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Translating Arabic Speaking Countries: The Kingdom of Morocco

Morocco is widely known to many for its mild weather, early Islamic architecture, outdoor markets and beautiful beaches making it an ideal travel destination for millions of visitors each year. This country is the most Western of North African countries and is also known as the Maghreb, the “Arab West”. It sits less than ten miles from the coast of Spain, bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic. Its location may also help explain Morocco’s unique and rich culture which is a mix of European, African, Arab and Berber influences.

In 1956, the Kingdom of Morocco was first ruled by Sultan Mohammed after more than 40 years of being a French protectorate. His son Hassan II became his successor in 1961 and ruled for 38 years by forcefully suppressing any in-country opposition. However, he also played a major role in attempting to secure peace in the Middle East. His son Mohammed VI became monarch in 1999 and introduced economic and political changes and also investigated human rights violations during his father’s reign. Reforms that were rooted in the “Arab Spring” of 2010 allowed for a new constitution and granted more power to the prime minister and the parliament of Morocco.

Moroccan Demographics
  • The population of Morocco is approximately 35 million.
  • Rabat is the capital city.
  • Land area: 710,850 sq. km (274,461 sq. miles).
  • The population growth rate is 0.99% (2016).
  • The life expectancy is 70.6 years.
  • The median age is 28.9 years.
  • 60.2% of the population are considered urban.
  • The major cities include: Casablanca with 3.51 million, Rabat with 1.96 million and Marrakech 1.13 million.
  • The primary ethnic group is Arab-Berber (99%).
  • 99% of Moroccans are Muslim (virtually all are Sunni).
Moroccan Languages
  • Arabic is the official language of Morocco.
  • There are three Berber languages: Tamazight (official), Tachelhit and Tarifit.
  • French is a language of government and business.

Moroccan Culture
  • Morocco’s culture is defined by an almost medieval-like hustle and bustle.
  • The country has a truly unique display of art and there are many historic examples which can be found in local museums.
  • Modern art can be found in art galleries and the many souks of the country.
  • Morocco is known for its carpets, pottery, paintings and jewelry and even hosts an international art festival once a year.
  • Souks are a way of life in Morocco and can be found virtually everywhere and haggling is part of that experience.
  • Moroccans are very open and hospitable and when invited to their homes, it is wise to follow your host’s guidance, i.e. take off your shoes when entering a house.
  • Traditional foods include: couscous, chicken or lamb tagine, green olives with lemon rind, B’ssara (a rich bean-based soup traditionally served for breakfast), and fish chermoula.
  • Although the many beautiful mosques in Morocco entice a visit, non-Muslims are not permitted entry.
  • There is a distinct separation of genders with men dominating the outside life and women controlling the homes.
  • When taking pictures of local people it’s best to ask for permission, otherwise it can be considered offensive.

Moroccan Consumers
  • GDP per capita is 5,537 USD.
  • The retail industry represents 12.8% of Morocco’s GDP however, supermarkets and retail chains represent only a fraction of domestic trade as the majority of consumers still frequent souks and local markets.
  • French is widely spoken, which gives Canadian and other French-speaking exporters a competitive advantage.
  • Moroccans are becoming more health-conscious increasing the need and market for healthy foods and beverages.
  • There are 44 million cell phone subscribers and 9.97 million internet users.
Morocco’s Future
  • Many government-controlled economic sectors have been privatized.
  • The economy has recently seen more steady growth (3.6%) in GDP.
  • Over 50% of the Moroccan GDP comes from the service sector.
  • Major drivers of the economy are tourism, agriculture and telecoms.
  • Tourism, which accounts for 7.5% of GDP, will continue to be a leading contributor to the Moroccan economy and will continue to see healthy and steady growth.
  • Morocco is also considered to be the largest fish market in Africa and another industry sector contributing to the economy.

Regardless of a somewhat stubborn unemployment rate, Morocco seems to be on pace for continued economic growth, steady GDP and overall low inflation. The government is channeling capital into higher producing industry segments such as finance and manufacturing, and low international oil prices and more recent economic reforms have helped reduce the overall deficit and have put Morocco on a healthy future trajectory. Coupled with relative political stability, this country will continue to see solid growth overall.


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