MOROCCO DESTINATION PROFILE – COUNTRY INFORMATION:
Marrakech Medina treasure hunt:Morocco has been staunchly independent throughout its history yet remained open to ideas, creating a heady mix of cultures, religions and languages with ancient roots and a strikingly modern outlook. The influence of Romans, Arabs and Europeans is spotted in monuments throughout the country. Though you will hear French spoken in city boulevards – a vestige of the 50-year French Protectorate – a half-dozen Berber languages and Moroccan Arabic are still widely spoken. Morocco is a unique blend of the African Berber, Arab and Mediterranean.
For centuries travellers have crossed shifting sands and braved mountain passes in search of mythic Morocco. They arrive dazzled by its royal palaces, extraordinary oases and spectacular feats of hospitality.
Morocco is an alluring and attractive destination for any event as it is vibrant, colorful and full of charm. There is a wide choice of 4 and 5 star hotels that can cater for groups either in sumptuous palaces with marble-paved, flower-decked patios or ultra-modern hotel chains equipped with the most up-to-date technology and conference facilities.
Location: North Africa.
Area: 710,850 sq. km (274,461 sq. miles).
Population: 31.6 million (2008).
Population Density: 44 per sq. km.
Capital: Rabat. Population: 1.6 million (2005).
Electricity: 220 V
The official language of Morocco is Arabic, Berber and some Moroccan Arabic dialects are the common everyday language. French is the business and administrative language in Morocco. English and Spanish are widely spoken through educated people.
The local currency is the Moroccan Dirham, or « MAD ». US $, Euros €, and UK £ can easily be exchanged throughout currency exchange offices at the airport, your hotel or at any bank.
1 US $ = 8,00 MAD
Visa and Master Card are widely accepted, whilst American express and Diners club have more limited use. Please check with your credit card company for details of merchant accessibility.
Tipping is never required but always appreciated. In hotels and restaurants, 10% may be added to the bill, but a small tip for the waiters is appropriate. For hotel bellmen and porters, MAD 20,00 or US$ 3 is customary. In taxis, pay the nearest round figure to the price on the meter. Visitors would normally consider tipping their guide, driver on tours, hotel staff, and waiters in restaurants.
Morocco, , has a moderate, subtropical climate, cooled by breezes from the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Inland, the temperatures can be quite extreme, getting very hot in the summer and quite cold in the winter.
In Marrakech the average temperature in summer is a sizzling 100°F (38°C)! In winter it´s around 70ºF (21ºC).
In mountainous areas (like the Atlas range) temperatures often drop below zero and mountain peaks remain snow-capped throughout most of the year.
Northern Morocco gets very wet and rainy during the winter, whereas in the south, at the edge of the Sahara, it gets bitterly dry and cold.
The average annual temperatures of Morocco´s major cities are as follows: Rabat 71° F; Casablanca, 69° F; Marrakesh, 71° F; Fes, 66 °F; Meknes, 68° F; and, Tangier, 66°F.
Airline flights and connections:
There are direct Royal Air Maroc ( RAM ) daily flights from JFK and Montreal to Casablanca. Connection flights are available to Marrakech, Fes, Tangier and Agadir from Casablanca.
Casablanca and Marrakech are also accessible from major USA airports via London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Milano and Amsterdam.
Average flying time: 6 hours from New York to Casablanca
Morocco has always been shoppers’ paradise offering excellent ladies Caftans, silver jewelry, carpets, leather bags, ceramics, lanterns spices, essential oils and antiques.
Shopping in Morocco is a unique experience. No visit to Morocco would be complete without visiting a Souk, which is a central market in every Medina.
Food & wine:
Displaying influences from Africa, Arabia, and the Mediterranean, the Moroccan cuisine of today is a reflection of the country’s colorful past, blended with the culinary traditions of both its Arab and Berber inhabitants. Over time, these influences have been refined into a distinctly Moroccan flavor thanks largely to centuries of imperial dynasties, where expectations and demands weighed heavily on the chefs of the royal courts, and thus inspired both experimentation and extravagance.
Moroccan cooking is strongly characterized by the subtle blending of spices, and Moroccans expertly use them to enhance, rather than mask, the flavor and fragrance of their dishes.
Fresh herbs are also present in Moroccan dishes, particularly garlic, coriander, parsley, and mint, as are fragrant additions such as orange or rose water, olives, and olive oil
Above all else, perhaps the defining characteristic of Moroccan cuisine is the blending of savory with sweet, most commonly witnessed by the addition of fruit to meat tagines.
Morocco is by no means a dry country, wine, beer and liquor is served in hotels restaurants and bars.
Morocco has its own brands of beer and major brands are imported ( Heineken, Budweiser, Corona…. )
When it comes to wine, Morocco produces some surprisingly elegant wine, while French is widely available.
All major hotels have contracted doctors onsite when needed, and international standard clinics are available in major cities, and located near major hotels in case of emergencies.
One of Morocco’s most important cultural centers; Marrakech; has ochre-cultured ramparts which stand out against a permanently blue sky and snowy Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Plunge into an extraordinary world where there is plenty to see, including palaces, museums and gardens. Place Djemaa el-Fna is a huge square in the medina where jugglers and storytellers jostle for position with snake charmers and magicians. As its sunny almost all year round Marrakech has plenty to offer delegates in terms of activity options including jeep safaris, cultural visits, trips to the Atlas Mountains, camel rides and sand dune quad biking.
Immortalized through the eponymous Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman movie and forever associated with honorary citizen Sir Winston Churchill, Casablanca is a sprawling, vibrant metropolis of close to 6.5 million inhabitants, 3.5 million of them living in the city itself.
Though not the seat of government, it is Morocco’s undisputed commercial capital, an enigmatic meeting place of western modernity and Arabic tradition. Casablanca (‘Dar el-Beïda’ in Moroccan Arabic, which translates as ‘White House’ in English) or Casa as it is known colloquially, was a tiny Berber settlement that became a home port for privateers, before turning into a trading post with Europe. Then, in the era of the French protectorate at the dawn of the 20th century, it mushroomed into what is today one of Africa’s four largest cities.
Fès (also spelled Fez and in Arabic, Fas) is the third largest city in Morocco, after Casablanca and Rabat. It lies in a valley bordered by the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and on the old crossroads of caravan routes connecting the Saharan empires like Timbuktu with the Atlantic and the Mediterranean shipping lanes.
Its medina is an unmappable maze of more than 9,000 alleys where mules are the only form of transport and life is a fascinating blend of medieval and modern. A far reaching conservation campaign has been attempting to preserve and interpret the remarkable historic legacy, with new uses being sought for fabulous old palaces, many of which are being restored by both Moroccan and foreign families.
Rabat is the capital city of Morocco, home to the grand palace of the king of Morocco. It is one of the country’s most modern cities, with wide streets and well-maintained gardens. It has a quieter and more serious atmosphere than some of Morocco’s other cities. However, Rabat is also a city steeped in history. It traces its origins to the seventh century, and the Kasbah and Medina sections will transport you back to the city’s medieval heyday. A world-class golf course, fine restaurants and beaches are nearby, making it easy to mix history with pleasure.