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Preface Last Updated: 9/7/2004 1:36 PM

Morocco is a country with a fascinating history. Diplomats of ancient Phoenicia and Rome were posted here. The people are open and hospitable to outsiders. The culture is artistic and creative, deeply religious, yet essentially moderate in temperament. The climate is mild and the cuisine is terrific! Morocco truly is the gateway to the Mediterranean and a unique mixture of Africa and the Middle East.

Rabat is a very livable city, with good roads and housing, a large international community, and many nearby opportunities for recreation. There are sports, shopping, and travel to a wide range of exotic destinations, such as the medieval city of Fes, the wind-swept dunes of the Sahara, and the relaxed beach town of Essaouira. In addition, Spain, France and Portugal are easily accessible, as is the Rock of Gibraltar. It is hard to imagine anyone failing to look back with great affection on a tour of duty in Morocco.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:32 AM

Morocco has been called "a cold country with a hot sun." Situated in the northwest corner of Africa, the Kingdom of Morocco covers nearly 200,000 square miles. In size and variability of climate and terrain, it is comparable to California. Because of its geographical location, Morocco is known in Arabic as El Maghreb el Aqsa, the extreme west and also the gateway to the Arab world.

The mild, semitropical northern and western coastal areas are separated by mountain ranges from the desert areas to the east and south. Most people live west of the mountain ranges, which protect them from the hot winds of the Sahara Desert. In the southern regions, the population is sparse and concentrated in scattered oases along the Draa and Souss Rivers.

Between Morocco's western coast and the mountains lies a wide plain, the Gharb, which produces most of the country's agricultural products. The High Atlas, the Middle Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas mountain ranges traverse the country from northeast to southwest. Summits of the High Atlas Mountains reach 13,664 feet at Mt. Toubkal, and 12,300 feet at Mt. Ayachi.

The High Atlas are snow-capped and collect moisture from the Atlantic Ocean which climate patterns distribute over the western part of Morocco. Because this region lies between the Atlantic and the mountains, it enjoys a temperate climate. The Atlas range cannot, however, shut out an occasional shergui, the hot easterly wind from the desert. The eastern slopes of the High Atlas have a semi-desert aspect and a rigorous pre-Saharan climate. In the north, and separate from the Atlas ranges, the Rif Mountains loom up sharply along the Mediterranean coast. Here, also, a mild climate prevails, which permits agriculture typical of the Mediterranean region.

Morocco can be seen from the coast of Spain, some 20 kilometers across the Straits of Gibraltar. Twice, it was the stage for invasions of Europe - the Moorish assault on Spain in the eighth century and the Allied assault on the continent in World War II. Today, jet airliners fly over plodding camel trains and farmers tilling with implements unchanged since the time of the Romans. Moroccan cities typically are made up of a traditional medina that is a maze of narrow streets and small shops harkening back centuries, as well as modern shopping and residential districts with tree-lined boulevards that reflect early twentieth century French ideas of urban planning.

Population Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:35 AM

Morocco's nearly 31 million people (excluding about 2 million Moroccans living and working abroad) are principally Arab and Berber, but also include several thousand Moroccan Jews. Some 50,000 French nationals reside in Morocco, as well as a smaller number of Spanish and nationals of other countries.

Arabic is the official language; however, Moroccan Arabic is distinctive because it has incorporated much Berber and French, so it differs widely from the vernaculars of other Arabic-speaking countries and from classical Arabic. French predominates as a second language, and almost all official communication as well as commerce and conversation is conducted in French. Spanish is widely understood and spoken in the area of Tangiers. In rural areas, any one of the three Berber vernaculars that are not mutually intelligible are used, although almost all Berbers speak Arabic as well as their own dialect of the Berber language.

English is not widely spoken in Morocco, although increasing attention is being given to teaching it, as Moroccans are aware of its importance in carrying out commercial and technological development. The FTA signed with the U.S. in 2004 seems already to have boosted the desire among young Moroccans to learn English.

Moroccan mosques, with their distinctive square minarets, are found throughout the cities and towns of the countryside, and the call to prayer sounds five times each day. Islam is the official state religion and Islam is an integral part of daily life and profoundly influences manners and personal conduct. Moroccans are proud of a history of tolerance with a formerly large Jewish minority, now much diminished by emigration to Israel where Moroccan Jews remain the largest group within the Sephardic Jewish community. Popular historians cite the era following the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Andalusia, Spain in the fifteenth century as a Golden Age for Morocco.

Morocco's people produce a range of traditional and modern handicrafts that have become highly sought after throughout the world: hand-woven woolen carpets, ornate metalwork and jewelry, leather goods, pottery, wood carvings and exquisite ceramic tile-work. The country's most noted handicraft centers are Fes, Sale, Marrakech, Safi and Essaouira.

Morocco's largest export is phosphates from the world's largest known deposit, with agriculture as the largest sector of the economy. Moroccan agribusiness includes fish for export, especially sardines, and also olives and cork. Tomatoes and other citrus products are exported to Europe. Do not, however, expect to find fresh limes to go with the excellent avocados that grow here! Tourism is also a major factor in the Moroccan economy.

Moroccans are justifiably proud of their cuisine, with food and its preparation occupying a very important element in Moroccan culture. Most dishes are based upon combining various kinds of vegetables with meat, poultry, or seafood. Traditional combinations of spices and condiments are essential to the uniqueness of the cuisine. In general, Moroccan food is not hot, but highly seasoned. Couscous, a staple made of semolina and served with chicken, lamb, or beef and numerous vegetables, is traditional at the mid-day meal on Friday, the Muslim Sabbath. Another traditional Moroccan dish is tajine, a meat, chicken or fish-based stew with as many variations as there are cooks. Other Moroccan delicacies include roasted lamb (mechoui), pigeon pastry (pastilla), and a hearty soup of chickpeas, meat and vegetables (harira). Mint tea, made from green tea with fresh mint and sugar, is, in essence, the national drink.

Throughout Morocco, both men and women wear the djellaba at home and in public. This is a long, hooded robe with long sleeves that may be worn with the hood up or down. Women may combine a djellaba with a short face veil, although this is much less common than in years past. Today, face veils are worn in many rural areas and among the older generation living in cities, but most conservatively-oriented Muslim women wear a simple hijab, or head scarf, and do not cover their faces. It is important to be aware that many, if not most, practicing Muslim women do not cover their faces or their hair. Similarly, many practicing Muslim men do not wear prayer caps or beards.

Urban Moroccans of both sexes tend to wear Western-style clothes, except on holidays and similar important occasions. Men wear suits with ties and women generally wear Western attire to their work-places. Some women wear djellabas with or without head-scarves. At most social functions, Moroccan women wear fashionable Western dresses or pant outfits. At traditional holidays, weddings and more formal occasions, women wear beautifully embroidered caftans with wide gold or embroidered belts. Men from the hot and dry Saharan region of Morocco are frequently seen, even in cities, in robes of beautiful shades of blue, with black turbans that protect against the desert sun.

Morocco's rich cultural history shows Moorish and Berber influences in music, dance, cuisine, art, architecture, and literature. French influence is seen in modern art and architecture as well as standards of fashion and design. In present-day Morocco, traditional and Western-oriented artistic and cultural systems co-exist and intermingle more or less harmoniously.


Morocco lags behind other countries of the Maghreb, specifically Algeria and Tunisia, in literacy. The literacy rate is estimated to be about 57% for males and 31% for females. An estimated 68% of primary school-age boys and 48% of primary school-age girls had attended primary school for at least some period, while 44% of males and 33% of females had attended secondary school. There is a great discrepancy between literacy rates in urban and rural areas, with illiteracy in many remote rural areas approaching 90%. It is not clear why Moroccan state schools fare so poorly and improving education is among the priorities of the government. Elementary and secondary public education is free, but in rural areas schools are often few and far between and burdensome expenses remain for books and related items.

Moroccans who can afford to do so send children to private schools, of which there are many. There are Moroccan schools modeled on French, Spanish and American schools, Islamic schools, and also schools officially connected with the French and Spanish diplomatic missions. There are three American International Schools, located in Rabat, Casablanca and Tangiers and at least two other private schools offering an American curriculum in Casablanca and Marrakech.

There are numerous institutions of higher learning, including the 1,000-year-old Karaouyine University in Fes, where Muslim students from around the world study Islamic law and theology. Al Akhawayn University, founded in 1993, offers instruction in English according to a curriculum patterned on U.S. models. Many faculty members there are either Americans or U.S.-trained in their respective fields. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered. University education at public institutions is free, and most students receive stipends for expenses relating to books, room and board. There are also some types of technical schools for those who do not attend university.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:37 AM

Morocco became independent in 1956 with the abrogation of French and Spanish protectorate agreements. Tangier (see Special Information), formerly administered as an international zone, was restored to Morocco and Ifni, a small enclave in the south, was handed back by Spain in 1969. Two small enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, both located on Morocco's northern coast, remain under Spanish control. The Spanish departed from the Western Sahara, the disputed territory directly south of Morocco, in 1975. The issue of sovereignty over the Western Sahara remains unsolved and the territory is contested by Morocco and the Polisario (an independence movement based in Tindouf, Algeria.). The United Nations continues to explore with the parties ways of arriving at a mutually agreed political settlement and to promote confidence-building measures between the parties in the interim.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. The King is considered to be both the spiritual and temporal leader of the country. King Mohammed VI, who has ruled Morocco since July 1999, is the son of King Hassan II who ruled Morocco for 38 years prior to his death, and is the latest in the line of the Alaouite dynasty that has ruled Morocco continuously since the 17th century. The Alaouite monarchs trace their descent to the prophet Mohammed, and King Mohammed VI thus bears the title "Commander of the Faithful".

In 1962, a popular referendum approved Morocco’s first constitution. It provided for a two-chamber parliament, prefectural and provincial assemblies, rural and municipal councils, and local professional chambers. A second constitution, approved by popular referendum in July 1970, provided for a unicameral parliament composed of 240 representatives. Ninety of these representatives would be elected directly; the rest would be elected by local and professional assemblies. In early 1972, a popular referendum approved a third constitution. It increased the number of representatives in Parliament to be directly elected by two-thirds. A fourth and somewhat more liberal constitution was adopted by referendum in September 1992.

A referendum in 1996 reinstated the bicameral legislature, composed of the directly elected 325-seat Chamber of Representatives and the indirectly elected 220-seat Chamber of Counselors. The current Parliament was elected in 2002 for terms varying from five to nine years. The Parliament's powers, though limited, were expanded under the 1992 and 1996 constitutional revisions and include budgetary matters, approving bills, questioning ministers, and establishing ad hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate the government's actions. The lower chamber of Parliament may dissolve the government through a vote of no confidence.

Although dominated by the monarchy, the Moroccan political system since independence has been characterized by political pluralism. The principal political parties include the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), which now controls the largest number of seats in the Parliament, but which served for 40 years as the Government’s main opposition. The USFP represents urban intellectuals and workers. The second largest party in Parliament, the Istiqlal (Independence) party is a nationalist party that has been active since independence. The centrist National Grouping of Independents (RNI) holds the third largest number of seats in Parliament. The Party for Justice and Development is the sole legal Islamist party and holds the fourth largest number of seats in Parliament. The traditional pro-regime parties include the Constitutional Union (UC) party founded in 1983, and the Popular Movement (MP), and the National Popular Movement (MNP), which represents largely rural and Berber interests.

Although only 6 percent of Morocco's 10 million adult workers are members of unions, organized labor remains a political force. Morocco has 19 national unions and five major confederations including the Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT), which claims 200,000 members, most in the modern economic sector and is recognized by the AFL-CIO as Morocco's only "independent" union. The left-leaning, Arab nationalist Confederation Democratique du Travail (CDT), which claims 150,000 members, most of whom are civil servants and teachers, was formerly affiliated with the USFP. In April 2003 a splinter confederation emerged from the CDT, the Federation Democratique du Travail (FDT), headed by a USFP member of Parliament, Tayeb Mounchid. A fourth union, the Union Generale du Travail Marocaine (UGTM) is affiliated with the Istiqlal. The fifth major labor confederation, the Union Nationale du Travail au Maroc (UNTM), is an arm of the PJD. Moroccan political institutions are based on Islamic tradition, Moroccan history, French precedent, and modern evolution.

In November 2002, King Mohammed VI named a government headed by former Interior Minister Driss Jettou, and composed of ministers drawn from most major parties in the coalition. Parliamentary elections in 2002 and municipal elections in 2003 were largely free, fair and transparent. The Jettou government is pursuing a socioeconomic program, including increased housing and education. Morocco is divided into 16 administrative regions (further broken into provinces and prefectures); the regions are administered by Walis and governors appointed by the King.

According to the constitution, the King—chief of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces—shares legislative authority with Parliament. But the King retains exclusive regulatory power and may issue royal decrees (“dahirs”) having the force of law. He also is the supreme judicial authority with final appellate functions. All justice is administered in his name. The King appoints his ministers, and a wide range of other officials, including provincial governors and local administrators.

The Supreme Court in Rabat acts as the final appellate court and is charged with defining law. It is empowered only to interpret the law and cannot rule on its constitutionality. Under the Supreme Court are three Courts of Appeal at Casablanca, Fes, and Marrakech, respectively. Although based on a mixture of French and Moslem judicial philosophy, Morocco’s legal system also includes elements of Morocco's Berber, Spanish, and Jewish heritages.

Morocco’s foreign policy, although officially attached to Arab, Islamic, and nonalignment groups, is generally friendly toward the U.S. and the West. Morocco is an active participant in the U.N., Arab League, Islamic Conference and the Nonaligned Movement. Morocco has been a player in varying degrees in the Middle East peace process over the years. Arab leaders and others frequently call on the King for consultations. Morocco withdrew from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in a dispute over Polisario membership in 1984.

Morocco's military is a small, and relatively well-trained, force of approximately 200,000 personnel. The majority of its ground forces (60%) remain deployed in the Western Sahara since 1976. It is equipped with predominantly 1980s era equipment from France and the U.S. In recent years, Morocco's support to the war on terrorism has allowed for a substantive increase in U.S. Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training funds. Excess Defense Articles continues to be a major source of U.S. equipment. Morocco has a robust military exercise program with the U.S., and allows for coordinated use of its air and sea spaces. In 2003 Morocco signed an Article 98 agreement with the U.S., and in 2004, the President designated Morocco as a major non-NATO Ally. Morocco was also designated in 2004 as a State Partner with the Utah National Guard. Morocco is host to the NASA Space Shuttle Abort Landing site at Ben Guerir.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:05 AM

Morocco’s rich cultural and artistic history combines both Moorish and Berber influences, visible in Moroccan music, dance, art, architecture, and literature. Since the early 20th century, traditional art has been supplemented by Western (mostly French) influences introduced and adopted in urban centers. In present-day Morocco, traditional and Western-oriented artistic and cultural systems exist side by side. Several exposition halls showing works of Moroccan and international artists are located in Casablanca, Fes, Tangier and Rabat. Many Moroccan painters trained in Europe have adopted Western techniques, but have retained an interest in traditional subjects as well.

Morocco is rich in traditional crafts such as rugmaking, pottery, leather goods, and metalwork. The country's most noted handicraft centers are Fes, Sale, Marrakech, Safi and Essaouira.

Both Moroccan and touring European theatrical and orchestral companies perform in the larger cities. In June, Fes presents a renowned sacred music festival that features musicians from around the world, often including gospel singers from the U.S. In August the coastal town of Asilah, just south of Tangier, boasts a widely popular international cultural festival that attracts large numbers of vacationing Moroccans and Europeans. Rabat stages a similar event in June. The central coastal town of Essaouira puts on the Gnaouas Festival, celebrating Moroccan and world music, also in May or June. Andalusian Arabic music is popular and is often presented on TV, radio and in local night spots, but public concerts are rare. Live pop and jazz music can be heard in the major cities, and Tangier hosts the annual Tanjazz Jazz Festival in May that attracts leading jazz artists from Europe and the U.S. Rap and hip-hop are very popular among Morocco's youth.

Morocco’s most important university, Mohammed V, established in 1957, is in Rabat. Its 20,000 students from Morocco, other areas of Africa and the Middle East study medicine, law, liberal arts and the sciences. Other universities are in Casablanca, Oujda, Marrakech, Fes, Tetouan, Meknes, Agadir, El Jadida, Mohammedia, Kenitra and Ifrane. The Mohammedia School of Engineers, the Hassan II Agronomic Institute, and the National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (INSEA), respectively, are the three most important Moroccan institutions of higher education in their respective fields. In Fes, Morocco’s religious capital, Moslem students from around the world study Islamic law and theology at the 1,000-year-old Karaouyine University. There also are schools for judicial studies, the arts, information sciences, business and management, post and telecommunications, communications and information (journalism), a school for architecture, another for mineral studies, and finally, a National School of Administration.

A new private university, Al Akhawayn in Ifrane, was founded in 1993 and offers instruction in English according to a curriculum patterned after the U.S. model. Many faculty members are either Americans or else U.S.-trained in their respective fields. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered. Other private schools of higher education have opened in recent years, particularly in the field of business management, some using English as the medium of instruction.

At the secondary school level, many Moroccan and French lycees (high schools) offer choices of English, Spanish, or German as a third language. University education, as well as elementary and secondary education undertaken in public institutions, is free. At the university level, most students receive scholarships for expenses relating to books, room and board. During the past few years, technical schools have been opening for those who are not university bound.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/15/2004 6:33 AM

Morocco signed a free trade agreement with the U.S. on June 15, 2004, over two hundred years after becoming the first country to recognize the U.S. as an independent nation. The U.S.-Moroccan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is one of the most comprehensive FTAs that the U.S. has ever negotiated. It was approved by the U.S. Congress in July and signed by President Bush on August 17. The FTA is likely to be approved by the Moroccan parliament by the end of 2004. Morocco is the second Arab and first African nation to have an FTA with the U.S.

The FTA eliminates tariffs on 95 percent of all bilateral consumer and industrial exports on the day it comes into force. It will help accelerate and deepen the economic reform process by allowing greater competition and the formation of international partnerships in key sectors such as insurance and banking, and by greatly liberalizing the Moroccan textile and agricultural tariff structures.

Morocco is now steadily progressing internally toward greater modernization and globalization, with the creation of the country's first commercial courts, new streamlined customs departments and 16 new Regional Investment Centers dedicated solely to facilitating new business ventures. A new comprehensive labor code protecting both the employer and employee was passed in July 2003. In addition to calling for a more transparent judicial system and stricter accounting standards, the FTA also provides a high level of intellectual property protection, consistent with the standards set by U.S. law. This includes state-of-the-art protections for trademarks and digital copyrights, expanded protection for patents and product approval information and tough penalties for piracy and counterfeiting.

There are already 120 American businesses operating in Morocco who have invested $600 million and have created 90,000 direct and indirect jobs. Taking advantage of Morocco's 11 million person workforce, American manufacturers are expected to follow the lead of Fruit of the Loom and the Gap and begin producing popular American textiles in Morocco, boosting its $45 billion GDP and $1,492 average per capita GDP. The greatest challenge for Morocco and international investors lies in providing effective education and job training. Morocco also has an ambitious project to attract 10 million tourists a year by 2012 in order to reduce its high unemployment.

Strategically located along the Straits of Gibraltar just seven hours from JFK and three hours from Paris, Morocco is a regional hub for transportation, transit, and business. Morocco's moderate Mediterranean climate on 2,750 miles (3,500km) of coastline and its developing infrastructure make it an increasingly attractive location for business. Morocco's EU Association Agreement has also spurred manufacturing development. Morocco will rely on these key trade agreements to stimulate the economic growth and to foster the job creation necessary to facilitate social and educational reform. Agriculturally, Morocco has prospered due to moderately heavy rainfalls in recent years.


Automobiles Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:42 AM

All employees should plan to bring personally owned vehicles (POVs). Transportation is provided only for officially authorized travel, including processing new arrivals. Non-business use of government owned vehicles, as defined in 6b FAM 228, may be authorized on a cost recovery basis while awaiting the arrival of a personally owned vehicle. Employees are encouraged to send their POVs to ELSO in advance in order to minimize their time at post without a POV. POVs arriving in ELSO cannot be forwarded to post until the employee arrives.

The Moroccan Government authorizes duty-free importation of POVs provided they are for the bona fide personal use of the employee or their dependents and not for the purpose of sale, rent or transfer. (Note: motorcycles over 50cc’s are considered a vehicle by the Moroccan Government). Married diplomatic or consular personnel on the diplomatic or consular list may import two vehicles duty-free any time during their tour. Single diplomatic or consular personnel may only import one vehicle duty- free. Administrative and Technical personnel (those without a diplomatic title), are limited to one vehicle per family duty-free within the first six months after arrival. Please check with Post before making arrangements to purchase or ship vehicles to ensure compliance with Moroccan requirements.

Be advised that POVs that entered the country duty-free are effectively limited to resale within the diplomatic community. Resale outside the diplomatic community on the local market is a complicated and prolonged process and may not even by possible if a CD car has not been registered for two years, or a PAT car has not been registered for three years in country. Even if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves resale on the local market, high duties (60%) drastically limit resale value, and those who can afford the duties are more likely to purchase new cars. Duty-free POVs are sold throughout the year within the diplomatic community, and are advertised in the Embassy's weekly "Maghreb Messenger" newsletter.

POVs should be shipped with keys and current license plates. Hand carry to post the invoice or other proof of ownership if the vehicle is new, or the registration document under which it was previously registered. These documents are mandatory for customs clearance and registration. Also, bring the owner's manual for descriptive details to help with registration of your car.

Purchasing a car in Europe and driving to post is feasible. Advance Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) approval is not required for a vehicle to enter Morocco, provided it has a current registration (from origin) and is insured for use in Morocco. A duty free import request (bon de franchise) must be approved by the MFA and the vehicle registered locally within one month following the importation.

As noted above, the Ministry of Transport requires the original title and registration card before a vehicle can be registered. Vehicles imported to Morocco duty-free must be re-exported, sold to another person having duty-free privileges, or if sold to persons without duty-free privileges, customs duties paid.

Some personnel, such as AID contractors, will be placed on a separate list and issued OI plates (Organization International) also known as yellow plates. These individuals must re-export their car or sell it only to another OI entitled person. CD and PAT personnel may not buy an OI registered vehicle.

Mandatory third-party insurance costs from approximately DH 1,800 to DH 3,400 (DH = Moroccan dirham), depending upon the size of the vehicle, horsepower of the engine, and intended usage. (A TVA tax of 15.3% is added to the insurance cost if the vehicle is registered in the PAT series.) Post is not aware of any insurance company outside Morocco that offers primary liability insurance valid in Morocco.

All types and makes of left-hand drive cars are driven in Morocco. European cars (locally assembled) are sold in Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier. Repair work on American cars costs less than in Washington, D.C., but spare parts are expensive and often unavailable. Local repairmen are more skilled and experienced with manual transmissions than automatic transmissions. Repair work on European cars is cheaper and satisfactory; spare parts are more readily available. However, most spare parts unavailable in Morocco usually can be ordered from mail-order firms in the U.S. Japanese and Korean manufactured vehicles have become quite popular in Morocco. Dealerships selling these automobiles generally have spare parts and service departments with trained staff.

Gasoline costs about $3.50 a gallon on the local market. The Embassy Cooperative Association (ECA) sells duty-free gasoline at outlets in Rabat and Casablanca at approximately $2.35 a gallon. Diesel fuel is available throughout Morocco and is less expensive than gasoline. Unleaded fuel is widely available throughout the country.

A valid U.S., foreign, or international driver's license obtained outside of Morocco can be used temporarily. However, local law requires a Moroccan driver’s license be obtained within a reasonable time after arrival. Personnel are issued a Moroccan driver’s license upon presentation of any valid driver's license for a fee of about DH 4.50. Also required are six photographs (b&w or color) of 1-1/2" x 2" size. Eighteen is the minimum age to obtain a driver's license.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 9/8/2004 7:42 AM

The lack of adequate local public transportation can be a problem for employees without personally owned vehicles. In some parts of Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier, particularly in residential areas where many USG employees' residences are located, taxis are few.

Use of public transportation is difficult without a working knowledge of French or Arabic. Very few ticket agents, information clerks, or other public utility employees can understand or speak English. Public transportation in Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier consists of buses and taxis. Bus service is limited. Taxi service consists of more expensive “grand taxis” (Mercedes, or similar) and the cheaper “petit taxis” (Fiats or similar). The latter only operate within city limits and are generally inexpensive if the meter is in working order and used. In recent years, some taxi firms have begun operating radio-equipped taxis which are on call but these are rare. In some parts of Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier, particularly in residential areas where many USG employee residents are located, it is virtually impossible to hail a taxi.

Employees may rent cars in Rabat or Casablanca, however rates are more expensive and rental cars are generally older and less well maintained than those for hire in the U.S.or Europe. Gasoline coupons can be bought from the ECA in Rabat and used to buy gas at any Shell gas station.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:17 AM

Adequate public transportation is available to and from the principal cities of Morocco with rail and bus fares less expensive than in the U.S. Morocco’s major roads are generally well maintained and directions are clearly marked, especially on more traveled routes. Plane service links the cities of Agadir, Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, Rabat, Tangier, Oujda, Al Houceima, Essaouira, Safi and Tetouan, with Casablanca—the main airport—as the hub.

The rail system links Tangier to Rabat and Casablanca, with connections to Meknes, Fes, Marrakech, and other towns. Some trains are air-conditioned. Train travel time from Tangier to Rabat is about 5 hours. Daily air connections are available to Paris from Rabat airport. More regular international air travel, including direct flights to the U.S. and Canada, is out of Casablanca, the country’s biggest international airport.

Auto ferry service runs between Tangier and Algeciras or Tarifa, Spain; from Tangier to Sete, France; from Ceuta, the Spanish enclave, to Algeciras; and in the summer from Melilla, the other Spanish enclave, to Malaga. The auto ferry crossing takes 2–3 hours from Tangier to Algeciras, and 5 hours from Tangier to Malaga and 35 minutes from Tangier to Tarifa. Tangier to France involves a voyage lasting 38 hours aboard the ferry.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 9/2/2004 7:34 AM

Local and international telephone and telegraph service is available. The Mission pays telephone installation costs. The user pays a monthly rental charge as well as a unit charge per call. Calls to the Washington, D.C. area using the Moroccan telephone system cost approximately DH 6.00 per minute. AT&T telephone calling cards also may be used in Morocco, but their charges are costly. Morocco is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours during Daylight Savings Time. A wide range of competitive cell phone options is available in country. A US purchased cell phone will generally not work on the Moroccan/European GSM system.

A full-rate telegram costs about DH 4.00 per word. Charges for use of the FAX machine are about DH 24.00 per page to the U.S.

Internet Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:44 AM

Internet access is available in Morocco, and the national connection is generally reliable and fast. Arrangements can be made for a connection at home with any one of dozens of Internet service providers in Rabat and Casablanca. The price of Internet access is higher than that found in the U.S. Residents who make moderate use of the Internet for web access and e-mail at home report costs of $50–$75 per month. ADSL internet service is available.

Numerous Moroccan businesses, media outlets, government offices and other organizations maintain web sites, which can provide much useful information:

- U.S. Embassy in Morocco:
- Al-Akhawayn University: (This web site contains one of the best collections of Morocco-related links.)
- Marocnet:
- Moroccan Ministry of Communications:
- Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

- Maghreb Arab Press Agency (MAP):
- Maroc Telecom:
- Moroccan Trade and Development Services (MTDS): (Rabat-based Internet service provider)
- Maghrebnet: (Internet service provider and cybercafe)
- ACDIM: (Internet service provider and cyber cafe)

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 9/2/2004 7:37 AM

Personnel assigned to Morocco may send and receive all classes of mail through the APO, a less expensive and more reliable service than international mail. Dispatch and receipt of APO mail normally occur three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Consulate General has courier runs to Rabat twice a week. Personnel in Tangier also have a courier run to Rabat once a week. U.S. Customs regulations must be observed for packages. Incoming packages cannot exceed 70 pounds or 72 inches, length and girth combined. Outgoing packages may not exceed 70 pounds or 72 inches, length and girth combined. The APO insures items up to $5,000, certifies mail, and sells U.S. postage stamps and money orders. It does not register mail or offer express mail service. U.S. currency must be used to purchase stamps and mail boxes. APO address is as follows:

Full Name
PSC 74, Box (your box #)
APO AE 09718

(Note: Due to limited storage space at the APO, please notify the APO staff before mailing a large quantity of boxes to post.)

Moroccan mail service to and from Western Europe generally is reliable. Fast courier services, FEDEX DHL and UPS operate in Morocco. Packages sent through one of these services to post from the U.S. ordinarily take at least 72 hours and must pass through Moroccan Customs.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 9/8/2004 6:23 AM

Local radio stations broadcast in Arabic, French, Spanish and Berber dialects on AM and FM. Although local radio programs are broadcast 22 hours a day, Radio SAWA broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Radio SAWA is available in Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Fes, Meknes, Marrakech and Agadir.

In recent years, satellite dishes enabling viewers to access a wide range of broadcasts have sprouted up all over Morocco as the prices for such equipment have become more affordable. Many employees have invested in such systems, which generally cost less than $50—depending on size of dish—to purchase and install. Viewers thus may tune in to CNN, BBC, NBC, TNT, the Cartoon Network or EUROSPORT.

Home video systems are popular among U.S. Government employees. The Embassy Cooperative Association (ECA) has a 2,000 VHS videotape collection and 110 DVDs. Only DVDs will be ordered in the future. Tapes and DVDs may be rented by individual members. To use ECA rental tapes you will need a U.S. or multi-system equipment. For the DVDs, you need a U.S. system, or a player that is multi-code for the U.S. Multi-system TV's (SECAM or MESECAM) are needed for satellite TV reception.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:20 AM

American publications and magazines can be received through the APO or through international mail. The International Herald Tribune (available on newsstands in major cities late the day it is published) or USA Today can be subscribed to for local delivery. Many newsstands carry Time, Newsweek, daily newspapers from France and England, as well as Spanish, Arabic and German newspapers. The Public Affairs Office maintains a library in Casablanca, known as Dar America. Although collections have been developed with a Moroccan audience in mind, Mission members and adult dependents are welcome to take out a membership and borrow materials.

The American Women’s Association maintains a small, popular, up-to-date lending library at its site in the Agdal district of Rabat. Library hours change seasonally. Volunteers from the American Women's Association staff the library. Membership in the American Women’s Association Library requires a nominal fee. The American Language Center bookstores (located near both the Embassy and Consulate General) each offer a modest stock of English language bestsellers, classics, cookbooks, children’s books and other popular paperbacks, all sold at prices somewhat higher than in the U.S.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 9/8/2004 6:49 AM

The Embassy in Rabat has a full-time Foreign Service Health Practitioner (either a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant) who provides primary medical care to the official American community and oversees local specialist care. In Casablanca, a part-time British nurse runs the Health Unit in consultation with Rabat's Health Practitioner. American trained physicians and a psychiatrist posted to Cairo, Egypt, provide regional coverage to Morocco, and travel approximately once or twice per year to see patients in the health units. The Moroccan doctors and dentists can be very good, but as they are trained in the French system, the care can be quite different than what one expects in the U.S. Few physicians speak English. Finding quality medical and dental care in Tangier can be problematic. Employees and family members posted to Tangier may find it necessary to travel to the Health Unit in Rabat for episodic treatment as the medical facilities in Tangier are not as consistent in clinical approach as those in Rabat. It is advised to have routine and required dental work completed in the U.S. before coming to Tangier. See the general medical report for Morocco for more details.

Local facilities (private hospitals or military hospital) are utilized only for emergencies, as ancillary care (nursing and other services) is substandard. Small private clinics are used for specialist consults, such as obstetrics, orthopedics, minor surgery, and pediatrics. Patients requiring care which is not readily available in Morocco are evacuated to London, the designated medevac location for Morocco. The Foreign Service Health Practitioner or Regional Medical Officer must authorize a medevac based on the condition and whether it can wait for evaluation until next scheduled travel from post. Military personnel may be authorized medevac to Rota, Spain or Germany, depending on the condition and whether care is available in Rota.

All employees and family members should plan to have their dental work completed before arriving at post. French dentists can be very good, but the system is different from American dentistry. Orthodontists are available in Rabat and Casablanca, but once again, the system may be different than what was started in the U.S., and it may be advisable to start orthodontic treatment here in Morocco rather than have to restart treatment that was partially completed in the U.S.

Plan to bring adequate prescriptions for the first several months at post. For long-term prescription drug needs, the FSHP can write prescriptions, which can be faxed to MEDCO HEALTH or a pharmacy of choice in the U.S. However, the APO and inherent delays with MEDCO HEALTH prescriptions can delay receipt of the medication for up to two months at times. Bring plenty of over the counter cough and cold preparations to last awhile. Local products are not the same as what we get in the U.S., and the commissary stocks limited OTC products which tend to disappear in the winter months when they are most needed.

All recommended medical diagnostic testing/treatments should be completed before coming to Morocco. This is important, as communication difficulties and differences in medical approaches between the American and French system of care confound patients who purposefully seek less expensive care locally but expect stateside standard of care and treatment. For known medical conditions, always get care from a private MD in the U.S. before coming to post, and bring a copy of your medical reports so the FSHP can coordinate ongoing care without confusion.

Community Health Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:23 AM

Public health standards in the cities are steadily improving. The Ministry of Health sponsors disease control programs for tuberculosis, hepatitis and other communicable diseases. Immunization programs are offered.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:45 AM

Everyone should have immunizations before arrival at post for rabies (3 shots over 3 weeks), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid. Pets should be immunized for rabies before arrival. Rabies has been reported in major cities in Morocco. There are enough stray dogs in the cities to make this a hazard for everyone posted here, hence the REQUIREMENT that everyone be immunized against rabies during their tour in the event of a bite by a stray animal.

Most Americans posted to Morocco enjoy good health while here. The climate is mild, and the most prevalent health problems are the same ones encountered in the U.S. - colds, coughs and flu, and allergies. There is a tendency to get episodic diarrhea in the warmer summer months, as food handling and storage practices are not as stringent as in the Western world. However, with diligence with one's household help, and diligence with what one eats, one can usually avoid this unpleasant aspect of life in N. Africa. It is recommended that household help obtain a physical exam to search for TB and parasitic infections before you employ them in your house. The health unit can assist making these appointments, but the financial responsibility for payment of bills is yours. There are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh seafood, and the water in the major cities is drinkable from the tap. However, when traveling, it is advised that one drink bottled water, consume only fruits and vegetables which are peeled, cooked, or bleached, to consume foods hot off the grill, and to avoid buffets with questionable food heating temperatures. Bottled water and tap water in the major cities consistently tests safe for consumption, with no bacterial contamination, and no problems with lead or other heavy metals. However, fluoride supplementation in the water supply is slightly less than what is found in the U.S., so we do recommend some fluoride supplementation for children between the ages of 6 and 15. The Health Unit can provide this once you arrive at post.

The hazard of an auto accident is the number one health risk in Morocco. Driving habits are erratic by American standards, and it takes a seasoned third world American driver some time to get accustomed to Moroccans who drive too close to the car in front, who veer out of lanes without warning, and who turn left or right from the opposite lane (not the turn lane). Defensive driving is a must. Seat belts are a must. Rural driving poses an especially risky scenario as one shares small roads with donkeys, carts, farm machinery, and large trucks. Passing any of these obstructions can become a life and death moment for all involved - the oncoming traffic, and the line of cars watching the brave but foolish soul who pulls out on a blind curve. Ambulances and emergency care in any locale besides the big cities are virtually non-existent, so be careful!

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:45 AM

The Mission offers a limited number of Eligible Family Member (EFM) employment opportunities which covers the traditional range of skills. These opportunities vary and depend on many factors including skills, language abilities and available positions. There are currently 15 dedicated EFM positions at the Embassy ranging from shared community liaison officer, shared newsletter editor, administrative assistant, computer operators, nurses, maintenance inspector, postal clerks and security escorts. Employment may be either full time or WAE (when actually employed).

All vacancy announcements are advertised and posted throughout the Mission as well as noted in the mission newsletter, the Maghreb Messenger. Eligible family members may apply for all locally recruited positions by submitting an SF-171 (application for U.S. Federal Employment) or OF-612 (optional application for federal employment). When equally qualified, appointment eligible family members and U.S. veterans will be given preference. French language proficiency and computer skills greatly enhance one's marketability and may be required for many professional jobs.

Employment for family members in the Moroccan private sector is possible by virtue of a bilateral work agreement signed with the Government; however, such employment opportunities are limited for those without fluency in French or Arabic. Applicants must obtain a work permit through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (processed by Human Resources) to work legally in Morocco. This process begins with finding work and obtaining Chief of Mission authority to work outside the mission. When accepting employment outside the mission, the family member must understand that by accepting such a position they lose civil immunity from judicial process for activities relating to employment. Any resident of Morocco (including diplomatic residents) who works on the local economy and earns revenue from such employment is subject to local Moroccan taxes. Your employer will deduct local taxes from your pay. If you are an independent contractor, you are responsible for declaring your locally earned income on a yearly basis by March 31 of the following year.

The Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier American schools often have openings for preschool, elementary and high school teachers. They may also employ teachers' aides, secretaries, nurses and library assistants. There may be additional opportunities for substitute teachers, tutors and summer school teachers and aides. Individuals with English teaching experience as a foreign language will find a number of opportunities for employment. The Employee's Cooperative Association (ECA) employs a cashier, office clerk and an American Club manager.

A summer employment program for teenagers exists subject to the availability of funds. Numerous volunteer opportunities exist in both the American and Moroccan communities.

American Embassy - Rabat

Post City Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:46 AM

Rabat, located on the Atlantic coast of north Africa, is about 280 feet above sea level. The city overlooks the valley of the Bou Reg Reg River and the point at which the river meets the sea. Sale, its sister city, is more densely populated and lies directly opposite Rabat on the north side of the river.

Rabat is 172 kilometers south of Tangiers, the closest point to Europe, and 60 kilometers north of Casablanca, the country's largest city, principal seaport, and industrial center. On the whole, the climate is milder than that of Washington DC, and somewhat less humid. Winters are wet with temperatures sometimes falling into the mid 40°s F. Fog is not uncommon; yet days are frequently warm and sunny. Summer is generally comfortably warm and dry, but temperatures rise above 90°F from time to time. Most houses withstand heat better than cold, but the cold season is quite short. Spring and fall are both very pleasant, with warm days followed by cool evenings.

Rabat is an imperial city, like Fes and Marrakech, but really came into its own in the early twentieth century as a center for government administration. Consequently, residents often hail from elsewhere in Morocco, and the cultural mix is rich. Life in Rabat is slower than in the busy commercial center of Casablanca, which boasts a wide array of restaurants and nightclubs. Rabat is developing rapidly in these directions, however, and is, in any case, only an hour away from Casa's urban bustle. In addition, great recreational opportunities - mountains offering skiing and hiking, beaches, the historic cities of Fes, Marrakech and Tangiers - are within easy distance of Rabat.

The historic core of Rabat is the walled old city, the medina, and the adjacent Oudayas, or Kasbah, which overlooks where the Bou Reg Reg River meets the Atlantic. While these remain residential areas, the majority of the population live in apartments or homes located in the modern sections of the city and outlying neighborhoods. These neighborhoods offer large yards and gardens and amenities such as large grocery stores as well as some clothing and specialty chain stores from Europe and the U.S. Most Embassy employees live in these areas, within a reasonably short drive to the Embassy.

Most Rabatis speak Arabic and French well, and some are fluent in Spanish or English. However, it is difficult to carry out normal activities, including communicating well with most household staff, without a good command of basic French. Post offers an excellent language program for dependent family members and employees, but the more French one has upon arrival, the better. A survey taken in the late 1990s of two-thirds of employees and spouses showed that those who spoke French had the highest morale while those lacking language skills tended to be less happy. Moroccan society is very open in comparison to most Islamic societies, and Moroccans are friendly and supportive of any effort to communicate.

The rhythm of daily life in Rabat is determined in large part by lunch. Moroccans customarily return home for lunch, and many Moroccan schools and all French Mission schools send children home for about two hours. Stores and many government offices close from about 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm or even later, but supermarkets remain open - in fact, this is a good time of day to do grocery shopping.

In general, the daily lunch break makes running errands in the middle of the day difficult, and generates four rush hours, with all attendant environmental consequences. The evening rush hour normally begins at about 7:00 pm. During Ramadan, however, when the majority of Rabatis are fasting, stores remain open during midday, and close before sunset. At that time, driving conditions become profoundly irritating and frequently hazardous. During July and August, many stores and offices adopt summer hours and do not close for lunch, but in the late afternoon.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/13/2004 12:05 AM

The Chancery is located at the corner of Boulevard Front d’Oued and Avenue Mohammed El Fassi in a neighborhood of large villas, other embassies and diplomatic residences. ICASS agencies at post include the offices of the State Department, Foreign Commercial Service, Defense Attache, Agriculture, the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), USAID Legal Attache and Peace Corps.

The USAID building is located at 10 Avenue Mehdi Ben Barka. Peace Corps offices are located in downtown Rabat and Public Affairs offices are in Souissi, a suburban area about a 10-minute drive from the Embassy. The IBB site is located in Briech, just outside Tangier. The Ambassador oversees all official U.S. personnel, including Department of State personnel, the Defense Attache, Agriculture Attache, Legal Attache, Public Affairs Officer, USAID Director, ODC chief (who administers the U.S. Security Assistance Program to Morocco), the Consul General, IBB Station Director and the Peace Corps Director.

The Embassy office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. USAID has a flexi-time schedule requiring eight hours of work between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The Financial Service Center in Bangkok, Thailand serves as the payroll office for State personnel. AID personnel are paid at central payroll in AID/Washington.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 9/7/2004 11:39 AM

Most new employees move directly into permanent housing and on occasion into transient quarters on arrival. Please inquire with your sponsor before arrival regarding the status of your permanent quarters. Occasionally, it is necessary to lodge new arrivals in hotels. The Hilton, the only U.S. hotel chain in Rabat, is a 5-star hotel 2 miles from the Embassy with a swimming pool, tennis courts and exercise club. Hotel Tour Hassan, conveniently located near the center of the city within walking distance of Embassy, has a charming Moroccan atmosphere.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:47 AM

The housing pool consists of mostly leased and some U.S. Government-owned residences. The Ambassador and DCM are housed in USG-owned and furnished residences. Approximately 60 percent of employee homes are located 4-7 miles from the Embassy, while 40 percent are located within a 2-3 mile radius. Housing assignments are based on rank and family size in accordance with Post's housing policy as issued by an interagency housing board and based on Department interagency standards.

Many rental properties are of French origin and masonry construction. Others are of more modern design and recently constructed. Most homes have tile or terrazzo floors and often have lovely gardens surrounded by walls or fences. Most homes have either central or electric heating, although heating systems are not as efficient as those found in the United States. The summer can be hot and humid, particularly in July and August, while the winter can be chilly and rainy. The Embassy provides one air-conditioner or ceiling fan per occupied bedroom in addition to one electric fan and space heaters when necessary. Additional fans or heaters can be purchased locally.

The quality and convenience of housing varies widely, depends on availability, and does not equate with U.S. standards. Maintenance and repair can be a problem, although the GSO office employs a staff of tradesmen who are capable and experienced at effecting most repairs.

Furnishings Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:47 AM

All agencies at Post provide the basic set of furniture and furnishings as defined in the Foreign Affairs Manual (6 FAM 772.3), although as post does not at present have a joint furnishing and furniture pool, exact supplies may vary by agency. Furniture packages include sofas, chairs, dining and kitchen tables, desks, buffets, coffee and end tables, bookcases, china cabinets, mirrors, one queen bed per household plus twin beds for other bedrooms, dressers and side tables. Furnishings include area rugs, table and floor lamps, draperies/curtains/blinds, American-style cooking range, refrigerator, washing machine and dryer, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, initial set of light bulbs, and three transformers. Supplementary equipment approved by the Housing Board includes one freezer, one air conditioner per inhabited bedroom, ceiling fans for entertaining areas, one set of garden tools, a lawnmower, vacuum cleaner, one mircowave oven, and dehumidifiers and electric space heaters if needed.

Employees are encouraged to ship all other essential items to post such as small electric appliances, linens, china, glassware, small lamps, kitchen utensils, silverware, shower curtains and rings, ironing boards and irons. (The Ambassador's and DCM's residences contain these items). Bring paintings, photos or other decorative items to personalize your residence. The masonry construction makes hanging items difficult. Maintenance personnel will assist with hanging pictures for one time only, and at that time can provide appropriate nails, drills, anchors and screws.

Many items, such as shower curtains, ironing boards and electric fans are readily available on the local market. It is advisable to purchase 220V appliances with heating elements such as irons and toasters, which are also available locally at competitive prices.

During the winter rainy season, mildew is a problem, making periodic cleaning and airing of leather goods, clothes, and books a necessity. Flies, mosquitoes, roaches, and other insects abound in warm weather.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 9/7/2004 1:00 PM

All residences are wired for 220V 50 cycles. The Mission normally supplies three step-down transformers. Voltage regulators are not necessary, but surge protectors are advisable for computers, stereo/video equipment or other valued items.

Food Last Updated: 9/13/2004 12:10 AM

Nearly all fresh vegetables and fruits found in the U.S. are available in Rabat groceries and markets. Moroccan groceries and corner shops sell imported canned and dry goods, with prices often but not always somewhat higher than they would be at home. Dairy products, flour, rice, couscous, pastas, olives, oils, chips and crackers, spices and fresh meats and fish are easily purchased at a variety of local supermarkets and markets. Moroccan bread is of good quality and remains subsidized. Specialty bakeries offer wonderful breads, pastries, cakes, and Moroccan cookies. Moroccan lamb, particularly, is of excellent quality, and fresh turkey and pork are also available.

Morocco produces and sells very good wines and beers which are easily and cheaply purchased in the supermarkets, but liquor, tobacco products, and imported wines sold there are significantly more expensive than in the U.S. Buy those at the Commissary!

Items unavailable or difficult to find include specialty foods and spices for oriental cuisines. At present, tofu is unavailable. There are, however, Asian restaurants and East Asian diplomatic missions easily grow many fresh vegetables specific to their cuisines.

The ECA Commissary, Snack Bar, and American Club:

The ECA maintains a small Commissary for authorized Mission personnel. The ECA membership deposit currently is $200 for families and $150 for single employees, and is refundable upon departure from Post. Prices on some ECA items, such as paper goods, cereals and American snacks, are lower than on the local economy but higher than in the U.S. The ECA also stocks items unavailable elsewhere, such as American convenience foods, cheeses, ice cream, soups, frozen fruits and vegetables, meats and lunch meats, and pet foods. American soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, including a wide selection of American wines and beer, and tobacco products are sold duty-free at the ECA.

The ECA operates a small Snack Bar in the Embassy which serves breakfast and lunch. The American Club, which includes a bar and restaurant, is open for lunch everyday and most evenings for dinner and is located within a five-minute walk from the Embassy.

Duty -Free Shopping :

There is a diplomatic store in the Hay Riad neighborhood of Rabat which also sells wines, liquors, chocolates, and tobacco products, as well as other items, duty-free. Prices, however, are set in Euros.

Many families occasionally drive to Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves on the northern coast, for tourism and to shop at several supermarkets which carry a large selection of Spanish and other European products (such as Spanish ham), as well as CDs, DVDs, and houseware and hardware products at duty-free prices. Imported toys and electronics, for example, are a better value in Ceuta. Ceuta is approximately 3-1/2 hour's drive from Rabat, or 1-1/2 hour's drive from Tangier.

Gibraltar is accessible by ferry via Algeciras from either Tangier or Ceuta. At present, the exchange rate makes prices set in British sterling and the Euro less compelling, and, in any case, hotels are expensive. If there for tourism, however, many families make time for the Safeway for English tea, cheeses, beers, biscuits, condiments and other products which are unavailable in Morocco. There are also many stores offering cosmetics and electronics at what is currently the equivalent of standard U.S. department store pricing.

Clothing Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:48 AM

Throughout the year in Morocco, a warm sunny day may be followed by a very chilly evening, and the proximity of Rabat to the Atlantic Ocean makes the winters colder and damper than many expect. Winter clothing such as fleece vests and jackets, light sweaters for indoors and out, and light wool dress coats or jackets are quite definitely needed. Every member of the family should have a raincoat, and those with zip-out linings are ideal. It is necessary to bring blankets or lightweight down comforters, as well as warm pajamas and slippers. Light shawls and scarves for women and summer-weight blazers or casual jackets for men are good to have on hand for every other season.

The type of clothing worn by Americans in Rabat and Casablanca is much the same as in Washington, DC with some exceptions. Shorts for men and shorts, midriff tops and short skirts for women are not appropriate for wearing in public. Women may wear sleeveless shirts and dresses, provided they are neither too sheer nor too short. Loose-fitting sport shorts for both sexes are fine for tennis, the beach and workouts at a club or a fitness center. Golf shorts are also appropriate for men. Western-style bathing suits and bikinis are fine at the pool and on most public beaches, but put the Brazilian thong and the mini Speedo in storage! Women should have a cover-up and men a shirt for walking from the car to the water.

Good quality Western-style clothing and shoes are available, but in European styles and sizes, and the prices usually are somewhat higher than those of clothing available through US catalogues or the internet. Shopping for clothing and lingerie in Casablanca is fun and not always prohibitively expensive depending upon where one goes and whether one knows one's size. Shopping for clothes in Rabat is rapidly becoming more appealing for women as more large European chains open stores here.

Parents of teen-aged children should be aware and help their children, especially girls, live with a double standard: Moroccan young people can wear more provocative clothing in public than Americans and get away with it. Regardless of what is worn at home or at a friend's home, boys should not wear pants that expose bellies and/or underwear, and girls should not wear low-rise pants with midriff tops, spaghetti straps, tube tops or mini skirts. Western women and girls will be assumed to be sexually available in situations that similarly dressed Moroccan women will not be. Dressing in a way that does not call attention to oneself is part of practicing good security.

Local tailors have been used with varying results, and, in general, more successfully by men than women. Post has names on hand of tailors and dressmakers employed and recommended by Mission personnel. Some of these can work with or without patterns. While good wool and wool blends are available, it is recommended to bring dress or other fabrics. Good locally available fabrics for clothing are imported and tend to be either expensive or not to American taste.

Men Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:43 AM

Most invitations indicate whether a function demands casual or business attire but Moroccan men, as well as those from most parts of Africa and Asia and some parts of Europe, tend to dress more formally than Americans. Men should have blazers for wearing to casual dinners and similar occasions. T-shirts are appropriate only for sports and gatherings with Americans, and khakis are worn more often than jeans.

Suit and tie are standard office attire and a dark suit for evening events is necessary. The Marine Ball is likely to be the only formal event of the year, but those who own tuxedos should bring them.

Morocco produces shoes galore, but most American men have trouble finding the right size and style. Sandals can be made to order, but are not as sturdy as American counterparts.

Women Last Updated: 2/18/2005 10:42 AM

Moroccan women wear a wide range of styles, from the latest French fashions to the traditional caftans and djellabas. At diplomatic functions, women will dress up, and American women will find that the proverbial little black dress is a wardrobe staple. Dressy pants are appropriate, and can often be combined with tops having Moroccan embroidery or other local touches. Casual evenings almost never mean jeans unless the event is among other Americans or at the American Club. However, jeans are perfectly acceptable for spouses to wear to the Embassy, as well as out and about Rabat.

Suits, pants or the usual styles of professional attire are worn for work. Heels are not necessary. Make-up is standard, but not as "overdone" as in many Eastern Mediterranean countries. Most women buy shoes in the States, through catalogues, and also locally. It is helpful to have at least one very dressy outfit for invitations to Moroccan weddings and holidays and one formal outfit for the Marine Ball.

Children Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:45 AM

Appealing clothing for young children is not hard to find and there are retail outlets that offer good basic clothing at reasonable prices. The French clothing stores are somewhat expensive, but the clothing is of very good quality. Childrens' shoes remain expensive given that they tend not to hold up as well as American brands.

Most parents rely on catalogues and the internet. Teen-aged girls are likely to find styles here more appealing than boys, but, in either case, nothing beats American athletic shoes! Blue jeans are worn by young people virtually everywhere - but not at invitations to dinner or other evening occasions at Moroccan homes.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:46 AM

In addition to foodstuffs already mentioned, the ECA Commissary carries a basic and limited supply of toiletry products. It is possible to special order items, but shipment usually takes two to three months. Families with infants are recommended to put as much in the way of disposable diapers, foods, wipes, etc. as they can in their shipments.

Disposable diapers are NOT stocked by the Commissary as they are much more expensive than locally available Pampers and Huggies. While these do differ somewhat from the U.S.-made counterparts, most families have found that the difference in price makes up for any slight difference in quality. U.S. brand formulas, such as Similac and Enfamil, are available in pharmacies, though one may have to hunt to find the pharmacy with the brand that one prefers.

Detergents and cleaning products, as well as insecticides, insect pest traps and similar items, are available both at the Commissary and on the local market. U.S. voltage light bulbs for those homes with some 110v outlets are available at the Embassy.

Cosmetics and a wide range of hair care products are available. Most tend to be more expensive than in America. Anyone who has brand preferences is urged to ship toiletries and cosmetics. Local pharmacies and stores stock a large assortment of locally produced and imported drugs and health-care aids. Some are more expensive than they would be in the U.S., but many are far cheaper.

Basic home repair and crafting items such as wood glue, spackle, nails for hanging pictures, thin, flexible wire and etc. should be brought from home. It is hard to find items such as this in any single location, and the quality of Moroccan paints is not high.

Basic Services Last Updated: 9/8/2004 5:49 AM

Both high speed and ordinary internet service is available for personal home computers. Currently, installation costs about $100.00 - $130.00 and a monthly fee is charged depending on what type of connection one chooses. High-speed ADSL service costs about $60.00 per month.

Rabat boasts many chic salons and quaint barber-shops which offer good service at prices significantly lower than in the U.S. A well-known barber near the Embassy charges about $4.00 for a man's haircut. A cut and color at a fashionable women's salon costs about $40.00, on average. Spa services such as steam bath (hammam) massage and manicures and pedicures are all available far more cheaply than in the U.S. There are also fitness centers and dance studios. Shoe repair is cheap, but so are the materials used. There are competent dry-cleaners and digital photo-processing centers, as well as veterinarians and groomers.

Auto repair for French, Italian, Japanese, and German cars is often better and cheaper than for American cars due to the limited availability of parts. Embassy motor pool mechanics generally do minor work during off-duty hours on personally owned vehicles. Bring standard replacement parts, such as belts or filters, or plan on ordering them from catalogues.

Plants for inside and outside the home are very inexpensive and firewood can be delivered to the home.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 9/13/2004 12:18 AM

Almost all Mission employees hire a maid or housekeeper and a gardener. Most domestic staff do not live in, but this remains an option. For example, some families have a live-in gardener who also serves as a watchman, and some families with very young employ live-in housekeepers who also perform childcare and baby-sitting. Many singles or couples without children hire maids or maids/cooks for only a few days each week. This arrangement is not uncommon for larger families with stay-at-home spouses.

Virtually all housekeepers and maids seeking employment within the American community speak French and most have a long history working for American or other Western diplomats. Very few speak English. Many gardeners do not speak much French, and almost none speak English. Salaries range depending upon the responsibilities and hours demanded, language skills, and whether transportation is paid for separately. After hours baby-sitting is paid for separately and currently runs at about $10.00 per evening, regardless of the hours. It is common for one's maid or housekeeper to serve as baby-sitter, and many are willing to over-night if they do not live in.

At present in 2004, the salary for a maid who carries out routine cleaning and laundry services with some cooking is about $12.00 - $15.00 per day. A housekeeper who manages the home and shops and cooks daily earns at least $15.00, especially if childcare is routinely included. A gardener generally earns about $10.00 - $12.00 per day depending upon the size of the yard and garden.

In general, while staff may indeed become loved and trusted members of one's household, Moroccans are not a servile people. Americans enjoy a relationship that is fundamentally based on employment, rather than patronage, as is common in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Nevertheless, the employer is expected to furnish food and any uniforms needed. The employer is legally liable for medical bills incurred by employees due to accidents sustained on the job or going to and from work, and it is recommended that liability insurance be purchased to cover such contingencies. The rate for this type of policy averages about 2% of the employee's annual wage.

The CLO office at the Embassy keeps a file of cooks, maids, housekeepers, gardeners, drivers, etc. who seek employment, together with recommendations or warnings from former employers.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:49 AM

Morocco is an Islamic state and the King, Mohammed VI is both the head of the church and a descendent of the Prophet. Proselytizing is illegal, and violations of the law are taken seriously.

Non-Muslims generally may not purchase Korans, although there are no restrictions on buying religious art, such as embroidered or painted suras which are Koranic texts. With the exception of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, entry to Moroccan mosques is prohibited to non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are welcome to stroll around outside these often ornate and beautiful structures to admire their architecture, and, of course, Muslims of all nationalities are welcome to enter and to pray.

Ramadan fasting and the major Sunni Islamic holidays are publicly observed throughout Morocco, though secular Moroccans may not fast in the privacy of their own homes.

Supermarkets do not sell alcohol to Muslims during Ramadan. Americans can expect to be invited to the evening meal, the iftar, by Moroccan friends or official contacts, especially because of the pride Moroccans take in their cuisine.

Jewish services are held in Hebrew in a number of synagogues, most of which are very old. Some expatriate Jews prefer to gather privately to mark religious holidays.
There is a Protestant Church which holds a nondenominational service every Sunday morning in English. Sunday school classes for children and adults are also available.

Catholic masses are held in French and in Spanish each week at two local churches, but English language services are available only every other week at the Cathedral, which is located very near the Embassy. Members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints meet in private homes.

Contact the CLO office at the Embassy for details on religious services.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:50 AM

The Rabat American School is a PreK-Grade 12, coeducational school, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. RAS welcomes motivated students from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds to learn together in a community-based environment of mutual respect and understanding. The school offers an American style, university preparatory, student-centered educational program for students from more than 40 different countries. Morocco and the USA are the two countries with the largest number of students. Dependents of U.S. Government personnel are assured enrollment. The school was founded in 1962. The academic year is three trimesters extending from late August to the middle of June. The school is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors, elected for two-year terms by the Rabat American School Association. Membership in the Association is automatically conferred on the parents or guardians of children enrolled in the school, as well as on administration and faculty members.

The RAS curriculum is similar to that of U.S. schools. Instruction is in English with French or Arabic being taught as foreign languages. The International Baccalaureate diploma program is offered for students in the high school, giving graduates a broad range of possibilities for their university education. Throughout the curriculum there is emphasis placed on learning about the geography, history, culture, religion and accomplishments of the host country. This is presented through special school programs, community service and field trips to a variety of sites in Morocco.

The Elementary curriculum, besides the core subjects language arts, mathematics, social studies and science, also includes computer instruction, physical education, Moroccan studies, music, foreign language and art. For prekindergarten, a child must be 4 years of age by September 1. RAS offers the option for either a half-day or a full day program in prekindergarten. It should be noted that the preK fees are the responsibility of the parent. Rabat also has two English language nurseries for 3 and 4-years old. One is located close to the Embassy, and one is located close to the USAID office. There are also a number of French language nursery schools. Note: As registration in some of the above-mentioned schools is limited, it is advisable to communicate with the Embassy early to improve chances of placement.

The Secondary curriculum, besides the core subjects English, mathematics, science and social studies, also offers desktop publishing, economics, computer science, physical education, yearbook/literary magazine, Moroccan studies, drama, music, art and student services as electives. The secondary education curriculum is based on the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, with heavy emphasis on mathematics, science and English. The school will test prospective students for a placement and make recommendations if there are any deficiencies that need to be addressed.

The school is located on an attractive campus of eight acres in the Agdal district, surrounded by a high wall with guarded front and back entrance gates. The campus houses facilities that include several classroom buildings, 2 libraries, a computer science center with three computer laboratories, administrative offices, science labs, art, music and foreign language classrooms, a nurse's office, an auditorium, sports field, a gymnastics room, locker rooms, swimming pool, changing rooms, a gymnasium and a cafeteria. Transportation by school buses is provided to and from school.

After school athletic activities, boys and girls scouting, and other extracurricular offerings are available, with late bus transportation provided. The school sponsors boy’s and girl’s basketball, soccer, volleyball, badminton, track and swim teams. Student teams participate in national and international sports events, as well as international math competitions and the Model United Nations.

Enrollment at the beginning of 2003-2004 school year was 383 students (preK-grade 5: 182; grades 6-8: 84; and grades 9-12: 117). Of the total, 74 were U.S. citizens, 148 were host-country nationals, and 161 third-country nationals. Class size averages 18 students, with the exception of foreign language classes where 10-15 students is the norm. The faculty consisted during the 2003-2004 school year 47 full-time and 10 part-time teachers; 30 U.S. citizens, eight host-country nationals, and 19 third-country nationals.

The Administration consists of a Director, Elementary Principal, Secondary Principal, Financial Manager, and Facilities Manager.

For further information, see the Department of Overseas Schools Summary School Information or check the school's website at

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:34 AM

The post conducts an FSI-approved French-language program for employees and dependents. Various cultural missions also offer language training; post personnel recommend the French Cultural Mission. All courses are offered at a moderate cost. Enrollment in correspondence courses sponsored by the FSI Extension Studies Program is possible.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 9/13/2004 12:21 AM

There are many restaurants in Rabat offering an excellent variety of seafood and Moroccan dishes. It is more difficult to find good cuisine from elsewhere, but ethnic restaurants are opening at an increasing rate. At present, there are two Japanese restaurants, several Italian restaurants, a few Lebanese restaurants and at least one South East Asian restaurant. The French would dispute that real French cuisine is available in Rabat, but very nice cafes, at least one of which is a French chain, abound. U.S. fast-food outlets such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Dominos have more than one outlet in Rabat.

Casablanca, an hour away by car or train, is a bigger and more sophisticated city than Rabat. There are many excellent ethnic restaurants there and also more nightclubs than in Rabat. Rabat, however, does have a few clubs offering music for dancing, which also serve alcohol. Rabat is a city in transition, rapidly adapting some of the more exciting features of urban life that are found in both Casablanca and Marrakech.

Moroccans tend to socialize within the extended family, if less exclusively than nationals of other Arab countries. Those here who seek out Moroccan friends make them with no difficulty and socialize comfortably not only in Moroccan homes but also in their own. The international community here is also very open. It is especially easy for those with children to meet friends outside the Embassy community through the Rabat American School, but singles meet others at diplomatic functions and can easily take the initiative to invite those from other Missions to their homes. As with most aspects to living in Morocco, speaking French helps!

It is more difficult here for singles, especially for single women, to make a full social life. This is a modern society and women here are more independent than in most parts of the Islamic world, but nevertheless dating is viewed with some reservation by many Moroccans, especially as a Muslim woman who marries a non-Muslim man cannot remain Muslim. Moroccan women from "good families" are not expected to be out with men in the evenings. American women who date Moroccans may face the expectation that they will be more sexually available than they really are.

Sports Last Updated: 2/18/2005 10:44 AM

Moroccans are sports-oriented, and spectator sports include soccer, tennis, basketball, and polo. Pick-up soccer games take place on every stretch of beach, in parks and on empty lots, and there are leagues and city teams that play regularly. Morocco hosts Davis Cup tennis regularly in Casablanca and tickets are both easy to get and very affordable -- about $8.00.

Organized sports activities include an adults' softball league, T-ball for kids each spring, soccer for kids (depending upon interest), a basketball camp offered at the close of the school year, and the Hash House Harriers. There are several marathons and half-marathons held in different cities, with the Marrakech Marathon (January) among the most popular.

There are numerous sports activities at the Rabat American School including organized baseball for young children and pick-up games of volleyball, basketball, soccer and badminton for children and adults. There is now an ice skating rink in Rabat, with the possibility of organized children's hockey.

Rabat boasts a large park not far from the Embassy which is great for walking and running, and is used by men and women of all nationalities. There is an increasing number of fitness facilities which offer classes in aerobics as well as other amenities. Women exercising in public should not wear short shorts or sports bras without t-shirts, but loose-fitting longer shorts, or stretch shorts and leggings topped with a large t-shirt are fine.

There are private clubs for tennis, horseback riding, surfing, yachting, and golf. The previous king, Hassan II, was an avid golfer and there are many good courses throughout Morocco. Costs for club memberships are far less expensive than for comparable facilities in the U.S. and many Mission employees belong to the Dar Es Salaam golf club located on the outskirts of Rabat. Dar Es Salaam has two 18-hole and one 9-hole golf course, a play area, pool, tennis courts, and restaurant, as well as other facilities. There is an affiliated riding club which offers lessons for children as well as stable facilities for personally owned horses.

The pool and gymnasium at the Rabat American School are available to all full ECA members -- all Mission employees who enroll in the ECA -- regardless of whether they have children enrolled at the school. While hours are limited to after-school during the school year, the pool is very large and includes a toddler pool and a snack bar. In addition, the beaches within easy driving distance from Rabat are clean and beautiful. Some are not safe for swimming due to currents, and information on local beaches is available in the CLO office.

Morocco is one of the few countries on the African continent which offers skiing during the winter months. Depending upon snowfall, the ski season may begin as early as December and run through the end of March. Ifrane, approximately 3 hour's drive from Rabat, offers slopes that rise to an altitude of 6,500 feet. Sledding (sleds are available for rent) and camel riding are also available! There are hotel accommodations and the additional draw of Barbary apes living in the forested areas near the ski slopes.

Oukaimeden is a 90-minute drive from Marrakech, which is between four and five hours from Rabat, and offers the best skiing in Morocco. Facilities include a chair lift to 10,637 feet and intermediate and beginner slopes with T-Bars and Poma lifts. Ski equipment may be rented near the slopes, though quality of such equipment may not be up to U.S. standards.

Hunting and fishing are strictly licensed, and firearms regulations are especially stringent.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:52 AM

Morocco has long been a popular tourist destination, especially for Europeans, and there are tour companies which arrange desert camping and camel trekking, mountain hiking into Berber villages, and other outdoor activities. There are also bird and wildlife sanctuaries, two of which are near Rabat. Activities are easily arranged for groups as small as individual families, and, in most areas of Morocco, it is easy enough to make one's own itinerary and arrangements.

The city of Rabat includes several interesting cultural and historical sites. The Chellah, a former Roman settlement believed to be established by the Phoenicians is well worth visiting, as is the medina and the Oudayas, or kasbah, which was founded around A.D. 788. Its principal gateway, the Bab el Kasbah, is widely admired, and opens onto a Moorish garden. Within the Oudayas is a museum of Moroccan clothing, jewelry, and furniture, several galleries, a seafood restaurant and an open-air tearoom both of which overlook the Atlantic and the Bou Reg Reg River.

The Mausoleum and Mosque of Mohammed V are beautiful examples of modern Moroccan artistry and craftsmanship. At the same site are the columns and unfinished minaret of the Tour Hassan, begun in the 12th century by the Almohad ruler, Yacoub El Mansour.

The city of Meknes, famous for its grand gates, is about an hour and half away from Rabat by car. About an hour's drive further brings one to the major Roman ruin of Morocco, Volubilis. Fes, a UNESCO world-heritage site, is about two hours drive away and can also be reached by train. The medina there remains what every reader of "The Arabian Nights" imagines an ancient Arab city to be.

Unique beaches offering good hotel accommodation are found about four hours south of Rabat, as well as three hours north. There are charming mountain towns in the Rif, about four hours to the north, and in the Atlas, in the region south of Marrakech. Further afield are the beach resort cities of Essaouira and Agadir. Essaouira was a Portuguese port and is the site of a ruined fortress. The famous Red City of Marrakech remains very popular for excellent hotels, lovely riads--traditional homes turned into small hotels--, wonderful dining and a particular Moroccan style and joie de vivre.

To end here fails to do justice to the charming coastal town of Asilah, the desert region of Ouarzazate, made famous by several recent films and the dunes of Merzouga. It is impossible to detail all the opportunities for interesting travel and tourism in Morocco in the Post Report, but excellent guidebooks on Morocco are widely available. There is plenty to choose from for a day away, a weekend getaway, a long weekend break or a long vacation. CLO trips to various parts of Morocco are offered from time to time, and most Mission employees travel with friends to these and other destinations.

Entertainment Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:53 AM

Morocco has become well known for many international festivals. Essaouira has long been the site for an international music festival featuring Moroccan gnaoua music (May) and the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music welcomes well-known artists from literally all over the world (June). Tangiers hosts a renowned Jazz festival and Rabat also hosts an international music festival (June). There are numerous smaller, but truly world-class, festivals of art, including the relatively recently instituted Marrakech Film Festival held each autumn.

Although concerts are relatively rare, European classical, Moroccan music, jazz and music or performance art from many countries are periodically on offer in Rabat and Casablanca. Such events, whether hosted by a foreign diplomatic mission or by a national arts group, are always well attended by Moroccans. There are also small art galleries as well as exposition centers in the major cities which regularly exhibit the work of Moroccan and international artists.

Shopping is a form of entertainment at Post in that the process of buying many hand-crafted items, such as carpets, is enjoyably time-consuming. Day trips to a traditional open-air carpet souk are hosted by CLO, as are regular trips to Casablanca for hitting the stylish boutiques and European chain stores. Shopping in the Rabat medina is also a social activity for which friends get together.

In the past, there was an amateur theatre company, The Very Little Theatre, which performed plays at the Rabat American School and also held readings in private homes. The group is not active presently but easily could be revived depending upon interest in the community.

Local theatre is in French or Arabic, but from time to time dance or folklore performances are offered at cultural centers or the Mohammad V Theatre. Films at the Mohammad V and at local cinemas are in French or Arabic and very few members of the Mission go out to movies here. The Embassy Marine Security Guard Detachment receives and shows new American movies regularly and the ECA maintains a video/DVD rental library.

Social Activities Last Updated: 9/15/2004 9:54 AM

The diplomatic social scene is very busy in Rabat. Entertaining at home or meeting in restaurants is common, and is the main form of social activity. The burden of obligatory, if also enjoyable, socializing falls mainly on the Ambassador, the DCM, the Political Counselor, the PAO, the Economic Counselor and staff of the Defense Attache's Office. More junior level reporting officers and members of the USAID mission generally are obliged to attend fewer functions but will find themselves out and about fairly frequently as they make contacts in connection with their work.

There are frequent "Happy Hours" at either the American Club or Marine House. CLO sponsors evening events such as Quiz Night and Cheese and Wine on a regular basis, and also hosts Restaurant Outings. At this time there is a very lively Monthly Spouses Coffee organized by CLO and held at private homes or in local cafes. During American holidays, CLO and Mission members hold special events for adults and for children. Many of these are open to FSNs and to friends outside the Mission.

The Rabat Hash House Harriers are very international with a large Moroccan contingent. Runs are held every Saturday afternoon, and some Mission members participate faithfully. The Hash is a good way to get to know interesting areas close to Rabat and interesting people outside the Embassy community.

There are several long-running book clubs which continually take in new members and at least one discussion group, all of which meet regularly. During American football season, fans watch games together at a different home each week.

The American International Women's Association of Rabat is open to all English-speaking women and holds monthly meetings. AIWA sponsors a variety of activities, including an annual fund-raising event to benefit local charities and scholarships.
The Circle Diplomatique is confined to spouses of ambassadors, except that an annual bazaar for charity demands participation by other Mission spouses, albeit on a volunteer basis.

The Diplomatic Women's Association meets strictly for social reasons and is open to all women spouses, but by invitation only so that there is room for two or three representatives of all diplomatic missions. It is usually possible for anyone interested to join a lunch from time to time and to become part of the group at some point during a tour of duty.

For children there are social events organized by the Rabat American School or parent groups there. Depending upon interest there are Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts. There are always playgroups for pre-K children organized by mothers, and outings to the zoo, pony club and other places of interest for kids.

Embassy members have participated also in a range of charitable activities, especially with the Infants' and Children's Hospital, and with some orphanages, associations for the handicapped, and a cancer hospice. It is easy to take part in these efforts, and to use time constructively in substantial volunteer work.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 9/8/2004 6:08 AM

Senior officers and their spouses routinely attend official functions hosted by Moroccan Government officials, by other diplomats and by leaders of various organizations. Junior officers have fewer official social obligations. Since the Rabat diplomatic colony is large, official invitations seldom include everyone with diplomatic titles.

Most diplomatic missions mark national days with large receptions that typically include officers of the Defense Attache's Office and Office of Defense Cooperation. American military officers assigned here tend to find themselves quite busy with official functions. Mission employees at all levels and from all departments are periodically called upon to help the Ambassador and senior officers with official entertainment responsibilities. Of course, officers in the Public Affairs Section host and attend functions as a matter of routine.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 9/15/2004 12:19 AM

Mission employees will need business cards and should bring plenty to official functions. Spouses generally do not need calling cards and, in any case, should wait to have them printed here with local phone numbers. Invitation cards are useful, but, again, should be made here and printed in French. Many people have maps to their homes printed on the reverse side of the invitation. Good local printing is available.

Special Information Last Updated: 9/15/2004 10:06 AM



Strategically located facing the Strait of Gibraltar, Tangier is one of the oldest urban settlements in Morocco. It likely was founded as a trading post by the Phoenicians around 1100 B.C. and later was settled by Carthaginians and Romans before Arabs arrived in the 7th century A.D. Later, Tangier was fought over by Portuguese, Spanish and the English. From 1906 until Morocco’s independence, Tangier existed apart from the rest of Morocco as an international port governed by European countries. It was during these five decades that the city gained a reputation for smuggling, intrigue and espionage. Various artists, writers, poets and eccentric expatriates were attracted to its pleasant climate and checkered history. While the Moroccan government’s successful efforts to clean Tangier of its most unsavory elements have altered the character of the city, its proximity to Europe and regular flow of tourists, its somewhat run-down 1930’s architecture, its mixture of Berber, Arabic and European influences, and its still active cultural community, combine to make it a highly individual but trying posting.

With a population of nearly 800,000, Tangier is built around a sandy beach and extends up into the foothills of the Rif Mountains. The general topography is hilly and craggy, with scant vegetation in the summer dry season, and with a profusion of flowers and greenery in winter and spring, which are generally cold and rainy. Average temperature in August, the hottest month, is 86°F. Particularly during the summer months, tourists descend upon the city, both from Morocco and the European continent, swelling the city’s population and filling its many restaurants, hotels, apartments and cafes.

Tangier’s winters, November to April, resemble those of San Francisco, chilly and rainy. January average temperature is around 63°F. Periods of rain can last for several days, however, and the resultant dampness coupled with barely adequate heating facilities in many homes require families to have on hand a good supply of warm clothing.

The Station and Its Administration

The IBB Morocco Transmitting station at Briech is located approximately 22 miles south of Tangier near the town of Asilah, a beach resort midway between Tangier and Larache. Asilah is well known for its excellent seafood restaurants, extensive beach areas, and annual cultural festival which is held in August. The station’s telephone number is 039-93-59-04/5/6.

VOA broadcasts from the Morocco Transmitting Station at Briech. The radio frequency (RF) subsystem includes 10 high power, 500 KW, shortwave transmitters, coaxial transmission lines and baluns, dry air system, 2 high power dummy loads with transmission lines, and all directly associated power equipment, cooling equipment and support structures. The Station is a state-of-the-art facility with ten 500 KW shortwave transmitters and includes an “on site” satellite system for program feeds. All facilities are within the same compound.

There are currently 4 U.S. Government direct-hire employees authorized and 61 Moroccan FSN employees assigned to the station. Because of the relatively isolated location where nearby housing and educational facilities are not existent, personnel assigned to the station — all U.S. citizens and most Moroccans — reside in Tangier and Asilah and commute to Briech via transportation which is provided by the station. Driving time between Tangier and the station is approximately 45 minutes. Office hours at the station are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, although operations continue 24 hours per day.


Temporary Quarters

IBB will attempt to move employees assigned to Tangier directly into U.S. Government-leased quarters. Should there be a requirement for temporary quarters, the employees and dependents would be lodged in one of the local hotels.

Permanent Housing

Four residences (including one apartment) are held under U.S. Government lease. The houses are built according to Moroccan standards and tastes with terrazzo or tiled floors, kitchens somewhat smaller than those found in modern American homes, ample living, dining and entertainment areas, and at least 4 bedrooms. Each has a small garden and outdoor area suitable for entertaining. All residences have heating for the chilly winter months.


The Station provides furnishings according to the same guidelines outlined in the Permanent Housing section for U.S. Embassy Rabat.

Utilities and Equipment

Electrical current is 220v. The Station provides transformers if they are required.


Tangier has one major supermarket offering the range of food products found in the large shopping centers in Rabat and Casablanca. Fresh seafood, meat and poultry products, and vegetables and fruit can be purchased in the daily souk market or in smaller convenience stores sprinkled throughout the city, although the quality is generally poor compared to US standards. Prices are high compared to the U.S. Availability of individual vegetables and fruits may depend on the season. Families residing in Tangier recognize that lack of proper sanitation and clean water in surrounding rural areas, as well as use of fertilizer of uncertain origin, require them to wash thoroughly all vegetable and fruit products purchased on the local market. Western style products, alcohol and smoking products are very expensive.

Tangier’s reputation as a place where one can obtain hard-to-find items is still alive and well. Personnel living in the city report that practically anything can be ordered and delivered within 2-3 days by a shop owner for his regular customers. Most expatriate families rely on occasional visits to Ceuta — the Spanish enclave an 1-1/2 hour’s drive away — to take advantage of reasonable prices, European brand names, and greater variety of vegetables and other individual products.

The station’s weekly pouch run to the Rabat Embassy allows an opportunity for Tangier families to acquire items at the ECA. Typically, orders are faxed ahead of time and picked up by the station driver.


(See Clothing section under U.S. Embassy Rabat.) While most of the information pertaining to Rabat and Casablanca applies to Tangier, it should be noted that, despite the city’s historic reputation as a more open city, there is a strong underlying strain of conservatism and strictness concerning Islamic morals and values. This manifests itself in a more conservative dress code for women, for example. Use of the djellaba by women is the rule, with fewer Moroccan females dressed in Western attire in public.

As elsewhere in Morocco, but perhaps even more so in a city that attracts a steady flow of European tourists, foreign women attract the attention of the male population. Expatriate female residents claim this uninvited attention can be more persistent in Tangier than elsewhere, at least until the newcomer is recognized as a resident and not a tourist. American women generally adhere to the rule that sleeves should extend to the elbow and skirts to the knee when they are shopping or otherwise in public.


Few American residents in Tangier rely on public transportation except for occasionally using taxis. Most employees bring cars to post or buy an automobile from someone with similar tax-free status who is departing. (See Transportation under The Host Country section of this report.)

Basic Services

Tangier has many competent hair stylists, beauty shops and shoe-repair shops. Drycleaning is more problematic; wash-and-wear should be selected over clothes that require drycleaning. The quality of repairs and service for automobiles, electronics, household items, etc. is poor.

Religious Activities

Protestant services in English are offered by the Anglicans at St. Andrew’s Church. A group of expatriates also meet regularly at the Tangier International Church for Sunday services. Regular Catholic mass in Spanish, or once monthly in French, is also available in the community.


Dependent Education

The American School of Tangier (AST), founded in 1950 to serve the needs of the American community, was established as a coeducational, non-sectarian institution open to children of all religious and racial backgrounds. Over the years, as the American community has dwindled, the composition of the student body has evolved so that today the overwhelming number of children attending AST are Moroccan, with a sprinkling of U.S. students and other nationalities. Nevertheless, its American headmaster of more than 25 years and his faculty of 45 teachers, seven of whom are Americans, have managed to continue the school’s tradition of providing an English language, American-style education, and to place its graduates in institutions of higher education throughout the world.

The school has been assisted by grants from the Department of State. Together with grant moneys and donated funds, land was purchased and an academic complex was constructed beginning in 1962. The complex includes a modern building housing 20 classrooms, a large library, administrative offices and a fully equipped science and language laboratory. Later, a dormitory was opened to accommodate boarding students from outside the Tangier area. A new gymnasium and a swimming pool for competition were inaugurated in June 2004. The complex was made possible by a generous donation of a member of the Board of Trustees.

AST is incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware as a private, non-profit educational institution and is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, over half of whom must be U.S. citizens. While the school is not officially accredited with any of the various accrediting organizations which exist in the U.S. or Europe, AST has compiled a noteworthy record of turning out graduates who gain entrance to some of the best American, European or Moroccan universities. (Absence of accreditation, however, does permit families in Tangier to opt for the away-from-post education allowance if they choose to place dependents in a boarding school.)

AST follows an American curriculum from kindergarten through the 12th grade. While teachers represent various nationalities, textbooks are nearly universally American. Elementary school covers the fundamentals of reading, number concepts and writing. Students are taught the importance of accuracy, close observation and logical thought. Instruction in French begins in the fifth grade. Arabic is an elective except for Moroccan students for whom it is a compulsory subject. Art and music are offered in the elementary school and in the high school. The school produces twice a year a school magazine containing stories, essays and poems by students from all grades. AST’s Archaeological and Historical Club meets regularly and takes field trips to historical places of interest around Tangier and elsewhere.

In 2003, the student body from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade numbered 340, with 9 Americans among them. Twenty-one other nationalities were represented among the student body. Secondary education is rigorous and designed to prepare the student for college, with heavy emphasis on English, history, mathematics and the applied sciences. A full range of athletic activities is offered, including track and field, swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis and tennis. But perhaps in the extracurricular field, AST is most well known for its dramatic productions which for over 30 years have earned a reputation for excellence and innovative techniques. Typically, these works involve virtually the whole secondary student body who work up to three months to rehearse and stage the productions, with immense contributions from professional members of the artistic community who donate their time and talents to areas of particular expertise such as direction, set design, costume design, make-up or music.

Parents of school-age children should consult with A/OS in the Department of State.

Special Educational Opportunities

There are opportunities for language study in Tangier — French at the Alliance Francaise; Spanish and Arabic at various institutes.

Recreation and Social Life

Tangier offers a number of good restaurants, from simple sawdust-on-the-floor, cheap cafes in the medina where fresh seafood is the house specialty, to more up-market establishments, which are licensed to serve alcohol. Many restaurants offer menus with an emphasis on Spanish-style cooking. There is one Chinese restaurant.

The medina itself is a labyrinth of small shops and stalls selling every manner of Moroccan artifact. Prices, however, always start very high because of the constant tourist flow, so negotiating a fair price can be a challenge. One stop not to be missed is the site within the medina of the original American Ambassador’s residence, now called “the American Legation.” It was given to the new U.S. Government in 1777 by the Sultan Moulay Slimane and is considered an American Historic Landmark. The building now houses a museum.

Despite Tangier having fallen on hard times in recent years, the area still has a lively schedule of cultural offerings — from concerts, to film showings, to art exhibitions. The problem for Americans is that most of these cultural activities require French or Spanish in order to be appreciated, as they are sponsored by the Alliance Francaise, the Spanish Institute, the Italian Cultural Center or the German Goethe Institute. One would do well soon after arrival to pay a visit to these respective centers and get one’s name on the mailing list.

To the west of Tangier, less than 30 minute’s drive, is Cap Spartel with first-class accommodations and restaurant at Le Mirage. To the east, one can stop virtually anywhere on the scenic coastal route drive to Ceuta for great sea views and a meal at one of the many restaurants along the way. Ceuta itself has a number of hotels and a completely different atmosphere for those wishing to get away for a weekend. South of Ceuta, along the Mediterranean coast there are any number of resorts — including Club Med and several hotel complexes patterned after it — where bungalows or rooms may be rented. Farther east there is the beach town of Al Hoceima. Other smaller beach towns are located along the Mediterranean coast until you reach Melilla, the second Spanish enclave.

Traveling south of Tangier, Tetouan is worth a visit, if only to spend some time in its souk. Tetouan does not attract many foreign tourists, which makes the negotiating easier, and the city’s stylized carpets are well known throughout Morocco. An hour and one-half farther south is the medieval mountain village of Chaouen. This fascinating town was founded by returning refugees from Iberia in the 15th century and remains surprisingly unfazed by modernity. It is a great weekend getaway spot.

Tangier does have the advantage of frequent ferry service to Spain, which opens up touring possibilities in Spain and Portugal. The overnight ferry to Sete, France also permits discovering the pleasures of that country.

(See Recreation and Social Life under Rabat and Casablanca sections of this report for descriptions of other Moroccan places to visit. Rabat can be reached in just over 3 hour’s drive, most of which is tolled freeway.)


Aside from the cultural activities listed above, people assigned to Tangier often have to make their own entertainment. Some choose to take mountain bike excursions; some drive up into the surrounding Rif Mountains for hiking; some arrange tennis games or golf outings. All make use of satellite TV systems to receive U.S. and European programming.

Because of language barriers and the fact that Moroccans are accustomed to spending spare time with their own extended families, invitations are not extended to Americans very often. Of course, when they are received, one can expect extraordinary Moroccan hospitality and a sumptuous meal. The best Moroccan cooking is always found in the home.

Tangier is not an easy assignment for the dependent spouse. Work opportunities, aside from perhaps teaching English, are virtually nonexistent. For cultural reasons mentioned previously, it is not always pleasant for women to venture out in public alone. Local society is conservative and often not accessible. Dependent spouses who have years of experience abroad may adapt to these conditions and throw their energies into hobbies, sewing, experimenting with new kinds of recipes, studying languages, volunteering their services at AST or with charity work, ferreting through the handicraft shops to decorate their residences with flair and originality, reading those novels they have always wanted to read, or planning excursions to Morocco's and Iberia's most exotic and enticing attractions. But for an American dependent without prior foreign experience, spending a tour in Tangier likely will test one's adaptability and sense of humor.

Official Functions

There are not many official functions to which Americans might be invited. While the U.S. Government has no diplomatic or consular presence in Tangier, a number of European countries -- Germany, Spain, France, and Italy -- do. Becoming acquainted with these families might open up some good opportunities to meet other expatriates and expand social contacts.

Calling cards are useful, particularly at the beginning of an assignment to Tangier. Station personnel should bring 200. Folding “Mr. and Mrs.” cards are useful as informal invitations. These can be printed locally.

Consulate General - Casablanca

Post City Last Updated: 9/8/2004 7:45 AM


Casablanca is Morocco’s economic, financial, industrial and demographic capital (population about 6 million) and the country’s most important seaport. It is also a significant airline crossroads from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and other African countries. Casablanca’s broad boulevards, multi-story office buildings, bustling business districts, and relatively small medina (the ancient, walled old city) contrast sharply with the traditional imperial cities of Rabat, Fes, Meknes and Marrakech. Though Casablanca begins at sea level, several of its suburbs are considerably higher. Temperatures range between 46°F and 65°F in the rainy winter and between 65°F and 90°F in the humid summer. Humidity averages 75%. Rainfall averages 15–20 inches a year.

The modern city of Casablanca originates from the ancient Berber hamlet called Anfa. The present city center was largely built during the French Protectorate in the first half of the 20th century, while extensive outlying areas have been constructed since independence in 1956. The most visible new landmark on the Casablanca skyline is the Hassan II Mosque, located on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic with its 200-meter-high minaret towering above the city. This magnificent building took 13 years to complete, with several thousand artisans working on it around the clock. Plans include building a conference center, library and other buildings to house businesses in this redeveloped area of the city.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/15/2004 10:06 AM

The Consulate General is near the city center at 8 Boulevard Moulay Youssef, phone number 02-22-41-49 or 02-26-45-50. The office building, surrounded by a small, attractive garden, was built in 1972. Mohammed V Airport is located about 18 miles outside of town; there is regular train service (about 30 minutes) from the airport to the main railroad station in downtown Casablanca, which is a 20-minute drive from the Consulate General. New arrivals are met at the airport, if advance notice is given. Frequent train service connects Casablanca and Rabat in about 1 hour. The Public Affairs Office maintains a cultural center and its only library in-country (Dar America) on 10 Place Bel Air, about 5 minutes' walk from the Consulate General, phone number 02-22-14-40.

The Consul General oversees the usual political, economic, administrative and consular functions required in a major cosmopolitan center. In Morocco, all visa issuance takes place at the Consulate General; the Embassy does not issue visas. The Senior Foreign Commercial Service Officer is located at the Consulate General, and the countrywide Labor Officer is assigned to Casablanca because Morocco's trade unions are headquartered there. The Consulate General also serves as regional headquarters for the Engineering Services Center (ESC). Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. A duty officer is on call evenings and weekends.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 9/8/2004 7:53 AM

It is the post’s policy, whenever possible, to assign employees to quarters in advance of their arrival. If, however, transient or permanent quarters are unavailable, new arrivals stay at either the Hyatt or the Royal Mansour.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/13/2004 12:56 AM

Casablanca has one government-owned and furnished home, the Consul General’s residence, Villa Mirador, which served as Winston Churchill’s quarters during the World War II Allied Conference held in Casablanca in 1943. It is equipped with basic furnishings. A newly arriving principal officer should bring a set of everyday dishes, personal bedding and linens, pool towels, flower vases, pictures, and other decorative items. Electric appliances should be 220v. The grounds of Villa Mirador are landscaped with palm and citrus trees and a grape arbor. Its recreation area includes a swimming pool and clay tennis court. The Consul General establishes policy regarding use of these facilities by the Consulate General community.

Official Americans are provided with government-leased and furnished housing. Except for furniture and most major appliances, bring all personal belongings. Items should include dishes, silverware, linens, small appliances, and other personal decorator goods. The voltage is 220v, 50 cycles. Short-term leased housing consists of single-family dwellings. Employees occupying houses are responsible for the maintenance of their yards, and therefore may wish to include appropriate tools in their household effects shipments (HHE). These tools also are available on the local market.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:07 AM

Most leased housing is wired for 220v, 50 cycles, as is the Consulate General. The post normally provides transformers only for Consulate General-furnished appliances. Therefore, buy or bring transformers and voltage regulators for personal items. Local regulators are costly and not always available or well made. Most nonsynchronous motor, 60-cycle appliances work well. Convert before shipping, since required parts are not always available, and local technicians often prove unfamiliar with American models.

Food Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:13 AM

Markets and grocery stores abound in Casablanca; the Central Market and the Maarif offer good quality and selection but are more expensive than local markets where you are able to choose your produce. Although most markets are open only in the morning, the grocery stores, many of which also sell fruits and vegetables, remain open well into the evening; in addition, several large American-style supermarkets and buyers’ clubs are located in the city.

All fresh fruits and vegetables found in the U.S. are available seasonally. Most personnel buy poultry, meat and fish locally. Cuts of meat differ slightly from those in the U.S., but quality and variety are good. Pork, chicken, mutton and beef are available at prices somewhat higher than in the U.S. Alcoholic beverages are available, although expensive when purchased on the local market. Moroccan wines, however, are plentiful and vary in quality from table wine to quite good vintages. Prices are reasonable by U.S. standards. Casablanca has an excellent selection of French pastry shops and Belgian chocolate shops; Moroccan breads and pastries are of good quality.

Personnel assigned to Casablanca have access to the Embassy Cooperative Association (ECA) commissary in Rabat. Orders are faxed and delivered on thrice-weekly courier runs. Alcoholic beverages and paper products, which are of limited availability locally and at higher prices, are the most frequently purchased items.

Clothing Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:15 AM

Most personnel purchase clothing either directly from the U.S. via catalog or while on vacation in Europe or the U.S. However, Casablanca has an increasing number of boutiques with adequate to very good apparel and footwear, some of it imported. Clothes may also be purchased at the large supermarkets, department stores or price clubs mentioned above. Although many employees shop by catalog from the U.S. or order products from the ECA in Rabat, there is very little that cannot be found on the local market.

Casablanca’s medina and Habbous district offer an excellent selection of Moroccan arts and handicrafts, everything from bronze metalwork to Berber carpets, to decorated ceramics and pottery. (Other major handicraft centers within the consular district are Marrakech, Safi, Essaouira and Ouarzazate.)

Many expatriates living in Casablanca take advantage of its antique shops, fairs and flea markets to hunt for that special Moroccan or European decorative item.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:23 AM

Casablanca has many excellent hair stylists, beauty shops and shoe repair shops. Drycleaners are not of American or European standards; wash-and-wear is preferable to items requiring drycleaning. There are very good drycleaners in the Maarif called L'Ecureuil. Local film processing using the latest technology to produce fast service is reliable and comparable in price with the U.S. Some employees, however, prefer to send film to the U.S. for processing. (For additional information on Clothing and Supplies and Services, see Rabat.)

Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:23 AM

English-language services are available at the Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist, located near the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Casablanca, and weekly Catholic Mass in English is held at Christ the King Church near the Holiday Inn. Several Catholic and Protestant churches hold services in French and Spanish. Other places of worship include synagogues and Greek Orthodox Churches. Non-Moslems generally are not permitted to enter mosques in Morocco. An exception is the Hassan II Mosque where visitors can view the magnificent ornate interior on guided tours for DH 120.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 9/15/2004 10:07 AM

Parents of pre-school age youngsters may enroll their children in the Casablanca American School (CAS), which offers nursery and kindergarten classes on a half-day basis, or else choose one of a number of French language pre-schools in Casablanca. A third option is the George Washington Academy (GWA), inaugurated in 1998. It offers an American curriculum taught in a trilingual setting (40–45% English, 40–45% French and 10–20% Arabic). GWA offers kindergarten through 12th grade education.

Tuition at the French language pre-schools generally has been less expensive than that charged by CAS; parents must pay this tuition charge themselves.

Other dependent children attend either CAS or one of the French Mission schools. CAS, which opened its impressive new campus in a suburb named “California” in September 1989 but which has been in operation since 1973, provides English-language, international education from nursery school through grade 12. Interested parents representing the corporate sector and the Consulate General founded the school, and it has been well-supported by the entire English-speaking community, as well as permanent residents of Morocco in Casablanca. The school year begins in late August/early September and runs through mid-June. Its walled campus contains a pre-school with 6 classrooms, administration building, large classroom building, two-level library, gymnasium, cafeteria and dining area, and sports field. In 2002, a new building was inaugurated featuring computer and art labs, a lower school library, a state-of-the-art performance center and a roof-top salon..

The school is supported in part by a grant from the Department of State, and uses modern teaching methods and materials, maintaining high academic standards. It compares favorably to better American public and private schools. The International Baccalaureate program as well as an American high school diploma are offered. In 2003, enrollment stood at 481 students, representing over 30 nationalities. American students made up 15%, Moroccan students were 63%, and 22% came from other nations. While all Consulate General children are accepted, grade placement for all students is determined by testing. Space limitations, particularly in the lowest grades, have meant that early applications for contractors and non-Consulate General families are highly recommended.

The school attempts to limit class size to 18 students per class, though CAS responds positively to requests that additional students be accepted from the corporate sector or from Consulate General families. French language instruction is provided to all students; Arabic is optional except for Moroccan students for whom it is a compulsory subject. Computer instruction is introduced at an early age. Students can access e-mail through the school's computer lab.

The CAS faculty includes 90 full-time and 10 part-time staff members, including 45 from the U.S. Teachers are assisted by instructional aides in the lower grades as well as by several teaching interns.

CAS integrates the study of Morocco into its curriculum at all levels in order to build a better understanding of the host country. There are academic and athletic exchange programs with Moroccan counterparts; moreover, field trips and visitations promote an appreciation and understanding of the geography, history, language, religion and accomplishments of Morocco.

As the rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum, beginning in middle school and continuing through high school, places heavy emphasis on mathematics, science and English, students transferring into CAS at the secondary level may find adjustment difficult without a solid grounding in previous academic work. The school will test all such prospective students for placement and make recommendations if there are any deficiencies that need to be addressed. Extremely limited resources are available for students with special needs. All students are mainstreamed into the normal academic programs if admitted to CAS. Parents of high-school-age students should consult with A/OS in the Department of State.

CAS graduates in recent years have gained admission to superior North American and European universities such as Duke, Penn, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, M.I.T., Cal Tech, Vassar, Williams, McGill (Canada), International School of Economics, (Rotterdam), London School of Economics, etc. Depending on the institution and IB examination results, some graduates may be given advanced standing or awarded credits at universities based on their IB degree.

After-school activities include a full range of sports for both boys and girls including volleyball, track and field, basketball, soccer, swimming and softball. Other extracurricular offerings are drama, art, choir, debate and yearbook clubs. Student councils are elected at both the lower school and upper school levels. A charity committee focuses CAS efforts at outreach into needy communities in Casablanca and its environs. On the academic side, the school regularly places students from grade 5 upwards, based on Scholastic Achievement Test results, to special summer programs for the academically gifted at Johns Hopkins, Duke University, Amherst and other U.S. higher institutions.

The French Mission system, another educational option, traditionally has many more applicants than places and therefore gives preference to students who have already studied in the French system. French-language fluency is essential. French school hours are longer (including some Saturday sessions) and discipline may be different for those accustomed to U.S. public schools. Class size could well be substantially larger than that at CAS. Graduates of the Lycee Lyautey in Casablanca possess the equivalent of a high school education plus 1 year of college credit, and may continue their education at French universities.

American college degrees or certificates cannot be obtained in Morocco, though Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane offers coursework in English according to a U.S.-based curriculum leading to undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:23 AM

The Department-sponsored FSI language program teaches French and Arabic, depending on funding and community interest. The French Cultural Center also offers reasonably priced French or Arabic lessons. The American Language Center, an independent educational institution, is located in the downtown building which formerly housed the Consulate General. The center offers classes in English, French and Arabic. It also houses the American Bookstore which contains a modest assortment of English-language books.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:24 AM

Casablanca offers a wealth of excellent restaurants, many of them French. They can be found both in the major downtown hotel area and out on the Corniche overlooking the water, where diners take advantage of both the beautiful sight and an abundance of fresh seafood. Although there are Moroccan restaurants as well, the best Moroccan cooking in Casablanca remains in private homes. Casablanca has many Lebanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Kosher, Italian, and Spanish restaurants.

In recent years, U.S. franchise establishments have entered the Moroccan market. Casablanca now boasts well-known outlets such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. Additionally, Casablanca offers innumerable cafes and ice cream parlors. Personnel at the Consulate General also travel frequently up and down the coast to enjoy the numerous fish and seafood restaurants in such towns as Mohammedia, El Jadida, and Oualidia. The latter is particularly well known for its cultivation of oysters.

Casablanca has a number of night clubs, jazz clubs and discotheques that typically attract the late night crowd. These are generally found along the city’s Corniche waterfront area.

Sports Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:24 AM

The three golf clubs in the Casablanca area have a combined but limited membership for use of their facilities. One 9-hole course is located in the Anfa residential area of Casablanca near the principal officer’s home; it also offers a restaurant, swimming pool, sauna, and tennis courts. Another, which has an 18-hole course, is about 20 miles from Casablanca, in Mohammedia. The third golf course is a new 9-hole course situated in Ben Slimane about 20 miles from Casablanca, on the old road to Rabat. There is an excellent 18-hole private links course in El Jadida about 50 miles south of Casablanca. Casablanca has many tennis clubs. The Consul General determines rules and hours for use of the clay tennis court and pool at Villa Mirador. There is also an Aeroclub at Tit Mellil, on the northern outskirts of Casablanca. Flying lessons are available at a reasonable price.

(See Rabat Sports section on beaches, skiing, hiking, hunting, fishing, etc.) A long strip of clean beaches can be found a half hour’s drive south of Casablanca in Dan Bonazza, including several private beaches which offer dining, shower and bathroom facilities. Many people enjoy saltwater fishing, and two yacht clubs offer boating and sailing. Surfing and windsurfing are available, but are not recommended for beginners. Recreation for children is limited, but small public parks, a very small zoo and two small amusement parks are located in the city. Horses can be rented and excellent instruction is available for children at reasonable rates.

Long distance running is becoming increasingly popular. Employees from Rabat and Casablanca participate in the annual Marrakech International Marathon, as well as in many shorter races. Spectator events in Casablanca are held in the Mohammed V Stadium; weekend soccer matches are popular and draw huge crowds and considerable traffic congestion. The local newspapers offer coverage of sporting events. Most sports from archery to scuba diving, fencing to squash can be practiced in Casablanca.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:27 AM

Casablanca’s consular district offers a wide variety of sights of both natural beauty and cultural importance. Marrakech, with lovely monuments and excellent restaurants, has a booming tourist industry, as does Agadir with its beautiful Atlantic beaches. Safi and Essaouira offer attractive ceramics and handicrafts as well as a less hurried pace, while Ouarzazate is the gateway to the Draa and Dades Valleys, and Zagora lies at the edge of the Sahara. Within a few hours’ drive from Casablanca, one can admire beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls and deserts. The major cities of Rabat, Fes, Meknes, Marrakech, and Tangier are all linked to Casablanca by excellent and inexpensive bus and rail service.

Entertainment Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:29 AM

Cultural events are limited, but the foreign cultural centers, particularly the French, Spanish and Italian, as well as the neighborhood cultural centers of Anfa, Maarif, and Ben M’sik, offer frequent concerts, lectures, painting exhibitions, and other cultural events. The Goethe Institute and the Spanish Cultural Center also offer a variety of programs. Casablanca’s dozen cinemas offer a variety of films, including American films dubbed into French. Three or four showings are featured daily. The foreign cultural centers also show films in the original language with French subtitles. Teenagers participate in social events with their counterparts from the various high schools. The common language is French. Casablanca's Villa des Arts, situated near the Consulate, hosts exhibitions of paintings and photographs by contemporary artists.

Few festivities take place in Casablanca proper, but there are occasional “moussems”and “fantasias” (colorful simulated charges by horsemen in full regalia, brandishing and firing weapons), and there are native folk dances in the Atlas Mountains. A National Museum and National Library are planned for the redevelopment area surrounding the Hassan II Mosque.

Newsstands carry primarily French and Arabic periodicals, but the International Herald Tribune, the European editions of Time and Newsweek, and The Economist are found readily. Several excellent French bookstores, some of which carry English language titles, are also available.

Shortwave reception is good. A quality shortwave set receives VOA, BBC, or other European broadcasts. Local radio and TV broadcasts are in French and Arabic. A multisystem TV is required for viewing these broadcasts. (See The Host Country, Radio and TV, for information regarding satellite TV.)

Social Activities Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:24 AM

The Churchill Club, located in the suburb of Ain Diab off the Corniche, stipulates that its members speak English on the premises. Membership is primarily English and American, with some French and Moroccans who wish to exercise their knowledge of English and socialize with native speakers. This club provides a means of getting acquainted with other members of the English-speaking community. The club offers dinner every Tuesday night, luncheons on Sundays, and limited food service during the week. Members are permitted to bring out-of-town visitors. Facilities include a bar, library, small wading pool, table tennis, and billiards. The club also sponsors dances, ethnic dinners and bridge tournaments. Both the American and British consuls general are ex-officio members of the governing board.

The Casablanca Amateur Dramatic Society (CADS) presents several full- length plays annually, as well as numerous readings using the Churchill Club’s facilities, but remaining a separate group.

Casablanca's American International Women’s Club membership is mostly non-American, although the club president must be a U.S. citizen. Working closely with many hospitals and schools, this group has an effective charity and development program which provides for the needy, and sponsors one annual fundraising event—the pre-Christmas bazaar. Besides monthly business meetings, the club sponsors afternoon bridge sessions and occasional outings. Many social clubs offer tennis, yachting, riding, and swimming. These clubs and the Royal Golf d’Anfa and Mohammedia provide good opportunities for meeting the local community of all nationalities.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:31 AM

The principal officer, section heads, and spouses participate in an active representation program involving local government, business and social contacts. Entertaining varies from small to medium-sized dinner parties, and large receptions. American staff members are often invited, either because of their official position or for social reasons. Moroccans are hospitable and enjoy meeting Americans.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 9/7/2004 4:25 AM

All officers are encouraged to participate in social affairs to broaden contacts and increase their knowledge of Morocco and the local community. With a good knowledge of French or Arabic, one can develop friends in Moroccan and third country national circles. Associations may be formed with the growing number of English-speaking Moroccans who may have studied the language or gone to school in the U.S., but French continues to be the medium of the Casablanca social groups.

Business card use is widespread. About 300–500 calling cards for principal officers and 200–300 for other officers should be sufficient. These cards also can be printed at the Consulate. Spouses may have their own calling cards printed here. Most officers’ business cards printed locally include: name, functional title, local address, telephone number, cell phone number and email address. Informal “Mr. and Mrs.” cards may be used for invitations. Most officers have formal invitations printed locally.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 9/13/2004 1:04 PM

There is one direct flight daily from New York to Casablanca offered by Royal Air Maroc code shared with Delta. There is also one direct daily flight from Paris to Rabat operated by Air France, also code shared with Delta. Post recommends (although does not require) that employees assigned to Rabat use the Delta/Air France flight.

The Mohammed V Airport is located about 18 miles from Casablanca and 70 miles from Rabat. The Rabat-Sale Airport is about 5 miles outside of Rabat. The Tangier Airport is about 9 miles outside of Tangier.

A government vehicle will be dispatched to meet you at the airport. Please ensure that Post is informed of your flight arrival information well in advance of travel.

Allow 2 weeks for receipt of your UAB and approximately two months for receipt of HHE from Baltimore. HHE and POVs are shipped to ELSO Antwerp and then forwarded to post upon arrival of the employee at post.

Include in your airfreight bed sheets, towels, blankets, an iron, and kitchen appliances and equipment. Some tools (hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches and flashlight) are useful. Bring sweaters regardless of the season. If you have infants, bring a substantial supply of baby food and diapers. Also bring any special medication, drugs, or vitamins the family requires. Have an additional supply of these shipped with your HHE.

For those assigned to Rabat and Casablanca, address all shipments of HHE, either by air or surface, as follows:

Name (agency)
American Embassy
Rabat, Morocco

For those assigned to Rabat, route airfreight to Rabat-Sale Airport. For those assigned to Casablanca or Tangier, route airfreight to the respective international airport in each city. Port of discharge for surface shipments destined for Rabat or Casablanca is Casablanca. Surface shipments for Tangier may be shipped directly to Tangier using the following address:

U.S. Embassy (IBB Relay Station)
Port of Tangier

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 9/7/2004 1:15 PM

Personnel with diplomatic or consular titles receive free-entry privileges for the duration of their tour of duty. All other direct-hire and U.S. Government contractor personnel receive free-entry privileges only during the first 6 months after arrival.

Passage Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:34 AM

U.S. citizens, including Official American personnel, do not need visas to enter Morocco; valid passports are sufficient. Check with the Department of State Medical office for necessary inoculations. An entry date stamp is required on all passports entering Morocco. If you enter the country through small border stations, insist on having your passport stamped. Carry several copies of travel orders, and your passport.

When you arrive in Morocco for a tour, present 13 photos, size 1-1/2" x 1-3/4", to the Human Resources Office to process your Moroccan identity card and driver's license. Photos must be taken full face and without glasses. Photos are easily obtainable locally at prices cheaper than in Washington, D.C.

Pets Last Updated: 9/15/2004 10:08 AM

To bring a cat or dog into Morocco, submit a certificate of good health. Technically this certificate should be signed no more than 48 hours before departure. A registered veterinarian must state that the animal is free from infections and contagious diseases, and that a rabies vaccination was administered no less than 15 days, and no more than 1 year before arrival.

If at all possible, pets should accompany their owners rather than arrive either before or after arrival of owners. Additionally, flights with pets aboard should be scheduled so that arrival occurs during weekdays when veterinarians normally are on duty to examine documentation and permit entry. There have been cases when pets arrived at odd-hours and were forced to wait until the next business day to be freed from a holding area at the airport. In cases of weekends or during frequent religious or national holidays, delays are common. Advance planning and consultation with the embassy are critical to assure that pets will not suffer during this last stage of their journey.

Birds with parrot's beaks must be accompanied by a statement signed by the owner and countersigned by a registered veterinarian stating that the bird has been the owner's personal property for at least 6 months before date of departure, that it will not be sold or used for any commercial purposes, and will remain the owner's personal property. A registered veterinarian must also sign a certificate, dated no less than 3 days before departure, stating the bird is free from any visible symptoms of psittacosis (parrot disease) and ornithosis.

For other birds, a signed certificate by a registered veterinarian must be submitted, and dated no less than 3 days before departure, certifying the bird free from contagious or parasitic diseases that can be transmitted to humans or other animals; that the bird is free from ornithosis, plague, and Newcastle disease; and the bird does not come from an area where such diseases are prevalent.

For other animals (turtles, reptiles, etc.) bring a health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian stating that the animal is free from any disease peculiar to its species, and free from any contagious or parasitic disease transmittable to humans or other animals. Importation of rodents, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits is prohibited.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 9/15/2004 10:09 AM

It is imperative that Post receive advance notification of an employee's intent to bring firearms and ammunition into the country. In case these regulations change after publication of this report, check with your regional bureaus or the post administrative counselor before making a final decision to ship arms or ammunition.

Only the following non-automatic firearms and ammunition may be brought to Morocco:
Item Quantity
Shotguns 3
(gauge 20,16 and 12)
Ammunition 1,000 rounds

Firearms must be registered with the Embassy and with Moroccan police authorities on arrival. A hunting permit and hunting insurance are required (about $150 a year). The Embassy will assist in registration and in securing required permits and insurance. Any ammunition purchase must be noted by the seller on the hunting permit. Except as listed above, no other types of firearms or ammunition are permitted in Morocco; i.e., no rifled weapons are licensed for private individuals.

The above-listed firearms and ammunition may be shipped (but not mailed) to post without an export license, provided they are consigned to U.S. personnel for their personal use and not for resale. Prior approval of the Chief of Mission is not necessary, provided post is given advance notification.

To bring additional firearms and ammunition into the country, obtain permission of the Chief of Mission in advance. In shipping additional firearms and ammunition from the U.S., forward copies of your exchange of correspondence with the Chief of Mission, along with a completed form DSP-5 (export application), to Office of Defense Trade Controls (PM/DTC), Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520. The application should include all firearms and ammunition to be shipped to post. The export license issued by PM/MC must be given at time of shipment to the U.S. Despatch Agent who, in turn, will surrender it and other shipping documents to U.S. Customs.

If you receive permission from your next Chief of Mission to ship firearms and ammunition in excess of those prescribed, and you ship them between foreign countries only, no license is necessary from PM/DTC.

No Department of State license will be issued if you ship only shotguns (with barrels 18 inches and over in length) and shotgun ammunition within the quantities listed. You must, however, comply with the Chief of Mission's determination and with export regulations of the Office of Export Control, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:37 AM

The official currency is the Moroccan dirham (DH). In 2004 the exchange rate was about DH 9 to US$1.00. Morocco prohibits import or export of dirhams. Other currencies may be brought into Morocco, and arriving personnel should be prepared to declare funds in their possession on arrival.

A number of local banks are available. The official USDO account is maintained at BMCI Bank. In accordance with post policy and regulations, American U.S. Government personnel must obtain all local currency from official banks or the Embassy cashier. To facilitate meeting this requirement, a teller from BMCI Bank is available at the Embassy, at USAID, and at the Consulate General in Casablanca to provide accommodation exchange services to Mission employees, eligible family members who are on employees' orders, and official visitors. The Embassy cashier does not provide accommodation exchange except for VIP visits and in emergency situations.

BMCI is open at the Embassy Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. BMCI is open at USAID Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m to 10:30 a.m. At the Consulate General, hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Arrangements also have been made for Mission employees to use BMCI branches located throughout Morocco, which are open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., as well as Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

In Tangier, International Broadcasting Bureau employees obtain accommodation exchange at the IBB station.

Personal checks in U.S. dollars are used for all expenditures made at the ECA. American Express travelers' checks may be purchased at the ECA for a fee of 2%.

In recent years, a number of Moroccan banks have begun to offer their clients automated teller machine (ATM) service. While these machines are not yet found at all bank branches in the country, Rabat, Casablanca and the major cities and towns attracting tourists offer a number of locations to those wishing to access bank accounts in their home country. Local ATM’s will accommodate some U.S. bank cards and/or major credit cards.

Local weights and measures follow the European metric scale.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 9/15/2004 10:26 AM

U.S. Government employees pay sales taxes in the form of TVA (VAT) on all single purchases less than DH 2,000 in value and on telephone bills of any amount. (Reimbursement for TVA paid on purchases greater than DH 2,000 must be made in writing.) Fees are charged for vehicle registration, license plates, drivers’ licenses, etc. A hunting permit will cost approximately $100 a year. All instructions, procedures, and prohibitions are applicable to U.S. Government employees of any agency. This includes personnel and organizations attached to, or under the jurisdiction of, these agencies. Property purchased in Morocco for which Moroccan customs duty and taxes have been paid are exempt. Fees are charged for vehicle registration, license plates, drivers’ licenses, etc. A hunting permit will cost approximately $100 a year.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:38 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

American University: Area Handbook for Morocco. Washington, D.C., 1978.

Barbour, Nevill. Morocco. Walkers and Co.: New York, 1965; Thames and Hudson: London, 1965.

Bovill E. W. The Golden Trade of the Moors. Oxford University Press: London, 1968.

Bowles, Paul. Their Heads are Blue and Their Hands are Green. Ecco Press, 1994.

Bowles, Paul. The Spider’s House. Black Sparrow Press, 1982.

Coon, Carleton S. Caravan. Revised edition, Henry Holt & Co.: New York, 1976.

Combs-Schilling, M.E. Scared Performances. Columbia University Press: New York, 1989.

Davis, Susan. Patience and Power: Women’s Lives in a Moroccan Village. Schenkman Books:,1982.

Entelis, John P. Culture and Counterculture in Moroccan Politics. University Press of America, 1996.

Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock. In Search of Islamic Feminism: One Woman’s Global Journey. Doubleday, 1997.

Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock. Street in Marrakech. Waveland Press, 1988.

Findlayson, Ian. Tangier: City of the Dream. Harpers Collins Publisher,1992.

Gellner, Ernest and Charles Micaud (eds). Arabs and Berbers—From Tribe to Nation in North Africa. Duckworth: London, 1973.

Gibb, H. A. R. Mohammedanism, An Historical Survey. Oxford University Press, 1953.

Geertz, Clifford. Islam Observes. University of Chicago: London, 1968.

Hall, Luella J. The United States and Morocco, 1776–1956. Scarecrow Press: Metuchen, 1971.

Halstead, John P. Rebirth of a Nation: The Origins and Rise of Moroccan Nationalism, 1912–1944. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967.

Hargraves, Orin. Culture Shock! Morocco. Graphic Arts Center Pub. Co 1995.

Hart, David Montgomery. The Aith Waryaghar of the Moroccan Rif. University of Arizona, 1976.

Mernissi, Fatima. Women & Islam: A Historical and Theological Enquiry. South Asia Books, 1993.

Montagne, Robert. (Tr. by David Seddon).The Berbers: Their Social and Political Organization. Frank Cass and Cie: London, 1973.

Munson, Henry. Religion and Power in Morocco. Yale University, 1993.

Parker, Richard B. North Africa: Regional Tensions and Strategic Concerns.Praeger: New York, Connecticut, London, 1984.

Pedron, Francois. L’Echec au Roi. La Table Ronde: Paris, 1972.

Waterbury, John. Commander of the Faithful. Columbia University Press: New York,1970.

Waterbury, John. North for the Trade.University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1972.

Westermarck, Edward. Marriage Ceremonies in Morocco. Rowman, 1972.

Woolman, David S. Rebels in the Rif—Abd El Krim and the Rif Rebellion.Stanford University Press: Palo Alto, 1968.

Zartman, William. The Political Economy of Morocco. New York: Praeger, 1987.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 9/8/2004 8:39 AM

Local religious holidays follow the lunar calendar. The month-long religious observance of Ramadan is currently observed during the months of October -November, but moves forward on the Gregorian calendar about 1 week each year. During Ramadan, adult Moslems fast from sunrise to sunset and pray, meditate, and abstain from physical pleasures. Restaurants may close for the entire month. Other establishments gear their hours of service to the public to coincide with their periods of fasting. The holiday schedule for 2004 is as follows:

New Year’s Day Jan. 1
Martin Luther King's Birthday Jan. 19
Aid Al Adha (Feast of Pilgrimage Feb. 1, 2

President's Day Feb. 16
First Moharram (Moslem New Year) February 22
Aid Mawlid An Nabbaoui May 2, 3
Memorial Day May 26
American Independence Day July 5
Feast of the Throne July 30
Revolution of the King & the People August 20
Labor Day Sept. 6
Columbus Day October 11
Veteran's Day Nov. 11
Aid Al Fitr Nov. 14, 15
Feast of Independence Nov. 18
Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25
Christmas Day Dec. 25
New Year's Day (2005) Dec. 31

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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