Three Generations Find Pride and Opportunity in Family Leather Business

by Emily Vega

RABAT, Morocco – Ayoub El Khalifi stands against a wall covered in his family’s handmade traditional leather goods. He wears a black felt fedora hat. Every square inch behind him displays polished and hand crafted leather bags, cushions, belts and more. As customers explore the store, the smell of tanned leather follows them. Hanging from the ceilings and lining the walls, hundreds of designs are displayed.

This traditional craft has provided the El Khalifi family with an escape from a troubled region and livelihood in a country where many young people struggle to find jobs.

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DJ Sim H: Finding Freedom in Rap

By Najah Mateen

CASABLANCA, Morocco – When Simo Sguiry was a child, he and his younger brother would listen to American artists from their father’s tape collection. “I grew up with Michael Jackson,” Simo says.

Since then, his musical tastes have changed a lot. A Casablanca native, Simo is now a DJ, and the Moroccan music industry knows him as DJ Sim H.

Like Simo, Moroccans have embraced hip-hop culture while managing to put their own cultural twist on something that was once uniquely American. This is evident in the current generation of Moroccan rappers, who rap in Arabic, Darija, and French.

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“Jus d’avocat:” a Moroccan delicacy with a surprising reputation


RABAT, Morocco — At Le Gout du Fruit, a juice shop in downtown Rabat, students and pedestrians cluster around standing height, stainless-steel tables and chat above the constant whir of blenders and blaring traffic outside.

Among the crowd is Moe Mohammed, a wiry 26-year-old from southern Morocco, who is wolfing down a fruit salad covered with a creamy, green mixture known as “jus d’avocat.” He pauses, momentarily, to extol the topping’s rumored health benefits.

“In Morocco, they say that, whoever is married needs a lot of avocado juice,” he said.

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Moroccan Musician Leaves U.S. to Find Opportunity Back Home


MARRAKECH, Morocco — On a spring afternoon at the Four Seasons Resort, the ballroom is packed wall-to-wall with wedding industry professionals attending an invitation-only trade show. A group of women circulates amongst the booths, belting Moroccan weddings songs. Veil-like like drapery hangs from the ceiling, covering the view of the courtyard where M’hamed el Menjra is arranging the final details of the night’s musical performance.

El Menjra is busy: in the span of five minutes, he chats with the band in French, coordinates with the stagehands in Arabic and offers a journalist a statement in flawless English.

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Moroccan Female Kickboxing Champion reflects on Career, Challenges, Ambitions

Story by Sophie Alexander and Allison Merola

Photo by Arlinda Fasliu

CASABLANCA, Morocco—Catcalling is nothing new for Salma Maliki. The 23-year-old says she experiences it almost every time she leaves the house. Usually she just ignores it and keeps walking. But there have been times when Maliki has responded to her harassers—not as a frightened girl in the street, but as an international kickboxing champion.

Maliki was on her way home from a run with a friend. Several men called after them as they were crossing the street. Maliki and her friend continued walking and ignored them until one of them yanked the back of Maliki’s sweatshirt.

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