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On Monday, January 30th, Morocco was readmitted as a member state of the African Union (AU) following a summit at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Morocco had previously withdrew from the AU’s predecessor, the Organization for African Unity, in 1984 in protest of the organization's decision to allow the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) membership. Morocco and the SADR, which is not officially recognized by the UN, have been in conflict over the Western Sahara region since 1975 when Spain withdrew its colonial power. Morocco’s readmittance will likely have significant geopolitical ramifications in the coming years. However, placing the politics to the side, Morocco joining the AU will also have significant economic effects.

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While tourism to the culturally prominent cities of Casablanca and Rabat is increasing, Morocco’s aggregate economy is slowing.  Recently, the King Mohammed VI of Morocco staged a week-long tour of the Arabian Gulf to rally support as the European-dependent economy falters in the wake of the global crisis.  Morocco has strong relations with the Arabian Gulf nations stemming from centuries old historical, religious, even and linguistic ties, while Rabat and Casablanca (and other major cities) have been largely influenced by Europe, particularly Spain and France.

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The past several years, the economy in Morocco has been characterized by macroeconomic stability and low inflation. However, the country has been faced with high unemployment and its task in recent years has been to accelerate growth in order to create more jobs.

Morocco's initiatives for developing entrepreneurship put stress on improving the literacy rate and encouraging women to enter the business field. In the past decade there have been numerous literacy programs, targeting mostly women, the largest one being "Massirat Nour". The government sees education as the tool to decrease poverty. The larger goal is to diversify the economy so that it is not as agriculture focused and make the country more attractive to foreign investors.

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Today’s traveler is different than it once was. People are interested in finding unique and adventurous destinations rather than the typical beach vacation. This is great news for smaller countries rich with cultural and historical attractions. People want to be taken off the beaten path, and local businesses around the world are profiting.