PRACTICAL INFORMATIONS ABOUT MOROCCO
مرحبا بكم في المغرب
Arabic and the Amazigh (Berber) language are the official languages of Morocco but French is widely taught and serves as Morocco’s primary language of commerce and economics. It also is widely used in education and government. Spanish is spoken by some Moroccans, especially in the northern regions, but a boost is being given to English language training.
Morocco’s climate is moderate and subtropical, cooled by breezes off the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In the interior the temperatures are more extreme, winters can be fairly cold and the summers very hot. Marrakech has an average winter temperature of 21°C (70°F) and summer temperature of 38°C (100°F). In the Atlas Mountains temperatures can drop below zero and mountain peaks are snow-capped throughout most of the year. The winter in the north of the country is wet and rainy, while in the south, at the edge of the Moroccan Sahara, it is dry and bitterly cold at night.
The national currency is the Dirham (MAD), which is subdivided into 100 santimat (singular: santim). Banknotes are issued in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200 Dirham. Coins are issued in 10, 20 and 50 santimat, and in 1, 2, 5 and 10 Dirham. The Dirham is fully convertible but export is prohibited.
- Morocco Standard Time is GMT. Morocco started using Daylight Saving Time (DST) in 2012. Clocks Practical information for visitors to Morocco are turned forward one hour on the last Sunday in April and turned back again on the last Sunday in September.
- There is no DST during Ramadan. The dates of Ramadan change from year to year. In 2012 it is from July 20 to August 19. Clocks are turned back to Standard Time during Ramadan to make it easier for Muslims to observe the Ramadan fast during daylight hours.
- Internet country code: .ma
- Telephone country code: 212
- Voltage 220 V
- Frequency 50 Hz
- Type of Electric Socket C and E
- Type of Telephone Socket French
- DVD Zoning Zone 5
- Casablanca airport:
Mohamed V airport is located 40km from Casablanca. Taxis are available outside the airport terminal and have set fares to Casablanca, which is MAD 300 (about $30). Trains also run from the airport to Casablanca and Rabat. A first-class ticket to Casablanca costs MAD 50 (about $5.75) and MAD 100 (about $11.60) to Rabat.
– There are two categories of taxis in Morocco. Petits taxis are small- to medium-sized cars that travel a limited range within a town or city. Officially they use a meter and charge an initial fare followed by distance-based increments. However, some taxis are not metered. Confirm whether or not a taxi has a meter before getting in, and if not arrange the fare in advance.
– The other category is the grands taxi. These are long-distance taxis that use fixed routes between cities and towns. They charge a fixed amount for specific routes and wait until they are full with other travelers before they set off (they can take up to six persons per car). It is possible to arrange a fare for sole occupancy.
Morocco has a vastly improving train network particularly between the major cities. Tourists often use the trains, which are quite comfortable. Consult the Moroccan national train service ONCF for times and fares.
FOOD AND DRINK
- Coffee/tea: MAD 10-15 (about $1 to $1.70)
- Sandwich: MAD 30-50 (about $3.50 to $5.70)
- Bottle of water: MAD 10-15 (about $1 to $1.70)
- Beer: MAD 30-100 (about $3.50 to $11.50)
- Glass of wine: MAD 50-200 (about $5.70 to $23)
Sunni Islam is the predominant religion in Morocco. There are also about 100,000 Christians mostly of French descent, along with a reported 8,000 Jews who mainly live in Casablanca and Marrakech.
Alcohol is forbidden in Islam but it is widely available in Casablanca and other Moroccan cities. In fact, Morocco produces two brands of beer and half a dozen wines. It is available in hotels, bars and liquor stores and it’s not allowed to drink in the streets.
– Domestic Currency Moroccan Dirham
– ISO Code MAD to Obtain Domestic Currency
– The national currency is the Dirham (MAD). The currency was made convertible in 1993.
Possible Means of Payment
* Bank cards are accepted in some large institutions of the main cities.
* Foreign currencies, euros in particular, are accepted in tourist areas.
AVAILABILITY OF INTERNET
- Internet Suffix .ma
- National Internet Access Providers
- There are more than 500 service providers, but only 2 access providers: Maroc Télécom through its subsidiary company Ménara and Wana.
- Access in Public Places: WIFI has developed rapidly and is already present in most cafés, bars, restaurants and reading centers of big cities.
- Access in Hotels: WIFI is available in most hotels as well as in Riads.
- No additional vaccines are required to visit Morocco, though you should make sure all your routine courses and boosters are up-to-date. There are no certificate requirements under International Health Regulations (2005). There are numerous pharmacies in Morocco, though it is advised that you get a prescription from your doctor before you leave if you need regular medication. If you feel ill but don’t think it’s serious enough for a hospital, visit a pharmacist will usually be able to help you, and recommend a doctor if you need one.
- In an emergency the phone number for an ambulance is 15, though there are private health clinics available in the bigger cities and towns. As always, ensure you carry details of your travel insurance and any medical information with you.
- Morocco is predominantly a Muslim country (though a more socially liberated one than many others), so please be aware that some behaviour that is acceptable at home is not permitted here. Dress is usually more restrained. Miniskirts and short shorts should be avoided in public areas. Some places are more relaxed than others however, especially in coastal resorts with a strong tourist presence, but if in doubt take note of how locals are dressed and use it as a guide.
- Fridays are seen as a holy day so expect shops and market stalls to close around midday. And during the month of Ramadan (the dates of which change every year) you should refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public as a mark of respect. The consumption of alcohol is forbidden in Islam but it can still be purchased in larger stores, especially in touristy areas, and in hotels and restaurants.
- Morocco is a visual feast and it can be hard to know where to point your camera first! Landscapes are no problem as they rarely have an issue with their picture being taken. When photographing people though, it’s important to be respectful – imagine how you’d feel if strangers started to take your picture without a by-your-leave! Always ask permission first, and it helps if you get to know your subject a bit better. Moroccans are very friendly and you should have no trouble getting to know them.
Morocco is very much service-oriented, and many local salaries depend largely on tips received. While a few dirhams suffice for most small services rendered, consider offering 10% in restaurants and $10-$20USD per person per day for your driver. $15-$25USD per person per day is reasonable for your Tour guide. If you receive excellent service, you may want to acknowledge it with a more generous tip.
Round up your taxi fare to the nearest $2USD, but don’t feel obliged to tip if you aren’t happy with the service.
There is no dress code in Morocco generally speaking but while visiting mosques or religious places you should dress modestly and cover your body. Shorts, shirts and T-shirt are fine to wear everywhere.
You will see locals dressed in both traditional Moroccan outfits as well as typical Western wear, though shorts are generally reserved for young Moroccan men. Both men and women wear djellabas, a hooded ankle-length outer robe with long sleeves, as well as jabadors, long tunics which are typically embroidered. In warmer weather, men may also choose to wear a dra’iya, a lightweight long robe, typically worn over pants or shorts. Traditional leather slippers are also common footwear for both men and women. These open-heeled slippers are often called “babouche” by foreigners but carry different names in Darija: “bilgha” for men, “cherbil” for women. You may see a fez or two, though these are typically reserved for traditional ceremonies, such as weddings or Friday afternoon prayers at the royal mosque. Moroccans actually call these “tarboosh”, the generic word for hat.
READ BEFORE YOU GO:
- Morocco That Was by Walter Harris.
- The secret son by Laila Lalami.
- The Caliph’s House – A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah.
- Lords of the Atlas by Gavin Maxwell.
- For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri.
- This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun.
- The food of morocco by Paula Wolfert.