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The Modernization of Morocco's Ancien...
Thagazout, Morocco
By Osie Greenway
02 Mar 2014

Taghazout, Morocco is a small fishing village 12 miles north of the city of Agadir, in the south west of Morocco. The mostly Berber population in the village is estimated to be around 6,000. The main sources of income for the people are tourism, fishing and the production of Argan oil. Taghazout lies on the west coast of Morocco and is known for its abundance in tuna, bonito, and sardines. The village has been a fishing spot for over 100 years, with generations of fathers and grandfathers working side-by-side.

This traditional pastime has changed much in the past decade. Modernization has changed everything, from a shift in traditional livelihoods, to a shift in the type of tourism Moroccans are cultivating in the village. Modern equipment such as boat motors and tractors have cut down on the physical labor - before the tractor, wooden slabs were laid out and men would push and pull the large wood crafts up and down the shore. But this generation of fishermen is aging, and is not being replaced by the young. Young men in Taghazout do not wish to become fishermen as their fathers did, but instead more and more, to tap into the riches of surf tourism, which has become a booming industry in the area. They also commute to the factories nearby for stable work. These new factories sprouting up along the coast line are taking young would-be fishermen away from the village and polluting the waters they fish in.

Surfing tourism began in Taghazout in the early 1970s. It started out as a small surf community, and has since become a globally recognized location for surfers from around the world. Moroccans have bought up real-estate and businesses in the village and surrounding areas to prepare for their future in tourism. They also do this to compete with Saudi Arabian contractors building massive resorts up and down the coast between Agadir and Taghazout.

Tourism in Morocco is becoming a new keystone in the structure of the Moroccan economy. Foreigners come from around the globe to surf the world class surf that surrounds Taghazout and with them comes western culture. Taghazout so far has accepted the cultural and religious distractions without problem and many look forward to a future in the developing town. Some villagers fear what will happen too their culture, traditions, and religion as their culture and trades are turned into a tourism business.

"Without the tourism this town would be dead and the only jobs here would be fishing or the factories", said Tariq Kabbaj, the Mayor of Taghazout.

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Western Influence in Kurdistan's Cul...
Sulaimaniyah, Iraq
By Transterra Editor
13 Aug 2013

Within Kurdistan and, to a lesser extent, Iraq, Sulaimaniyah has always been the city where changes start. It is known as the cultural capital of Kurdistan - more liberal, youthful and intellectual than Erbil. It is the home of Gorran - the first serious opposition to the ruling PUK and PDK parties and it is the city where all the uprisings and social upheavals in Kurdistan have begun. Although Islam still predominates in the city, people are more secular here than in Erbil and in the countryside.

Kurdistan is modernizing fast. The skylines of the cities are perpetually changing and growing upwards. There are many new cars on the street, often luxury models. People are becoming more prosperous and looking for ways to show it. At the same time, Western cultural influence is everywhere. There are multiplex cinemas that are indistinguishable from any in Europe. Internet access is faster and more commonplace. Many Kurds who left for Europe before and during the second Gulf War are now returning having lived, worked, had families and run businesses in Europe for ten years or more. Nowhere is this influence more outwardly tangible as in the style and fashion of Kurdish young people.

However, while the symbols of apparent modernization spring up all over the place, beneath the surface Kurdistan remains a deeply traditional place. Young people who dress in modern European clothes, drive new expensive 4x4s and hang out drinking in hotel bars and house parties still cannot go on dates with each other. The course of their early life is still mapped out by both familial and social expectations. The men are expected to go into a decent job (i.e. doctor, lawyer, engineer) and the women are expected to get married in their early twenties and start having children immediately. Sons and daughters live with their parents until they are married because estate agents won't rent property to single people for fear of 'dishonour'.

As they strain to create their own identity and express themselves through what they put on their back, the frustration in young men and women is palpable.