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Our Top 25 Morocco Culture Shocks: A Muslim’s Perspective


Let’s explore some of our top Morocco culture shocks!

While my father is Moroccan, we haven’t always lived in Morocco. So, when we returned to live in Morocco from the UK (and a few times from the UAE), we encountered a medley of surprises – you know, culture shocks and all that.

Some of these surprises were familiar to us, some were entirely foreign, and some were already part of our household, given our partial Moroccan heritage.

Regarding the entirely new experiences, we approached them with a mix of appreciation, adaptation, and, well, some we chose to avoid, while others we just accepted it as they were.

Understanding what lies ahead when you move to a new country can make a world of difference! While I began writing this post to share my experiences joyfully, I believe it holds valuable insights for anyone new to Morocco.

So, with sincerity, insha’Allah, I hope you find some useful nuggets of wisdom in this post!

Disclaimer

Please bear in mind that the information I’m sharing is rooted in our personal experiences and the insights of those who we know after years of living in Morocco, and observing the culture and the people in our day to day. However, it still might not encompass the WHOLE truth.

As much as I try to provide accurate information through research and double-checking, nothing I write here should be taken with utmost certainty or as professional advice.

We, as humans, are imperfect, and ignorance and lack of understanding are common aspects of our lives. May Allah guide us to the right path, Aameen!

25 Culture Shocks to Prepare for Before You Come to Morocco

Morocco is a country with its own languages, traditions, and culture. People here have a different way of life, different mindsets, and a set of values that may be different from what you’re used to.

However, while you will enjoy some new things that the country offers that are different, perhaps some not so much. And that’s totally okay!

No matter where you go, you’re bound to find the good AND the bad.

As Muslims, we try to focus on Allah’s blessings and appreciate the good stuff, alhamdulillah.

As for the bad and less desirable aspects, we stay away from them or learn how to deal with them while asking Allah to protect us from them and give us patience.

Having lived in Morocco for perhaps around 10 years of my life, I’ve encountered some of these culture shocks from my own experiences and some through the lens of others.

#1 The languages spoken in Morocco

Some of the first things you’ll notice about Morocco are: the different languages spoken.

If you know some Arabic, then Moroccan Arabic might come as a total shock to you. It sounds significantly different from Arabic fus’ha and other Middle Eastern dialects you may be familiar with.

Generally, Moroccans understand other Arabic dialects; however, many Arabs don’t understand Moroccans!

Although my father is Moroccan, the first Arabic dialect I learnt was the Emirati dialect, and it seemed like I had to relearn everything when we moved to Morocco.

This is because Moroccan darija is a mixture of many other languages, including French, Spanish, and Amazigh / Berber. Even the pronunciation of certain Arabic words are different.

If you don’t speak French, then it’s also something you want to familiarise yourself with, especially concerning commerce and medicine.

Although there are discussions to adopt English as the official foreign language, many places still use French.

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If you’re planning to live in Morocco, I highly encourage you to learn the basic phrases of darija, especially phrases you’ll use in the souq, with Moroccan neighbours, handymen, etc.

In today’s day and age, mastering new languages has never been more accessible. You can book lessons with Moroccan tutors on platforms like Preply.

#2 Begging is a way of life for some in Morocco

morocco culture shock: begging

Because Morocco is a ‘developing country’, poverty is common, and it’s not rare to see beggars when you visit certain places, especially popular sites for tourists.

Not ALL beggars are needy people; some do it for a living, and some can be scammers (they have enough but still decide to beg anyway).

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Some cities and towns certainly have more beggars than others. When we lived in Tamesna and Kenitra, for example, they weren’t a common sight.

When my family moved to Fnideq, a town next to Ceuta (a Spanish enclave), there were a number of them.

My brother told me it was because many Moroccans come to Fnideq hoping to cross the border into Ceuta, and sometimes they stay stagnant there, and begging becomes a means for them to get by.

They beg more, especially on Fridays, and in front of the masjid, and they’re more likely to target practicing-looking Muslims.

We learnt not to give, for good reasons, and if we want to give in charity, we investigate who to give through connections like shopkeepers or the butcher, etc.

#3 Small children working or doing side hustles

It’s not rare to see young kids, some as young as six, working on the streets and in the market to earn money. Their motivations vary: some do it to get pocket money, and some do it to help their families.

One common thing I noticed is young a young boy selling herbs like fresh mint, coriander, and parsley. He’d lay out a mat and have all his fresh herbs on display.

morocco culture shock: kids selling herbs

Sometimes, kids might approach you at the market while you shop and try to sell plastic bags. Some even make popcorn at home and sell it to other kids.

Some of these children end up quitting school to work. Despite their challenges, they are usually very polite and friendly. We try to help them when we can, appreciating their hard honest work and positive attitude, masha’Allah.

#4 Haggling: give me the last price!

Navigating haggling in Morocco might be a new experience for you, or perhaps you’re already familiar with it. Haggling is deeply ingrained in Moroccan culture, and it’s a practice you’ll encounter quite often if you like shopping.

If you’re introverted and not accustomed to haggling, it can initially be a bit daunting, especially if you’re not a fan of negotiating – I certainly am not!

When you inquire about the price of an item, the seller will quote a price that they expect you to negotiate down. It becomes a back-and-forth process until you reach a price that both you and the seller find agreeable.

However, it’s crucial to understand that not ALL places require haggling. You don’t need to haggle at places like restaurants or hwaanet (grocery stores), where the prices are fixed. Supermarkets and fruit and vegetable stalls, for instance, have set prices that you simply pay.

On the other hand, haggling is expected at places such as souvenir shops, fabric stores, and second-hand stalls.

Medina district of Essaouira in Morocco

These are the common spots where you’ll need to employ your haggling skills to get the best deal.

#5 Giving foreigners ‘tourist prices’

Many people in Morocco tend to assume that foreigners, especially those who appear European, are wealthy. Consequently, when you venture into places like the souq, where haggling is the norm, they often quote you a higher, ‘tourist price.’

For instance, if the initial price they’d quote a local is 200, they might add another 100 dirhams to it, assuming you might be willing to pay more due to your perceived affluence, and for the lack of a better phrase, ‘don’t know better’.

There are various indicators that can give away your status as a foreigner, such as your appearance, clothing, limited proficiency in speaking darija (the local language), or if they hear you conversing in a foreign language.

Dealing with this situation can be frustrating, but there are strategies to bring the price down to the local standard. Learning some basic darija phrases can be incredibly useful in these situations and help you negotiate closer to the actual, fair price.

Unfortunately, this overcharging is not limited to some Moroccan sellers, but also fellow Muhajiruns (Muslim expats) who take advantage of fellow Muhajiruns who are not aware of the local going rate.

Sometimes, their overcharging makes the overcharging of the locals feels like a child’s play. By all means, make profit from your business, but to tell someone that THIS IS the going price, and it’s the normal rate, that’s deception.

Let us all fear Allah with our dealings with one another.

#6 The bustling Moroccan local souq

In the UK, where I used to live, finding a farmer’s market wasn’t common. Even if I wanted to go to one, it meant taking a bus ride.

However, in Morocco, it’s a different story. Here, it’s an integral part of life, but they don’t label it as a farmers’ market – it’s simply the local souq, or as they call it, ‘sweeqa’.

A souq in Marrakech.

At the souq, you can find fresh vegetables and fruits sourced locally, available every day. Vendors typically set up trading tables or park their goody carts from early morning until midday (dhuhur time), take a break, and resume selling from the afternoon (after asr) until evening (Isha time).

While fresh produce is the main draw, you can find a variety of items at the souq, including spices, street food, cheese, laban, fresh butter, bread, and more.

It’s a bustling hub where surprises await; one day you might encounter someone selling snails or second hand items. Another day you might find someone selling kitchen plants.

Depending on where you live, the souq might be conveniently nearby or a bit of a journey away. Even if you live farther, enterprising traders often take the initiative to bring a selection of goods closer to your home, ensuring everyone has access to the essentials.

#7 Joutiya: second hand clothes and items

There was a time in our life when we exclusively shopped at the joutiya, which is essentially a flea market. And it’s quite common in Morocco.

In Morocco’s joutiya, many items are pre-owned goods from Europe. Many Moroccan men would travel back and forth, get the goods from Europe, and bring it to sell in the Moroccan souq.

Surprisingly, you can discover clothes in excellent condition, some even are brand new with tags still attached. I understand that not everyone feels comfortable buying secondhand clothes, but if you’re open to it, you can save a lot of money while getting good-quality items that have only been worn a few times.

When I moved to Morocco from the UAE with my two children, I underistimated how cold the weather could be in January. It was my brother who came to the rescue, purchasing winter clothes for us from the joutiya.

One pair of trousers and a few shirts he bought for my 3-year-old son lasted for years – I reused it for his younger sister and now his younger brother.

Where we lived, finding brand new clothes of good quality was a challenge, and even if you did find such good quality items, they were expensive. Having the joutiya nearby was a blessing!

It’s not limited to clothes; you can find a variety of goods there, including bags, toys, books, and more.

#8 Fruits and vegetables are so cheap!

Living in Morocco has its delightful perks, and one of the best ones is the affordability of fruits and vegetables here!

We’ve had the pleasure of buying a whole kilo of oranges for just 2 dh! The fertile land and desirable climate in Morocco make it a perfect environment for various crops to thrive, alhamdulillaah.

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Thanks to these favorable conditions masha’Allah, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available at incredibly reasonable prices, especially when they’re in season. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they’re also healthier choices since they are locally sourced.

Unlike many exported fruits and vegetables that endure long journeys to other countries, often requiring the use of chemicals to stay fresh, the produce you find here is often naturally fresh and bursting with flavour. It’s a win-win situation for both your wallet and your well-being!

#9 Couscous every Friday is a Moroccan tradition

Every Friday, many Moroccan households follow the tradition of preparing couscous. It’s a staple in the Moroccan culture, deeply cherished by families across the country.

However, not ALL Moroccans are fond of couscous. For example, my sister-in-law was not very fond it, so when her family used to make couscous for Fridays they’d give her money to go get herself a sandwich.

My father absolutely loves it. Regardless of where we are, be it the UAE or the UK, if he’s around, Friday means couscous day.

Yet, outside Morocco, getting the ingredients for couscous isn’t as easy or affordable. Sometimes, finding specific items can be a real challenge. Unlike in Morocco, where Friday mornings turn the market into a couscous-themed event.

Picture this: women selling soaked chickpeas for those who forgot to soak theirs the night before, alongside displays of pumpkins, harissa, laban, and more.

In Morocco, you could gather all the essential couscous ingredients for around 35-70 MAD. Once in the UAE, I tried shopping for couscous, it costed me over 100 AED.

#10 Bread, bread and more bread

The most significant culture shock my Asian mom experienced when she first arrived in Morocco was… bread.

In Moroccan culture, bread is a staple that’s enjoyed at EVERY meal.

They eat bread for breakfast, bread for lunch, bready patisserie for afternoon snacks and social gatherings and MORE bread for dinner.

This was a major adjustment for my Indonesian mom, who was accustomed to having rice (not bread) for all her meals.

Imagine a Moroccan moving to Indonesia and being forced to switch to rice. Oh, the horror!

This transition occurred in the 1990s and early 2000s when the only rice available was the thick and non-fluffy variety she could find. It was quite different from the soft and slightly sticky rice she was used to, which was enjoyable to eat with various dishes. Thankfully, today, it’s easier to access a wider variety of rice options like Basmati and Jasmine.

However, bread remains a prominent part of the Moroccan diet, and it comes in various forms, including msemmen, harsha, regular khobz, wholemeal khobz, and more. Many traditional tagine dishes are designed to be savored with bread.

#11 Kaskroot and atay (Moroccan mint tea)

Atay, the famous Moroccan mint tea, holds a significant place in Moroccan culture. It’s not just a beverage; it’s a tradition enjoyed during breakfast and social gatherings, especially at ‘kaskroot‘ time.

To brew Atay, one needs Chinese gunpowder tea and fresh Moroccan mint, often sweetened generously with sugar. However, my family learnt to savour it with raw honey or sometimes with no sugar at all, appreciating its raw flavors.

When a Moroccan invites you for ‘kaskrout‘, they’re essentially inviting you for a session of Atay and snacks. This informal gathering usually takes place after the afternoon prayer (‘Asr‘) and can continue until the evening prayer (‘Isha‘).

My family particularly enjoys these moments of togetherness. It’s a relaxed way to socialise, relishing Atay and pastries from the local bakery. Sometimes, my sister bakes a cake, and my brothers contribute by bringing seeds and nuts from the ‘mwl zarreaa‘ (which roughly translates to ‘the seed guy’).

Interestingly, the term ‘kaskrout‘ finds its origins in the French phrase ‘le casse croute,’ meaning a light snack, reflecting the delightful and informal nature of these meetups.

#12 Making too much food, and no concept of saving leftovers

When you’re invited to a Moroccan’s house for lunch or iftar in Ramadan, you’ll be treated to an abundance of food. Typically, there’s the main dish, accompanied by various smaller dishes, offering a delightful variety of flavours.

This hospitality showcases their generosity and kindness towards guests. But often, the food is too much to finish!

You stop eating because you’re full, but they tell you to keep eating.

And it’s just IMPOSSIBLE to finish everything!

After much arguing, them telling you to keep eating and you tell them you can’t eat anymore a question often arises: what happens to all that leftover food?

Sadly, in many cases, it ends up in the rubbish bin.

The same during Ramadan, they make so much food for iftar with arrays of dishes, what’s not eaten gets thrown away.

Food waste is a modern problem, and striving to minimise food waste is an ongoing battle for many concious families. The tragedy occurs, however, when the person wasting food feels no remorse about throwing it in the trash.

In an extreme incident my sister recalled, she accompanied a lady in Morocco who, out of a sudden craving, bought all the ingredients for a specific salad, prepared it with care. However, once the salad was ready, her appetite had vanished. What became of the dish? She threw it in the bin, just as quickly as she finished preparing it.

Can you imagine! Normally, you’d save it for later, right?

Now, I’m NOT generalising all Moroccans as this happens with non-Moroccans too, but I’m sharing what we’ve observed. Alhamdulillaah there are also Moroccans who are conscious about food wastage.

I was raised in a household where my mum abhorred wasting food. She would go to great lengths to ensure nothing went to waste, even if it meant eating leftovers that were on the verge of spoiling, sometimes leading to getting sick (not recommending it!)

If we couldn’t finish something, she would creatively transform it into another dish or turn it into irresistible snacks. For example, she’d turn leftover salad into veggie fritters and leftover fruits into a smoothie.

We often had lunch leftovers for dinner, a practice that many Moroccans don’t prefer. My Moroccan father, for instance, avoids eating leftovers.

Occasionally, we would buy bread and freeze it. While this might be unconventional for many Moroccans who prefer their bread fresh from bakeries (some even make it themselves), it was our way of minimising food waste and not having to go out to get food as often.

#13 Guest visits with no prior invitation or notice

Befriending Moroccans, especially those who haven’t grown up in the West, can bring delightful surprises – they might drop by your place anytime without the need for a prior invitation!

Moroccans aren’t big on formal appointments. After a trip to the souq, we might decide to swing by Ahlam’s or Fatima’s house on our way home. And the best part? They’re always thrilled to see you!

For those accustomed to Western ways, unexpected visitors might trigger panic:

“Oh no, I can’t greet guests in these clothes!”

or

“My house is a mess!”

or

“I don’t have anything to serve!”

But for Moroccan hosts, these concerns are usually minor. You walk in, and they’re SO happy to see you, inviting you right in. They’ll insist you stay for freshly made atay (Moroccan tea) or whip it up as you chat in the kitchen.

I remember when we were in Fes, whenever we’re short on something and we have unexpected guests, my mum would send me to the hanut (shop).

As for our clothes and how presentable we should be, Moroccans are quite laid-back – some Moroccans even stroll to the souq in their pajamas, house sandals, or with a hat perched over their scarves.

Unlike the emphasis on outer appearances in the West, Moroccans, especially those we know – humble and simple folks, Allahuma baarik – don’t fuss much about how amazing they should look in front of others. It’s all about warmth and hospitality!

I kind of really like this way of hanging out with friends. Meeting up doesn’t always have to be linked to special occasions or the stress of preparing and cooking, or the need to have the living room in impeccable condition, as is often the case with formal invitations.

And most of the times, these visits without notice are very brief, just for them to check on you and see how you’re doing.

#14 Lunch is the most important meal time

In our household, lunch takes center stage as the biggest meal of the day, a culture shared by many Moroccans as well.

So, it was a bit of a culture shock for me when I returned to the UK and discovered that dinner (or supper, the evening meal) holds that prominent role.

In Morocco, our lunch is hearty, featuring dishes like tagine and couscous, while evenings are reserved for lighter fare such as soup or sandwiches. This meal arrangement aligns well with the need for sustained energy throughout the day, whether you’re studying or working.

Because lunch carries such importance, it’s customary for schools to send kids home for their midday meal. I recall my school days in Fes, where I had the choice of going back home for lunch or staying at school until afternoon classes began. Often, we’d take the bus back home and then return to school when it was time.

On Fridays, we were fortunate to have the afternoons off, alhamdulillah.

#15 Majlis is very important for Moroccans

As mentioned earlier, Moroccans have a deep-seated love for hosting guests, a characteristic often reflected in their no-formal-appointment culture and as well as traditional architectural designs.

In our initial years after moving to Morocco, most houses followed a similar pattern: a spacious majlis area (living room) dominating the layout, often with only one small bedroom. In many low-income Moroccan households, it was customary for children, including my siblings and me, to sleep in the majlis.

When we’d wake up, we’d put away our pillows, blankets, etc.

Growing older, we found sleeping in such open spaces less comfortable. Thankfully, as we transitioned from one house to another, we were fortunate to find homes that were more conventional, with multiple rooms offering privacy and comfort.

For instance, when we relocated to Tamesna, we discovered that many houses there were constructed with Spanish architectural influences, providing a departure from the traditional majlis-focused layout we were accustomed to.

#16 Qur’an recitation in Warsh (not Hafs)

If you go to the masjid or if you’re considering enrolling in one of the Qur’an centers here in Morocco, there’s a surprising aspect you might encounter: they recite in Warsh, not Hafs.

Hafs is the version of Qur’an recitation most familiar to us. It’s predominantly used in Saudi Arabia, and many Muslims in the West are accustomed to it as well.

You might be wondering, what’s the difference?

This might be entirely new for you, just as it was for me when I first learnt about this alternative way of reciting the Qur’an.

I’m not an expert on this topic, but I do know about a hadith from Umar ibn Khattab (radiyallaahu `anhu), who narrated that the Messenger of Allah, (sallaallaahu`alayhi wa sallam) said,

“This Qur’aan has been revealed in seven different ways, so recite it in the way that is easiest for you.’”

(Narrated by Muslim, 818)

You can find the full version of the hadith here. So, Hafs and Warsh are two of the seven different recitations / Qiraa’at.

Not only do the tajweed rules differ, but also some words and meanings are different.

One example on this is in surah Fatihah, Ayah 4. In Hafs, it’s Maaliki. And in Warsh it’s Maliki, as seen in the table.

#17 The scarcity of local libraries

One thing we often find ourselves missing from our time in the UK is the easy access to libraries. In every city, there were libraries spread out in different areas. In Birminham, Small Heath has its community library, Hall Green has its community library, etc.

I used to love exploring the vast collection of books in the library. I could spend hours reading, return the books, and pick up more to dive into. If there was a specific book I wanted, I could simply log in to the library’s e-portal and order it.

However, in Morocco, this pleasure is not common at all. Big libraries are primarily found in larger cities. In the towns where we lived, the closest thing resembling a library was a bookstore where they have a small section selling books, but their selection was limited, and you had to purchase the books.

When we were kids, my mum used to get us the Juha book series in Arabic, which we really loved, and giggled through and read over and over again.

Occasionally, you might find someone selling second-hand books, some in English, on the street. However, finding good books among them was a rare occurrence.

Once in the old Medina of Rabat, on the side of the street, we bought an English book supposedly written by a Saudi princess. And oh I HATED it so much I had to read it twice.

It depicted Saudi Arabia in such a bad light (and mainly bad stuff is being mentioned), and the whole book was just full of whining, constant woes and complaining about royal family problems.

Anyway, English authentic Islamic books are also not that easy to find. In Birmingham, this is easy accessible in places like Small Heath or UK online shop.

As for Arabic authentic Islamic books, they are accessible here, as my father often finds them, alhamdulillaah.

Nowadays, my family and I have adapted to using Kindle e-readers. I sometimes subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, giving me access to a wide variety of books that’s included in the subscription.

Alternatively, if there’s an e-book I want to keep, I might consider purchasing it. It’s all about finding what suits our needs and preferences.

#18 No local Amazon or eBay

I didn’t used to order things online frequently, but when I did, I appreciated the convenience of finding anything I needed online and having it delivered the next day (in the UK and in the UAE).

However, having items shipped from Amazon or eBay to Morocco are really expensive. We do have local companies like Jumia, and we’ve had experiences ordering things online, although it’s not as often, which is good in a way.

As time passed, the inconvenience of this usual norm we’re used to bothered us less. If there was something we really needed from the UK (most of the time it was for convenience, not necessity), we would simply ask our relatives who were visiting the UK to bring it back with them from their trips.

This way, we found a workaround to get what we wanted or needed without the hefty shipping costs.

#19 Big brands are expensive, so opt for local brands

In Morocco, you’ll find that many well-known brands from your home country can be quite pricey. This includes familiar names like Pampers, ARIEL and Nutella and other international brands.

So, what’s the solution?

We simply opt for local brands, which come at a much more affordable price.

And the best part? It doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality.

I understand that some people are deeply attached to the brands they’re accustomed to. If you have the financial means, sticking to your preferred brands might not be an issue.

However, if it could strain your budget, I highly recommend considering local alternatives or even eco-friendly options. Making this switch not only saves you money but also supports the local economy and offers environmentally conscious choices.

#20 Being cautious of hasad and sihr

I’ve never experienced a place where caution against the evil eye and magic has been emphasised more than in Morocco.

Okay, black magic (sihr) are being practiced EVERYWHERE in the world. I’ve heard stories from places like the UK, France, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Sometimes in the West, it’s not known as black magic, and some symptoms of black magic are usually brushed off as mental illness or unknown sickness.

Alhamdulillah, my family and I haven’t been personally affected by it here in Morocco, as far as I know, and Allah knows best. However, I’ve heard numerous stories, both from family and friends, as well as from some sisters who shared their experiences on Instagram.

Many Moroccans are ignorant of their religion despite claiming to be Muslims, and some don’t perceive these practices as something evil.

Some seek magic to harm others out of sheer envy, while others resort to it out of desperation, hoping to strengthen relationships or increase wealth.

I was even told about cases where magic was used for STUPID reasons, like a neighbour casting a spell on her next-door neighbour’s daughter to prevent her from getting married first. Can you imagine?

So, it’s essential to always recite your duas and be cautious around strangers. Don’t accept everything offered to you, and be careful about sharing your belongings like clothes with suspicious individuals.

Hasad is also something you want to be cautious about. When you go out, recite a dua over your children and don’t show too much of what you have, whether you’re dealing with Moroccans or fellow Muhajiruns.

I plan to delve deeper into this topic in a dedicated blog post, insha’Allah.

Remember, NO HARM can befall a believer except what has been predestined for them. Stay vigilant and trust in Allah’s protection.

#21 Scammers and fraudsters in Morocco

We were already familiar with the concept of scams and fraud, but the specific types we encountered in Morocco were different from what we had experienced in places like the UK and the UAE.

It’s essential to be aware of the specific types of scams that are prevalent in Morocco so you can be vigilant.

One of them is street hypnosis, a form of black magic. The perpetrator will approach pretending to ask a question or help then put you in a hypnosis.

It happened to a friend who visited a tourist area, and someone grabbed her hand and forcibly applied henna on her. When this witch asked her to hand over her money, she couldn’t control her body and shakily handed £60 from her wallet.

She would have made to go to the bank to withdraw more money, if people around her didn’t intervene and told her to walk away from this woman.

I plan to compile a list of these scams in a blog post, insha’Allah. Among the more common ones are people pretending to be poor to beg for money. Surprisingly, even children can be involved in these scams, as we have experienced firsthand.

Additionally, we encountered a situation where a European individual in Morocco deceived us into buying low-quality items, which turned out to be nothing more than junk.

As harsh as it sounds, don’t stop for anyone, even if they just want to ask a question, as it often always means trouble.

#22 Healthcare standards may be shocking to some

Many visitors from the West or Gulf countries may find the healthcare standards in Morocco to be a bit shocking. While you can find excellent healthcare in Morocco, it’s essential to be prepared if you plan to seek medical treatment here.

You can get really good healthcare in Morocco, but you just need to know where to find them.

There have been stories of questionable hygiene practices and varying levels of training among some nurses, so it’s advisable to approach healthcare facilities with caution.

In Morocco, you have options like public hospitals, private hospitals, and doctor clinics. Public hospitals are often avoided by many expats, but some, like us, have had acceptable experiences when adequately prepared (mentally).

Private hospitals are generally cleaner and better equipped to handle more significant medical procedures, but the choice depends on your specific needs.

Doctor clinics are primarily for consultations. For instance, if you have a skin condition, you’d visit a dermatologist’s clinic, and if more extensive treatment is required, they may refer you to a hospital.

It’s important to note that in most Moroccan hospitals, including private ones, meals are typically not included in the care package. Some hospitals might even require you to bring your bedding, such as pillows, blankets, and even bedsheets, from home.

Additionally, Moroccan hospitals still use the French language for filling out forms, so it’s helpful to be aware of this when seeking medical care in Morocco.

#23 Disorganised and unprofessional businesses

They tell you one time, and they show up HOURS later or not come at all.

They tell you it’s okay no problem, but later they say it’s NOT okay and it’s a problem.

A German sister shared her experience when searching for an apartment. She found one she liked, but it was furnished. When she asked the agent if they could remove the furniture later, they initially said it was not an issue. However, later on, they changed their mind, insisting the furniture had to stay.

Nagging is unfortunately a common practice to get people to do their job. We once went without internet for two months due to extremely terrible service.

The issues often stem from lack of training, less competition and basic manners. Sometimes, individuals have too much on their plates; for example, a Moroccan businessman might juggle multiple businesses, none of which soley sustains his livelihood, leading to a lack of proficiency in any.

Sadly, the lack of consistency, professionalism, transparency, and punctuality is a recurring theme. Even international companies like DHL lack professionalism here.

Alhamdulillah, NOT EVERY business here operates this way, but unfortunately, such experiences are more common than in places like the UAE, where customer satisfaction is prioritised.

It’s worth mentioning that we’ve had some positive experiences dealing with business providers here, while others were simply okay and acceptable, and some with just a few minor annoyances.

When it comes to bureaucracy and paperwork, the situation isn’t significantly different from places like the UK and Germany, which also has its fair share of challenges. Let me not get started on my battle with HMRC trying to get a UK passport for my second child. They said she wasn’t eligible, although my first son got it without any issue.

Some paperwork we managed to get through with ease here in Morocco, some gave us headaches and delay.

I’m not telling you all this to deter you away! But it’s good to be mentally prepared for it insha’Allah.

I’ll share a dedicated blog post on how to navigate this as Muslims, bi’ithnillaah.

#24 Bribery is a thing here in Morocco

Bribery is a common practice in this part of the world. My mum, being Indonesian, has experienced it back in Indonesia, so it’s not entirely new for her.

However, coming from places like the UK and the UAE, where if it exists, it’s more hidden, in Morocco, it seems ingrained in the culture. It’s prevalent in places like public hospitals and police stations, becoming a way to resolve problems or receive proper treatment – if you pay them, that is.

Now, as Muslims, this practice contradicts our deen. Bribery is a major sin and is forbidden in Islam, so how should we handle it?

Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said that it’s permissible for the giver, ONLY to prevent harm or obtain necessary services. However, it is strictly forbidden for the taker.

Just as there are many corrupt individuals who work for being bribed, there are many God-fearing individuals, who genuinely do their best to help you without expecting anything in return. And I’m witness to that.

#25 Moroccans are some of the kindest people we know

One of the most delightful cultural experiences in Morocco is encountering exceptionally kind people – a kindness that might surpass your previous encounters, even from complete strangers.

Many of the people we’ve met here possess qualities that are less commonly found in Western Muslim communities. Even when they have limited resources, their generosity knows no bounds, whether it’s offering money, food, time, or more.

You can visit someone’s home, and they’ll readily share the food they’ve prepared for their family. Even Moroccan sellers, despite a few who might have a reputation for overcharging, often exhibit remarkable ethics.

They will say things like:

“No need to pay, it wasn’t much.”

“You don’t have change? No worries, you can give me what you have.”

“You don’t have it? No worries, you can pay another time.”

One of the most heartwarming examples of this kindness was when our pushchair broke in 2020 when we were in Tamensa, and we were just a few days away from travelling (during Covid).

This man fixed it where we failed after numerous attempts. And then he REFUSED to name the price or take the money, even though I was very happy to pay it. He said, “Just make dua for me.”

He not only fixed my pushchair, but he made our journey to the UK, to France and to the UAE much lighter and easier. I can’t imagine travelling having to carry two small children and bags across the airport. You can read the story in this Instagram post I shared.

May Allah continue to bless him, forgive him and have mercy ameen.

A BONUS culture shock: Being treated with respect as practicing Muslims

Back in the UK, I often felt self-conscious dressing as a Muslimah. I became overly-appreciative for non-Muslims who treated me with kindness, and when I encountered rudeness or discrimination, it was to be expected.

After all, I’m a Muslim in a disbelieving country.

“Should’ve seen it coming.”

In a way, it was degrading and humiliating.

However, Morocco presented a different experience altogether. Here, dressing modestly earned us more respect, and it’s what you’d come to expect, soubhanallaah. My family and I would wear full abayas, long khimars, and niqabs without hesitation.

Nonetheless, the prevailing atmosphere is one of respect, especially among the men. I distinctly recall some Moroccan men seller giving me priority, clearing a path for me, and even advocating on my behalf to ensure I received good treatment.

Of course, there are ‘modern’ Moroccans who, given the opportunity, may offer unsolicited ‘advice’. But that’s people you don’t hang out with (we had to because they were relatives).

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Key takeaways

While we’ve encountered cultural differences and occasional frustrations, these encounters have been invaluable lessons and experience.

There’s no such thing as a Utopia in the lands of the Muslims. Despite the good, you’ll ALSO find things you’ll dislike here, whether it’s because it affects your convenience or has the potential to impact your deen. After all, this is the dunya, and we’ll CONSTANTLY be tested as long as we’re alive, WHEREVER we are.

But it’s much better that we’re tested in a Muslim country, than in the lands of disbelief, where your eemaan is constantly challenged.

Whatever blessings and good we experience during our hijrah, we thank Allah and say Alhamdulillaah. This includes the good that comes from Morocco, and the blessings from being in a Muslim country.

As for the challenges, we also remain thankful and say Alhamdulillaah.

  • We’re thankful that the affliction is not worse than it is
  • We’re grateful that we have the ability to bear it patiently
  • We’re thankful that we’re able to say “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi rooji`oon
  • We’re grateful that the calamity is not in our religion

Suhayb (radiyallaahu `anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him. (Muslim: 2999)

As for the evil, we steer clear of and seek refuge in Allah from, and these are the likes of shirk, bid’ah, sinful places and bad companions. And Allah knows best.

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Further Reads:

I sincerely hope that our shared experiences inspire you to embrace the unfamiliar with open hearts and open minds, insha’Allah.

If you’ve experienced any cultural shocks that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!


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