Morocco is an Islamic country which is very welcoming and tolerant of people from different cultures and religion with many Christians and Jewish and people from other religions making Morocco their home or travel destination. However rightfully they do hold onto their strong religious and cultural views and beliefs therefore as a tourist or even a resident it is important to respect local customs and religious views.
The following things will help you not cause any offence to the local population and will allow you to make the most out of your stay and really feel at home.
What to Wear
It is common place in any conservative or religious country such as Morocco to wear appropriate clothing covering any areas seen as “Private” Women should cover their bodies from the Knees upwards, shoulders and arms. Men should cover shoulders and above their knees. Morocco has like any other country cosmopolitan areas and cities where you will notice local women and men dressing more western this is common place in cities such as Marrakesh, Fez and Rabat a safe assumption is to observe the locals and see what they are wearing and what they deem as appropriate.
Mosques and Religious places
Visiting mosques in Morocco is typically reserved for Muslim people only and are not allowed to be visited by non-Muslims however there are few Mosques which can be visited by non-Muslims these are: Tin Mal Mosque in the High Atlas, the courtyard of the imperial sanctuary-mosque of Moulay Ismail situated in Meknes, the Great Mosque in Smara in the Western Sahara finally the Hassan II Mosque located in Casablanca. If you are unsure it is always best to ask local tourist information offices, tour guides or consult a good tour guide book.
Other holy places such as graveyards, koubbas (tombs of Saints), zaouias (religious schools or Monasteries) should also be avoided.
Be sensitive around Mosques and other places of worship avoid trying to take photos or appearing through the doors especially in Rural areas however this may be a little more acceptable in the more touristic cosmopolitan areas, but it’s always best to ask first.
Meeting & Greeting
Meeting people in Morocco for the first time tends to centre around on enquiring about family, children, marital status, health and wellbeing. Often a greeting is with a handshake or if meeting people of the same gender it is often with two kisses on the cheeks starting from left to right, men and women greeting should always start with the women extending her hand first if she wishes to shake hands otherwise the man should just greet her with a bow of his head.
In Morocco public affection between opposite genders is kept to a minimum but hand holding between the same gender is seen as platonic, be aware that Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco if you are a LGBTQ traveller to Morocco it is best to research before you travel or look for further information on our site.
Hands in Morocco
In Morocco and similar Islamic countries most gestures should be carried out with your rights hand as the left hand is seen as impure and is often reserved for bathroom and cleaning activities, so all dinning activities, greetings should be done with your right hand.
Pointing with your index fingers is also seen as impolite if you need to gesture a person to come towards you it should be done with your right hand palm facing down and motioning your hand towards you.
Festivals typically Ramadan
Ramadan is the most sacred and holy month in the Islamic calendar which is based on the lunar cycle so falls at different times each year usually 10 days earlier each year. The month of Ramadan prevents anything from passing Muslim persons lips such as food, drink, cigarettes, kissing as well as sexual thoughts or Actions to help with Spiritual connection and renewal.
During this time you should expect extra services and call to prayer at mosques and observance of the faithful to fast from sunrise to sunset, so it would often be observed large feasts taking place on breaking the fast at sunset.
Although as a traveller to Morocco during this time it is not expected of you to fast but it is advised to remain respectful and mindful of others who will be fasting and observing their religious duty it is respected if you avoid eating and drinking in public during this time.
Social Invites and dinning
Being invited into a Moroccans house for dinner or tea is not uncommon but you will need to be mindful of a few customs before entering a Moroccan home you will be expected to take your shoes off and leave them by the door before you go into the house, the host will inform you if this is not required but it is a highly common practice.
When attending upon an invite it might be common to be seated separately to your spouse if they are invited it is always best to enquire before you attend as in most homes Men and Women dine and sit separately.
It is most common and polite to turn up to a house with a sweet gift for example nuts, dates, chocolates etc. you may also wish to bring a gift for the children of the house. You should avoid brining Alcohol unless you know the family and know this would be acceptable, you should also avoid brining hot dishes.
Dinning will often take place on a knee high round table with a communal dish in the centre, you will be seated on a cushion or floor mat. İf you are eating from a communal dish it will often happen using your hands (remember right hand) and try to eat within a triangular portion of food immediately in front of you. Always expect more food to be offered to you as soon as you finish eating it is polite to refuse first time but to accept a small portion on the second time of asking, your host will possibly try to offer you more food and encourage you to eat even if you are full. This is a sign of generosity and of respect.
In Morocco it is customary to tip however there is no set amount and is often depending on the type of establishment and circumstances as you travel throughout Morocco you will get used to and how much you are expected to tip.
The amount should be on your personal perception and satisfaction of service and your financial status or generosity, importantly never ask someone how much tip they will expect from you as this will lead to an awkward situation along with still not knowing how much you are expected to pay.
Tipping of the following persons is expected bellboys, room maids, waiters, at museums tourist attractions and monuments the curators should be tipped. Masseurs in Spa’s tour guides and tour party drivers if anyone helps you find your hotel or a restaurant would also expect a tip. It is seen as polite to tip taxi drivers however this is not expected but greatly appreciated.
Gender in Morocco
As with most Arabic or Islamic countries women might have different expectations as to the way they may behave or act in the western world, these views are based on a more traditional belief and attitude, Women would be expected to dress more modestly whilst not engaging in drinking alcohol, or smoking in public as well as engaging in any physical contact with males, however this is not as strict in the bigger cosmopolitan cities but be observant and mindful of how the locals are behaving and follow their lead.
Women might also be given more attention by males as you wonder around the streets, this is best ignored and not encouraged and if you are made to feel uncomfortable it is best to contact the local police station and remain in busy public spaces.
Women traveling into Morocco are not expected to dress as Moroccan women do as may be expected in other Islamic countries but acting responsible and respectful will make your stay in Morocco be more valuable and enjoyable.
Generally Moroccans are very generous, welcoming people with thousands of tourists flowing through the country weekly with no problems, enjoying the mystery and magic that Morocco has to offer, the country has hosted a great wealth of cultures from all around the world throughout history, which has shaped this country to be tolerant, welcoming and diverse. Your stay in Morocco will be enjoyable and magnificent if you are mindful about the people you are around their culture, religion and way of life.