The Marrakech Medina

Filed Under: reviews, Travel

While we were in Marrakech, I had a work call, and when I disclosed my location one of the other meeting participants blurted out “Man. I effing hated that medina.”

And I didn’t hate it, but parts of the experience were decidedly unpleasant. Other aspects were great, like the beautiful carved doors, the various gardens and palaces, and the quieter moments down a side street. It is, perhaps, a polarizing place.

People also complain about “getting lost” in Marrakech, but thanks to Heather that wasn’t our experience at all. That’s ironic, because I am a phenomenal navigator — part of my love for aviation comes from spending a childhood pouring over charts with my Air Force navigator grandfather, and I can usually comfortably keep a map in my head, even in a new city.

Heather would not describe herself with any of those terms, and a running joke with her kids is how constantly she loses any sense of direction. But she got the medina.

“There’s a pulse. The lanes stretch and then contract, the commotion increases as we approach bigger squares, then dies away as we get into the sidestreets. Just feel your way through it.”

And that worked, so would be my recommendation. You really can’t get too lost, because worst case, you can find your way to the main square, or at least one of the bigger ones, and regroup from there. Stressing over a map will be exhausting, and likely fruitless, as many corridors aren’t marked.

Food

Like many cities, as long as you avoid the places catering to bus-loads of tourists, Marrakech has fantastic food. There’s such a range throughout the city, but looking at just the medina specifically, there are two experiences we really enjoyed.

NOMAD Restaurant

This was one of our favorites in the medina, for the combination of the ambiance, cuisine, and adorably friendly waitstaff. The restaurant has both indoor seating, and a series of charming outdoor terraces overlooking the spice market.

It’s a little trendy (or was in March), and evening reservations are taken in two tranches — a 7PM timed with sunset views of the Atlas, or a 10PM table. The latter worked well for us as a natural dinner time on our first day, but it was a little chilly for outdoor dining that late (though would probably be ideal in the summer months).

The food is an updated-Moroccan, and reasonably. Appetizers were in the $6-$9 range, and entrees were $10-$14 (yes, there is less expensive dining in Marrakech, but we’re talking about a more formal sit-down place with elevated cuisine here).

Though we did spend ~$20 creating our own ice cream tasting menu, because with flavors like “Berber Tea,” “Sweet pumpkin and saffron,” “Argan oil and honey,” or “Rose and black pepper,” how is anyone supposed to decide?

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9pvB_nh4W_

Nomad was also near enough to our riad that we felt okayish walking back at midnight, but if you aren’t staying in the neighborhood I’d probably recommend the earlier seating.

Marrakech Food Tours

This was a phenomenal experience, and I’d highly recommend you do this. We like food tours in general (street food gives you a great insight into local culture), and a tour provides a shortcut to learning the norms of a city. If you have food allergies, it’s also a great way to learn about common ingredients in local dishes.

The husband of the woman who runs Marrakech Food Tours has celiac, so they were even more aware of food restrictions than I usually find — the owner Amanda sent along some homemade gluten-free round bread for me, and one of the other people in our group was a vegetarian, and our guide was very helpful in pointing out when things were made with chicken stock or whatever else. Morocco has a very grain-heavy food culture, so vegetarians can be accommodated more easily than those with gluten allergies, but it still worked out okay.

Note: having a guide in the medina did not seem to reduce the harassment from touts and vendors in any way, but it did lead us to more interesting foods and neighborhoods than we would have found on our own. Like, would I have walked down a tiny alleyway and then ordered half a sheep’s head to eat on a rickety patio?

Nope.

Along with the three kinds of lamb we tried sugared doughnuts (including some fried with an egg), sardine sandwiches (sounds gross, but actually delicious), harira soup, stewed snails, vegetable couscous, fruit smoothies, and of course the expected olives and preserved lemons.

We also ducked in to a community bakery, and to the heating room of a local hammam — where the man tending the fires was happily slow-baking several tangias for neighborhood women in the coals. We loved those insights into the culture, and it was a great tour overall.

Colonialism, overtourism, and safety

I’m lumping these all together because, ultimately, they can’t be separated. There’s a series of causes and effects here, all of which impact the experience of the medina.

Going back to French Imperialism and the intent of establishing mass-tourism in Marrakech, restrictions were placed on construction and renovations inside the historic medina. Real estate codes and business licenses came with rules about what kinds of property could be sold, and what could only be inherited. Families without sons (or sons-in-law) to pass their shop onto often had to shutter them instead.

With many of those rules being relaxed nowadays, houses have been snatched up by outside developers to create properties catering to foreign tourists (our riad was one of these). Fewer Moroccans live in the medina of Marrakech, and it shows in the lack of everyday community-focused activity. If you have a business that caters to Marrakech locals, you’re likely better off moving it into the suburbs and newer parts of the city where people actually live.

What were once bustling local markets and the hub of trade in northern Africa are alleyways crammed with commoditized tourism. There is nothing authentic about hawking Adidas rip-offs to throngs of bussed-in tourists.

As such, many of the general “safety indicators” that one looks for in a new place (families out and about, women walking with their children, etc.) are absent in the medina. Outside of those working in shops or restaurants, the only local women we saw at all in the medina were in the hammams. There were, however, an abundance of idle and leering young men.

This was annoying during the day, though I am accustomed to ignoring aggressive and hostile shop workers, and all women know how to roll their eyes at catcalls and keep walking. At night, as the shops closed and all the young men were enjoying their first free time of the day, it was extremely uncomfortable.

In 36 states and nearly 80 countries, this was one of maybe four times in my life that I’ve felt an environment was actively unsafe.

Sure, the darkness of the maze-like streets contributes to this, but Sicily has endless narrow alleyways and an allergy to paying for government-taxed services like electricity. It never felt unsafe. But the urban blight of downtown LA circa 2002 made it unpleasant to walk around in at night (or even during the day), because no one lived there. Stretches of downtown Portland when I was in grad school were the same way — I’m sure we can all think of cities, or parts of cities, we’ve been to or lived in where this is the case.

And it’s the same problem here. When we took my niece to Egypt, a young man in central Cairo meowed at her (taking catcalling literally I guess?), and a passing Egyptian woman lost her shit at him. You don’t need to speak Arabic to recognize an Angry Mom tirade of “who raised you” and “this is why we can’t have nice things.” But with fewer people actually living in the medina, and very few shops selling things that locals would want to buy, maybe you just don’t have that residential component who cares about the neighborhood and general goings on — the ratios are off.

Marrakech would be vastly improved by some grandparents going about their lives in the medina and scolding youth for inappropriate behavior.

If there’s one positive thing that comes out of the impact Covid is having on travel, I hope locals having a chance to take stock of how (and whether) their communities are served by the tourism machine is part of that.

Yes, the money is nice, and in many cases now essential to the economy. But for places like Venice, Santorini, Hoi An, Barcelona, Luang Prabang, Prague, Bali, and at least half of the Caribbean, those tourism dollars have often cost the local population access to their city centers or natural areas.

Ultimately places that only cater to tourists aren’t really all that pleasant to visit anyway, versus mixed-uses spaces that serve local communities and aren’t wholly dependent on outside dollars, so maybe this time will at least help these destinations regroup a bit.

Bottom line

I enjoyed Marrakech, and actually liked the experience of staying and wandering in the medina. But I definitely wouldn’t recommend being out in the middle of the day if you don’t want to be harassed endlessly, and women should 10000% not be out unaccompanied at night.

Early morning is probably the best time for walking through the streets if you want a lower-pressure shopping environment, and the bustle in the evenings is worth experiencing (but please don’t support the monkey and snake abuse in the main square).

Comments
  1. Yet another reason why we should protect the old. They go around smacking some sense into dumb kids.

    People who think they’re safe from COVID cause they’re young should go get themselves the Spanish Flu.

  2. Tiffany, you and other travelers should be aware that cafes and other such locations in busy tourist places located in developing countries such as Morocco and in places like the Medina will always be potential targets for attacks. In April 2011 a very similar cafe was hit in the Medina.

    When selecting a restaurant, the last location you should pick would be a place like this. While lovely, your ability to react quickly enough to an attack is nonexistent. You are placing yourself in danger from an attack and from petty crime in this type of venue.

    Better to be in a restaurant away from a high tourist area.

  3. This is brilliant, poetic…

    “There’s a pulse. The lanes stretch and then contract, the commotion increases as we approach bigger squares, then dies away as we get into the sidestreets. Just feel your way through it.”

  4. Tiffany great review as always.

    I was in Morocco a few years ago on a tour. We were in a small town and some kids were asking us for money but an old man yelled at them. From what our guide told us, most people in Morocco don’t like kids asking tourists for money.

    I did get lost in the Medina in Marrakech in the middle of the day. I didn’t feel unsafe, but was annoyed because like you I thought I have a very good sense of direction. A guy was sitting on the street and asked if I needed help. I was very leery and hesitated. He said don’t worry and led me to my riad. I was very skeptical and followed him like a mile away even though I am a grown man (LOL). The annoying thing is when we got there he asked for a gift! So I gave him like a dollar or something. Afterwards, I was told this is their culture if they did you a favor you are supposed to give them a gift. But I was just annoyed! Very different experience from my travels in Japan and Taiwan. Overall, I kind of like Marrakech, especially visiting the Jardin Majorelle.

  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Tiffany should contribute more regularly. The gift that Tiffany has is the ability to look at something quite normal (e.g. the Medina) and come up with angles and perspectives that are fresh, insightful, intelligent, and entertaining.

  6. I was there a couple of years ago for a few nights with my wife. Stayed in a riad in the Medina. Great food. Loved the ambiance. It was more enjoyable than I expected.

    My wife got hassled for money in the square when she took a picture of a snake. Fortunately, he and I were about the same size in our subsequent discussion as to payment. I did get the impression though that he didn’t want a cop showing up.

    Whisper when you go out in the evening as to your destination, someone will be listening and offer to guide you there – even if you know the way and decline. They will tag along and ask for a tip.

    I was alert when we were walking late in the evening down the dark narrow lanes past the various groups of young men but didn’t feel overtly threatened.

  7. @ Mike — Respectfully, none of the restaurants we patronized were “that type” of tourist cafe. The one you reference was right on Jemaa el-Fnaa square, with the typical laminated generic menus that draw massive crowds of tourists on bus tours, like every tourist-focused establishment from Times Square to Hollywood Boulevard to Kalakuaua Avenue to Piazza San Marco to Piccadilly Circus to the Champs-Élysées. That’s very different than an acclaimed restaurant deeper in the medina.

    On top of that, as a woman who frequently travels solo, and when stateside lives in an area with both a past and current concern around domestic terrorism, there are many more immediate dangers to consider when going out and about than the location of a small bag bomb during a period of significant regional unrest nearly a decade ago.

    But, I appreciate the sentiment, and it’s part of why I abjure packaged tours and mass group movement in general.

  8. Tiffany, as someone who used to live in Morocco, I really appreciate how you have written about this trip. Echoing others – keep up the great, reflective, thought-provoking work!

  9. Thanks for providing the female perspective, often different due to issues you disciss.

    I was there about 18 months ago, but we had a guide.

    We also visited Fez medina which I liked better (not a show medina). We were there in the evening, without a guide, without issue but I was with my wife at all times.

  10. Tiffany, thanks for the response. And I agree with all the others that you are a fantastic writer!

  11. LOVE that description of the Egyptian woman taking-on those rude kids!

    Years ago in San Francisco I was on a crowded city bus and a bunch of black teenagers in the very back row were rudely and suggestively heckling a pretty girl. Seated just behind the driver was a black woman of considerable size (‘traditionally-built’ as Botswana’s Mma Ramotswe would say), who stood-up and came down the aisle like thunder. She verbally lit into those boys – just like their mothers would have done – and they shrank to half their size under her withering lambasting. When she finished, and headed back to her seat, the whole bus erupted in cheering and applause. The shamed teenagers slunk-out the bus’s back door at the very next stop.

    Power to mothers!

  12. Alinsfca someone walked you a long way to your accommodation and you didn’t think of giving them a gesture , yet every damn person in the US expects a tip for doing their job – opening a door or serving food

    Moroccan food is wonderful. There’s a place about 20 mins outside Marrakesh by a gas station, which has amazing tagines. Full of locals.
    There’s also a restaurant which employs only female staff and the food is glorious

  13. I was in Marrakech and Fez with my extended family for two weeks in January. Morocco was one of the most disappointing countries that we have ever visited. Beyond the safety issues, the food that was geared toward tourists was insipid (and I love Moroccan food, especially tagines) and the tourist attractions were unremarkable. Everything was geared toward extracting the maximum money from the tourists.

  14. @Icarus – you’re likely referring to Amal, truly great food and an even better cause, and prices a fair bit cheaper than Nomad that Tiffany mentions

    Also great and dirt cheap (a couple of $) is Pizza Abdul – you’ll be lucky to get a chair, let alone a table, but the pizza is ridiculously good. Though I will add that we’d been away from “Western” food for a few weeks, so that may have biased us!

    Tiffany – agree with others on here. You’re a great writer – you and Ben are a good combo, and I hope you get to take more trips, as the level of detail and how you convey what you really feel about a place make for an awesome read and, for me, have reenergized what has recently been a dormant urge to travel!

  15. @ Tiffany – this was a beautiful piece! Pieces like this feel much more like pure “travel writing” than the normal content on this site (and similar sites), which is a really great change of pace. Your ability to take us there – wherever “there” is – is always appreciated, and adds a refreshing burst of color to the OMAAT canvas.

    I hope we can see more of this!

  16. Tiffany, I really appreciate this review of one of my most favorite cities. I wish you’d write reviews more often.

    As for the vibe you describe in the Medina, I totally understand what you are describing and mean. I would suggest visiting it early in the morning as that’s when it’s the most empty and more often than not the older shop keepers are “on duty”. The younger ones come out for the bigger waves of tourists around noon and later.
    Despite having been to Morocco countless times, I still sometimes get that uneasy feeling you describe so well in your article.

    As for the restaurant you reviewed, I have to agree with some commenters arguing that they are a bit on the touristy side, however, the Nomad is a must visit in Marrakesh, if not for the food, just for the sun roof and the hats they lend you there.
    As for restaurants I’d actually suggest to visit, I have a couple which might offer a more authentic experience if you were to ever return to Marrakech:
    -Maison Arabe
    -Café de la poste
    -Dar Yacout
    -L’Orangier
    -La Mamounia
    -Royal Mansour
    Just to name a few. I’ll gladly provide more if requested.

    Keep up the great reviews!

  17. Thanks for the kind words. I love writing, but it definitely takes a back seat to all the day-to-day business stuff. There are numerous trips I haven’t written about yet, so will try to put more of those together this summer.

  18. Great piece. I was in Marrakesh alone years ago backpacking, and made some lovely Canadian friends in my riad. I found they attracted significant attention, being very tall and white, while I (being brown and of average height) was mostly left alone. The touts are extremely annoying however. And yes, the young men seemed to heckle every foreign girl that went past – I read they aggressively try to date, or sell to, foreign women. Was this your experience?

    Would temporarily wearing a headscarf make any difference you think? It toned down the attention paid to my foreign friends.

    Perhaps someone can make a list of female friendly establishments run by strict matriarchs!

  19. @Mike Something tells me you would not say the same about a cafe in London, Paris, or Brussels. Fuck off with you and your camps determination to paint Muslims and the Muslim world as unsafe places with unsafe people. I feel more unsafe in American and European cities than I ever do in the Middle East. Your civilizations alcoholism being partly responsible.

  20. Unfortunately I see all too many articles about Morocco where women describe feeling unsafe. It’s truly a shame. I have to say that I also got that uneasy feeling over there, not because my racial biases made me worry about the prospect of terrorist attacks, but because of more day to day annoyances like a scammer who knew where my Riyad was or the 12 year old demanding money for ending up in my photograph.

  21. unless something has been done about the noisy, speedy motorbikes in the Marrakesh medina it is an extremely dangerous place. you are expected to get out of their way, not vice versa. our guide told us the hospital has wards full of people who have been injured by these motor bike thugs.

  22. I loved Marrakech, but I keep forgetting it’s been 30 years since I was there. We didn’t stay in the Medina, but we did visit one day. The first thing we did was pick a guy who was basically loitering in the main square to act as our guide. We really lucked out, he was great, no one bothered us and we got to see stuff I am sure we would never have seen had we tried on our own. I don’t remember the Medina at the time being over touristed or anything, but like I said it was 30 years ago.

    We did have one run in with the police in Marrakech. We were standing around having a cigarette when a policeman came over and tapped me on my leg with his baton. I not unsurprisingly flipped out , but it turned out the policeman just wanted to bum one of our cigarettes!

  23. Tiffany…thanks for a very well written post…I could clearly notice the difference right away….you really highlighted a lot of very relevant issues…as a middle eastern in his 60s I can let you know that the corona issue would definitely have no effect on this attitude and behaviors of the youngsters in the streets..good manners and discipline need to be cultivated from childhood right in their household ..

  24. I was there about three years ago with a group of five gay guys. We stayed in a riad just blocks from the median wall. It was four floors with three bedrooms for a total of $125 daily. It was fantastic and even had a rooftop plunge pool. We were approached by many for money but I simply don’t respond….works in every country. My number one rule is never point. It shows you are unaware of your surroundings. Remember, hesitation kills. Always act calm and as if you are sure of yourself. I used Google maps in the median and it worked perfectly the entire time and showed almost every alley. It works off gps instead of data or wifi. We spent the entire afternoon at the beautiful La Mamounia for lunch buffet and then straight to airport. My spouse forgot his overcoat at the hotel and a really sweet woman cabbie went back to retrieve for him while we checked into our flight. We, of course, tipped her well. Marrakech is not for everyone but we all enjoyed it.

  25. Of the 60+ Countries I’ve visited Morocco is among the least enjoyable. As mentioned, many of the local men appear to be unemployed and spend their day and evening sitting / standing along side the road or in tea houses. The touts / aggressive hawkers in the Medina and rest of the city behave like animals and should be avoided at all costs. It is best to raise your hand in stop motion, keep walking, and don’t speak to them so that they will not be able to guess which language you speak. Trust me it works.

    The food is also nothing to write home about and except at some of the more expensive restaurants is generally low quality / mediocre. On a positive note, Marrakesh did not have as much of the open sewer smell of Tangiers, so walking around the dirty, overcrowded streets was slightly more bearable.

    Overall very disappointing.

  26. This mirrors my experiences exactly and is why I generally avoid northern Africa as a tourist destination. As a large guy I of course don’t get the same level of harassment as a woman, but it simply is too annoying to be hassled throughout your whole trip.
    Asia can be pretty bad in that department as well, but the Balinese for example are just way friendlier about it. In Morocco and Egypt there is a certain hostility behind it which I don’t appreciate at all.

  27. @tiffany Brilliant writing as others have shared. We were in Marrakesh 2 years ago and it brought wonderful memories.

    I went with my wife and I did not take my eyes from her at first. I had only positive experiences in Marrakech. I was guarded at first because of the stories I heard. We were able to relate to the locals, since we are Pakistani decent. I think that made a difference. Also dressing modestly is important in some places. The hotels were filled with Europeans and Arabs who felt very comfortable. We stayed at Le Meridian. It was an amazing experience.

    As far as the eye gawking that is not acceptable but I guess it comes with the territory.

    I cant wait to go there again.

  28. Avoid Morocco! I’m a fluent Arabic speaker and have enjoyed visits all over the Arab world. Almost everywhere you go, there is an incredible spirit of hospitality. I have been invited into Bedouin camps In Jordan where people had practically nothing but were willing to share everything. Hitchhiking in Syria (before the war), a guy who picked me up paid a taxi to take me the rest of the way to my destination because he couldn’t! And the spirit and humor of the Egyptian people are unparalleled.

    It’s very different in Morocco. Since the days of the Barbary Coast, the preferred methods of making money are stealing and human trafficking (slavery). Sadly, it’s deeply imbued in the local culture. A Syrian, Jordanian, or an Iraqi would not dream of asking you for money after they helped you get through the Souq (Medina). As you saw, it happens all the time in Morocco.

    All around the Muslim world, you will be welcomed into mosques. The locals are eager to share and explain their faith to you. Not so in Morocco. You are banned from ever entering a mosque there.

    Boycott Morocco.

  29. The shops in Jemaa el fna are not as bad as the Grand Bazar with shopkeepers hassling you. The only concern is the snake charmers are known to surreptitiously go behind you and put a snake on your neck and ask for payment to remove it. They say you showed interest if you looked in their direction. If you hate snakes, make sure to avoid the area where most of the snake charmers are. Don’t take pictures of the snakes. Keep walking and look around you every few seconds. Once you are out of the snake charmer area in the square, you are ok. Jemaa is nice but I felt only 45 minutes was needed. I came an hour before dusk as I didn’t want to be in the sun. Morocco doesn’t produce anything of note aside from leather. However, the good leather is in other cities. The leather area in Jemaa is too far away from the main square. I wouldn’t go. Morocco does have thuya wood products they make.

    A lot of people love the Majorelle Gardens. It was nice. Just gardens, though. My biggest enjoyment was riding atvs in agafay desert and another time closer to Marrakech. There is also a really nice tour to climb to visit the Fatima waterfall in the ourika valley. That’s Berber territory which is different than the Arab areas. Morocco used to be Berber and white territory before the Arab conquest of North Africa. Berbers now live in the mountain area. The tour requires you to climb on top of rocks. Only people younger than 50 should take this tour.

    Manera mall is air conditioned. It has normal western shops and also souvenir shops. There is a supermarket in the lower level where you can buy local bottled water for half priced of Evian (which is still cheap. $1.70 for a 2 liter bottle).

    I stayed at the Four Seasons. In the off season it is $300-$400 a night (August). The pool is one of the nicest I have experienced for relaxing. Basically, same depth through out and step areas to lay in the water. I don’t eat “local” cuisine so I had room service every night (pizza, grilled chicken breast, local broccoli, French fries). The hotel has good security. Aside from tours I booked with viator, I took taxis everywhere. Some very pleasant taxi drivers. The rides are so cheap I end up doubling the fare as a tip. $5 to the manera mall from the hotel is nothing. Interestingly, Morocco doesn’t have cheap gas. They pay basically what Europeans pay for gas.

    The Marrakech airport is complicated because of the layers of security and lines. Arrival will take an hour to go through immigration. You can hire an expediter ahead of time to make the process quick. I scheduled to have the Four Seasons pick me up in a new Mercedes sedan. I think the cost was $35-$50. I gave a $15 tip. I always take taxis from airports but I heard it is harder to get a taxi from the airport. Departing is a pain. You need to be at the airport 3 hours before because security will take 2 hours. You have to go through security to enter the terminal (pay xrays and metal detectors) and then again to go to the gate. Even at 7AM, the line took 45 minutes to get inside the terminal.

    Is Marrakech safe: Generally. I felt safer in Marrakech than in parts of Chicago, Rio, parts of Paris or the Bahamas. Look up crime statistics. Don’t let people lie to you about who commits most violent crime. The standard advice is stick to tourist areas. Don’t go out at night (unless to jemaa el fna). Stick to groups (safety in numbers and birds of the same feather). Make sure the viator operator has a good rating. Everyone uses whatsapp to text. Stay in a good hotel. Common sense stuff. All over the world, women traveling alone have to take special precautions. Use good judgement. The incident that happened in Jemaa 10 years ago was isolated. We have 60 incidents in Chicago every weekend (again, perpetrated by 1 group). Two beautiful Nordic girls were killed in the high atlas mountains where they camped over night. That is a no-no. If they went with two western men or a large group, they would probably be ok. The atlas alone at night is not normal tourism; remember, safety in numbers. Don’t go jogging by yourself in Thailand, don’t go out at 2am by yourself at palm beach in Aruba (even if you are a 6’2 man), and don’t go into some random person’s house in Mexico. Follow tourist rules.

  30. I had a similar experience traveling in Morocco with my mother in 2012. It was my second visit there (the first was in 1999 with my husband). The first visit was so negative, we left a day early and returned to Spain. I wanted to give it another chance, and while the second one was better, it wasn’t what I would call “enjoyable”. The constant harassment was unlike any I have experienced in over 30 years of travel to 40+ countries. Nowhere else have I been verbally assaulted for simply not wanting to look in a shop or buy something. Nowhere else have I been physically grabbed to get my attention and then harassed for standing up for myself when I protested. The biggest disappointment was the lack of women out in public. I do think it contributed to our lack of feeling safe as two women traveling on our own. I have not felt like this anywhere else in the world.
    Many of my interactions with Moroccans left me feeling as if the country is as closed off as the high walls of the medinas, where those walls protect the family and keep outsiders out. Almost all of our exchanges were with men; shopkeepers, waiters, stall vendors, hotel workers, drivers. Unfortunately, our interactions usually involved money, so of course, it became difficult not to feel like a walking dollar (dirham) sign.
    It was disappointing. I wanted to LOVE morocco and I didn’t. Will I go back? Maybe someday, but not any time soon.

  31. As a frequent traveller to Morocco, and a small blonde female, I have decided that the same disreputable touts, scammers, harassers, misogynists, tourist-menu deceivers ….. and insert all other disreputable characters one encounters on one’s travels … exist in most corners of the world. I have railed against the treatment of women and LGBTQI+ in Morocco but I have come to understand that there is a vibrant and enlightened community who play an increasingly important role and I have come to feel comfortable and excited by this complex country. Morocco may offer a challenge but is that not the reason we travel?

  32. Briliant write up. Would like to add regarding the hustle & bustle and pestering of the businesses in medina jema ap fena. End of the day its a tourists attraction and the country is poor. Well the majority of the trademen’s families. So initially they are there to earn their keep. Intense as it may be. That is part of the culture as it is in many asian counties. I personally feel one should go with an open mind and bd educated by this experience. One can always use the golden rule of “saying no” i visit twice a year my regular destination

  33. There is very little educational value in experiencing unpleasant people behave like animals. There is nothing enjoyable or culturally valuable from experiencing hordes of unemployed local men harassing female travelers at all hours of the day and night or aggressive peddlers trying to sell worthless trinkets to tourists who have made the mistake of visiting Morocco. As stated by GS Guy and others above, this level of unacceptable behavior is not common in other countries outside of North Africa or anywhere else in the world.

    Until the Moroccan Government has invested in programs to educate its citizens how to act appropriately to both female travelers and tourists in general, most tourists would be well advised to select another destination. Aggressive animal-like behavior has no place in the world today, especially from countries that are very dependent on continued tourist revenue.

  34. Sadly, the aggressive touts and many other behaviours that are objectionable to tourists are based on poverty. I found that staying pleasant and smiling while repeating, “ma fi flūz”, there is no money, would solve things with feelings, and boundaries, intact.

    The sexualized harassment is also hard to experience for both male and female tourists. Compassion for a clearly toxic masculinity, and setting firm limits, are all one can do. English speaking front desk staff, tour guides, and Riad owners of your own gender are a great resource locally who can help understand and effectively de-escalate and counter these very inappropriate behaviours.

  35. Morocco is ranked 54th in world GDP and 121st in per capita income out of 187 countries. There are many countries that are significantly less affluent while providing an acceptable experience for female travelers and tourists in general. There is no excuse for this type of treatment of tourists.

    Instead of the “compassion” and “effective de-escalation” tourists would be advised to select an alternate tourist destination until the unacceptable behavior improves.

  36. Tiffany,

    I have to say that I really appreciated the tying of overtourism with colonialism and security slants that you mentioned. Having been to Morocco recently you were able to put into words something I had noticed but was not able to connect myself. Thank you so much for elucidating this!

  37. Been putting these reviews off but binge-read them all in one go. Tiffany’s writings are always a treat. Thanks especially for the cultural/historical context.

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