Is Morocco Safe in at the moment?
“Will I be safe inMorocco?” This is one of the most common questions I am asked by clients both before and after they book their tour of Morocco with us. Some are concerned about travelling solo or as a woman. Some are nervous about scams and con-men. Others ask about the food, the water, the vaccines required and of course many want to understand the threat of terrorism specific to Morocco.
Morocco is very different from other North African countries such as Egypt or Tunisia. In fact, it is as far away from Egypt as England is from India. Unlike these countries, Morocco has seen a growth in tourism in recent years. Politically, Morocco is calm and stable under the inspired leadership of their much-loved King.
Safety in Morocco – your questions answered.
There are no mandatory vaccines required to enter Morocco but you are advised to have your polio and tetanus vaccines in order. Optionally and dependent on the type of travel you are doing, you may want to consider having the Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccines too.
Malaria-free, (except for a very limited risk in one rural province in the north) Prophylaxis is not recommended.
Food & Water
Local food, especially street food is not always prepared in the same conditions you would expect in over the world However, Morocco Online tours have eaten at every hotel we feature and our drivers won’t take you anywhere for lunch or coffee that they haven’t previously tested on a number of occasions. Generally, the Jemaa el Fnaa in Marrakech and Skala du Port in Essaouira are safe places to try Morocco’s infamous street food.
We recommend only drinking bottled water, however, most tap water is safe to drink. Alternatively, bring sterilising pens or tablets with you as a more eco-friendly option. At our desert camps, where the conditions are more challenging, we serve only cooked salads and advise against eating uncooked vegetables if you stay at other camps.
Tagines are usually an extremely safe option due to the enclosed and long cooking style. Bring anti-diarrhoea medication with you and try the local cure of tea heavily dosed with cumin but be prepared that due to the climate and the change in diet, you may well get some minor tummy problems.
Crime in Morocco
In general, Morocco is a very law abiding country and crime tends to be isolated to petty crimes such as pick-pocketing. However, Marrakech, in particular, has a reputation for con artists operating tourist scams. The most common is when you become lost (as you inevitably will in the souks) and someone offers to help you find your way then, demands money. Our advice is to ask your riad to give you a lesson on finding the way from riad to main square and back again and then if you do get lost, go into a shop and ask for help rather than accepting someone’s offer.The biggest concern for a tourist in Morocco is the popularity of fake guides. Although this is on the decline thanks to undercover tourist police operating, they do still exist. If you are with a Morocco Online guide, then, of course, none of this is relevant but if not;Try not to accept an offer by anyone to take you to a shop that sells “the best / the cheapest / the most perfect” item as you will find yourself in a shop in a hard sell situation.
Do not accept a free gift from anyone outside a shop as you may then be accused of stealing and asked to pay.
Don’t listen to the fake guides that tell you that somewhere is closed as a con to get you to follow them instead.
If you do find yourself being approached by a fake guide – IGNORE THEM! Once you start talking you will find it hard to get rid of them. So we recommend avoiding eye contact and ignoring them while walking purposefully in another direction.
Hashish is known locally as kif and is grown extensively in the Rif Mountains. However, the drug is illegal and the penalty is up to ten years imprisonment in a harsh Moroccan prison.
If you are offered drugs on the street it may well be by undercover police who specifically target tourists.
The situation in Morocco is very different from many other Islamic and North African countries and Morocco remains one of a handful of continuously stable countries in this area. There are a number of reasons for this:-
Politically, Morocco is very stable and the Kingdom is making steady and informed progress towards democracy with strong support for the modern, progressive king, Mohamed VI. The relationships and strategic partnerships between Morocco and the USA and Europe help to foster the continuance of Morocco’s stability over the longer term
Religion – This is a tolerant country with a multi-faith history and a very gentle form of Islam. The administration of King Mohammed VI has ensured this by sending 100,000 imams into the country’s 50,000 mosques, to promote the moderate Islam of the Maliki school of thought. Both the Christian and Jewish faiths are respected and tolerated here and the government protects the rights of religious minorities going so far as to use public funds to restore synagogues and other religious monuments representing diverse faiths.
Terrorism – Morocco’s intelligence services and local police forces have been working incessantly to protect their country from terrorists. Morocco has an excellent counter-terrorism model which is fully immersed into society and is being hailed around the world as the model we should all adopt. As a result terrorism incidents have become rare over the last few years as Moroccan security services increase their emphasis on finding and arresting potential terrorist cells before they become operational. The very fabric of society here is such that it would be almost impossible to not be known to your neighbours and a system of informants is pro-actively used for national security purposes.
Morocco is also pro-active in attempting to spread it’s counter-terrorism methods to other countries, both close neighbours and far-flung territories. The USA do not list Morocco on their 2016 list of potential conflict zones, the Times stated in July that Morocco is a “Safe Havan” and “immune” from terrorism, the FCO classifies it as the ONLY safe country in the MENA region and the international SOS lists it as the safest country in North Africa.
Update (Sept 16)
Morocco & the US launched “Group of Friends” a counter-terrorism and anti-extremism initiative. Focussing on human rights dialogue and sharing of lessons learned it will promote best practice approaches against violent extremism . This “Geneva Dialogue” joins a long list of joint US – Morocco programs to combat terrorism through training, information sharing, cyber forensics, evidence management procedures, border security and rehabilitation (to name but a few.) In addition Morocco is a member of the Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Partnership, a founding member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and a major non NATO ally.
Road safety is largely dependent on weather and problems can be caused by heavy rains or snow in the mountain passes. Local drivers are erratic by western standards and all kinds of vehicles and animals are found on the roads.
Our drivers are trained, experienced and skilful. If you’re going to cross a mountain in bad weather or drive in the desert at night, you will want to be in the safe hands of a driver who has many, many years experience in such situations. Safety is paramount and our safety record is exemplary. Although some European tourists opt for self-drive – in all honesty, we cannot recommend it for a number of reasons.
Self-Drive in Morocco Blog
Morocco with Children
Morocco has a very friendly, family-oriented society and your children will be welcomed wherever you go. But, be very aware that safety standards are not what they are in Europe and there may not be guard rails or deep water signs etc. Many properties have steep steps and often no bannisters and pavements (where they exist) can be full of potholes and obstacles.
Arab Name: Al Maghreb (“The West”)
Political Capital: Rabat
Economic Capital: Casablanca (the largest city in population and physical scale)
Political Leader: King Mohammed VI; Constitutional Monarchy
Area: 445,050 km2
Population: 34 million
Official Language: Arabic berbere
Popular Spoken Languages: Dialectal Arabic, Berber, French, and Spanish. Many Moroccans can effectively communicate in English, German, Italian and other languages. English was recently added to High School curriculum.
Calling Code: 212
Electrical Voltage: 220v, sockets take 2-pronged European style plugs.
Health: No vaccinations are required for Morocco travel. It is advisable to drink bottled water
Morocco is one of the leading countries in the Arab world in regards to women’s rights and freedoms. While there are still very definite gender gaps in culture, Morocco has made many significant reforms. In 2003, King Muhammad VI passed an historical family law called Mudawana. In it, he makes men and women jointly responsible for their homes, without the legal obligation for a woman to obey her husband. It makes it illegal for men and women to be forced into a marriage that they don’t want, and it severely restricts polygamy. It raises the age at which women may marry, and it protects her from being easily divorced by repudiation (the ritual words of divorce by which a man in Islam can divorce his wife, simply by saying them). It also protects unmarried women by creating responsibility by fathers for children born pre-maritally.
There still remain very definite distinctions in gender role in daily life. Men still tend to be the breadwinners, while women primarily take care of the home. The street is the primary domain of men, where men hang out with their friends in coffee shops. The home is the primary domain of women, where women will invite their friends. While there is still need for further reform, Morocco has done well to celebrate the uniqueness of each gender while creating freedoms and protections to help prevent those differences from being abused.
Arabic is the official language of Morocco, but nearly all Moroccans with a secondary education have enough French to communicate and also English In the North, Spanish maintains a presence thanks to TV and radio. Outside education, however, Moroccan Arabic in the cities and Amazigh in the mountains are the languages of everyday life. and attempts to use a few words and phrases, no matter how stumblingly, will be appreciated Those with some Arabic learned elsewhere often find the Moroccan Arabic difficult. It is characterised by a clipped quality (the vowels just seem to disappear) and the words are taken from classical Arabic are often very different from those used in the Middle East. In addition, there is the influence of the Authentic Berber languages and a mixture of French and Spanish terms, often heavily ‘Moroccanised’. In many situations, French is more or less understood. However you will come across plenty of people who have had little opportunity to go to school and whose French may be limited to a very small number of phrases.
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound and silence, which exist in time. The common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation),dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the “colour of a musical sound). Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; In its most general form, the activities describing music as an art form include the production of works of music (songs, tunes, symphonies, and so on), the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, and the aesthetic examination of music. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as “the harmony of the spheres” and “it is music to my ears” point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to.