A Quick Guide to Etiquette in Morocco
When visiting any new place, the smart traveler knows to read up on etiquette for a foreign country. It is a vital part of travel to experience another culture, and brushing up on your etiquette in that country beforehand can garner greater respect and access to experiences you may not have gotten without that knowledge. You too can turn into a savvy, respectable visitor to Morocco by reading below and checking out our tips on Moroccan etiquette.
When it comes to clothing choices, Moroccan culture and clothing etiquette is comparatively conservative to Western cultures. In the big cities like Marrakesh, the clothing choices you make do not have to be as modest as this is a larger tourist destination—but it is always best to err on the side of caution. Both men and women should bring clothing that is loose-fitting and not revealing.
So items like tank tops, shorts, and sun dresses are considered bare-all clothing, and should only be worn when at the beach or playing sports. Whatever you bring along, ensure you have shirts that cover your shoulders and long pants that are not too tight.
Dining in Morocco always brings with it a fun, relaxing atmosphere where conversation can be had for hours on end. In any setting, it is polite to eat only with your right hand.
Moroccan culture deems tipping a polite gesture and follows rules similar to Western cultures. Tip waiters, serviced staff, porters, and guides. 2-5 dirham per person in a cafe setting is usually appropriate, or the standard 10 to 15 percent in upscale locations. Grand and petit taxi drivers, however, do not expect tips but they are appreciated.
Visiting a Home in Morocco
Morocco is a land so filled with hospitality and generosity, you are very likely to be invited into a family home during your travels. Upon arrival, remove your shoes at the door and greet those around you with your right hand, not the left. It is also polite for those of the same sex to give small kisses to each cheek.
If you are invited for dinner, which is likely, be prepared to join a communal table. Large, family-style dishes will be served in courses, so don’t overeat on the first round! Your gracious host will insist you keep eating, in which case, take smaller portions thereafter. Once you are full, however, don’t waffle on it to be polite, just pat your belly and insist you are indeed stuffed.
Many are at first disappointed when they realize there is no entry to a mosque if you are not Muslim. But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their beauty, however, through courtyards and glimpses of the outside. It is expected that as a traveler and an outsider that you are respectful of the area you are in. Be subtle with your photography, and try not to peer in through open doors to get a quick snap of the interior.
Female Travel in Morocco
Travelling to a conservative country holds many difference for female travelers. Traditionally, women have a smaller role in society, are not seen out at bars, and wear a headscarf or veil. As time goes on, you can see changing values and ideals in the youth, though that contradicts this. It is still quite important for any female traveler—solo or with a group—to keep her head about her. As you many not fully understand the culture or the unwritten rules of how men and women should behave in public, there are experiences where women have been harassed by local men in a way that would never be tolerated by a Moroccan woman.
As you many encounter unwanted attention no matter how conservatively you dress, use common sense, and don’t be afraid to make a scene to make a situation awkward for any harasser. Another good tip is to meet Moroccan women, spend time with them and experience their side of the rich culture as well.
7 Quick Tips on Surviving Moroccan Culture and Etiquette
- Remember the names of those you meet, and focus your conversation on their family.
- When invited to a gathering, bring something for the host. Think fresh pastries or small candies.
- Tip when at a restaurant or being given a service.
- Wear respectable clothing, especially around mosques and in rural areas. Stay away from sleeveless and tight clothing.
- Use your right hand for greetings, eating, and serving.
- Physical contact in public is considered impolite or obscene, so keep space between yourself and others.
- Female travelers should use common sense and avoid open interaction with local men in an unfamiliar area or situation.
Though Moroccans are used to travelers and have a tolerance for Western ideals, you will be treated with a greater respect when you take into consideration their values and etiquette standards. So take these tips to heart, and your journey to Morocco will be one filled with new friends and welcoming company.