- Greetings among close friends and family (but rarely between men and women!) usually take the form of three kisses on the cheek. In other circumstances, shaking hands is the norm. Touching your heart with your right hand after shaking hands signifies respect and sincerity. When approaching someone or entering a shop, café or restaurant, a “Salaam Alaykum” (~”Peace be upon you”) is expected; when greeted in this way, the traditional response is “Wa Alaykum Salaam” (~”and also peace be upon you”). In both greetings, the right hand is also brought to the heart.
- The left hand is considered “unclean” since it was traditionally reserved for toilet hygiene in the Islamic religion and in the culture of the Amazigh nomads. As in many cultures, it could be considered impolite to shake someone’s hand or offer or accept something with your left hand, even more so to give money with your left hand, so try to avoid this. While left-handed people occasionally get an exclamation and native children in traditional societies are urged by parents to use their right hand, most people will understand if you go about your business with your left hand.
- Older people Moroccans still have the tradition of respecting their elders and sick people highly. If someone who is disabled or older than you is passing, stop and give them room. Or if a taxi comes and you are waiting with an elder, then you should give way to the older person. Tourists do not have to abide by these expectations, but it improves the reputation of tourists in Morocco if they follow the same traditions.
- Drugs: Smoking kif or hashish is part of Moroccan culture and is widely tolerated (although officially illegal). Even the police do not care about small amounts that are clearly for personal use only. But getting stoned early in the day is frowned upon, and you don’t smoke on crowded beaches or in cafés or restaurants without the owner’s permission – it’s OK, even expected, to ask permission. Opium is also a well-established drug, but solely intended for medicinal purposes. Alcohol consumption in public is absolutely not allowed.
Ramadan: The holy month is observed by almost all Moroccans. As a tourist, you are not obliged to observe it, but refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum or sucking sweets in public will bring you many friends. In tourist places, restaurants and cafés are open all day and serve drinks or food, but you should sit inside, out of sight of the public, if possible.