Morocco is a fascinating country full of rich culture, intriguing architecture, and friendly locals. As a traveler to this North African destination, it is important to be familiar with the nuances of Moroccan etiquette. From the way you greet someone to the food you eat, understanding the dos and don’ts of Moroccan etiquette will make your trip more enjoyable and respectful. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover essential etiquette practices that will help you navigate the local customs with confidence.
The Dos of Moroccan Etiquette
Moroccans place great importance on greetings, and it reflects their friendly nature. When you greet someone, it is customary to shake hands or offer cheek kisses (la bise) on both sides of the face, starting with the right. As a foreigner, you may be unsure of how many kisses to give, but one is generally sufficient. Also, it is common to add a polite greeting, such as “salam alaikum” (peace be upon you) or “bonjour” (hello).
2. Dress Modestly
Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country, and while it is open-minded, they still appreciate modest dressing. You should avoid revealing clothing and opt for long-sleeved clothes, pants or skirts that fall below the knees, and avoid showing your shoulders. It is essential to respect cultural norms to avoid any unwanted attention or offend locals.
3. Bring Gifts
Gift-giving is an essential part of Moroccan culture. When visiting someone’s home, it is courteous to bring a small gift, such as pastries, tea, or flowers. If you are unsure of what gift to bring, ask locals or consult with your guide or hotel concierge.
4. Eating Customs
Moroccan cuisine is world-renowned, so be ready to immerse yourself in traditional Moroccan dishes. When sitting for a meal, it is polite to wait for everyone else to be seated and to wash your hands before eating. Also, avoid eating with your left hand since it is considered unclean. Use your right hand or bread to scoop up food. It is also customary to eat from a communal dish rather than individual plates.
The Don’ts of Moroccan Etiquette
1. Public Displays of Affection
Moroccans are conservative, and public displays of affection, including kissing and hugging, are ill-advised. To respect locals, limit any physical contact in public between you and your partner or friends.
2. Alcohol Consumption on the Streets
Morocco is an Islamic country, and alcohol is not a significant part of the culture. While it is available in many tourist areas, it is respectful not to drink or have any visible alcoholic beverages on the streets.
3. Disrespecting Religion and Culture
Moroccans take their religion and culture seriously, and it is essential to respect their practices. Avoid taking pictures of locals without their permission, especially women. Observe modest clothing, and avoid entering mosques unless you are a Muslim. Also, it is forbidden to eat pork in Islamic culture because it is considered unclean.
4. Bargaining with Aggressiveness
Bargaining is a common practice in Moroccan bazaars and souks. However, it is vital to bargain politely and avoid being too aggressive. It is an insult for locals if you go too low with your counteroffer. Always negotiate with a smile and show respect for the seller.
In conclusion, when traveling to Morocco, take the time to understand the local customs and etiquettes. Politeness and maintaining social relations are highly appreciated in Moroccan culture. By practicing proper etiquette, you will make your trip enjoyable and unforgettable while showing respect for their customs and culture.