Social customs in Morocco – part one
Ok, we’ve got a question about Social Customs in Morocco. And I keep pondering about it: where to start? Because -from my western point of view- everything is different in Morocco. That’s one of the things that makes this a great country!
Well, I’ve decided to start from the beginning. And the beginning -for me- is when entering the country.
As soon as you leave the airplane and you stand in line for customs, there are a few things that strike you as different (this is apart from the climate: another post will be about that).
First of all: when you look at your fellow travelers: clothing. Yes, you can enter Morocco -as a woman- wearing a halter top and spaghetti-straps and a short skirt. And you can walk around in a big city like Marrakech with it. Personally; I don’t think it is very respectful. Overall it is considered decent to cover your shoulders and wear a trouser or skirt below the knees. And by the way; this is considered decent for men as well!
This will bring me to the next subject of ‘social customs’ a subject more difficult to define: respect. In Morocco, it is very important to respect people. And this is also something you see while waiting in line for customs; the guys dividing the queues and making sure everything runs smoothly, they are very keen on helping older people, disabled people and people with children. They always ensure that people with special needs are helped very fast, have to walk less, and are treated with care.
Hospitality is important in Moroccan culture: people are greeted very warmly, talked to, welcomed. They are shown respect. In the same airport queues, I also heard fellow westerners talk about this with disdain: you will see male co-workers greeting each other with kisses on the cheek & some small talk, shaking hands. In Morocco, this is the way to interact. No one does ‘hurry, hurry, ‘rush, rush’, ‘job needs to be done. No, people take time for each other, talk.
You see it everywhere. People talking, shaking hands, kissing on the cheek, walk hand in hand.
My advice as a western foreigner: see it and appreciate it. And treat people with the same respect. Try to learn to say ‘thank you in Arabic, (it’s ‘shukraan’). If someone approaches you and tries to sell something you don’t want: stay friendly and polite and make it clear you’re not interested. That’s ok and they won’t mind, use humor; Moroccans can appreciate that. Just be respectful.
There is a lot more to be told about social customs. As I said: everything is different. Eating, housing, etc. Etc. But lesson number one: show respect! Everything else will follow.
Curious about your response!