Moroccan Moments

The Travellers Guide to Morocco

The Culture, Religion and Customs of Morocco.

The official language in Morocco is Arabic, though almost one third of the population will speak Berber, mostly in rural areas and the mountains. However French is taught in the schools and is often used in commerce and business.
Around Tangier, there will be many people who can speak Spanish, due to the proximity of Spain and Spain's past involvement in that corner of the country.

Morocco is an Islamic country (approximately 99% of the country are Muslims) and this has a considerable effect on that population and, at times, the traveller.
Muslims (those that follow Islam) are expected to pray 5 times per day, with the first call to prayer at dawn (the call to prayer nowadays coming from speakers on the minaret of the mosque.
Friday is the Muslim holy day and shops or market stalls are likely to close around mid-day.
Muslims are not expected to drink alcohol (though you will find alcohol available), eat pork (becoming available for tourists), or expose their bodies.

During the month of Ramadan (this does not coincide with a particular calendar month and it's date moves forward approximately 10 days each year), Muslims do not eat, drink or smoke during the day. They are however tolerant of non-Muslims or tourists who feel a need to eat. Those people should however avoid eating or drinking in public view. Most places are likely to be quieter than usual during the day in Ramadan, with many restaurants being closed and shops having removed alcohol from the shelves. Things will however come to life in the evening.

The 2019 Ramadan runs from 5th of May to the 4th of June.
The 2020 Ramadan runs from 23rd of April to the 23rd of May.
As is normal in Muslim countries, holiday clebrations will begin at sunset on the previous day.

Dress Code for the Traveller
As noted above, Muslims effectively keep covered, particularly the women. How this effects the tourist depends on where you are in the country, whether you are in the tourist areas or not, whether you are staying in a tourist hotel or local hotel.
It is wise to be cautious in both dress and behaviour to avoid offending others. However Morocco knows the value of tourists, who are welcomed, and allowances are made in the tourist areas and the tourist beaches. Moroccans themselves are likely to be much more western in attitudes in the cities and resorts on the west coast.

Women Travellers
The traditional Muslims would not expect a woman to be travelling alone and certainly not to be seen alone after dark. They will therefore have difficulty understanding why foreign tourists might do this and will be suspicious. This may cause some problems, particularly away from the tourist areas.

Holy Places
Most mosques are normally out of bounds to non Muslims, the exception being the Hassan II Mosque at Casablanca which has visitor tours at certain times of the day.
At the holy town of Moulay Idriss, non-Muslims are not allowed to stay the night.

Moroccan Hospitality
It has to be said that Moroccans are a very hospitable race - a trait common in desert like countries where travelling was traditionally difficult. A stranger would be fed and watered in the knowledge that the person offering the hospitality may have the same separate needs one day.

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