Wednesday, 3 June 2015



Throughout the world, non-Moroccans have formed opinions about Moroccans, some are misguided viewpoints and others are somewhat more accurate. Have you ever wondered what the world thinks about Moroccans? Here are the top 10 myths:

1. Moroccans are nomads roaming the desert on camels
FICTION. To a certain extent, a journey to the south of Morocco will take you to panoramic views of the sand dunes in the well-known Sahara desert. Yet, that only pertains to the southern regions like Zagora and Merzouga, where you can camel trek over the dunes and witness nature’s wonders and the locals’ way of life. It is indeed an experience that is well worth the effort and attracts people from all over the world.

2. Moroccans live in a desert oasis surrounded by palm trees
FICTION. Again, the southern part of the nation is what drives foreigners to paint Morocco with a single brush and think it is just a sandy exotic country with no industrial foundation. Though part of this stereotype is legitimate, one must realize that industrial cities like Casablanca, which is the largest city in the Maghreb and is also one of the largest and most economically and demographically important cities in Africa.  Indeed, leading Moroccan companies and international corporations have their headquarters and facilities in Morocco. That aside I think most are surprised at what and Oasis actually is…...visit the Draa or Ziz and be stunned!

3. Moroccans are polygamists
FICTION. Religion plays an important role in this stereotype. Owing to recent legal restrictions imposed by the government of Morocco and western influences, polygamous marriage is practically nonexistent in Morocco nowadays. According to various reports from visitors, Morocco is actually said to be one of the least accepting of polygamy in the Muslim world. OK, depending on the banter and fun-chat between yourselves and say a Souk trader you may be offered the position as an additional wife within the household…….but it is all fun and banter……unless of course…….. 

4. All Moroccan Women Wear the Hijab

Due to the fact that it is one of the most liberal/westernized country in the Arab world, dressing modestly is the norm in almost all parts of the country to avoid attracting attention. In big cities, seeing someone wearing the hijab is as common as not seeing it. Although in rural areas it is more common. In general, whether you are wearing the hijab or not, you are you have the legal freedom to make that choice. Part of wearing the hijab is fitting into the mold of traditional customs and as a sign of respect and faith. Moroccans coexist peacefully even if they don’t share the same perspective surrounding the hijab.

5. Moroccans always wear traditional clothes
FICTION. Morocco is a country well known for its flamboyant outfits and its fascinating heritage. It is rich in traditions, culture, history, and religion. These factors affect the way Moroccans dress, but only to a certain extent. For example, many sophisticated or foreign-educated Moroccan women have adopted European fashion styles and have opted out of the conservative clothes in urban cities. Of course, during special events, traditional clothes such as the caftan or djellaba are prevalent and are an important aspect of the culture. Although it is a Muslim-majority country, “western” women are not expected to dress like traditional native Moroccan women, as people in the capital and other major towns such as Marrakech are used to foreigners, and are therefore likely to be more liberal and more tolerant of western clothing.

6. Morocco is a patriarchal society
FICTION. There seems to be a common misconception that Morocco is a patriarchal society due to the fact that it is a Muslim-majority country. Recent socio-economic developments and rapidly changing lifestyles have shaken the foundations of a traditionally patriarchic society and led to a rise in matriarchal power. Gender gaps have severely decreased and gender roles have been redefined. Women’s financial autonomy has rearranged the Moroccan social scene due to the fact that women are now as independent and have as many rights as men, stripping men of their historical superiority. It is true that there are many things that this society needs to work on in terms of completely eliminating male dominance, but these immense changes taking place in Moroccan society recently are a big step toward achieving the goal.

7. Moroccans Can’t Speak Arabic
Moroccan Arabic (Darija) is based off of classical Arabic but was altered due to French, Spanish and English influences. Though it is somewhat different from other dialects, most Moroccans understand and speak conventional Arabic as it is of course widely taught in public schools.

8. Morocco is an unsafe Arab country
FICTION. The Arab world is often labeled as violent and unsafe without acknowledging that there are regions that are far from conflicts and war. To this day, Morocco retains a stable political environment and is varied geographically, from the tourist-friendly resorts on the Atlantic coast to the exotic medinas in the interior cities. The recent peaceful protests in Rabat and Casablanca that was part of the Arab Spring did not inhibit or deter the safety of the nation as a whole. Morocco was recently and independently voted one of the most friendly and welcoming counties in the World to visit.

9. Morocco is a poor country
FICTION. Morocco is defined as a developing country that has capitalized on low-cost labor to build a diverse, profitable market. Recent years showed impressive economic growth despite of the European economic slowdown in 2012. The new infrastructure improvements are most visibly illustrated by a new port and free trade zone near Tangier which are improving Morocco’s global competitiveness. Although still engaged in the process of decreasing the rural poverty rate, Morocco remains the top destination for foreign investors in the Maghreb region. As a motorhome owner, driving around the nation, you will be surprised at the high standard of road condition as well as re-construction and the motorway network.

10. Moroccans are racists

FICTION. Morocco is a melting pot of ethnic groups that include Berbers, Sub-Saharan Africans, Europeans, and many others. There is a lot of diversity and tourism in the kingdom, and hospitality plays a major role in the culture. It is an essential element to our culture to be warm and welcoming to foreigners. For example, a commonly held belief is that a stranger would be fed and taken care of with the rationale that that same person offering the hospitality may have the same needs one day. It is said that one of the best ways to dive into the Moroccan culture is to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you at a local café. A simple conversation could lead to a lifelong friendship after you leave Morocco.

Spain will begin the operation of this years "Strait Crossing" known as “Paso del Estrecho operación”, dedicated to Moroccans travellers returning home. This year it is expected that nearly 2.5 million people and a little over 600,000 vehicles will travel across the Mediterranean.

This operation was the subject of a recent meeting between the Spanish and Moroccan authorities. The aim was to ensure the safety of tourists and fluidity of road traffic and shipping. The traffic is expected to build up from June 15th when many Moroccans leave during Ramadan while others arrive to spend the Holy month with their families.

Ramadan and Eid will have a considerable impact on travel in Morocco. This year Ramadan coincides with the annual “Strait Crossing” and as it approaches it is expected that there will be a massive increase in traffic moving backwards and forwards from Spain.

It is worth noting that the actual dates are defined by lunar sightings and are not confirmed until very late. Dates for Ramadan and Eid in Morocco in 2015: Ramadan: 18th June - 17th July. Eid Al Fitr: 17th July and Eid Al Adha: 24th September No matter how well organised the operations are it is normal to expect delays during peak periods………….Rather, expect chaos!

Morocco’s prized cedar trees are being depleted. The Cedrus atlantica covers a large area of the Middle Atlas in North Africa. However, the 134,000 hectares of forest is not thriving like it used to.

The wood and sawdust from the Moroccan cedar tree is highly valued. Loggers are illegally cutting down ancient trees and selling the wood on the black market. Cedar wood is used to make cabinets and oils. In addition to human predators, the Moroccan cedar also has natural predators, which are becoming increasingly threatening. Monkeys that live in the forests are changing their eating habits due to climatic changes. They normally eat plants and insects but recently they’ve been eating the bark and branches on the trees for calcium, which damages the trees.

Droughts are also affecting the cedar’s ability to survive. Water shortages are causing deforestation. The community that lives around this forest are making efforts to decrease the damage to the trees, but life in this area is difficult. Morocco is attempting to give its cedar tree the “endangered species” label in order to protect it. For now cattle grazing is being limited to minimize damage to the forest and forests are being patrolled for illegal loggers.

Overall, rise in temperature, droughts, and flooding are the true threats to the cedar tree population.
According to the National Alliance fight against drugs cited by the newspaper Al Massae, seven million Moroccans are smokers, including 500,000 children. And, according to the aThese figures are an opportunity to recall that the anti-smoking law dates from 1995 is still not enforced. The law bans smoking in public places (transport, hospitals, administrative offices ...). In case of infringement, smokers are liable to a fine of 100 dirhams.

Since 2008 this prohibition even extended to cafes, bars and restaurants over 50 m². The law also prohibits the sale of cigarettes to minors, forcing tobacconists to request an ID to the client.

Petitions asking the Department of Health to enforce the law are regularly launched without any effect. According to figures from the World Health Organization, every year tobacco kills more than five million people worldwide - more than HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Also according to the same organization, passive smoking is responsible for 600,000 premature deaths per year, of which a large proportion of children (31%) and this number is rising.

A really good video……The Kingdom of Morocco This is a link to a BBC documentary on Morocco I stumbled across……..well worth a look if you are thinking of visiting Morocco or have already been and feel a bit nostalgic…… Either way it is an interesting program.