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EMBASSY OF THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ALGERIA ALGERIA TODAY JUNE 2010 OFFICIALS’ ACTIVITIES Page 3 AMBASSADOR'S ACTIVITIES Page 6 COOPERATION Page 7 ECONOMY Page 10 ENVIRONMENT Page 12 TOURISM Page 13 HISTORY Page 16 CULTURAL NEWS Page 17 2118 KALORAMA ROAD NW WASHINGTON DC 20008 TEL: 202-265-2800 FAX: 202-667-2174 Website: algeria-us.org Email: email@example.com June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 2 THE DESERT FOXES EXIT THE WORLD CUP WITH THEIR HEADS HELD HIGH As the song goes, Algeria’s national soccer team members “The Desert Foxes” gave it their all, but their all was not good enough. On June 23, in Pretoria, the Algerian team was defeated by the U.S. Squad, suffering elimination from the rest of the competition by a single goal, scored at the 92nd minute of a game high in competition, physical endurance, and fair play. Coach Rabah Saâdane and his players may have lost a game but they have earned their spot at the 2010 World Cup and highly deserved to be the only Arab country to make it through the tough selection process leading to South Africa. Special kudos go to the revelation on the Algerian squad, the extraordinarily skilled Algerian goalkeeper, Raïs M’Bolhi, who did save the day on numerous occasions. Indeed, the Desert Foxes had rocks hurled at them, injuring several of them. They were surrounded by violent and hostile crowds in Cairo, Egypt. They were supported in Khartoum, Sudan, adored and criticized in Algeria, but they held their own and showed one of the world’s best teams, England, that they were no easy piece of cake – in fact, they were much tougher than Wayne Roonie and his teammates expected. In the end, Saâdane’s boys have exited the rest of the competition in South Africa, scoreless but certainly not soulless. They have made it to the court of the great ones. They competed with zeal but lacked the “oomph” that teams need to win. Maybe, the next time around. This team may have lost a game, but Algeria and Algerians everywhere have earned a new team that can win. Yes, they can! June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 3 officials’ acTiViTiEs PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA IN CANADA FOR THE G8 SUMMIT The President of the Republic, Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, is taking part in the Africa segment proceedings of the G8 Summit meeting convening in Muskoka, Canada. Along with six of his African peers, the Head of the State will participate in a dialogue with his counterparts from G8 member countries over the ways and means to strengthen the Africa-G8 partnership, initiated on the occasion of the launching of the NEPAD in 2001. In this respect, the Heads of State and Government will namely review the prospects of achieving the Millennium Development Objectives highlighting, in particular, the measures required at the national, regional, and global level, in order to efficiently reach the goals relating to the health of mothers, newborns, and infants, as set by the Millennium Summit Declaration held in 2000. They will examine as well the modalities for a more substantial support by the G8 to African efforts aimed at preserving stability, security, and peace on the continent. Finally, they will take part in an assessment of the enforcement of the commitments included in the partnership platforms adopted on the occasion of the successive G8 summit meetings. PRIME MINISTER OUYAHIA MEETS WITH THE IMF DIRECTOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST-CENTRAL ASIA Prime Minister Ahmed OUYAHIA met on June 15, 2010, with the Director for the Middle East-Central Asia at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr. Masood Ahmed, who was visiting Algeria. The governor of the Bank of Algeria, Mr. Mohamed Laksaci, attended the meeting. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 4 ALGERIA AND THE EU AGREED ON A REVISION OF THE TIMETABLE OF THE DISMANTLING OF TARIFFS With a view towards assessing the implementation of the Association Agreement between Algeria and the European Union, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mourad Medelci co-chaired the 5th session of the Algeria-EU Association Council with Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency. The meeting, which took place five years after the entry into force of the Association Agreement, enabled both sides to review the current state and prospects of cooperation between Algeria and the European Union in its multiple dimensions - political, economic, commercial, financial, cultural, and human. On this occasion, Algeria insisted on underlining the significance with which it views its relations with the European Union and its willingness to strengthen them further based on the reciprocal interest of the two parties. Mr. Medelci called on the European Union to reexamine its timetable of the dismantling of tariffs provided for by the Association Agreement concluded in 2002 and enforced in 2005. The European partners have responded positively to the revision request. (For more details see the web site: www.algeria-us.org) MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS MOURAD MEDELCI ADDRESSES “DIPLOMACY AND CHALLENGES FACING THE ALGERIAN ECONOMY” AT THE HIGHER WAR COLLEGE Diplomacy and the strategic challenges raised by the diversification of the Algerian economy required by globalization were the topic of an address delivered on June 10 by Minister for Foreign Affairs Mourad Medelci at the Higher War College in Tamentfoust, Algiers. Speaking before a large audience of the College’s senior brass, Mr. Medelci reviewed diplomatic action conducted by Algeria at various stages of the diversification process, in the framework of its global strategy, and discussed the constraints, both domestic and foreign, that emerged in that respect. Pursuing, he highlighted the assets, mechanisms, and instruments used by the State to facilitate access to technologies, lessen the vulnerability of national economy due to its dependence on the energy sector and diversify its non-hydrocarbon supply and export networks. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 5 INCREASING THE INVOLVEMENT OF “PRACTICAL” MEASURES THE ALGERIAN COMMUNITY LIVING PLANNED TO CREATE “BEST ABROAD IN NATIONAL CONDITIONS” FOR VISIT BY DEVELOPMENT NATIONALS LIVING ABROAD The Secretary of State to the Minister for The Secretary of State to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of the National Foreign Affairs in charge of the Algerian Community Living Abroad, Mr. Halim Community Living Abroad, Mr. Halim Benatallah, said on June 7, that he will strive to Benatallah, declared on June 10, that the strengthen the contribution of the members of authorities have taken a series of “practical” that community to different projects of national measures to create the best possible development. conditions enabling nationals living Speaking at the transition ceremony with Mr. overseas to enjoy their visit at home during Djamel Ould Abbès, who was designated the summer vacation. Speaking to the press, Minister of Health, Population, and Hospital on the margins of a working session by the Reform, Mr. Benatallah said that “unification of committee in charge of establishing the Algerian community living abroad” in order favorable visiting conditions for the to strengthen its involvement in the national community living overseas, Mr. Benatallah development process is one of “the strategic announced “the enforcement of a special objectives” of his Secretariat. To that end, he and urgent program” aimed at supporting said that he intended to be “listening” to the Algerian nationals living abroad and concerns of the community living abroad, ensuring that “visiting nationals are given particularly in view of the “difficult” economic the required attention at all times at all environment currently prevailing. entry ports.” AU COMMISSIONER FOR PEACE AND SECURITY RAMTANE LAMAMRA CALLS FOR CONTINENT-WIDE LAW PROHIBITING PAYMENT OF RANSOMS TO TERRORIST GROUPS Existing African antiterrorist laws have been applied in a “dissimilar” manner and their potential has not yet been “fully” achieved, declared the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra, addressing the 4th Meeting of the Focal Points convening at the African Centre for the Study and Research on terrorism (CAERT) on June 13, in Algiers. Mr. Lamamra said that because “Africa aspires to be a violence-free continent, it cannot resign itself to be perceived as fertile ground for terrorism and as exporter of insecurity”, before adding that “zero-tolerance policy regarding the phenomenon of terrorism and trans-border crime needs to be a policy applied at all times.” The African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security further warned that against the ability of terrorism to adapt and to gain strength from connections to other transnational crimes. For his part, the Acting Director General of CAERT, Dr. Lyès Boukra, said that the African Union is putting the final touch to “a model law against the payment of ransoms” to terrorist groups under any guise whatsoever. The legislation will be written in such a way as to enable AU countries “to incorporate its provisions into national law”, declared Dr. Boukra. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 6 AMBASSADOR'S ACTIVITIES MEETING WITH ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE JOSE W. FERNANDEZ On June 1, 2010, Ambassador Baali met with Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Fernandez to review the economic bilateral relations and to discuss aspects related to a meeting on Entrepreneurship in the Maghreb to take place in Algeria. PRESENTATION AT THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES ON THE US-MUSLIM WORLD SCIENCE PARTNERSHIP Full text available on the Embassy's website: www.algeria-us.org AMBASSADOR ABDALLAH BAALI ATTENDS A USIP WORKSHOP Ambassador Abdallah Baali, President of the sixth NPT Review Conference (2000) attended and spoke at a workshop hosted by the US Institute of Peace “Assessing the just-concluded 2010 NPT Review Conference”, on June 9, 2010. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 7 COOPERATION U. A. M. UNION OF THE ARAB MAGHREB ADVISORY COUNCIL HOLDS 7TH ORDINARY SESSION IN ALGIERS The 7th Ordinary Session of the Union of the Arab Maghreb (UAM) was held on June 10 in Algiers, with the President of the Council of the Nation, Mr. Abdelkader Bensalah, and the Speaker of the People’s National Assembly, Mr. Abdelaziz Ziari, in attendance. The participants assessed the Council’s achievements so far and examined the ways and means of boosting future action by the Council and its organs. The proceedings included the adoption of the Periodic Transitional Program for the Council’s five committees as well as the review of UAM’s current performance and future prospects. The opening session was also attended by the ministers in charge of Relations with the Parliament in UAM’s member countries and by the leaders of similar bodies in the Arab, Islamic, and African countries. MAGHREB MINISTERS OF ENERGY MEET IN ALGIERS The first meeting of the ministers of Energy of the Maghreb countries concluded in Algiers on June 19 with the adoption of a final declaration and a plan of action for the medium term for 2010-2015. The meeting examined a proposal calling for the progressive integration of the power markets of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia into the European Union market and the ministers confirmed “their willingness to continue reforming their respective domestic energy sectors”, as stated in the final declaration. The participants also committed to use “the opportunities presented by the bilateral and multilateral cooperation between their respective countries and the European Union, with the goal of completing the reforms and developing their national energy sectors.” CLOSER COOPERATION AND TWINNING PROJECT FOR ALGERIAN AND TUNISIAN CUSTOMS The Algerian-Tunisian Cooperation Committee ended the 13th session of its proceedings last June 9 with the conclusion of a cooperation agreement and the signature of a twinning convention between the Higher Customs School at Oran and the Tunis National Customs School. Both the agreement and con- vention were signed in Oran by Mr. Mohamed Abdou Bouderbala, Director General of the Algerian Customs, and his Tunisian counterpart, Mr. Souleimane Ouarek. According to the customs cooperation agreement, Algeria and Tunisia agreed to join efforts to better fight contraband and to facilitate circula- tion by travelers from both countries. Moreover, the new agreement includes a training component which will help Algeria share its experi- ence with its eastern neighbor. Addressing the media on the topic at a press conference held in Oran, the head of Tunisian Customs, Mr. Ouarek, announced that Algeria will provide training in dry port to Tuni- sian customs officers. Mr. Ouarek, who had just ended a visit to the Oran Es-Senia Dry Port (an inland terminal directly linked to a maritime port), expressed his satisfaction to see his officers benefit from “the dry port experience of Algerian Customs” which, he added, “contributes to alleviate the pressure exerted on ports,” which are transit areas where not all goods can be declared. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 8 ALGERIA – EUROPEAN UNION ALGERIA-RUSSIA: PROSPECTS FOR INCREASED COOPERATION A Memorandum of Understanding relating to financial planning for 2011-2013 and a The Arabia-Expo 2010 economic forum, Financing Convention relating to the Support held in Moscow on June 7-9, provided the Program for Higher Education between Algeria ideal platform for participating Algerian and the European Union were signed on June 6, trade officials met with their respective 2010, in Algiers by Minister for Foreign Affairs Russian counterparts and other officials to Mourad Medelci and Minister of Higher review the current state of the bilateral Education and Scientific Research Rachid cooperation between the two countries, Harraoubia and by European Commissioner in examine its prospects, and review the ways charge of Expansion and European Policy of and means of expanding it. Earlier, the Good-Neighborliness Stefan Füle. Algerian Ambassador to Russia, who also attended the meeting, made a presentation On this occasion, Mr. Medelci indicated that the on investment opportunities in Algeria. program has a financial allocation of 172 million Euros. Both sides expressed their shared willingness to expand their cooperation to areas outside of the hydrocarbon sector and to continue to strengthen their consultation and dialogue on issues of mutual interest. CZECH REPUBLIC EXPRESSES INTEREST IN GETTING ALGERIAN LNG The Czech Republic is highly interested in buying Algerian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), said Czech Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Milan Hovorka. Speaking in Oran, before an audience of Algerian businessmen at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Oran Region, Mr. Hovorka explained that his country is eager to “diversify” its sources of LNG supply and that it would take an official decision in this regard, “after review of pertinent technical issues related to the shipping of Algerian LNG to the Czech Republic and the commercial aspect of the offer.” The Czech official also underlined his country’s “determination” to increase its efforts to expand its political and economic relations with Algeria, establish partnerships, promote investments and trade exchanges, which reached $160 million in 2009. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 9 ALGERIA AND VENEZUELA DISCUSS TRAINING OF ENERGY EXECUTIVES Welcoming the Venezuelan Ambassador to Algeria, who was on a courtesy visit to the Algerian Petroleum Institute (IAP) in Boumerdès, IAP Chief Executive Officer declared that Algeria and Venezuela are currently negotiating ways of expanding their significant cooperation in the area of oil and gas to provide training of executives in the sector. “The Algerian Petroleum Institute is already providing such training and we are currently discussing ways of providing this service to include training of (Venezuelan) petroleum and gas engineers,” added IAP CEO. ALGERIA-MEXICO FRIENDSHIP CAUCUS ESTABLISHED IN MEXICAN CONGRESS An official ceremony celebrated the creation in the Lower house of the Mexican Congress of the Algeria-Mexico Friendship Caucus. The caucus is composed of representatives from different Mexican political parties and will be chaired by Mr. José Manuel Aguerro, a Representative from the PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The Ambassador of Algeria to Mexico took the opportunity to underline the traditionally good political relations between Algeria and Mexico and expressed his willingness to work toward strengthening Algerian-Mexican bilateral cooperation in all areas. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 10 ECONOMY ALGERIA REGISTERED A $6 BILLION TRADE SURPLUS IN FIRST 5 MONTHS OF 2010 According to the Algerian Customs Directorate’s Office of Data Processing and Statistics, Algeria has registered $6.04 billion in trade surplus during January-May 2010, compared to a deficit totaling $572 million (rounded-up figure) during the same period, a year ago. During the first five months of 2010, exports amounted to $22.32 billion (compared to $16.64 billion during the same period, in 2009), representing a 34.10% increase. Imports, on the other hand, were valued at $16.28 billion (They totaled $17.22 billion in January-May 2009), amounting to a 5.43% decrease. 2010-2014 DEVELOPMENT PLAN SETS ASIDE ONE TRILLION ALGERIAN DINARS FOR AGRICULTURE The Algerian Government has set aside one trillion Algerian Dinars (DA) - equivalent to $13.5 billion - to stimulate and expand development in agriculture and rural areas over the next five years, through the 2010-2014 Economic Development Plan. The planned expenditures thus reinforce the policy implemented in this sector over the past twelve years. The main programs under consideration in this regard essentially include the modernization of agricultural techniques and means, price support for crops, forestry planting over 720,000 acres, range planting over 140,000 acres, and olive tree planting over 2 million acres. THE 2010-2014 FIVE-YEAR PLAN WILL STRENGTHEN THE NATION’S ECONOMIC BASE, SAYS MINISTER OF TRADE Minister of Trade Mustapha Benbada declared that implementation of the public investment program over the 2010-2014 economic development program “should contribute to the development of a new economic foundation resting on the enterprise as a source of wealth generation.” He added that the five- year plan is intended “to help Algerian enterprises produce but produce better products, in order to progressively increase their shares of the local market and, then, move on to exporting to foreign markets.” JIJEL-SÉTIF HIGHWAY: CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN BEFORE YEAR END Minister of Public Works Amar Ghoul said on June 10 that construction of the 100km-highway connecting Jijel to Sétif will begin before the end of 2010. The minister also announced that the project will now be handled by a South Korean design and construction contractor. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 11 ANDI REGISTERED CLOSE TO 40,000 INVESTMENT PROPOSALS OVER 2 YEARS ANDI, the National Agency for Investment Development, registered 39,372 national and foreign investment projects between March 2008 and April 2010, declared the director in charge of Foreign Direct Investments at ANDI, Ms. Yasmina Benmayouf. Referring to internal survey, the official said that 10,217 were endorsed. Out of that, 8,180 projects were implemented, 265 were FDI investments, 1,515 are being implemented, and 522 were abandoned. Since its creation in 2002, ANDI has processed and endorsed 71,185 investment projects in several activity segments of the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises, added Ms. Benmayouf. JORDANIAN ENTERPRISES SEEK PARTNERSHIP AND INVESTMENT OPPORTJUNITIES IN ALGERIA Numerous Jordanian firms and entrepreneurs exhibiting at the Algiers International Fair have expressed their great interest in prospecting partnership and investment opportunities in Algeria. At a media event held on the fair grounds to review the potentialities for expanded bilateral cooperation between Algeria and Jordan, and enhanced by the attendance of both the Jordanian Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Amer El Hadidi, and the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom to Algeria, H.E. Turki Al-Khraisha, numerous Jordanian investors have called the Algerian market “promising”. Participating firms represent a wide array of Jordan’s economic sectors, including agro-industries, the chemical industry, plastic manufacturers, household electronics, cosmetics, construction and building materials, furniture and clothing, as well as the banking and medical sectors. 600,000 JOBS PER YEAR: OBJECTIVE OF THE 2010-2014 DEVELOPMENT PLAN Speaking to the press earlier this month, Minister of Labor, Employment, and Social Security Tayeb Louh declared that his office is hard at work to reach one of the goals of the 2010-2014 five-year plan: create 600,000 new jobs every year to meet the Plan’s objective of creating 3 million new jobs by the end of 2014. The ministry’s strategy will involve creating 300,000 new positions per year as provided for by the plan supporting professional reinsertion and 200,000 jobs to meet the requirements set by the National Authority for Youth Employment Support (ANSEJ). BLIDA’S “FRANTZ FANON” UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL CENTER (CHU): A GENUINE POLE OF EXCELLENCE The “Frantz Fanon” CHU “is a genuine pole of excellence which many other hospital centers around the country should do well to emulate”, said a visibly highly appreciative Minister of Health, Population, and Hospital Reform Djamel Ould Abbès, said earlier this month in Blida “The City of Roses”. Minister Ould Abbès had expressed his satisfaction with not only the management by city health authorities of the international conference on psychiatry, which Mr. Ould Abbès and a large audience of specialists had attended, but also with the way the CHU was run. The Minister of Health, Population, and Hospital Reform heaped serious praise on the CHU’s Cancer Treatment Ward, after inspecting different areas and equipment, and called the hospital “a model” to be generalized throughout the country. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 12 ENVIRONMENT ACTIVATION OF NATIONAL MARINE SCIENCE RESEARCH NETWORK RASMER, the national marine science research network, has been officially launched earlier in June by officials from the General Directorate of Scientific Research and Technological Development. The marine science research community has “already made significant contributions and advances”, said the officials, adding that such efforts “should be sustained and strengthened.” FAO-GLOBALLY IMPORTANT INGENIOUS AGRICULTURAL HERITAGE SYSTEMS: CLOSE TO 9,500 “GHAOUTS” PROTECTED IN THE CITY OF EL OUED Globally Important Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and their associated landscapes have been created, shaped, maintained and passed on by generations of farmers, herders, forest dwellers and fisher folk. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s GIAHS project aims to establish the basis for the global recognition, dynamic conservation and sustainable management of these systems in the face of economic and cultural globalization, environmental variability and inappropriate policy, incentive and regulatory environments. In Algeria’s Great South and other arid and semi-arid zones, traditional agriculture has flourished in a constraining and harsh environment thanks to a millennia-old diversified and highly intensive and productive system. In the Sahara Desert, for instance, from time immemorial, oases have always been green islands where farmers, using sophisticated (ingenious, indeed) irrigation systems, ensured fair water distribution and managed to grow a surprising variety of fruit and vegetables, cereals, and numerous other plants. Dominated by palm groves, which provide shade and lower the ambient temperature, oases offer ancient production and irrigation systems. In Algeria’s great South region, the city of El Oued, among many others, offers a vivid and rich example of the beneficial impact of such ancient systems on modern life in an unforgiving environment. Local authorities point out that the FAO’s GIAHS program is helping to preserve and protect within the next 5 years close to 9,500 natural funnel-like low-laying areas called “ghaout” used in the oasis’ ancient irrigation system. CONSTANTINE ARBORETUM EARNS “PROTECTED AREA” STATUS In an effort to protect local flora and fauna and the environment, the authorities of the Wilaya of Constantine have designated the 38-acre Djebel Ouahch Arboretum, located north-east of the city, “Protected Area”. The arboretum harbors a rich collection of fauna specimens from all over Algeria and a large selection of flora species, some of them exotic, from all continents, such as the dozen giant sequoias, whose “original species came over a hundred years ago from far away places in Asia and America”, said an official at the Wilaya’s Office of Environmental Affairs. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 13 TOURISM “À LA DÉCOUVERTE D’ALGER”, A NEW GUIDEBOOK ABOUT WHAT TO DO AROUND ALGIERS Let’s say you are new in town and don’t know your way around the (ever expanding) Algerian capital, or that you are a local but are too busy to plan an outing, or you’re just curious about what to do in Algiers, then “À la découverte d’Alger”, a brand-new guidebook about Algiers published by “Les Pages Maghreb” (which also publishes economic information directories) should help you out. The guidebook invites the reader on a tour of Algiers’ “Crown Jewel” and oldest neighborhood, the Casbah, about which the world-famous Swiss-French architect, designer, urbanist, writer, and painter “Le Corbusier” commented that “Those who built the Casbah had achieved the architectural and urbanist epitome.” Visitors who chose to stay downtown or hang around other areas of the city can refer to the Algiers Guidebook to get all sorts of useful information about bookstores, hotels, restaurants, banks, clubs, embassies, markets, and so on. The book also has a chapter on the city’s “Must See” (Les Incontournables), which includes famous museums and monuments like the Ketchaoua Mosque, Dar Aziza, La Basilique de Notre Dame d’Afrique (the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa), or Le Jardin d’Essais (Research Center and Experimental Gardens) located in the Hamma area of the capital and whose “luxurious flora provided the background for a Tarzan movie starring Johnny Weismüller.” Furthermore, the guidebook provides information about various aspects of the Algerine culture and introduces the reader to the city’s musical styles, such as Chaabi and Andalus. Other chapters of the book include interesting information about “The Battle of Algiers” by the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo or “Rachida” by the Algerian director (Ms.) Yamina Bachir-Chouikh, and about “Algerian Painting” or “Camus and Algeria”. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 14 “AL QAL’A OF BENI HAMMAD”, FAVORITE DESTINATION OF THOSE SEEKING TO ESCAPE THE SUMMER HEAT IN M’SILA OR WANTING TO REVISIT HISTORY Starting in early June, when temperatures start rapidly creeping up the thermometer and hitting the upper 100s by mid-morning in the high plateaus areas of Algeria and when air-conditioning does not seem able to fight off the oppressive heat, and if you happen to live in the city of M’Sila, or any of the surrounding cities of that wilaya, then the logical thing to do is to pack up the entire family and seek refuge in the coolest place of all - an ancient fortress called “Al Qal’a of Béni- Hammad” (“Al Qal’a”, also spelled “Kalaâ”, is a transcription from the Arabic word meaning “Fortress”, while “Beni-Hammad”, meaning “Sons of Hammad” or the “Hammad Clan or Tribe” refers to the ruling dynasty at the time, 11th century). Inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, “Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad”, located in the municipality of Maâdid, in the Wilaya (province) of M’Sila, is an ensemble of preserved ruins situated on the southern flank of the Djebel Maâdid (Hodna mountain range) at 1,000 m above sea level in a mountainous setting of seizing beauty. Founded in 1007 on an ancient site by Hammad ibn Buluggin, the son of Buluggin ibn Ziri, the founder of Algiers, Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad is a ruined fortified city and the first capital of the Hammadid Emirs. It was abandoned in 1090 under the threat of the Banu Hilal and partly destroyed by the Almohads in 1152. UNESCO said the (present-day) ruins of Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad “provide an authentic picture of a fortified Muslim city”, adding that the fortress has “a mosque, whose prayer room has 13 aisles with eight bays, is one of the largest in Algeria.” Nowadays, visitors who head to “Al Qal’a of Béni-Hammad”, have the opportunity to combine business (so to say) with pleasure and admire (and probably teach the kids about their country’s history and) the architectural genius that built such a magnificent fortress and enjoy the scenery and the cooler temperatures all around. These days, it seems that the latter stands as the primary criterion motivating the crowds of visitors. Indeed, the prevailing cool temperatures at Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad contrast with the sweltering heat hanging over the cities further downhill, such as M’Sila, located 30 km away, or Ouled Mansour, which is at twice the distance. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 15 BEAUTIFULLY RENOVATED, CONSTANTINE’S AHMED BEY PALACE IS A PLEASURE FOR THE EYES AND THE SENSES Fascinated by the palaces that he visited in the Orient, Ahmed Bey – then the beloved Turkish Governor of the Constantine Province - decided to have a sumptuous “Ksar” (castellated palace) built in Constantine, where he only lived for 2 years, between 1835 and 1837. Closed for restoration in 1985, Ahmed Bey Palace has reopened, presenting to the public an architectural gem that absolutely needs to be visited and admired. A massive green door studded with rounded brass wire nails opens up on the south side of the edifice, ushering in the visitor, who then crosses from a slightly noisy street and the area around “Si El Haouès” Square (formerly known as “Place Générale”) to step into the oblong square forming the Palace entrance court. The surroundings ooze with a sublime charm and serenity, blocking off the outside world. A few steps up from the ground floor and the visitor enters a fine white marble hall lined with alabaster colonnades and walls covered with Moorish blue and gold mosaics, leading on the left to “Dar Fatoom”, the apartments of the Dey’s favorite wife. The ceiling is incrusted with fret-work and decorated throughout with yellow-copper luminaires. To the right, the visitor steps into the Great Palm Tree Garden, distinct from the Great Orange Tree Garden, where French emperor Napoleon III is said to have had two Lebanon cedars planted and in the middle of which lays an oblong square with a deep marble basin containing a fountain from which water flows back into the basin. Along the walls, a series of panels decorated with a surprising fresco replicating the long trip made by Ahmed Bey on his way to Mecca for pilgrimage. The visitor can admire scenes from Tunis, La Goulette (Tunisia), Tripoli, the port of Alexandria full of frigates with their sails up, Cairo and its landscape of mosques and hustle and bustle. Like an open image book, the fresco continues down the hall on the inside of the walls. It was during that trip that the man who later took to the throne and became known as Ahmed Bey was fascinated with the residences and palaces of the Orient and decided to have a sumptuous Ksar built, one that would certainly rival the most beautiful and elaborate estates of the time. In 1826, he entrusted the palace construction to two illustrious Algerian artisans, including the famed El Hadj Youcef Barrar whom the vassal sovereign had brought from Egypt, who had apprenticed to the masters of the time and trained in Tunis and Alexandria, and commissioned Jewish craftsman from Tunis to do the tinwork and build leaded glass windows. Historical sources claim that the Bey, wanting to have original ornamental work done, called on a Genoese merchant to deliver the required building and decorating materials, including ornate Spanish and Italian faience embellishing the wainscoting of the walls in the ground floor area and the first floor galleria of the palace. The Bey’s apartments were connected to the harem and the Bathers Room, which are T-shaped Moorish lounges that included boudoirs called “Maksooras”. Further down, towards the southern part of the palace, was the Divan Hall, where the dignitary managed his city’s business. The underground part, used as stables during the Ottoman era, was later turned into a jail by the French. Nostalgia for the splendors of the Orient permeates the visit of a sumptuous, yet unostentatious, place, where the Sultan and his large entourage lived for only two years, from 1835 to 1837. After the fall of Constantine on 13 October 1837, Ahmed Bey Palace became the headquarters of the French Army’s General Staff. In 1935, it was listed as historic monument by the French colonial authorities. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 16 HISTORY MAURICE AUDIN’S COMMITMENT MOVIE DIRECTOR AHMED RACHEDI AND SUPPORT FOR ALGERIA’S DRAFTING SCRIPT ON THE LIFE OF INDEPENDENCE WAS TOTAL AND REVOLUTION LEADER KRIM BELKACEM OUT OF CONVICTION, SAY FORMER FELLOW ACTIVISTS Algerian director Ahmed Rachedi considers himself more as a Maurice Audin, a 25 cinematographer and chronicler of year-old mathematics history than mere moviemaker. teaching assistant at the Speaking to reporters recently, he Science Faculty of the revealed that he is working on a University of Algiers script for a movie on the life and who was tortured and ultimate sacrifice of great Revolution leader Krim made to “disappear” by Belkacem. Rachedi said that recounting such French colonial forces significant past historical events requires that he stick for siding with the Algerian people in their as close as artistic license and historical considerations fight for independence, had been totally would allow. To him, he said, historical accuracy is committed out of sheer conviction and belief in everything because “the goal of a cinematographer is his support for the Algerian cause, former to make movies inspired by history and not to (re)write companions said at a recent conference history.” In this instance, Rachedi declared that he is organized in Algiers by the newspaper El seeking inspiration from archives made available to Moudjahid, in observance of the 53rd him by Krim Belkacem family and other private anniversary of the militant’s kidnapping by the sources, including personal documents and French military on June 11, 1957. correspondence left behind by Krim Belkacem himself Speaker after speaker discussed various aspects about specific events, such as the meeting that took of Audin’s life, his activism for a free Algeria, place in the Casbah between Krim Belkacem, Abane the torture he was subjected to (along with his Ramdane, and Rabah Bitat, all original leaders and companions, who included Henri Alleg, author thinkers of the Algerian war for national independence. of “La Question”, a book denouncing torture), Asked about future ventures, Rachedi said he has his “liquidation” by French paratroopers at the several other projects in store, all devoted to heroes of torture center of “Villa Susini” in Algiers, his the Revolution, including Mustapha Benboulaid and “disappearance”, and the subsequent Djamila Bouhired. involvement of his wife and others that led to what became known as the Affaire Audin and revealed the extensive use of torture of Algerian militants and their supporters, even BOOK ON THE HISTORY OF THE WAR FOR European ones. NATIONAL LIBERATION IN THE CITY OF Known for his hospitality and his humility, SÉTIF JUST PUBLISHED Maurice Audin was a brilliant mathematician born into a family of French settlers and who The Veterans Center of the Wilaya of Sétif has just devoted his body and soul to the Algerian published an Arabic-language book titled “Sétif, Revolution, said several conference History and Glory” as a tribute to the contributions participants who knew him then, before adding made by their city to the fight for freedom and the that “Maurice felt Algerian” through and country’s independence. The book is intended as a through. means of reconstituting the various timelines in the Today, in the heart of the capital of war for independence as they occurred in the heart of independent Algeria, one the main circles near this city and its surrounding areas. It is also meant to the University of Algiers bears his name. His highlight the sacrifices and the suffering endured by memory lives on. the Algerian people in their fight for independence. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 17 CULTURE ALGERIAN FORMER SOCCER GREAT RABAH MADJER DESIGNATED UNESCO GOODWILL AMBASSADOR FOR PEACE AND EDUCATION Former soccer great Rabah Madjer was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Education and honored at a nomination ceremony held at UNESCO headquarters in early June. Prior to the ceremony, the Algerian soccer idol met with UNESCO’s director General Mrs. Irina Bokova. The man known for his historic heel kick during a 1982 World Cup qualification game is the first Algerian citizen to be so honored and who committed to work for the promotion of sport and the UNESCO ideals of peace and education. Madjer, who served as Ambassador of Algerian Soccer throughout the world, is going to be now the (Algerian) Ambassador of UNESCO serving another noble mission: Taking care of youth all over the planet. “PETER PAN” AT THE ALGIERS NATIONAL THEATER Last June 12, the “Mahieddine Bachtarzi” National Theater in Algiers delighted a large audience with a creative rendition and magic choreography of “Peter Pan” or “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”, by the Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. Interpreted by the “El Haï-a” (meaning “walk”, “gait” or “bearing” in Arabic) Ballet Group of Algiers, the show revealed great talent among the dancers, including Driss Sofiane as Peter Pan, Samar Ben Daoued as Wendy Darling, Farès Fetane as Captain Hook, and Amal Derouk as Tinker Bell, as well great choreographic work by Nouara Adami. THE ACTRESS SONIA WINS “BEST DIRECTOR” AT PROFESSIONAL PLAYWRIGHT FESTIVAL The actress Sonia was crowned “Best Director” at the 5th National Professional Playwright Festival for her play “Amam Aswar Al Madina” (Facing the City Walls). Already quite successful as a stage actress and familiar to theatergoers for her roles in several plays, including “Fatma”, “Al Ayta” (The Scream), “Les martyrs reviennent cette semaine” (Martyrs will return this week), and “Hatta El Tem” (Until Then), Sonia has tried her hand at directing plays, among which, “Nuit de divorce” (Divorce Night) and “Rasse El Khite”. Accepting her award, Sonia remained true to her image, as she attributed her success, not to her talent as director, but “to the entire crew and actors.” June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 18 NATIONAL ARTIST DAY CELEBRATED NATIONWIDE Numerous cultural events were held across the country to celebrate National Artist Day (June 8) and recognize the many contributions made by artists to advance and disseminate the Algerian culture and its rich and varied heritage. At each venue, a number of still- performing artists were awarded prizes, while long-gone performers were recognized for their talent and work and for having helped, inspired, and mentored younger artists. In Algiers, a gala held at Algerian National Theater and featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and its accompanying Choral paid a moving tribute to two great artists, the singer El-Hadi Radjeb and the multi-talented poet, songwriter and composer Mustapha Toumi. Later, Mohamed Lamari, the renowned Algerine pop singer, brought in a little levity and his typically “bright sunny day” music. Moreover, in the capital, the National Women’s Observatory paid tribute to women and men active in the world of culture and art. The event took place at the Higher College of Fine Arts in Algiers, where “we wanted to honor all those who strive to promote our culture”, said the Observatory’s President, Mrs. Chaia Djafri. Oran, the country’s second-largest city, also did its part to celebrate local as well as national artists. At the “Abdelkader Alloula” Regional Theather (named after a prolific and genial playwright), twenty-one artists, including Baroudi Benkhedda, Samia Bennabi, Houria Baba, and Bachir Bouyedjra, were honored. The head of the Wilaya cultural Office, Ms. Rabéa Moussaoui, said that observance of National Artist Day was more than a mere cultural event, “it is a way for us to remember all artists who have given something back to Algeria.” In Jijel, National Artist Day was observed as well with an enjoyable exhibit of work by local painters shown at the “Omar Oussedik” Cultural Center. While a number of artists celebrated the truly legendary beauty of the region and its unspoiled coastline, known as “La Corniche Djidjélienne”, others like a young visual artist named Kamel Mechirka used fine sand as a brush to paint landscapes and portraits. In Tipaza and Tizi Ouzou, the settings and local cultures may be different – the first is the renowned beautiful coastline city dating back to Roman times and the other is the epitome of the high peak city known in Berber as “The Brooms Pass” – but the celebration of National Artist Day was similar; both cities focused on women artists. At a ceremony organized at Tipaza’s new library, regional authorities and civic leaders honored the memory of local artists, such as Kaida Ahmed Esseghira, also known as “Sheikha Kaida”, a Medaha (name derived from the Arabic “Medh”, meaning panegyric or genre of poetry that was to become the primary mode of poetic expression during the Islamic period, used to refer to a poet singing the praise of the Prophet or the tribe and its elders) from the nearby coastal city of Cherchell (the “Cesarea” of Roman times) who died in Tipaza in 1947 and was buried at the Sidi Ahmed El Ghobrini Mausoleum. In Tizi Ouzou, observance of National Artist Day was decidedly dedicated to women artists and encompassed different styles and generations. The event organized by the cultural authorities of the Wilaya of Tizi Ouzou highlighted the achievements of women artists and the fight led over generations to impose female singers of national reputation, such as Chérifa, Djemila, Anissa, L’Didja, and many others who have definitely paved the way to acceptance of female performers in an area of the country known to cherish traditions and to uphold somewhat conservative customs. Yet, it is the region that gave birth – and rise – to Chérifa, the Diva of Kabyle singing now 84 years old, who started in 1952 with a song called “Abqaw Alakhir ya Akbou” (Goodbye Akbou). June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 19 TWO EXHIBITS IN DJANET PAY POSTHUMOUS TRIBUTE TO STAR OF TARGUI MUSIC Almost five years after his untimely death on June 17, 2005, in Oued Idjeriou, Djanet, Othmane M’barek, also called Othmane Bali, who is still and rightly venerated in these parts of the Great South of Algeria as “The Greatest Ambassador of Targui Music”, was celebrated throughout the Wilaya of Illizi for his numerous contributions to the local culture. Two main cultural venues – the central library and the main cultural center in Djanet – in the wilaya were chosen to pay the Targui music star a posthumous tribute on National Artist Day (June 7) through exhibits displaying landmarks of his career, his writings, his music, and his life’s many passions. The exhibits will remain open to the public until next June 19. “Othmane Bali was an artist of immense talent who made invaluable contributions to Targui music and helped disseminate it throughout the world, showing its real value,” said a local artist visiting one of the exhibits. IMOUHEG (TASSILI) TOUAREG CHERISH AND PRESERVE THEIR FOLKLORE Popular folklore constitutes one of the facets of the centuries-old heritage of the “Imouheg” Touareg community living in the vast region of the Tassili, in the Illizi Wilaya, in Algeria’s Deep South. Recent work conducted by Abdennebi Zendri, an anthropology researcher at the Tamanrasset University Center, showed that the artistic heritage is particularly important to the Targui population. It includes a wide array of genres conveying popular poetry through songs, dances, rites, musical melodies, using unique musical instruments. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 20 ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN 12TH CENTURY SICILY, THEME OF ALGIERS EXHIBIT The Italian Cultural Center in Algiers hosted a photo exhibit titled “Art and Architecture in Sicily in the Kingdom of Roger II” at the Arts and Culture Center at the Palais des Raïs (Bastion 23) in Algiers. Held over three weeks, the exhibit showcased photographs of art and architecture in 12th century Sicily, namely through ceramics and decorative arts as they were practiced under the reign of Roger II, whose kingdom was known as “The kingdom of the trilingual culture”, said the exhibit organizers. PRINTS BY THE LATE VISUAL ARTIST MOHAMED KHADDA EXHIBITED IN ALGIERS The “Mohamed Racim” Gallery in Algiers gave the Algerine general public and art lovers the opportunity to admire some of the artwork created by the visual artist and printmaker Mohamed Khadda. Called “Khadda Affichiste” (Khadda, the printmaker) and organized by the National Association for Cultural Arts (UNAC), the exhibit presented 36 among the series of prints made by the artists between 1962 and 1988, in celebration of various economic, cultural, and artistic events held over that period. Included in the exhibit were prints about the Festival of Popular Music and Songs (1968), the First Pan-African Cultural Festival (1969), the 15th Algiers International Fair, the history conference on “Impact of the Algerian Revolution” (1984), the International Symposium of the National Center for Historical Studies of Oral Traditions (1988), as well as other prints designed for various exhibits held in Algeria and overseas. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 21 ESPARTO GRASS PRODUCTS, AN INCREASINGLY POPULAR ITEM AT HANDICRAFT EXHIBIT Visitors at the Handicraft Exhibit have been flocking to the esparto grass stand, reflecting a growing trend in society for products made out of esparto grass, such as shopping bags, bread baskets, and other household items. In fact, the rise in interest for this traditional and plentiful material has generated interest among artisans for traditional handicrafts once considered to be on the wane. Some people attribute this interest to the fact that such products are now available in emporiums or specialty stores, rather than sold by street peddlers who used to travel from one neighborhood to the next to sell their wares. DESCENDANTS OF SIDI KHALIFA CELEBRATE THEIR PATRON SAINT IN PURE TRADITION The inhabitants of the municipality of El Kheither, located 115 km north of the Wilaya of El Bayadh in the south- western area of High Plateaus of Djebel Amour, observed the Festival of Sidi Khalifa, a holy man who is also the region’s patron saint. Celebrated every year at the beginning of summer, the holiday was quite festive and was well attended, including people who came from the neighboring regions of Naâma, Saïda, Tiaret, and Sidi Bel Abbès. ALGIERS HOSTS 2ND NATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL Dance groups from several wilayas took part in the opening ceremonies of the 2nd National Dance Festival presided by Culture Minister Khalida Toumi at the Riadh El-Feth Mall in Algiers earlier this month. Mrs.Toumi said that the festival translated “the cultural diversity found in the wilayas of the country.” Observers noted significant improvements in organization, choreography, and the sound system at this year’s festival. Mrs. Toumi added that efforts will be made to involve all 48 wilayas in the country in coming festivals and give young people the opportunity to participate, show their creativity (which she called the main objective of the event), and disseminate the individual culture and heritage of their region. June 2010 ALGERIA TODAY Page 22 “MUSICAL SPRING” IN SKIKDA, THREE DAYS OF NON-STOP MALOOF The audience attending the first edition of “Musical Spring” in Skikda, enjoyed and delighted in the sounds and rhythms of Maloof Arab-Andalusian traditional music, held in this beautiful city in eastern Algeria in the closing days of last May. Indeed, lovers of the musical style were treated to performances by the Tlemcen Andalus Orchestra and the exceptional participation of Nouri Koufi, the Annaba Maloof Orchestra, which included the singers Dib Layachi and Mebarek Dekhla, as well as the Constantine Maloof Regional Orchestra and the singers Larbi Ghazal, Abbas Righi, and Fateh Rouana. TRADITIONAL FEMININE GARB CELEBRATED IN TIZI OUZOU The city of Tizi Ouzou held an exhibit entirely devoted to traditional dress worn by women over the centuries in a region known for colorful and varied types of dress. The exhibition displayed numerous kinds, including centuries-old Kabyle dress, wedding dress and accompanying accessories such as jewelry, ceremonial belts, traditional trunk, which were used as wardrobe in the olden days and hairstyling items. Some of the items displayed date back more than a century and were borrowed from women living in the area, according to some organizers.
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