Morocco is officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco. It is a North African country located in the Maghreb region. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea in the north, it is a large country with a population of around 40 million inhabitants. Ever since its foundation, it has been ruled by a series of independent rulers. It was also occupied by the Portuguese, Spanish and French in history.
Not surprisingly, the Strait of Gibraltar, which is just a small stretch of ocean between two continents, separates the Moroccan coast from the Spanish coast and is thus geographically closer to Portugal. The Alaouite dynasty, or Alawite dynasty, are the current rulers. They are referred to as the Moroccan royal family. This semi-constitutional monarchy has a parliament in place to take care of the country’s affairs. Islam is the predominant religion in Morocco. Their culture shows aspects of Arab, West African, Berber, and European culture.
Tourism in Morocco
Tourism is one of the important areas that contribute greatly to economic growth. Due to its relatively easy access to Europe and the image of a beautifully exotic destination, it’s an easy tourist destination for Europeans. Overall 20 million tourists visit Morocco each year due to its successful marketing campaigns that market the country as a safe, inexpensive, exotic, and beautiful country at the very doorstep of Europe. The location and the beauty are the prime reasons for Morocco’s success in tourism.
With that being said, there is also a lot being said about Morocco when it comes to women. For some reason, the country has gained an internationally notorious reputation when it comes to women’s safety. There are many experiences and information available online regarding this. We thought it would be good if we could address this and put things straight so that you will have a good idea before you plan a trip to this country alone, with your friends or family.
To understand the underlying issues and address them effectively, we have answered some points that will help you gauge the situation and decide about your travel.
Is Morocco a safe destination on the whole?
Yes. And we mean it when we say Yes. Morocco is a safe country to travel for anyone, and you will see a lot of women. Including solo travelers, traveling the length and breadth of the country exploring every corner. But well, safety is a relatively safe term. Is it completely safe to travel to any country in the world? The answer is No. Not even a country like the USA can be considered 100% safe. There is nothing like 100% safe anywhere. It’s wrong criteria and wrong expectation to have. You can be mugged, pickpocketed in your own country. So we have to first set the expectations straight before we judge anyone, any culture, or any country.
Travelers often refer to safety w.r.t the health and medical conditions, crimes against people, and adventure. Adventure tasks have the least amount of safety which is what makes it fun. But here, the travelers are referring to crimes. Crime can be classified as violent and non-violent petty crimes. Petty crimes like scams, mobile snatching, purse/bag snatching, robbery, pickpocketing, etc., are present in Morocco, like just about any country on earth. Despite its reputation, Morocco is a very safe destination and most certainly has a lesser violent crime record than even a country like the USA. It is just that crimes against tourists enjoy wide media attention and gain quick publicity worldwide when in reality, their numbers are still low.
Is Morocco safe for women travelers?
Yes. It is safe. You can travel all over the country and never feel dangerous. However, you will have to be ready for a few minor disturbances during your travel. Catcalling and harassment are quite common in Morocco and may seem irritating. Catcalling is even common in Italy and some other countries and is often talked about there as well. So if you are young and traveling solo, you will be subject to quite a few catcalls when males everywhere will try to woo you to get your attention. Shopkeepers will do it to flirt or sell their wares, and people on the street would do it to trouble you. It might seem fun to them, but it is surely mental harassment and agony if you are not up to it.
So be mentally prepared for the barrage of catcalls when you are there and people trying desperately to get your attention. We would like to warn you that their words and phrases used may not be social and feel extremely insulting as a woman. But that is exactly what they are looking for. To get some kind of reaction to it. So if you can play deaf, learn to ignore them. Be patient while they are persistent in their efforts. You will have a good time. Mostly it’s a test of your patience levels and if you respond or react, it will act as an invitation for more.
How to dress up in Morocco?
You would be surprised about this question, but there is a strong reason behind it. We started this blog about Morocco with its history. There was a specific reason for doing so. Morocco is a kingdom, and Islam being the dominant religion. And Islam has certain rules and regulations when it comes to how its women can dress and behave. Although the same is not enforced on the tourists in any way (unless you are visiting their religious place of worship), you have to be mindful of their culture and tradition when you are there.
Being a conservative society, you will get more attention if you look any different, which is why female tourists get targeted. The idea is to dress as modestly as possible. Long sleeves, pants will instantly draw much less attention. Covering hair and head with a scarf is even better if it’s not too much for you. And anyways in the hot outdoors, it’s anyways much needed to escape the sun. Although you may still be catcalled, the frequency is less.
Should I travel in a group and with men specifically?
If you are in a group of women, their attention is divided. You will feel safer, of course, because the group and the experience can be more bearable. You will also draw lesser attention if you are with a male traveler or even lesser if it’s a group of males. So yes, while these situations are desirable, they may not be the norm every day for travelers. Someday you will find a co-traveler, and other times you may be alone. But you can still enjoy the country when solo. For some reason being and sitting alone in public areas can be construed as an invitation. At least for a woman, a private time can be difficult unless you are back at the hotel. People will be out there to woo you charm you, sell you something or just talk to you.
You can’t be alone for 10 minutes at a café without anyone approaching you. Even the harmless casual men approaching you will be quite inquisitive and will gently enquire you about your life, your family, your marital status, and so on. You need to be adept at handling these situations. Else you will suddenly be offered a marriage proposal, suitable bachelors in the community/ locality, concern about your safety, interest in your childbearing abilities, and more. I am sure you would be laughing or have your eyes rolling by now. But this is the truth.
These situations can be tiring and can wear you out. But f you take them in your stride, they will make for good memories and stories to tell your friends and have good laughs. Morocco can be fun, don’t say we didn’t tell you that!
Other types of dangers in Morocco
If there is one extremely clear thing, it’s the fact that it’s rare for you to be in any real physical danger. Some small incidents, petty crime, and harassment are what can happen at the most. Just like you would when in your own country, use your wisdom, your common sense, and your best judgment to prevent getting into a “situation” or getting out of one. As an adult, you would be aware of how to prevent trouble from happening in the first place. Avoid dangerous and non-touristy places at the wrong time of the day. Getting off the tourist path will get you more attention and leave you more susceptible to petty crime.
Respecting local culture and traditions
When you travel anywhere in the world, you have to respect the local laws, customs, and traditions. It is their country, and their culture and people, including travelers, have to understand that. So being dressed appropriately goes without saying. Morocco is still a very conservative country and will stay like that.
Important safety tips
- Always let your hotel, tour guide, and family know your daily schedule. Your friends and family should have updates regularly throughout the day.
- Save contacts of your Embassy in Morocco, the police, tourist police, your hotel saved in your phone.
- Keep your belongings safe and spread your cards and cash in 3 different places so that if you lose one, you still have a backup.
- If possible, carry two phones, one with a local Moroccan SIM and the other having your original SIM. This will keep you safe if your device is somehow stolen.
- Sit near women when in public transport to avoid groping.
- Be careful of pickpockets when in crowded places. Do not leave your valuables unattended.
- Do not stay out late at night alone, especially in non-tourist areas. If you go clubbing, do not leave your drink unattended. Don’t accept food and especially drinks from strangers.
- Do not share any information about you and your family with strangers. Never tell anyone that you are solo. Always spin a story that your family is out for a day trip or your brother is picking up water and tissues at a nearby store or your mom is at the reception or anything like that. Make it clear that you are not alone and drop subtle but direct hints.
- Always be confident, and don’t let them make you vulnerable.
- Try booking group tours to befriend other travelers and join them, unless you want to do it completely solo.
- Trust your gut feeling, remain vigilant, and have your guard. Your sixth sense will not be wrong. And it’s better safe than sorry.
- Avoid all possible conflicts and try to “go with the flow”.
- Try to be near a group of tourists (and specifically men) so that you are not easily identifiable as a solo traveler.
- Always walk and behave with a sense of purpose. If you appear confused, lost, or disoriented, you are like a target.
- Research about places before you travel and check the stories and tips shared by women, the safest places to visit and stay.
- Avoid eye contact with anyone (e.g. touts) approaching you and that will act as a signal to them that you are not interested.
Morocco is a great country to visit. Its desserts, mountains, cities, and coastline will leave you mesmerized. Arab culture is world-renowned for its hospitality. Enjoy it and the attention while you are there. People are extremely respectful, warm, and welcoming. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that nothing comes in the way when you want to enjoy it. Being a woman is not a limitation in enjoying Morocco if you follow the tips and advice we gave you in this article. These general precautions will make you ready for the trip. Being mentally ready and taking things in your stride are the key to enjoying Morocco as a female traveler. Wish you a happy journey.