Official languages

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.

Climate

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.

Currency

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.

Time Zone

  • 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.

Communications

  • Internet country code: .ma
  • Telephone country code: 212

Hours

  • Businesses: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday
  • Government offices: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday
  • Post offices: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings.
  • Banks in Morocco are generally open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in summer. In winter these times change to 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. During the month of Ramadan (in July-August 2012), banks are open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Morocco offers informal and formal retail. Informal retail includes open air markets (usually mornings) and street vendors (including night markets). Every day except Sunday.
  • Stores and shopping malls are open Monday through Saturday, typically 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. or 7 p.m. Mall of Morocco is open Sundays.
  • Souvenir shopping (ceramics, leather goods, brass, clothing, etc.) is typically available every day, including Sunday.

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz . Two-pin round plugs are used.

Transportation

Casablanca airport:

  • Mohamed V airport is located 30km from Casablanca. Taxis are available outside the airport terminal and have set fares to Casablanca, which is MAD 250 (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.

Taxis:

  • 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.

Trains:

  • 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.

Sites

Three imperial cities are essential to visit during a stay in Morocco. Marrakech is the tourism capital of Morocco with its many palaces, parks and minarets. Fez is the cultural capital and boasts many ramparts and a large medina. Not to be missed either are the walls and the door of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Other jewels of Morocco include the mausoleum of Ismail I and the door of Bab al-Mansour Meknes. Other towns in Morocco worth a visit are Casablanca, home of the great mosque Hassan II, and Tangier, notable for its large medina.

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)

Religion

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

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.

Entertainment

Cinemas: General entry MAD 35 to 60 (about $4 to $7), 3D films MAD 49 to 60 (about $5.65 to $7).

Mediaside recommends and thanks the bookstore Carrefour des Livres in Casablanca for their assistance.