Morocco is the perfect starting point for travelers going to Africa. An easy hop across from Europe, it can be a friendly place, stimulating and full of surprises.
Morocco has developed a mosaic of artistic traditions. The thread that unites them all is the music, the classic style that was developed in Muslim Spain, storytellers and musical traditions of the indigenous Berber through contemporary fusion of African and French styles. Although identified more with Algeria, rai (opinion) is the stronger musical style in the cities of Morocco. Despite the Arab-African rhythms (music owes much to the Bedouin), electric instruments combine to create a mesmerizing effect. Craftsmanship is important in Morocco.
Leather has been appreciated commercially since the sixteenth century. An equally rich heritage is kept alive in the production of carpets, pottery, jewelry and wood carvings. Painted and sculpted panels for interior decoration with tiles are still widely used in the interior decoration of religious buildings and wealthy homes. The mashrabiyya, screens that allow Muslim women to observe what happens in the street without being seen.
Morocco has inspired all kinds of artists. The artist Eugene Delacroix, French neo-Baroque, consecrated his moroccan painting after a visit in 1830. The market scenes, harem live lion hunting dominated his canvases. A century later, Hollywood also entered into a sort of Moroccan-mania. First with Marlene Dietrich in Morocco. This was followed by Casablanca and later Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, the country had become a land of fantasy.
Spoken Moroccan Arabic (Darija) is considerably different from the Arabic spoken in the east. They speak various dialects of Berber mostly in the countryside and in the mountains. Morocco tends bring in their own Islamic feeling in terms of lifestyle, but also here the men remain firmly dominating in everything. The strict segregation of the sexes in public life can be strange to visitors.
Moroccan food is good and tasty. The national dish is couscous, semolina accompanied by vegetables and lamb. Tea is the quintessential Moroccan drink. There is no general prohibition on alcohol.