Thursday, May 26, 2016

French Airline Strikes Will Have Impact on Moroccan Tourism

While Morocco's tourism revenues were up 6.6% in first quarter 2016 reaching around $1 billion, there could be a negative impact from French airline strikes. Ryanair has announced the cancellation of more than 70 flights today (May 26). Other airlines will also cancel many flights

Further strikes are planned for June 3, 4 and 5, which will result in thousands of flights being disrupted across Europe - including services to and from Spain and Italy with a flow on impact on Morocco.

This is the sixth set of French ATC strikes in two months, and the 47th since 2009, according to Ryanair, which has called on the EU to take action.

"As we approach the peak holiday season, European travellers should prepare for a summer of discontent as there is absolutely nothing preventing these selfish unions from staging even more strikes in the coming weeks and months," said Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair's Chief Marketing Officer.

Members of air-traffic control unions are unhappy about proposed changes to working arrangements and retirement conditions, and what they call “The inability of our government to develop a human resources management policy”. They also claim their salaries are “significantly lower than those of their counterparts in other major providers”.

According to Riad owners in Fez, there have already been some cancellations and there are expected to be "a lot of people simply not arriving".


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hot Weather Alert for Morocco

After a cool and wet spring, the hot weather has returned to Morocco. The coming week will be warmer across the country with temperatures in Fez in the high twenties and low thirties. However, it is unlikely that temperatures will reach Monday's heat, which saw some places record up to 40 degrees Celsius

According to Morocco's National Meteorology Directorate, maximum temperatures will range between 20 and 25 degrees on the reliefs of the Atlas, 25 and 30 of the Rif Mountains and near the coast, 31 and 40 in the Oriental and Saiss regions

On the plains of Tadla, Rhamna, Haouz, interior Souss, Chiadma, Abda, Doukkala, Chaouia and east of the southern provinces, temperatures will be between 36 and 42 degrees.

Minimum temperatures will vary between 6 and 12 degrees in the Atlas mountains, 11 and 16 in the Rif, and 15 and 20 near the coast.

Humidity is expected to remain low at around 30% in the Fez-Saiss region

And, while contemplating how to cool down, here is a little brain food ...

Minus forty degrees is the temperature where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales correspond with one another (-40°F = -40°C). Forty is also considered a semi-perfect number owing to the fact that a subset of its divisors added together gives 40 (i.e. 1, 4, 5, 10, and 20).


Monday, May 23, 2016

Antiques in the Fez Medina - Photo Essay

Hunting for antiques in Fez is a fascinating undertaking. While there are a lot of specialist shops, it is often a case of "caveat emptor" because there are many finely crafted modern creations that can fool anyone without an expert eye

The View From Fez recently visited respected antique expert, Chakib Badrane, who gave us a guided tour of genuine antiques and offered some sound advice to potential buyers.
"Unless you are an expert, you can often only tell a modern replica of an antique by visiting several shops and comparing the items. So, if you are coming to Fez, plan on spending a few days. Doing this will be rewarding"- Chakib Badrane

An Amazigh (Berber) "shula" in an intricate scabbard 
A decorative metal box
Bone and silver inlaid small chest
A rare table and seat

The Fez Medina is also a great place to find antique Moroccan ceramic bowls and jars with silver filigree work. Spend plenty of time examining what is on offer and bargaining as the first price is usually much higher than what will be accepted.

A beautiful silver and camel bone inlaid vase
An inlaid ceramic bowl 

Many collectors come to Fez in search of Jewish antiques. While there are lots of stories about artefacts being from Jewish Berbers - "They are nomadic so they kept the mezuzah around their neck or on their camel" - most of this is fanciful. However, there are genuine artefacts both old and new and a little time and patience will help you sort out the genuine articles.

Sephardic Torah Case (Tikim)
Sephardic Torah pointer (yad), a "hamza" and mezuzah
A plate depicting the twelve tribes of Israel
A beautiful prayer book holder

Among the other treasures, Chakib showed us an amazing large astrolabe - a two-dimensional model of the celestial sphere. The name has its origins from the Greek words astron and lambanien meaning "the one who catches the heavenly bodies". The astrolabe was once the most used, multipurpose astronomical instrument.

The principles of the astrolabe projection were known before 150 B.C., and true astrolabes were made before A.D. 400. The astrolabe was highly developed in the Islamic world by 800 and was introduced to Europe from Islamic Spain (al-Andalus) in the early 12th century. It was the most popular astronomical instrument until about 1650, when it was replaced by more specialised and accurate instruments. This one is particularly large and I suspect the price would be astronomical!

An Riffian Amazigh pen and ink set
A pen and ink set inscribed with "Al Humdullilah"

And finally,  for the house that has everything ... a genuine Amazigh double oil container - each side is closed off so that two types of oil can be offered.

NOTE!  You can click on images to enlarge