The Moorish Wanderer

Mawazine, Tourisme et Chiffres

Posted in Dismal Economics, Flash News, Moroccanology, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on May 28, 2013

On m’a proposé l’idée d’explorer l’hypothèse selon laquelle le festival Mawazine (qui se déroule actuellement) n’influe pas vraiment sur le nombre de touristes visiteurs – ou plutôt, que les moyens mis en place pour faire de la publicité à cette manifestation culturelle (y compris les invitations aux différents artistes connus) participent de la promotion de notre pays en tant que destination touristique; auquel cas, le budget Mawazine se justifie complètement, comme un vaste coup média.

Sauf que je n’ai pas souvenir de lire une quelconque analyse sérieuse de ce coût d’opportunité: certes, les budgets marketing dépensés en sponsoring auraient pu servir à construire des hôpitaux, écoles, routes, éclairage public, des diplômés chômeurs dans la fonction publique en plus, mais un argument équivalent peut se faire sur la base d’un raisonnement Trickle Down: la publicité internationale attirera plus de touristes, donc plus de revenus fiscaux, pour les opérateurs touristiques, des créations d’emplois, etc. Et il est probablement plus facile de vérifier cette seconde assertion que la première.

Je préviens le lecteur de suite que je suis très sceptique quant à la validité des résultats présentés ci-dessous: je me suis basé sur un échantillon trop petit – de 1995 à 2010. Malgré la robustesse statistique de ces même résultats, toute critique quant à la pertinence de ceux-ci sera entièrement valide. Je pense néanmoins que si nous raisonnons en termes de coûts d’opportunité et de rendements, il faudra bien commencer à un moment ou un autre à proposer des chiffres, aussi imparfaits soient-ils.

Pour ce faire, j’emprunte aux travaux académiques d’économie du travail une fonction très connue du rendement de l’éducation, et dont la forme serait \ln r_t = \alpha_0 + \alpha_1 z_t + \alpha_2 z_t^2 et j’insiste sur le terme \alpha_2 z_t^2 qui mesure ainsi l’effet marginal des entrées de touristes sur les recettes – car il ne suffit pas de récupérer le maximum de touristes pour augmenter nos recettes du secteur touristique lui-même, il s’agit de faire en sorte que le rendement potentiel du visiteur non-résident potentiel reste le plus élevé possible.

légère inflexion dans les recettes touristiques vers 2008-2009, mais le nombre d'entrées est toujours en croissance

légère inflexion dans les recettes touristiques vers 2008-2009, mais le nombre d’entrées est toujours en croissance

Et c’est là que toute la discussion devient importante: comment peut-on contrôler l’impact de Mawazine dans la relation décrite plus haut? après tout, il est difficile (peut-être impossible) de contrôler pour un évènement présent, surtout que la tendance des rentrées en revenus et de touristes est robuste dans leurs croissances respectives.

Que se passerait-il si on décidait d’intégrer l’évènement d’organisation de Mawazine dans le petit modèle sans forcément faire apparaître le terme? Je m’explique: une régression standard lie directement les revenus touristiques au nombre de rentrées, avec un terme capturant le rendement des arrivées de touristes, abstraction faite de l’organisation du festival. On se propose d’intégrer Mawazine comme instrument – c’est-à-dire une variable sans lien direct à priori avec l’évolution des recettes, mais influençant les rentrées de touristes.

----------------------------------------------
    Variable | OLS_NoMawazin    GMM_Mawazin   
-------------+--------------------------------
     arrival |  .67609406***    .71855215***  
  arrival_sq | -.03344045**     -.0374711***  
       _cons |  19.546418***     19.46791***  
-------------+--------------------------------
          r2 |   .9641003       .96265975     
        r2_a |  .95857727        .9569151     
----------------------------------------------
      legend: * p<0.05; ** p<0.01; *** p<0.001

Premier constat, l’effet aléatoire (ou présumé comme tel) sous Mawazine est légèrement supérieur à la régression standard, ce qui laisserait à supposer un effet de traitement positif – mais dont le différentiel est très faible, assez faible en tout cas pour douter de la validité de l’hypothèse selon laquelle un festival aux invités prestigieux sert l’image du royaume, et donc son secteur touristique.

La différence de coefficient dans le second modèle (GMM_Mawazin)  par rapport au premier, est expliquée par l’introduction de l’évènement Mawazin dans le calcul du rendement des arrivées en termes de revenus d’activités touristiques. Or en testant les deux valeurs 3.34% et 3.74% on découvre qu’il est très difficile de conclure à une quelconque différence statistiquement significative, ceci sans oublier le fait que l’échantillon est excessivement petit pour en tirer une conclusion définitive.

"L'inflation" du budget annuel du festival met en difficulté son effet vertueux sur le rendement touristique

“L’inflation” du budget annuel du festival met en difficulté son effet vertueux sur le rendement touristique

Voici donc un résultat qui ne plairait probablement pas au Ministère du Tourisme, et que les auditeurs des entreprises participantes de leurs budgets Marketing respectifs pourraient utiliser pour discuter du rendement effectif de leur sponsoring: certes, le rendement estimé pour “l’effet Mawazine” se vérifie sur le rendement touristique, mais ce résultat est tellement fragile qu’il ne vaut certainement pas le budget annuel alloué à cet évènement. Pour ce faire, on se permet de comparer les courbes respectives de rendement pour un modèle sans effet Mawazine, et l’autre avec le festival comme instrument – la valeur initiale sera la même afin d’isoler plus exactement l’influence du festival, puis avec un niveau initial inférieur prenant en compte l’évolution moyenne annuelle du budget du festival.

On remarquera ainsi que sous hypothèse d’un différentiel significatif, le festival n’atteindrait son objectif que si son coût de fonctionnement reste constant, ou en tout cas, enregistre une croissance modérée – et cela ne semble pas être le cas.

Cette critique n’est pas particulièrement orientée contre l’organisation de Mawazine (un bien bon festival dans ses éditions initiales en tout cas) mais plutôt la conclusion que plusieurs initiatives – dont plusieurs s’insèrent dans les fameux Grands Chantiers– se parent d’un pseudo-calcul de coût d’opportunité, alors que le résultat statistique est pour le moins peu probant. Pour une fois que l’approche technocratique se met vraiment au service du citoyen, autant en profiter.

Wandering Thoughts, Vol.12

Posted in Flash News, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Tiny bit of Politics, Wandering Thoughts by Zouhair ABH on April 17, 2011

A couple of pieces of news worth commenting this week (or shall we say, the last 10 days)

The sideshow definitely settled in; at such serious times as these, the row just sprung on whether we should keep the Mawazine festival. Normally this anti-festival frenzy catches up only during the silly season -a pleonasm when it comes to Moroccan politics, but even more so during summer. This year, and under these quasi-historic circumstances, the frenzy started up earlier, and, there was a new element in the protesting crowd: it is no longer the socially-conservative, liberally-challenged crypto-islamist crowd that calls for scrapping the whole festival scheme, it’s also many of the pro-February 20th people, those with more progressive views, that is.

The row over Mawazine is not about the festival (although I suspect some have strong feelings about what they referred to as ‘orgies of debauchery’) but the symbolism it carries: when it started off, a decade ago, it was elitist (with, if I may say so, a much better musical offer) and it was directly attached to the Royal business. For a couple of years, Mawazine director was Mr. Abdeljalil Hjoumri, the very Collège Royal ‘s own headmaster. And step by step, perhaps due to a change in management, the festival turned more popular, more in line with other Summer festivals. As it is, Mawazine quickly turned to be very popular, a Rabat grander version of L’Boulevard  -sometimes victim of its own success with the death of many attendants due to stampede to in 2009.

Mawazine: the shallow argument

Now, Mawazine is identified with another sort of Palace insider (although I suspect the capital of Royal trust took a beating these days in his case) Mohamed Mounir -“M3”- Majidi is, up to now, the festival boss, so it is quite understandable Feb-20 protesters identify the Festival with its master and call for their removal; both. The conservative wing lept on the occasion; Some of them were humiliated last year with the Elton John case (allegedly because of his homosexuality and a concert he gave in Israel) and that could be a chance get back at the festival. I don’t position myself on this issue, because it suspiciously sounds very like a crafty counter-spin to avoid further popular attention (and pressure) on the constitutional reform. It happens sometimes: idle issues to act like smokescreen to much important ones.

As a matter of principle, I’m all for organizing festivals, as a temporary plug for a culture policy we need yet to define; I am however not in favour of organizing gigantic celebrations with the taxpayers’ money, especially when it involves a lot of foreign stars and the subsequent drain on our foreign reserves. At best, a privately-funded Mawazine without prejudice to the public finances is fine by me. The trouble is, it is not the case right now: indeed, the overall budget is MAD 27 Million, out of which public companies like CDG, OCP, Royal Air Maroc, ONE and Maroc Télécom are on the government balance sheet, either as integrated entities (thus usual beneficiaries of public subsidies) or as part of the government portfolio shareholding. Overall, there is about MAD 12.7 Million of (direct or indirect) public funding that needs to be scrutinized.

I have just got that book Ignace Dalle wrote on Hassan II. The first thing you need to know about Dalle is that he is a serious journalist; I am sure Gilles Perrault or Jean-Pierre Tuquoi are good journalists too, but the cardinal difference that makes Dalle’s books is the impressive bibliography references and the effort in keeping up with a dispassionate tone. Though contrary to the earliest “Les Trois Rois“, this “Hassan II: entre Tradition et Absolutisme is more of a psychological portrait; The book does not bring to light breaking news, I mean for any sensible observer, Hassan II set a standard of his own in absolutism, corruption and tyranny. Sure, circumstances were not in his favour, but then again, the anti-monarchy ‘mob’ were compelled to radicalise precisely because of his obnoxious behaviour.

One discovers some little-known anecdotes about him; I would be interested to read -or hear- about his groupies. Yes, there are still people -regrettably, young people- who believe we were blessed with his reign, a bulwark against the forces of anarchy, atheism and whatever doesn’t square with our ‘values’. Hopefully, when I finished reading the book, I immediately started re-reading the other one, the very book the late king wrote (or had written) in 1976 : “Le Défi”. And do let me tell you something: there lies the essential structure of our present propaganda, a basic clef-en-main module for Makhzenian argumentation.I personally enjoyed the way the late king exculpated Sultan Abdelhafid from his responsibility in signing the protectorate treaty:

[…] C’est dans ces conditions que le Maroc, contraint et forcé, dut céder à une double pression étrangère, qui s’exerçait de l’extérieur et de l’intérieur. Ainsi [fut signé] le Traité de Fès instituant le protectorat.

citing Moulay Hafid’s protest, […] Je représente un peuple qui n’a jamais été une colonie et qui n’a jamais été soumis ni asservi.

Funny, coming from someone who signed the treaty and got away with 40,000 pounds, a splendid villa in Tangier and a handsome pension from the French Résidence.

Yes, some consider him to be very stylish.

Even more interesting, the way independence was wrestled from France and Spain has been revisited to be in accordance with his taste; Then there’s the piece about agriculture, even though he fails to explain why agricultural output did not keep up with demographic growth – he prides himself with the 1966 Agrarian reform, and yet fails to explain why Habus, Guich and Makhzen estate have a lower return, nor does he explain why he did not take on these dubious status quo the way he did on French colonial farmers. He lists all the dams he had had built over the period, and yet fails to explain why the overall agricultural GDP still relies (even more so in the mid-1970) on raining season.

Education has been extensively discussed, with grand numbers that did not hide the truth; worse still, he prides himself on creating Arabic literature and Islamic sciences department in universities (perhaps to make up for the lack of achievement in core and social sciences, illiteracy and test results) Le Défi is definitely fun to read.

Overall the book (Dalle’s, not the king’s) reveals perhaps the more human side of Hassan II; by human (and not humane) I refer to how insecure the late monarch was about himself, his leadership, which might explain why he was at ease surrounding himself with spineless minions. It also shows that he was even prepared to go all the way, for the sake of his grip on power, to forgo corruption among his circle and within government. At times, I was even surprised how things were managed with a monarch set on enjoying himself and at the same time concentrating all powers. Overall, the book is really worth reading; I wonder whether it will not be censored in Morocco… I understand “Les Trois Rois” was no officially censored, but importers had very little incentive to order it (If they ever dare, what would happen to the importing license for instance?)

Can anyone remember an old TV Series “Fall Of Eagles” ? The story of three European imperial families: the Rumanovs, Habsburgs and Hohenzollern. absolutist rulers all of them, who eventually crumbled with the Great War, but never deemed necessary to reform in order to survive; Though it is a dramatized account of history, the blindness to disaster emperors and kings in Europe showed before 1914 came to the price of their thrones.

The parrallell is not, in my opinion too extreme: throughout the last half a century, the monarchy preferred to either temporize (Mohamed V) or to counter-react violently (Hassan II) or to alternate insidious arrests and generous largesses (Mohamed VI) but on all these instances, no one considers it a fruitful strategy to reform in order to remain in power.

Politics Away, Bring the Burlesque

I don’t feel like discussing politics today.

I sometimes wonder: are the Moroccan leftS built for democracy? Or rather, are our left-wing politicians party to leave behind their personal griefs and over-sized prides (as well as shamless u-turns for the governmental of them…), and build the Unified Left (no less). Not one party, you understand, that would be too difficult and I for one, wouldn’t be at ease with it (that’s the sectarian part of me, I can’t rid of it, sorry…).

Let’s talk about something superficial, or something too elaborate in its superficiality perhaps. Let us leave aside the average populace to their regular uproars; Although these times, new records were set it seems. Naciri junior went a bit berserk on his way home, he seemingly did beat up some random guy for a minor car friction. Other than that, I didn’t find Naciri father very convincing in explaining himself: I did lap it up though; the “on my honour” part. Very dignified, very much indeed. It just happened he has a turbulent son that needs protection (with a justified record of bad behaviour I am told)

Then there’s the Elton John outcry: Attajdid lost the initiative it seems, and wanted to gain it back, you know, call up the primary islamic/islamist instincts of their public to get a grip on their (average) readers.The facts Elton John being gay and performed a concert in Israel are just irrelevant. No parallel intended,  but I didn’t recall Attajdid chums protesting much against the concert the Red Army Choir presented before HRH Prince Rashid for the FAR’s 50th anniversary in 2006. And they, the Red Army Choir, did too perform in Israel, and moreover, the Russian army is killing Chechen Muslim brothers. Attajdid, and the PJD too, it seems, are just trying to re-attract attention to them after the blow related to the surreal fatwas. They eventually caved, as Elton John did come to Morocco, and he did perform a wonderful piece last night.

What worries me more is the AMDH business. Leaving aside political loyalties, I am very fond of Annahj -although I am not a member, and it so happens I disagree with some of their stands- but the fact they had the majority at the last conference should not prompt their “comrades” in the PADS and the PSU to deafened us with their plaintive cries: “but look, they’ve got everything and they are party to turn the NGO into their own boutique !”. What upsets me more is how delighted the Makhzen left was, to this. I can hear them already: “hey, you can’t even get together on this”, plus you know, there’s still a look-down attitude towards the radical left; Because parties like the USFP and the PPS gambled, lost their bet and are in the process in loosing some more, while trying to sank promising projects with them. And it’s not like the “little” ones are fond of pursing their own project. No, they are under the despicable illusion they still can do some good in ‘discussing’ with the other side. Politics-fiction is nothing compared to Moroccan politics, we’ve just got cross another layer of surreal politics.

I drifted a bit, sorry. I was about to discuss something interesting (to those of us who have any interest in it).

Let us talk about Neo-burlesque. First off, do we need it to be construed as demeaning to Women ? As a matter of fact, it is indeed. It boils down to stripping but with an elaborate choregraphy, with music, all elegantly of course a real change from “regular” stripping, though it must be pointed out, that all this takes place in a very 1940’s-1950’s mood: the clothes (or what’s left of them, that is), the performer’s features (haircut, makeup, etc…), as if the “new sexy” (and I am not referring to the Lady Gaga sort of sexy, or what the teenage girls want to look like) is to bring back the gorgeous Pin-ups so much fantasized about for many decades.

Dita Von Teese, Neo-Burlesque star show, draws a lot from the 1950's pin-up presentation.

When I was doing my research about it, I found this book, “The Happy Stripper: pleasures and politics of new burlesque” on the matter; Very interesting indeed. Jacki Willson went to see a performance -a stripping presented as artistic-. After the show, she felt a mix of confusion, anger and pleasure. The author is definitely a feminist, but she didn’t know what to make out of the performance: was Ursula Martinez (the stripper, but then again she is a little more than that…) a dis-empowered worker, or was she shining indeed in all its provocative sexiness? Is it fine to sell stripping as art, while the public is in a voyeuristic state? All of these questions prompted J. Willson to write the present book we are discussing. Right from the 1950’s all the way to the 1980’s, the feminists struggled to make women more minds than bodies; To redefine all the essential parameters of femininity in order to overcome, as Willson puts it, ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’ state. As it was rightfully pointed out, normative clothes and behaviour were -and to a certain extent, still are- designed function to the male gaze/pleasure. Think about it in our own societies: why does a young woman put the veil? the very quick, simple and completely acceptable motivation (within the society’s normative set of references) is that of protecting the lady’s virtue from male temptation. Is it not that the veil, the burqa, the niqab, or any piece of clothing considered to be of shari’a origin are for protecting and shading women from men’s temptation?

Western feminists wanted too -in their whole heterogeneous lot- to bring intelligence and wittiness in women’s personalities. Away the ‘dumb blonde’ or ‘hot redhead’ stereotypes, women can too have witty repartee, biting intelligence and holding senior offices at work. What Willson just saw in the cabaret joint was a shock: there she was -the stripper/artist I mean- getting rid in the sexiest way possible of her incredibly sexy clothes, but in the same time, with a majesty, a self-confidence and afterwards, with a wit and humour that indeed, it must be troubling for the feminist the author is to sort it out.

She then goes on: “ We are in the thick of a new wave of burlesque. This formidable display of flesh seductively draws us back to a time of the eroticized pin-up. It propels us back into that era of hard glamour where such cinematic characters as Marlene Dietrich or Elizabeth Taylor reigned supreme. This provocative sexuality bubbles breathlessly from the fashion pages of glossy magazines and lures up from pop music videos and film. Does this forthright display of sexualized women take us right back to a pre(-)feminist 1950’s state, or does it communicate something much more pressing about our present post-feminist condition?

Though not a 1950's Pin-up, Greta Garbo was of first class in her own.

The more interesting part of course, is when Willson finds sociological ties to the whole business of burlesque. As an American, she drew mainly from the late 19th century (when Burlesque was first introduced in the US) to the Neo-Burlesque of late 1990’s, when iconic performers, like Dita Von Teese brought back the sexy pin-ups then so much revered in the post-WW2 period. In facts, she found that in times of economic crisis -such as the current one-, times of uncertainty and confusion, all unsettling, the burlesque, the theatrical representation of sexuality was brought back. She does however points out that as time goes by, and with the steady middle-class shaping of US society, these representations, tend to be of, as she puts it, of “bourgeoisification” of burlesque: the French Can-Can has little to do with the current shows, much more elaborate, sophisticated, very 1950’s like (which is not a coincidence, the 1950’s/1960’s where the âge d’or of US bourgeois middle-class society, as well as the fore running signs of sexual liberation)

So, is there any link between (post)feminism and burlesque? It is true the 1950’s pin-ups have something of a sex-appeal, and in facts, some of them indirectly provided role model for sexual-liberty aspiring young women. After all, Marlene Dietrich and, to some extent, Greta Garbo are iconic within the lesbian -and more widely, for GBT as well- community. Not only because of their sexual orientations, but because of how at ease they seemed and acted with their personal choices. Dita Von Teese might as well be a model for aspiring post-modern, post-industrial young women: witty, openly sexual with a great taste (I am sorry, but Men and Women alike dressed in a much better fashion in the 1950’s than they do now. Arguably, clothes were of far inferior material, but the cuts and looks were much better, as far as I am concerned).

Marlene Dietrich in a Boyish oufit. One of the Hollywood stars with an assumed bisexual identity. The cold sexual allure of her "blonde mystery" was Dietrich's trademark.

Why would the male gentry feel threatened by this horde of sexually aggressive Femina? Or is it just because the old paradigm of the predator male is actually outdated? It looks as though some would be happy to watch Dita in her giant Martini glass, but would be too afraid to have something like her at home, or at bed. Too much intimidating perhaps?