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Each culture has its set of rules of conduct that can be radically different than the others. Some cultures are the total opposite of others when it comes to what behaviors are considered appropriate and not appropriate. Such is the case in Morocco; their rules of conduct might seem contradictory to what you believe in, but when in Rome, you have to act like the Romans. 

 

Moroccan rules of conduct are mainly influenced by Islam, which is why Muslims easily blend in Morocco. However, compared to countries like Iran, Morocco is more progressive. Moroccans are more liberal and open-minded, mainly because of their close ties to Europe and the Western World. So, it’s not too hard for Westerners to blend in as well. 

So, what are the Moroccan rules of conduct? What’s appropriate in Morocco, and what’s not? What are some of the Moroccan etiquettes? And how to blend in Morocco seamlessly? All of that and more in this article about the proper behavior in Morocco and the rules of conduct that most people follow and respect.

What’s Disrespectful in Morocco?

99% of all Moroccans are Muslims. And while only a small minority of Moroccans identify as fundamentalist Muslims, i.e., very conservative, disrespecting Islam is not a cool thing in Morocco. Islam in Morocco is a matter of cultural identity and collective unity. So, even Moroccan agnostics might consider anything that disrespects Islam to be rude. 

 

As we shall see all over this article, most of the rules of conduct and appropriate behavior in Morocco are influenced by Islamic teachings. 

 

For More Morocco Travel Advice. 

What’s Considered Appropriate to Wear in Morocco? 

Unlike countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, where there’s a dress code that people must follow, Morocco is more liberal. It’s generally advised to dress modestly as a woman, i.e., covering your legs, cleavage, and arms, but that’s only to avoid the so-called “male gaze” if that is something that bothers you. It’s funny how you often find Moroccan girls wearing more revealing clothes than Western girls, especially in tourist areas. 

 

However, when it comes to the LGBTQ community and their dressing choices, I’m afraid Morocco is not that open-minded. If you’re a cross-dresser, you better appear undistinguishable from a female to avoid any sort of disrespectful comments. Strangely, the “L‘s” in the LGBTQ community are more tolerated in Morocco. A woman can dress up like a man, and no one would bat an eye. 

 

A general rule of thumb is to dress like a man if you have XY chromosomes and dress like a woman if you have XX chromosomes. Do you get what I mean? 

What’s Inappropriate Behavior in Morocco?

Everything that’s considered inappropriate in your hometown or city is probably considered inappropriate in Morocco too. Unless you live in a city like San Fransico, where people do all kinds of crazy things in public, following this rule should be easy. 

 

By the way, I’m only referring to San Fransisco because I’ve seen some videos online of the streets of some American cities like San Fransisco and Philadelphia with some crazy footage of people being nuts in public, and everyone is acting as if it’s normal. 

 

Anyway, let’s not be sidetracked. Inappropriate conduct in Morocco includes any act of indecency that includes drugs, public show of affection, and revealing nudity. Additionally, during the month of fasting, Ramadan, eating, drinking, or smoking in public before sunset is also inappropriate in Morocco for adults. 

What Should You Never Do in Morocco? 

Well, one thing for certain is breaking the law. As obvious as this might sound, you should know what’s legal and what’s not legal in Morocco to avoid making any mistakes. Aside from all the obvious criminal offenses that apply to the whole world, there are some rules that are special to Morocco and many Islamic countries. 

 

Such laws include public drinking of alcohol and carrying a physical copy of the bible or any other canonical religious text.

 

There are also rules in Morocco that prohibit the use of drones without a license. If you’re an avid reader of legalese and you enjoy reading legal documents in French, here’s the Moroccan Criminal Code. Reading it would tell you everything you need to know. 

 

It should be noted that it’s also punishable by a prison sentence to have extramarital sex (article 490),  but that’s one of those laws that are often overlooked. 

Is it Okay to Hold Hands in Morocco? 

Public show of affection is not unusual in Morocco in mild degrees. So, holding hands in Morocco is 100% acceptable in most of the kingdom. Moroccan couples hold hands while walking. Hugging is also acceptable in Moroccan culture and considered appropriate. 

 

However, kissing, especially a prolonged French kiss à la Hollywood climax of the movie style, is a controversial matter. Anything that goes beyond a double (or a quadruple) cheek-to-cheek bump might be considered a prohibited show of affection. 

 

By the way, men often greet using cheek-to-cheek with other men that they consider close friends (no homo). It’s also common to bump the side of the head instead of the cheeks.  

Morocco Etiquettes 

In this section of the article, we’ll talk about some of the Moroccan etiquettes that you might want to keep in your mind during your next visit. 

Business Etiquettes in Morocco

Moroccan business culture is heavily influenced by French culture. Most of the big businessmen in Morocco prefer to speak in French during important deals. If you’ve ever done business with a French person, you’ll have an easy time striking a good deal with a Moroccan businessman or woman. 

 

As for the etiquette of business in Morocco, it’s not unusual to find the person you’re trying to make a deal with interested in your personal matters. 

 

Moroccans often regard the people they’re doing business with as potential friends, and there should be a certain level of personal involvement with them. So, you shouldn’t consider it rude if a Moroccan business meeting takes a personal turn, nor you should see that as unprofessional. 

 

And finally, the best way to leave a great first impression on a Moroccan business man or woman is to give them a symbolic gift, perhaps a souvenir that can be used as a decoration. 

Professional Dressing Standards in Morocco

Dressing up for a business meeting should follow the high standards of elegance and modesty. Dressing up casually to a business meeting might give the Moroccan businessman or women a negative first impression of you. 

 

Women should aim to wear something that covers as much skin as possible. When trying to make a deal with a Moroccan business man who’s a Muslim conservative type, it’s considered rude to wear revealing clothes. 

 

The best advice for a woman here is to cover her knees and arms, and not wear anything that shows her cleavage. Very tight clothes are also not recommended. You don’t necessarily have to wear a scarf, but that’s probably something you should consider if you’re dealing with a conservative businessman; it would leave a great first impression.  

 

Contact us if you would like to book a Morocco business trip.

Table Manners in Morocco

At a traditional Moroccan table, they often eat with their bare hands. Moroccans often eat from the same plate instead of everyone having their own plate. According to the Islamic teachings, eating with the left hand is considered something negative. It’s symbolically a kin to eating with the Devil. So, only use you right hand to take food to your mouth. 

 

Also, saying bisùmillah (in the name of God) before taking your first bite is considered good manners. 

 

Here’s a great scene from “The Man Who Knew Too Much” by Hitchcock about Moroccan table manners:

 

Moroccan Eating Etiquette – “The Man Who Knew Too Much” | Hitchcock Presents

Tipping Etiquettes in Morocco

WHen it comes to tipping, Morocco is very similar to the U.S. You’re not required to leave a tip, but if you didn’t it might be considered as a negative gesture that shows you’re a stingy person. If leaving a tip isn’t something you do in your country, perhaps you should consider doing so in Morocco. 

 

The average tip is anything between 10% to 15%. If you’re a generous person, and you think you received great service from a Moroccan working-class person, you should consider leaving a good tip. 

 

The Moroccan working class who work in the service sector don’t have the best salaries, making tips the only way they can keep up with their daily demands, especially with the soaring inflation rates that also hit Morocco recently. 

 

Summary: Do and Don’ts in Morocco

Just in case you might want to return to this article later, here, I briefly listed some rules for your easy access.

Do’s

  • Learn some Arabic words like salam (hello), shukran (thanks), and smeh’li (sorry)…  
  • Dress up modestly and show good manners. 
  • Take off your shoes if you’re invited to a house.
  • Accept gifts and eat Moroccan cuisine because it’s considered rude to refuse gifts and food. 

Don’t’s

  • Disrespect Islam, the Moroccan monarchy, and traditional customs. 
  • Take pictures of strangers on the street without asking for permission. 
  • Expect Moroccans to show up exactly at the scheduled time. 
  • Do anything sexually provocative or show too much public affection.
  • Drink alcohol or do drugs in a public space.