Morocco took the world by surprise, and made their continent proud, by being the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. But the North African country is steeped in history, with a vibrant culture and eclectic cuisine; even a ski resort!
“The cultural diversity of the nation of Morocco is a thing of awe and wonder,” said Fatima Zahrae, a local tour guide. “Berber architecture, Spanish influences and in the same time music and delicious spices are just a few signature charms,” she added.
Sandwiched between the Sahara Desert to the southeast and the North Atlantic Ocean to the northwest, Morocco attracts around 10 million tourists annually. Steeped in history, its bustling markets and Mediterranean climate have lured tourists from far and wide.
Islam arrived in Morocco in 680 CE with Uqba ibn Nafi’s army. More than 100 years later, in 788 CE, Idris I founded the first Islamic dynasty in Morocco. Today, 98% of its population of 37.3 million are Muslims, most practicing Sunni Islam.
Fatima Zahrae says Moroccan architecture has inspired Western tourists, and many find the hospitality of its Muslim population to be heartwarming.
“When they come to Morocco,” she said, “they find a big [sense of] hospitality. Morocco is a Muslim country and there is hospitality between non-Muslims and Muslims.”
Attractions in Morocco
Zahrae said there was a vast array of attractions for tourists visiting the country. It may come as a surprise to many that Africa’s highest ski resort is located just 80km outside of Marrakech.
One of Morocco’s prized treasures is the Oukaïmeden ski resort perched at 3,200m on the snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the north of the country.
Another attraction, especially for those seeking a peek through Islamic heritage, is the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
Zahrae said visitors to her country can also expect to find the Jemaa el-Fnaa marketplace in Marrakech’s medina quarter. It is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike.