long ago men used to seek women who had no job aspirations, so they would be free to take care of the housework, things are different now. The high cost of living is spurring them to seek brides who are working and can help them make ends meet.

"Young men are not greedy, but they are trying to adapt to the times," said sociologist Hamid Soundoussi.

Marriage represents one more institution undergoing change in Morocco due to eroding purchasing power, he continued. "Once upon a time, a primary school teacher could easily support his family single-handedly, but that has become very difficult now. The marriage age has risen in Morocco due to the increase in the cost of living. The concept of mutual financial help between spouses is a fairly recent one, especially in urban areas."

For 33-year-old Farid Laafraoui, the search for a wife has lasted three years. He set a number of criteria that his future spouse must meet, including the need for her to have a job. He told Magharebia that the time when love came before marriage has passed.

"Love is essential, but it is built following marriage on the basis of mutual respect," he said. "If a couple's financial situation is stable, they will have fewer problems. My monthly wage is just 5,000 dirhams. A second income will be necessary to run the household and pay for the children to go to school."

Farid is one of many people who are attributing their focus on women's financial circumstances to the new demands of daily life. Women are also aware of the change and are placing higher demands on men in return.

Narjiss Bahaoui, a 28-year-old bank clerk, said that several men close to her family and at her workplace had made overtures towards her, but that she preferred someone "ready" to tie the knot.

"Since feelings are not a major criterion for marriage, I have the right to marry a husband who already has a flat and a nice car," she said. "But despite everything, I'm willing to abandon these preconditions for someone who would love me for myself and not my monthly income. I'm both romantic and realistic at the same time."

Some women are now so sceptical of the greed of suitors that they become hardened singletons and end up regretting it.

One such woman, 44-year-old Houda T., is a manager with a large company in Casablanca. She turned down several offers of marriage over the years because she always had doubts about the men's real intentions.

"I learned rather late that I shouldn't be so mistrustful," she said. "I should have gone for it with one of them and settled down. My success in my career has not lessened my desire to have a home and children, like my sisters and friends, especially since society takes a dim view of unmarried women, and this causes me a lot of stress."

Some young women say one should be realistic and objective, and not take a prejudiced view of men. The sexual equality they strive for presupposes the same rights and responsibilities for both parties in a marriage.

"Since women have always demanded a husband who has a job, men also have the right to marry a woman who is working in this society of ours, which is becoming more modern," said 22-year-old law student Souad Chatibi. "This doesn't mean that a home can't be built on the foundations of love and respect."