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Morocco (Now):”Land of Light*”

*The Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) presented a new campaign in April, 2022, "Morocco, land of light", whose aim is to position Morocco as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. 


Morocco Facts & Tips (Courtesy of Bunnik Tours)

  • Capital — Rabat

  • Population — 36 million

  • Language — Arabic

  • Religion — Islam

  • Time Zone — 10 hours behind AEST

  • Currency — Dirham



Did you know?

  • Morocco gained independence from France in 1956.

  • Fez is, of course, where fezzes (the red hats) come from.

  • In previous times, it was unlawful to sell a date tree in Morocco, as it was a source of food for the family

  • Tangier was an International City, from 1922 to 1956, being ruled by representatives of eight European countries

  • A number of stone circles present in Morocco serve as the proof of its contact with the megalithic cultures of Atlantic Europe.


Currency

The official currency of Morocco is the Dirham. Notes come in denominations of Dh200, 100, 50 and 20. The recommended currency to take to Morocco is the Euro.



Dining

  • The price of a cappuccino in Rabat is approximately €1.50

  • The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €3

  • The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €9

  • The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €3


Moroccan cuisine is essentially tasty comfort food with exotic spices. There are many low-cost places to dine on local dishes but even if you’re travelling on a budget, splurge one night for a feast in a deluxe restaurant. Harira, the traditional garbanzo and noodle soup, is a good starter. Various couscous dishes, tagines (stewed meat or chicken with vegetables, served in a conical clay dish) and kebabs (also called brochettes) are the most common entrees.


Other tasty dishes include hout (a fish stew), mechoui (roast mutton) and djaja mahamara (chicken stuffed with almonds, raisins and couscous). Bastilla is pigeon cooked in dough with nuts and honey. Almond and filo pastries are excellent. Sweet mint tea, served in a clear glass crammed with mint leaves, is served everywhere. Fresh-squeezed juices and milk shakes are also very refreshing. Beer and wine are usually available in hotels and restaurants catering to foreign visitors, however the consumption of alcohol is strongly discouraged in open areas such as outdoor cafes.


Weather

October-December and March-May are really Morocco’s best seasons, when temperatures average in the low 20s. The summer shouldn’t be ruled out though as

the average temperature in Marrakesh and Fez can be around 38°C and the coastal cities of Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier remain comfortable, if somewhat humid at 27-29°C. South of the Atlas Mountains temperatures increase greatly.


Getting Around

Want to get out and explore on your own?

Morocco has a surprisingly good public transport system. The best way of getting around Moroccan cities is either by walking or hailing a petit taxi (for travel within the city). A grand taxi is more expensive and is used for travel between neighbouring towns. When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in.



Shopping

Morocco appears to be filled with bargains, but look closely before buying. Good buys in wool carpets and leather goods can be found, but most of what is sold is of poor quality. Other items available include gems, fossils from the Sahara, thuya wood carvings, pottery, mosaic tiles, beaten brass, silk, hand-embroidered clothing, copperware, silver and gold.


Bargaining is the rule in the medina; the medina is the old town centre of any Moroccan city. Offer a third to half the price quoted and take it from there. Be patient and polite but insistent. If bargaining is not your game or you’d like to avoid the hassles of the medina, you can find goods with fixed prices at craftsmen’s cooperatives, called Syndicat d’Initiative, in most of the larger cities.


Local Etiquette

  • Morocco is a Muslim country where modesty is appreciated. Dress conservatively, which means covering your shoulders, upper arms and legs (unless you are at a beach).

  • Take drug laws very seriously – even though drugs such as hashish seem widely available, drug laws particularly when foreigners are involved, are harsh.

  • Refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours in the holy month of Ramadan.

  • If you’re not Muslim, don’t enter a mosque without asking permission. Visit the ornate medersas (theological schools) instead. At smaller, less frequented mosques, custodians may allow you to enter outside of prayer times, if you ask politely.


Hasan II Mosque


Celebrations & Public Holidays

Morocco celebrates a number of different music festivals throughout the year, from the 8 day Sufi Music & Cultural Festival held in Fez in April, to Essaouira’s Gnaoua

World Music Festival held in June each year. One of the biggest festivals in Morocco however, is Timitar, held annually in July at the coastal city of Agadir. For four days the traditional Amazigh culture is celebrated with Moroccan and international musicians coming together to perform to the crowd.




Morocco is also host to a quite unique event, the Marathon des Sables or the Sand Marathon. This one-of-a-kind ultramarathon takes place over 6 days in the Sahara Desert and it is not hard to understand why it is dubbed the ‘toughest foot race on Earth’.





Other national public holidays to be aware of include:

  • Anniversary of the Independence Manifesto (January 11th)

  • Labour Day/May Day (May 1st)

  • Eid al-Fitr

  • Feast of the Throne (July 30th)

  • Eid al-Adha

  • Anniversary of the Recovery Oued Ed-Dahab (August 14th)

  • Anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People (August 20th)

  • Hijra New Year

  • The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday

  • Anniversary of the Green March (March 6th)

  • Independence Day (November 18th)



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