The peoples of Morocco...

Berbers, Arabs & Jews in Morocco

Berbers, Arabs & Jews

Morocco's population is composed of two major ethnic groups: the indigenous Amazighen (Berbers) and the Arabs, who arrived in the 8th century bringing Islam with them. There has been so much intermarriage between Amazighen and Arabs since then that distinctions are largely meaningless.

Prior to the mass exodus of Jews between 1948 and 1967, Morocco also had a population of over 250,000 Jews. Fewer than 5,000 now remain. Evidence of Jewish culture can still be seen in the older towns, especially in the mellah (Jewish quarter). 

Click the Play button to hear a Berber man singing as he shapes pieces of marble. Wonderful singing.


A short film made by a young Moroccan Jew (still living in Morocco today) about the Jewish past of Morocco and the relationships between Moroccan Jews and Muslims.

 

Arabic script

Languages

A multitude of Languages are used in Morocco, the native languages of Moroccans are Moroccan Arabic (known as Darija) and Amazigh Languages. The official Languages are Classical Arabic and the Amazigh Language.

Amazigh Language exists in Morocco in three different -yet related- languages: Riff, Shilha, and Central Atlas. In Morocco, there are 15 to 18 million Berber speakers, about 50 to 65% of the population. Tachelhit in the High Atlas, the Anti-Atlas and Souss, the Tamazight in the Middle Atlas and rates in the region of Rif. Many Berbers were also established in major cities.

French, which remains Morocco's unofficial second language, is taught universally and serves as Morocco's primary language of commerce and economics; it is also widely used in education and government. Morocco is a member of the Francophonie.

Spanish, is also spoken by some Moroccans, especially in the northern regions. English, is spoken sporadically in the business, science and education sectors. Its usage and learning has grown over the last decade, since the introduction of an education reform in 2002, which established the teaching English since the 7th grade in public schools.

Living in Morocco

Living in Morocco

You’ve been on holiday and fallen in love with the country. Now you want to buy a house there. What are the ups and downs?

Western second home hunters have flocked to Morocco in recent years. The attractions are obvious: a pleasant climate, easy connections to Europe and the chance to live an exotic lifestyle. Activity has been highest in Marrakech, but there are also burgeoning expatriate communities in Fez, Essaouira and Tangier.

Second homes usually fall in one of two categories: a traditional riad in the medina, which can be renovated and operated as a maison d’hôtes, or a modern apartment or villa. Gated enclaves, complete with pools and golf courses, have sprung up on the Mediterranean coast, around El Jadida and in the wider Marrakech area.


There are financial benefits to buying a house in Morocco. The country is keen to attract foreign residents and offers favourable tax breaks. Labour – for renovation or staffing – is a fraction of the price it is in Europe. The economy and political situation are stable, with few of the problems that have dogged other north African countries.

On the downside, a seven-year real estate boom means that property is no longer the bargain it used to be. In addition, there is now a glut of riads offering tourist accommodation: in Marrakech alone, over 650 establishments vie for business.


If you are thinking of buying property in Morocco the best advice is: don’t rush into it. Hire a good lawyer (Moroccan property transactions are full of pitfalls for the unwary). Decide what will happen to the property when you are not in it. Read as much information as you can online and in printed form. Here at Lawrence of Morocco we have many years’ experience buying, building and renovating properties in Morocco. We are happy to provide a consultancy service should you need it.  See our property section for more

Learn Moroccan Arabic via Skype or have lessons in Marrakech.

Learn Moroccan Arabic via Skype or have lessons in Marrakech.

Whether you would like to learn a few useful phrases for your upcoming holiday or would like to learn the language fully with a local speaker over the internet using Skype to have one to one language coaching we can offer this at low cost.

Understanding what is being said around you when in Morocco will make your holiday much more interesting and having the thrill of being understood when you buy something, order a meal, or simply to be able to thank someone in the correct way will create good will between you and your hosts and generate lots of warmth, curiosity and kindness as they will see that you are interested in them and their culture.

As someone who lived in Morocco for 12 years and learned Arabic on the streets, I can tell you how much of an advantage I always had over non-Arabic speakers living in Morocco.  It opened many doors, made my life much easier and certainly more interesting.  Don't be a tourist, be an informed tourist!


PROGRAMS

We offer two basic programmes – short term and long term:

Short term
Perhaps you are considering coming to Morocco on holiday. You would really like to learn a little bit about the culture or just be able to communicate enough to make your visit easier. We have a course designed to quickly teach you the basics of greetings, getting around in a taxi, and bartering at the market. This course can be from just two classes up to a month.

Long term
If you are looking to live and work in Morocco, then learning Arabic is essential. We have a program that can last from two months to two years depending on your desired level of fluency. In this class you can learn all the basics of language like conjugating verbs, forming sentences, and how to communicate like a local. But you will also gain a lot of insight into the culture and worldview of Moroccans. Our teachers are skilled at explaining the culture and customs that you will come across in everyday life.

What will you learn in the first week?
Lesson 1: You’ll be able to use and answer common greetings

Lesson 2: You’ll be able to ask and answer ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘What is your name?’

Lesson 3: You’ll be able to talk about nationality, marital status and religion

Lesson 4: You’ll be able to begin counting, talk about your family and ask ‘What is that in Arabic?’

Lesson 5: You’ll learn vocabulary about food and be able to buy groceries at the market

STUDYING ONLINE

We offer a number of ways for you to learn online – whether you want to kick-start your language study before visiting Morocco, refresh things you’ve learned in the past, or continue learning Arabic after you’ve left.

Downloadable Language Sheets
We have a number of language sheets you can download by signing up to our membership scheme – covering basic vocabulary, grammar and phrases in English, Spanish or French with Arabic phonetics.

Live Skype Lessons
We also provide teaching live via Skype, wherever you are in the world. This is the perfect option if you want to learn the basics before visiting Morocco, or continue classes when you have to travel.

Click here to go to our language partners site and sign up now for lessons.