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In Ben Jelloun's books, women grow up as men and the traditional roles of the sexes are stripped of their religious covers and rendered into archaic notions of masculinity that hark back to the Jahilia. Controversial, cynical, yet true to his roots, Morocco's most prolific author deals powerful words in lieu of action, and his message is that of social justice and equality.
In Morocco, the argan is called "The Tree of Life" due to its many uses. UNESCO declared an 800,000-hectare area in southwest Morocco between Essaouira and Agadir a biosphere reserve because it is the only place in the world where argans grow.
Tunisian actress Hend Sabri is no stranger to controversy. Egyptian tabloids are rife with rumors about an early retirement and a decision to wear the veil. Critics have attacked her for risqué roles involving passionate love scenes. But Sabri insists that in the end, moviegoers are more concerned about story and performance than labels critics create to pigeon-hole actors and movies.
Algeria abounds with natural resources like oil and gas, phosphates and iron ore. However, Algeria is lacking in one very essential resource: water. The chronic water shortages hurt the national economy, especially when agriculture is affected. When the sector is sluggish, Algeria has to resort to more imports.
Every day countless trips take place across the Mediterranean between Europe and North Africa. In the cold months, travelers from Southern Europe brave their way to the warmer North African coast and in the warm months, voyagers from North Africa and places south struggle northward towards Europe.
"La Vie Revee de Fatna" (The Dreamed Life of Fatna) is Rachida Khalil's latest stage creation. Co-written by Frenchman Guy Bedos, it establishes her as one of France's leading Arab comediennes. The Moroccan-born actress is funny, daring and taboo-breaking.
North Africa offers great tourism potential, with the vast Mediterranean coastline perhaps being the biggest lure for foreign visitors. Morocco and Tunisia, the two largest tourist destinations in Africa, drove the continent to nine per cent travel growth for 2004.
Moufida Tlatli's films mix experience with gender politics to depict disempowered and confused women in a male-dominated society.
Over thirty thousand rock paintings discovered in the North African desert constitute a rich visual record of prehistoric life in the region. Many thousands of years ago, hunters and cattle breeders painted on cliffs and in caverns depictions of their daily lives. Their "rock art" has become essential for the understanding of the history of the emergence of human societies.