+ 212 664 817 088 / contact@fez-guide.com
omega tour fes medina, travel agency
Jul 28 2021

The diversity of Sports in Morocco

The diversity of Sports in Morocco

Morocco is doing a lot to keep up with the increasing interest in activity and sporting holidays. In addition to its magnificent trekking opportunities, the country also offers impressive golf and tennis facilities, a couple of ski resorts (plus some adventurous off-piste skiing) and excellent fishing. The national sporting obsession, however, is football; enthusiasts can join in any number of beach kick-about games or watch local league and cup matches.

 

Soccer

Soccer is important in Morocco and the country is a growing force. The national side has made the World Cup on four different occasions and was among the African nations bidding to host the tournament in 2010. Moroccan teams have also been extremely successful in African club competitions. This is quite impressive when you consider that most Moroccan football players develop their skills in unstructured kick rounds on the beach, street or patches of wasteland.

Water sports and swimming

Morocco offers excellent water sports such as sailing, yachting, windsurfing, surfing, swimming, White Water River rafting, kayaking and diving.

Golf

Golf is probably the most important sport in Morocco. The country has an international-level course at Rabat and many other 18-hole golf courses.

Skiing

Morocco doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a skiing destination, but the High Atlas Mountains are reliably snow-covered from late January to early April. The Middle Atlas also occasionally has sufficient snow for skiing.

 

Trekking

Trekking is one of the best things Morocco has to offer. Morocco boasts one of the most rewarding mountain ranges in the world – and one of the least spoilt. A number of long-distance Atlas routes can be followed. One can even do a “Grand Traverse” of the full range. However most people limit themselves to shorter treks around the Djebel Toubkal area.

Riding

Horse riding and camel rides are very popular in Morocco. There are many hotels that offer guided treks through the Atlas Mountains. You should bring your own helmet though.

Fishing

The country features an immense stretch of Atlantic and a small stretch of Mediterranean coastline, with great opportunities to arrange boat trips almost anywhere. Inland, the Middle Atlas shelters beautiful lakes and rivers, many of them well stocked with trout.

Jul 28 2021

The Music within Morocco

The Music within Morocco

 

 

From the ancient folk pieces of the Berber mountain communities, to the Arab-Andalusian music of the cities, to the roots-fusion that you’ll hear blaring from taxi radios and café ghetto blasters, music is the ultimate expression of Morocco’s culture.

Berber Music

The Berber are the first known inhabitants of Africa’s north-western corner. Over centuries they

Monopolized the Saharan trade in salt, gold and slaves and spread their culture throughout the region. There are three main categories of Berber music; village, ritual and professional music.

In a typical scene of village music-making, an entire community may gather in the open air to sing and dance in a large ring around an ensemble of drum (bendir) and flute (nay).

The best-known dances are the Ahouache and the Ahidus. Over the past twenty years several masters of bumzdi and Ahouache have become very well known nationwide.

Berber ritual music often features drums and rhythmic hand clapping. It is used in the rites of the agricultural calendar – such as moussems – as well as on occasions such as marriage. Ritual music is also performed to help deal with evil spirits.

In the Atlas Mountains professions troupes of musicians, called imdyazn, travel during summer and perform in village squares and at weekly souks. A leader improvises poems telling of current affairs. Drum and clarinet accompany the singer. The clarinetist also acts as the ensembles’ clown.

Andalous Music

Morocco’s Arab-Andalusian classical tradition evolved 1000 years ago in Moorish Spain and can be heard, with variations, throughout North Africa. Its invention is credited to Ziryab, whose greatest innovation was the classical suite nuba, which forms the basis of al-ala (Andalous music). Although somewhat elite, Andalou music is still very much alive and is regularly performed on national TV.

Melhoun 

Melhoun is a semi-classical sung poetry associated with artisans and traders. It makes use of the same modes as al-ala orchestras, but is more lively and danceable. A Melhoun suite consists of two parts:a-metrical Taqusim played on oud or violin, which introduces the mode, and the Qassida, sung poems with words of folk or mystical poetry, or nonsense lines. The Qassida has three parts: al aqsam (verses that are sung solo), al-harba (chorus refrains) and al-drîdka (a chorus of accelerating tempo). The melhoun orchestra generally consists of oud, kamenjah, swisen (a small, high-pitched folk lute), the Hadjouj (a bass swisen), taarija, darbuka and Handwa (small brass cymbals), plus a number of singers.

Sufi Music

Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam. The Sufi brotherhoods or tarikas, use the hadra – a private ritual of music and dance – as a means of getting closer to Allah. Sufi music can also be heard at moussem (festivals devoted to the memory of a holy man), and some brotherhoods play for alms in households that want to gain favor with their patron saint.

Gnawa Music 

The Gnawa are descendants of slaves brought across the Sahara by the Arabs, who claim spiritual descent from Sidi Bilal, the first muezzin. Their musical rites (lilas), in which a leader plays the gimbri/sentir (long-necked lute) and sings, accompanied by Garagb (metal castanets), last all night and are performed for the purpose of spiritual and physical healing. The music, which has sub-Saharan origins, is remarkably adaptable, having been blended with jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop and drum & bass

Chaabi and Fusion

The oldest form of chaabi  is Al’aita, the music of rural communities on the Atlantic coast. It is performed during private and public celebrations and is usually sung in Darija (Moroccan colloquial Arabic), telling of love, loss, lust and daily life.

Alaita has two parts. The Lafrash is a slow instrumental prelude (usually on violin) followed by several verses sung in free time. Then comes the Lahsab, a syncopated dance that lasts as long as the audience desires. Traditionally it uses a male or female lead singer, violin, some percussion and backing vocals, but today a “synthetic” version is popular, that adds keyboards, electric guitars and drum machines to the mix.

Jul 28 2021

The World of Moroccan Cuisine

The World of Moroccan Cuisine

 

Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around lamb or poultry.

 

Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. The Moroccan national dish is the tajine, a lamb or poultry stew. Other common ingredients may include almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices including saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. The Tajines name is taken from the distinctive earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.

Sweets play a very important role in the Moroccan diet. Every household has a supply of homemade sweet desserts made from almonds, honey, and other ingredients. Mint tea is served with every meal in Morocco. It is sweetened while it is still in the pot.

Moroccans eat their meals at low round tables, sitting on cushions on the floor. They eat with their hands instead of silverware, using the thumb and first two fingers of their right hands. They also use pieces of bread to soak up sauces and carry food to the mouth. Small warmed, damp towels are passed around before the meal to make sure everyone’s hands are clean. Most meals consist of a single main dish, often a stew, a couscous dish, or a hearty soup. It is served with bread, salad, cold vegetables, and couscous or rice on the side. A typical breakfast might include bissara (dried fava beans stewed with cumin and paprika), beghrir (pancakes), and bread. Two breakfast favorites that may sound exotic to Westerners are lambs heads and calves feet.

Although Moroccans love sweets, they are usually saved for special occasions. With everyday meals, the most common dessert is fresh fruit.

The sweetened mint tea that comes with every meal is served in a special way. It is brewed in a silver teapot and served in small glasses. When the tea is poured, the pot is held high above the glasses to let air mix with the tea. Tea is served not only at home but also in public places. In stores, merchants often offer tea to their customers.

 

Morocco is famous for the wide range of delicious foods sold by its many street vendors. These include soup, shish kebab, roasted chickpeas, and salads. Both full meals and light snacks are sold. A favorite purchase is sugared doughnuts tied together on a string to carry home.

Jul 28 2021

Moroccan History, a brief story

The brief history of Morocco.

The sultan Muhammad V, ruling his newly independent nation, proclaims his intention of turning it into a constitutional monarchy. His first act in this direction is to transform himself into a monarch. He assumes in 1957 the title of king.

Government elections eventually take place in 1960, but in their wake the king himself takes the role of prime minister with his heir, crown prince Hassan, as his deputy. The promised constitution is postponed until 1962, but by then Muhammad V has died. He was succeeded in 1961 by his son, as King Hassan II.

For nearly forty years Hassan ruled Morocco, often with disregard for the civil rights of political opponents but in broad terms successfully – surviving attempted coups (the most serious in 1971) and periodic riots (particularly in Casablanca in 1981). There are several attempts at constitutional reform, and elections to parliament become a regular feature of Moroccan life. But real power remains with the king until his death in 1999, when he is succeeded by his son as Muhammad VI.

Internationally the main feature of Hassan’s reign is territorial disputes with Morocco’s immediate neighbors, Algeria and Mauritania.

The border with Algeria has been redrawn, to Morocco’s disadvantage, during the French colonial period. Hassan’s rejection of the existing border is of economic importance, since the disputed region is rich in iron ore. In 1970 a compromise was reached whereby the ore is exploited by both nations in partnership.

The other dispute, in the south, is of greater significance and longer duration. It concerns Mauritania and the Western Sahara. In the 1960s Hassan claimed that Morocco has a historic right to Mauritania itself. But from 1969 he changed tack and concentrated his energies on winning the Western Sahara.

the Ramparts of Fes Medina
Jul 26 2021

Hiring a guide in Fez

Hiring your private tour guide in Fez

The old Medina of Fez is the cultural and spiritual heart of Morocco. It is also the last fully intact Medina (walled city) in the world. With more than 9,000 lanes and alleys, it can be daunting for first time visitors and it is easy to miss the most important sites.

Many visitors to Fez do not spend enough days in the Medina to get to thoroughly explore all the city has to offer, but hiring a good guide will ensure that you see the essentials.

Having a good guide in Fez  is like having the keys to the city as you explore places such as the souks of Fes al Bali, the Attarine Medersa, Quaraouiyine Mosque, Medersa Bou Inania, the Chaouwara Tannery, the old Jewish Quarter (or Mellah). It is not necessary to always go to a fancy restaurant as your guide can show you places with delicious street food. For a great view of the Medina you can visit the Merinid Tombs and to chill out the beautiful Jnan Sbil Gardens.

It is important to let your guide know the things you are most interested in. It is possible to concentrate on architecture, artisan craftsmanship, history, textiles, design, food, music, Amazigh (Berber) culture, the fascinating Sufi culture or a general mixture of everything.

A good licenced guide will not only have the language skills to communicate well, but should have a deep knowledge of the history and culture. Beneath the surface Fez has many stories and a good guide will take pride in sharing them with you.

After a tour with your guide you will be ready to set out on your own, exploring one of the planet’s most fascinating cities where occasionally getting lost is part of the fun!

henna tattoo in fez
Jul 15 2021

Henna, Morocco’s Long-Lasting Sacred Art

Henna Tattoos in Morocco

Originally, Henna is the Persian name for a flowering plant called Lawsonia inermis also known as the mignonette tree and the Egyptian privet, and which has dark green leaves, sweet smell, and grows up to ten feet.

The plant can be found in regions of dry climates like some parts of Africa, Asia and Australia, and each has been said to have different properties, especially in term of color.

The art of henna has been traditionally practiced solely by women, who dye some parts of their bodies not only for aesthetic capacities, but also to call on blessing, fortune, and prosperity, it is like a grace upon the skin.

History

It is very difficult to trace back the origins of Henna, but some findings show that it was used by the Egyptians, Jews, Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Indians. And each of these cultures used the plant for a different purpose.

Some evidences of what we presume to be Henna were found on the hands of some Egyptian mummies and which is considered to be part of the mummification process, and there are some good evidences that allude to that the henna plant was gifted by the Egypt to India and what explains the presence of the plant in this part of the world.

The henna plant is also connected to Hebrews and is believed to be the Camphire; a substance referred to in the Bible.

Henna presence in Morocco 

Henna Tattoo service

The existence of Henna has great significance in Muslim history, Muslim women stain their hands and feet, this custom is believed to be adopted during the Mogul Era, while the presence of Henna in Morocco is believed to be a result of the Berbers immigration to the region, and by the invasion of Arabs many Berber cultural rites were integrated to their customs, Notably Henna, the latter used for decoration as an alternative of tattoos which are considered forbidden in Islam.

Use

Basically, the Henna is used for cosmetic capacities; to color hair or nails, but Medical and decorative reasons can also be added to its various functions.

Cosmetic

Henna is believed to be a good hair conditioner that strengthens and binds keratin; a key material structure making up hair and nails, as it is often used to turn white or grey hair into darker color.

In addition to these cosmetic capacities, Henna is considered effective against lice, dandruff, and hair loss, and its cooling properties make it good as a deodorant to mask the smell of sweat.

Medical

Aside from the multiple aesthetic properties of Henna, it also serves many Medical functions. In ancient Egypt Henna played a key role in treating infections and inflammation, and stopping diarrhea, as it’s been considered effective against snakes and scorpion stings.

Applying Henna paste on head or hands is believed to treat fever and its cooling effects would bring the temperature down, while gargling an extract of boiled henna leaves is perfect to heal sore throat, and drinking it would be great for some stomach issues.

Sacral

For centuries Henna has been present in almost all special occasions and occupied a major part ceremonially and ritually, especially in Muslim cultures, the application of Henna on women hands and feet is believed to show up their sexuality and protect them from the evil eye. Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and Mawlid are all Muslim festivities that witness importat presence of Henna on women and children hands.

Henna preparation process

First make sure that your hands, feet or whatever part of body you would like to dye, is well moisturized and exfoliated, there are a variety of exfoliation products that you can find here in Morocco.

Ps: If you are willing to dye your hands or feet please make sure to get all the housework done before starting the staining process, because you won’t be able to do so until the following day.

 

Preparing the paste 

The process of preparing the Henna paste is very simple, it may vary from one culture to another, but in its core still the same, after crushing the Henna leaves and turn them into a powder put the latter in a bowl and the liquid in another bowel, the liquid can be lemon juice, tea brew, or simply water; preferably bottled water, then smoothly add the powder to the liquid using one spoon while blending using another spoon, till the paste become as thick as a frosting cake.

When the right thickness and consistency is reached let the Henna paste sit in a warm place for at least two hours.

The painting part

henna Tatto Morocco

Henna painting is as fun and pleasant as decorating a cake, first you need to make sure that the person is about to be adorned is well positioned, Moroccan Henna artists suggest using pillows or a table to get the best fixed and steady position.

While designing, make sure that the lines you are creating are as thin as possible, the thinner the lines are, the more beautiful the design will be, and all this come with practice, as I mentioned above it is just like decorating a cake, this means your palm shouldn’t touch the cake and this makes it quite difficult for beginners.

Moroccan henna traditional artists often use syringes as a means of henna application, but there are other elements that one can use, namely a matchstick, needle, toothpick, or twig…

When the staining process is done let the Henna on the skin for at least 24 hours, the more the henna remains on the skin, the more deeper and lasting the color will be, before starting the staining process make sure that you already have prepared a mixture of lemon juice and sugar, once the henna start to dry apply this mixture on it using a ball of cotton, the lemon will help in making the color deeper, while the sugar will act as a fixative that stop the henna paste from flaking off.

In the Morccan way, cloves, fresh ginger, pepper, and freshly minced garlic are other ingredients that can be added to the lemon and sugar mixture, this recipe is believed to facilitate the process of peeling the henna off of the skin if wrapped and left overnight.

 

Henna shapes and designs

The designs and shapes vary from one culture to another and each pattern symbolizes a specific non-verbal belief, and because of the fact that the designs’ shapes and patterns are limitless, we are going to have a short insight into the traditional Moroccan ones.

Most Moroccan patterns are inspired by Berber culture, common shapes are the khamisa (Fatima’s Hand), an eye, or diamond shapes, which are believed to be a way of guarding against evil eye and ill fortune.

Other Moroccan designs incorporate geometric shapes like squares, circles, triangles and rectangles, floral patterns, plants and linear designs, plain but carrying powerful symbolism and to the point considered to be an integral part of the Moroccan culture.

Henna as way to express joy and happiness

Henna at weddings

In Morocco, the wedding celebrations basically last for three days, this may vary from one part to another, in the southern region for instance this may last for more than seven days, in either part one significant day is the Henna night, whereby the bride get her hands and feet dyed with henna in her house in a ceremonial atmosphere, while the bride get stained the family sing, dance on some folk music, and take picture with the bride and with each other.

Circumcisions 

One other event whereby henna is present is when a male get circumcised, circumcision, the excision of penile foreskin, is a must-do stage in every Muslim male, therefore, in addition to the other ceremonial activities like scarifying a sheep and the boy’s head shaving, the boy and some of his close family get their hands adorned with Henna in a ceremonial event punctuated with feasting, parties and celebrations.

Festivities

Religious festivities are other ceremonial events that witness a great presence of Henna, Eid Al-Adha for instance, whereby all Muslims around the world scarify a sheep following the mores of the prophet Ibrahim as a personal willingness to be obedient to the mighty Allah (God), the sheep and the people get adorned with henna in a very joyful atmosphere.

 

art and culture in fez, fes, morocco
May 07 2016

Fes World Sacred Music Festival

The World Sacred Music Festival in the city of Fes ,  Morocco.

Description

The World Sacred Music Festival is the highlight of the Spirit Foundation of Fes, Morocco.

Thanks to its influence and vocation, the festival is part since 1994 in a universal mission of peace and reconciliation among peoples.

During ten days, various events and parties are given in all the monuments and important site in the city.

Each year the festival welcomes a multitude of artists, who come from all walks of life and all cultures.

History

The World Sacred Music Festival and the Forum of Fez, created respectively in 1994 and 2001 , are part of the scholarly tradition, artistic and spiritual town.

Since their creation, these events have had a growing success.

This festival was designated in 2001 by the UN as one of the key events that have contributed in a remarkable way, the dialogue of civilizations.

Meanwhile, it has developed an international network of support and media coverage.

Thus was born, the United States , the organization Spirit of Fez Inc. , which organizes every two years a program of the Festival and the Rencontres de Fès through twenty US cities.

A tour was organized during the months of October and November 2006 in several cities of the United States, including a concert in New York at Carnegie Hall.

Diffusion through these events, this “spirit of Fez”, now radiates from Fez in different places of the world.

Several other cities such as Milan , London or Madrid wanted to become a relay to extend the festival’s message and meetings of Fez : the dialogue of spirituality through music, creating a culture of peace promoted by globalization plural, respectful of ethical and spiritual values.

Its current director is Faouzi Skali .