FAQs Country-related Morocco

 

menara gardens in Marrakesh

Menara gardens in Marrakech

Can I buy Moroccan money outside the country?
Do I need a visa?
How do you pronounce Ouarzazate? Ditto for Essaouira?
What is the dialing code for Morocco and Marrakech?
What is the electrical voltage?
What languages are useful in Morocco?

Can I buy Moroccan money outside the country?

No, the official Moroccan currency is the dirham and it is not a hard currency. Therefore, it cannot be exchanged outside the country.

Bank notes are in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200.

The best place to obtain cash is via a cash machine. Cash dispensers can be found in most large towns and cities, also at the airports.

If you wish to exchange foreign currency, best places are banks (also at the airport and train station) and bureaux de change (indicated with a gold sign). No commission is charged. You will receive a slip allowing any unspent dirhams to be changed back at the end of the trip.

Credit cards are generally accepted in major hotels, shops and restaurants and sometimes even in the souks

Please note that it is illegal to change money in the street.

Since it is illegal to take Moroccan dirhams out of the country (beyond a limit of around 1,000 dirhams).

We advise clients to only exchange as much as you expect to spend.

Do I need a visa?

Anyone visiting Morocco requires a passport with minimum 6 months’ validity.

EU, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens do not need VISAS.

When entering Morocco and when departing, visitors are required to fill out a landing/embarkation card including the address you are staying at in Morocco.

For clients who have booked with Riad Ariha or Riad Chi-Chi, and have nationalities requiring a visa, we will provide a confirmation required for you to obtain your visa.

How do you pronounce Ouarzazate? and Essaouira?

Due to its colonial history, many of the place names in Morocco have been transliterated from Arabic to French. Hence something  ورززا ت would be translitered into French as Ouarzazate. If it were transliterated directly into English it would look like this: Wazazarte – much easier to pronounce!

Generally, a ‘ou’ in French is pronounced as a ‘w’ in English. Think of “oui” for “yes”. So if you just substitute the ‘ou’ for ‘w’, you will find it not quite so impossible to say.

Following the same thought, the word Essaouira, written as follows in Arabic, الصويرة would transliterate into English as Essaweera – again much easier to pronounce.

Similarly, where a French person would put a ‘y’ for let’s say, رياض, an English person would write an ‘i’. So the word ‘riad’ would be written as ‘riyad’ or ‘riyadh’ in French. If you’re wondering what in fact a riad / riyad / riyadh / ryad is, it is generally used in Morocco to describe a city house with an inner courtyard, mostly with a garden. The smaller properties with no garden are generally called a ‘dar’ Arabic for ‘house’.

Riyadh is also the capital city of Saudi Arabia – it’s written the same way in Arabic as the French transliteration. I do not know why it has been transliterated as Riyadh in English as logic would dictate it should be written as riad or riyad.

Marrakech itself has different spellings, depending on the language it has been transliterated into. So from French it’s Marrakech, from English it’s Marrakesh, and from German, a bit of both– Marrakesch. Having said that, Marrakech is becoming the more commonly used spelling in English.

What is the dialing code for Morocco and Marrakech?

The international dialling code for Morocco is 212 –
For international phone calls to Marrakech dial 212 524 –

You would of course dial your own country code to make calls outside your country, e.g. in North America it is 011, in Europe 00, prior to the country code 212.

Dialling from within Morocco to a landline, the first four digits for Marrakech are 05 24 … Dialling cellphones the number starts with 06 ….

If you are using an older guide book, you may see telephone numbers as 024 … for land lines and 07 for cellphones … Please note that Maroc Telecom has now added the digit ’5′ after the zero for all land lines in Morocco, and the digit ’6′ for cellphones. So if you call the number and it is not working, perhaps that is the explanation.

What is the electrical voltage?

220 V, sockets take 2-pronged European plugs. There is no need to take a hair dryer as one is provided in your room.

What languages are useful in Morocco?

The official language of Morocco is Arabic, but French is widely spoken and it is the main language of business and commerce. Spanish is widely spoken in the northern part of Morocco, for instance in Tangiers.

English is becoming an increasingly popular language, particularly in the major cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat.

In addition to the official language, about 10 million Moroccans (mostly in rural communities) speak Berber.