Rabat – The first IKEA store in Morocco will open on March 16, after a six-month delay caused by a diplomatic row between Sweden and Morocco, Marino Maganto, the CEO of IKEA Morocco told Huffpost Maghreb.Last September, Morocco blocked the opening of the first IKEA store in the country because the location did not acquire a “certificate of conformity” from the community and local law enforcement. The announcement came after Sweden ordered an internal review of the country’s policy regarding the Sahara issue.After the completion of the review, Sweden issued a formal statement clarifying that the Polisario self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) “does not satisfy the conditions to qualify as an independent state,” and that “the [Polisario] front does not have the ingredients to establish a sovereign state.” The decision ended the diplomatic row between Morocco and Sweden. When asked about the political issue that delayed the store opening, Maganto said IKEA Morocco “never considered this as a crisis, even if it is obviously a loss from sales… But the amount of the loss is difficult to assess. We talk about a few millions.”According to an article in The Arab Weekly magazine, some Moroccans have criticized IKEA for pricing items higher in the Morocco catalogue than in European catalogue. The magazine noted that the increased prices were in place to match prices offered by local competitors.The CEO said that IKEA prices its products based on the region in which it operates and continues to try to offer low prices to all its customers.“We have almost 2,000 items in the catalog cheaper than in Europe. We have some more expensive products, some less expensive, and others the same price. We will work to lower prices from year to year and to make our products accessible to the Moroccan people.”
12 April 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to the Qatari capital, Doha, tomorrow to participate in the first meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya, where the opposition has taken up arms in a bid to oust the regime headed by Muammar al-Qadhafi. Mr. Ban will be accompanied by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Elah al-Khatib. The Contact Group was established following the London Conference on Libya of 31 March 2011.On Thursday, Mr. Ban will travel to Egypt to chair a meeting of regional organizations convened in an effort to ensure continued coordination of the international response to the crisis in Libya. The meeting will be held at the headquarters of the League of Arab States in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.Senior officials expected to attend include the League’s Secretary-General, Amre Moussa; the Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, Jean Ping; the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu; and Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.On Friday, the Secretary-General will start an official trip that will take him to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine and Russia.In Prague, the Czech capital, he will meet with President Václav Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Necas and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg.Mr. Ban will then proceed to Budapest, Hungary, for talks with President Pál Schmitt, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Foreign Minister János Martonyi. He is also scheduled to give a public lecture at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on the challenges ahead for the UN.In Ukraine, the Secretary-General will participate in the “Kiev Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy.” He has stressed the need to reassess the international emergency response framework and the nuclear safety regime, and the summit will serve as a useful forum for those topics.During his stay in Ukraine, Mr. Ban will also visit Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, accompanied by President Victor Yanukovych. He will also meet with the Foreign Minister, Konstyantyn Gryshchenko.The last stop on the Secretary-General’s itinerary will be in the Russian capital, Moscow, where he will hold talks with President Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other officials. He will also call on Patriarch Kirill I, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.