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Learning Arabic in Morocco

December 13, 2012

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You’ll encounter many languages in Morocco.  Strolling down the streets of Tangier, you will surely hear French, Arabic (the Moroccan dialect of course), Spanish, some English, and if you have the ear for it, one of the three Berber languages.  But the heart language of Morocco is Arabic.  It’s the language of the Mosque and the coffee shop.  This semitic language is also a gateway into a world of art and design.  Arabic calligraphy is one of the trademark crafts of Arab and Islamic culture.  Originating from a desire not to recreate images of the divine in human form, Arabic script was used to preserve the writing of the Quran.  Today, it continues to be a way to artistic expression.

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A Water Park In Africa?

November 22, 2012

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This is a great water park in Tangier, Morocco.  It’s built into the cliff that overlooks the Bay of Tangier.  And other than offering great views and water-slides, the water park provides a welcomed rest from the hustle and bustle of the city and the hot summer days.

Tangier is a unique city situated at the tip of North Africa, just miles from Southern Europe across the Strait of Gibraltar.  It doesn’t always appear fully African or Arab, because its history as an international city and its proximity to Europe has led it to develop as a multicultural city.

What’s another city where you can ride a camel on the beach and take the kids to a water park?

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Moroccan Water Sellers

October 16, 2012

Traditionally costumed water sellers are seen throughout Morocco. For a dirham or two water is poured from camel leather bags into brass or tin cups. Few tourists can resist photographing the colorfully clad men decked out in elaborate tasseled hats. You can hear the musical clinking of the brass and bells they wear.

Today water sellers make more money from vacationers who pay to photograph them than from peddling water.

In Marrakesh water sellers in Jemma el Fna are licensed and wander amongst the crowds, food stalls, snake charmers, story tellers, dancers, acrobats and fortune tellers. They are adept at getting the most from tourists. Indeed if one approaches you in the square don’t be surprised if two others appear to pose in a trio. All three will expect a tip.

Info from Escape From New York

photo credits: one, two

The Exotic Open-Air Markets of Morocco

October 9, 2012

A souq or souk (Arabic: سوق‎ sūq) is an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter in an Arab city. A souk entails the concept of a free-market where vendors can command the going market price for their products.

Historically, souks were held outside of cities in the location where a caravan loaded with goods would stop and merchants would display their goods for sale. Later, due to the importance of the marketplace and the growth of cities, the locations of souks shifted to urban centers

In a souk, the final price of an item is reached by bargaining with the shopkeeper. Traders of a given commodity would all sell in the same souk, thus ensuring a competitive market.

Have you ever haggled over the price with a shopkeeper in a souk?  Leave a comment and share your story!

Read more about souks here.

Great Video from Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism

October 2, 2012

Morocco just developed a new ad campaign with the tagline, “The Country That Travels Within You.”  The video is great, but this marketing slogan must translate better in Spanish and French than it does in English.  “The Country That Travels Within You” makes me think of the stomach problems that are common with traveling.

Here’s what Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism has to say about their new ad slogan:

“One can not mention Morocco without bringing up the wonderful memories of those who have visited the country. The new strap line “The country that Travels within you” of Morocco’s advertising campaign conjures up deeply the experience lived and which last in all memories.  This film promises to take you to a country that will mark you forever.”

Faces of Morocco

September 27, 2012

The human face is the most personal image that exists.  In fact, paper currency across the world was originally designed using faces because famous faces are so highly recognizable that using them on money decreased the likelihood of forgery.  People can easily notice small mistakes made in a poor copy of a face.  When the United States was designing dollar bills, the U.S. Treasury “determined that portraits of Presidents of the United States have a more permanent familiarity in the minds of the public” than any other image.

As I have been living in Morocco, I’m getting used to the faces of local people here.  Traveling to a foreign country can widen your understanding of other people as you get to look into their faces and hear their unique life stories.  At times I’m surprised at how different their experience is than mine.  And other times I feel like we all are just the same.  If you get to travel, take some time to visit with the unique faces you get to meet.

Check out these pictures and more at Still-Images.net

What is a Moroccan Riad?

May 22, 2012

 

 
A riad (Arabic: رياض‎) is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”.

The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy for women. Because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space, this layout also supports community within the family.  In the central garden of traditional riads there is often a fountain, which naturally circulates and cools off the air, functioning as a natural air-conditioner.

The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house in cities such as Tangier as riads have been restored to their former glory. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants.

source: wikipedia

 

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