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Living in Morocco

Some quick facts taken from the Rough Guide to Morocco. The official language is Arabic (official), Berber dialects, and French is widely spoken and used. In the north many people speak Spanish and English is increasingly spoken. Most signs are in both Arabic and French.

Moroccans are extremely hospitable and very tolerant. Though most people are religious, they are generally easy-going, and most young Moroccan women don’t wear a veil, though they may well wear a headscarf. Nonetheless, you should try not to affront people’s religious beliefs, especially those of older, more conservative people, by, for example, wearing skimpy clothes, kissing and cuddling in public, or eating or smoking in the street during Ramadan.

Clothes are particularly important: many Moroccans, especially in rural areas, may be offended by clothes that do not fully cover parts of the body considered “private”, including both legs and shoulders, especially for women. It is true that in cities Moroccan women wear short-sleeved tops and knee-length skirts (and may suffer more harassment as a result), and men may wear sleeveless T-shirts and above-the-knee shorts. However, the Muslim idea of “modest dress” (such as would be acceptable in a mosque, for example) requires women to be covered from wrist to ankle, and men from over the shoulder to below the knee. In rural areas at least, it is a good idea to follow these codes, and definitely a bad idea for women to wear shorts or skirts above the knee, or for members of either sex to wear sleeveless T-shirts or very short shorts. Even ordinary T-shirts may be regarded as underwear, particularly in rural mountain areas. The best guide is to note how Moroccans dress locally.

When invited to a home, you normally take your shoes off before entering the reception rooms – follow your host’s lead. It is customary to take a gift: sweet pastries or tea and sugar are always acceptable, and you might even take meat (by arrangement – a chicken from the countryside for example, still alive of course) to a poorer home.

Tipping: You’re expected to tip – among others – waiters in cafés (1dh per person) and restaurants (5dh or so in moderate places, 10–15 percent in upmarket places); museum and monument curators (3–5dh); gardiens de voitures (people who watch you parked car) (5dh); filling station attendants (3–5dh); and porters who load your baggage onto buses (5dh). Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, but always appreciate one.

Mosques: Without a doubt, one of the major disappointments of traveling in Morocco if you are not Muslim is not being allowed into its mosques. The only exceptions are the partially restored Almohad structure of Tin Mal in the High Atlas, the similarly disused Great Mosque at Smara in the Western Sahara, the courtyard of the sanctuary-mosque of Moulay Ismail in Meknes and the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Elsewhere, if you are not a believer, you’ll have to be content with an occasional glimpse through open doors, and even in this you should be sensitive: people don’t seem to mind tourists peering into the Kairaouine Mosque in Fez (the country’s most important religious building), but in the country you should never approach a shrine too closely. This rule applies equally to the numerous whitewashed koubbas – the tombs of marabouts, or local saints (usually domed:koubba actually means “dome”) – and the “monastic” zaouias of the various Sufi brotherhoods. It is a good idea, too, to avoid walking through graveyards, as these also are regarded as sacred places.
 

Some Practical Tips

Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Kingdom of Morocco are one of the two European standard electrical socket types: The "Type C" Europlug and the "Type E" and "Type F" Schuko. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all three types.

  • Voltage: 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts)
  • Primary Socket Type: Europlug, Schuko
  • Multi-voltage appliances (laptops, etc.): Plug adapter
  • Click socket type links to view adapter for that type
  • 110-120V electronics: Plug adapter + step-down transformer
  • Hair dryers, curling irons, etc.: Plug adapter + voltage converter


Money
The Moroccan Dirham exchange rate is set by the Central Bank of Morocco. Euros and Pounds sterling are accepted by some larger traders. Traveler's cheques are useful for emergencies but can be very time consuming to cash. A currency exchange slip is required to change back surplus Dirham.


Morocco is still very much a cash-based economy. Euros and (US and CAD - not Australian) dollars are always accepted in Morocco and you will save time bringing cash, doing away with long slow bank lineups or non-active cash machines to acquire dirhams. You can also use your debit card at bank machines.
 
Driving

Petrol prices: We show prices for Morocco from 18-Jul-2016 to 24-Oct-2016. The average value for Morocco during that period was 8.26 Moroccan Dirham with a minimum of 8.15 Moroccan Dirham on 08-Aug-2016 and a maximum of 8.63 Moroccan Dirham on 18-Jul-2016. For comparison, the average price of diesel in the world for this period is 10.03 Moroccan Dirham. Seat belts are required for all drivers and passengers in Morocco. Cell phone use is prohibited while driving in Morocco. There is a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drinking and driving, which is strictly enforced and will mean immediate jail time for the offender. Visitors can drive in Morocco as long as they have a valid international driver’s license.

"As a self-confessed shopping addict, one of my favorite things about living in Morocco is browsing for unique treasures in the many ancient and fascinating medinas. The eternally spring-like weather here supports my habit!" Giselle - CAS Art Teacher

10 Interesting Facts about Morocco

  • “Al-Mamlaka-al-Maghribiya” is Morocco’s full Arabic name. In English this translates to- The Western Kingdom.
  • In Morocco, if somebody refuses to take your “no” for an answer, all you have to do is say “Insha’allah” which will settle the matter for you. The English translation of this word is- If God wills it. Allah is the God of the Muslims.
  • Kisses on the cheek are exchanged as a form of greeting. If you know the person you meet a little better, more kisses are exchanged.In Moroccan culture, traditionally the liver and not the heart, is considered to be the symbol of love.
  • It is common practice for Moroccan’s to extend invitations to their home. However, remember that the invitation is a genuine one only if it is extended three times.
  • If you decline to eat meat in Morocco, you are considered to be impolite and handling food with your left hand, makes you doubly so.
  • The University of Al-Karouine in Fez is the oldest continuously operational university in the world and was established in 859 AD.
  • Some say that the Sidi Yahya shrine that is located in the Moroccan city of Oujda is actually John the Baptist’s tomb.
  • There was a time when selling a date tree in Morocco was illegal as it was considered to be a source of food for families.
  • A large number of movies are shot in this exotic country from Lawrence of Arabia to Cleopatra to Gladiator and many more 

On the Doorstep of Europe, Africa and the Middle East

Not only will you experience the amazing aspects of life and travel in Morocco but you can also readily travel to many other fascinating places. From Morocco, you have easy access to many parts of the world, but particularly Europe at very affordable costs. A return flight to most Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Paris and other such destinations can be found for less than $200 USD. Below is a sample of a return flight from Casablanca to Paris.

 

"Casablanca is a huge international city. Just like any big city, there are precautions that should be taken just to be smart!  In general, I just use common sense and treat Casa and night time in Casa as I would in any major city. In addition, although I feel uncomfortable at times, I do not feel unsafe living here." Veronica - CAS Upper School Mathematics Teacher