I do love my country for all its faults and virtues! Lots of my blog readers sent me emails asking if Morocco is a perfect place for tourism? I don't think there is such a place called "perfect country". If you decide to travel abroad, the choice of the place will depend on your expectations, planning and goals. Are you an adventure traveller? or comfort-five-stars tourist? or are you looking for long sabbatical travel? The most common questions I've received by e-mails or via private chat are:
1-Is Morocco an Arab country? and if so, why no one could speak Arabic when we went for a trip in South of Morocco and Atlas?
2-Is it safe to travel to Morocco?
3-Are Americans or non-Muslims a major target there?
4-Is it really safe to bring my "woman" with me for shopping or walking in the streets?
5-Should my "woman" wear a scarf or Hijab or skirt or Burka, or whatever? etc...
To answer the first part of questions, it is NO, Morocco is not an Arab Country but a Muslim Nation. It is estimated that more than 80% of Moroccans are ethnically Imazighens (by Imazighens we mean either Swassa (South), Ryaffa (North) and Zayanes (Atlas-Center of the country), Sahrawis - See more details below under Moroccan Population). However, before answering the second part of the questions, I have to admit I was really surprised, to say the least, because this reminds me of the hysteria following September 11, 2001.
If you live in Deptford or Catford or Lewisham (England) or New York City or Los Angeles (USA), where the danger, I suppose, of being shot by a gun is much more higher than in any city in Morocco, so I'm sure you can travel to my country without a problem. However; we all know that there is always a little risk that something by chance or bad luck could happen to us ANYWHERE in the world. I think the most important thing to bear in mind when you decide to travel somewhere, is to show some respect to the culture, religion and traditions of the place you intend to visit. I myself, have never felt obliged to cover my face or wear a scarf or Hijab or gloves or Burka, when I decide to go outside in Morocco, and of course as in any country in the world, you should dress appropriately before you put your feet outside. And as a visitor, always, be sensitive about whom you photograph, it is considered polite to ask permission of people before you take their picture. Use your common sense, how would you feel if someone in your own country take a picture of you or your children without your permission?
Most importantly, if you don't speak one of the local languages/dialects or if you are not sure about all the different places you want to visit, stick to your travel agent and ask him/her for advice to arrange special tours for you. If you want to visit the South, make sure your travel agent speaks fluently Soussiya-Imazighen, if you intend to go to Atlas, your agent should be fluent in Zayanes-Imazighen, whereas; the North, it's of course Rifiya-Imazighen which is more spoken. As for the main towns as Casablanca, Rabat, Fes etc..., it is more Darija-French Dialect which is more predominant. So if you are French speaker, you'll have no problem to be understood; however, you still need an agent who speaks well Darija and classic Arabic since most driving signs and formal news are written or broadcasted in calssic Arabic. With the "Arabisation System" implemented in the 80s in public primary/secondary schools all over the country and which had one goal which is arabise Moroccans, including Imazighens, so now majority of young Moroccans don't speak fluently French as it was the case in the 60s and 70s. You will notice that people who are born between 50s and 80s, their French is more perfect and fluent in comparison with those who are born after the 80s. However, a lot of Moroccans who can afford to pay private schools, you will notice their children speak fluently several languages: French, English, classic Arabic, Darija and then Imazighen.
2.Where is Morocco? Map of Morocco!
Holidaying in Morocco is not only having a nice and exotic trip, but also discovering a unique place, getting a full experience of its rich history, people, culture, languages, art, music, cuisine etc.., and especially its stunning nature, full of unusual landscapes; allowing you one day to ski on the snow-capped mountains in Ifran in the Middle Atlas region, and the other day to ride a Camel in the colourful and unique sand dunes in the Moroccan Sahara (desert) in the South!