The Kingdom of Morocco, Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah, might be small, but it is certainly making a name for itself. Moroccan products are flooding the market and becoming all the rage. From beauty products to fashionable trends, Morocco is becoming a leading exporter.
Let us learn about this country and what makes its products so unique.
The Kingdom of Morocco
MoroccoMorocco is located in Northern Africa, directly across from the Strait of Gibraltar. Algeria, Spain, and Western Sahara border Morocco. Currently, the border between Algeria and Morocco is closed.
Most of the citizens speak French because France used to control Morocco; however, Spanish and English are becoming more prominent, as well. The largest cities within Morocco include Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Marrakech, and Oujda.
The Climate of Morocco
Morocco is desert-like, yet the Atlas and Rif mountains cover most of the country. The Sahara desert does make up a portion of the country, but most of it is mountainous.
The moderate and subtropical climate of Morocco makes it ideal for year-round bazaars and exporting. However, the further you travel from the ocean border, the more extreme the interior climate can become. Interior Morocco experiences extremely warm summers and moderately cool winters. This variation allows for an array of different products available.
Trade and Export in Morocco
Trade and ExportThe Aram Maghreb Union were created in 1989 with the intent and purpose to unify Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. While this union was supposed to help promote trade and political unity between the countries, Morocco and Algeria could not get along; thus the union is currently frozen.
This situation has not stopped Morocco from becoming one of the world’s largest exporters. One of the main reasons that Morocco has continuously held the title of a dominant exporter is thanks to France. France is a major import and export partner with Morocco.
Morocco has recently reduced its dependence on phosphate and mineral exports, and is beginning to explore growing tourism and increased manufactured and agricultural products. The competition, though, is steep when it comes to products such as textiles. Morocco is popular for low labor productivity and high wages. The country is dependent on imported fuel and food due to a drought.
Nine Well Known Moroccan Products the World Can’t Live Without
Here is a list of well-known Moroccan products you should keep an eye out for. From decorative pieces for the home to beauty products and fashion pieces, these Moroccan items are must-haves.
1. Beautiful Yet Durable Carpets and Rugs
Carpets and RugsRugs are some of the most famous items native to Morocco. Moroccan rugs are beautiful and durable. In addition, there are multitudes of different options available. When shopping for a rug in Morocco, look around before making any hasty decisions.
Carpets and rugs will certainly be much cheaper than anywhere else in the world, even if they are a larger size. Remember that you can bargain the price down in almost all items in Morocco. Find a price you are comfortable with, and see if you can haggle down to it, always making sure that you are being respectful to the artisan, of course.
If you cannot bring the rug home with you, then most merchants offer the service of shipping it to your home for you. You can shop as much as you like without having to worry about fitting it all into your suitcase. Do note, though, that most of these rugs take weeks to months to make. Artists handcraft them with care and unique abilities, and the price should reflect this hard work.
In addition to handcrafted carpets and rugs, you should also check out the unique handcrafted pottery and ceramic items native to Morocco.
2. Pottery and Ceramics for Every Taste
PotteryRegardless where in Morocco you are, you can find hundreds of different types of ceramics and pottery. You will find plates, bowls, cups, teacups, decorative pieces and so much more. Artists usually adorn most of these ceramics with bright colors, but there are neutral pieces, as well.
You can find these items in the souks. A souk is basically a marketplace or bazaar. Each city will have these bazaars, but the cities of Safi, Fez and Meknes are quite famous for their pottery.
Artists create the Moroccan pottery using the same process as anywhere else in the world:
The potter works by spinning clay on their wheel.
This process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to more than three hours.
The clay then sits out to dry.
Once the pottery is dry, artists place it inside of a kiln.
They fuel the kilns of Morocco, especially those in the countryside, with wood, leaves, and branches. The decorative process varies on the region. In Berber villages, the pottery tends to be more rustic and earth tone colors, whereas the pottery of Safi will be more metallic and shiny.
Pottery and ceramics are the perfect souvenirs to bring back from a trip to Morocco or to purchase if you don’t have the opportunity to visit.
3. Argan Oil for Health and Beauty, Too
Argan oil is plant oil that the local Moroccan women extract from the kernels of an argan tree. In Morocco, people use argan oil as most other countries use olive oil. They dip bread in it and even drizzle it on pasta and other entrees.
Argan oilArgan grows in the southern regions of Morocco. Workers make it by following this process:
They start by drying out the fruit from the argan tree.
Then they remove the fleshy pulp from the inside.
Next, they crack open the fruit nut in order to find the argan kernels.
For culinary oil, they gently roast the kernels.
To produce cosmetic oil, they skip roasting the kernels to avoid the nutty smell.
The oil must sit for two weeks to make it usable.
They suspend the solids within the oil to create the natural sediment.
Sometimes the workers filter the oil again.
The process is quite intricate and time-consuming, which is one of the reasons why argan oil is in high demand with an unmatched supply.
Argan oil contains carotenes, phenols, tocopherols, squalene, and fatty acids. Depending on the extraction method, this oil can be more resistant to oxidation than olive oil.
Argan oil is thick and golden yellow there are two types of argan, culinary and cosmetic argan oil. The true argan oil is thick and golden yellow. The true argan oil will smell rather nutty. The Moroccan people sell this oil in glass bottles as 100-percent oil.
Health-wise, consuming argan oil can reduce harmful cholesterol and keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy. In addition, argan oil consumption prevents various cancers, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
You can also find many products with this oil infused into it. These products include argan oil shampoo and hand lotion. Argan oil in a cosmetic context can work to fight acne and flaking skin. It can also nourish the hair and help alleviate burns and rheumatism.
Argan oil is becoming increasingly popular in the cosmetic world. Oftentimes, vendors blend argan oil with other antioxidant ingredients, such as pomegranate seed oil and peppermint oil.
The next time you find yourself wanting to purchase some true Moroccan products, ensure that argan oil, whether for cosmetic or culinary reasons, is on your list. In addition to this magical oil, you should check out some of the unique fashions, as well.
4. Clothing to Get You Noticed
Moroccan cloth in Moroccan clothing has a distinctive appearance. Whether you are looking at fancy dresses or everyday djellabas, Moroccan clothing offers an exquisite appeal. Most of the Moroccan clothing items are handmade and relatively affordable.
You can find these clothing items within any region of Morocco. Regardless of the area, you can find common tunics and linen dresses or flashier items. Just be careful washing your items for the first time. Especially if your clothing item is colorful, be sure to wash separately and air dry.
5. Luscious Leather Goods Unlike Any in the World
leather bags leather might appear uniform regardless of where you find it, but the tanning souks of Fez are one of the most infamous in all of North Africa. From leather bags to poufs and even slippers, you can find it all. In fact, the leather in Morocco can vary in quality depending on the animal, since the workers obtain leather from camels, cows, sheep, and goats.
If you are in Morocco shopping for leather, then you should stay in Fez, Marrakech or Rissani. These cities are popular for quality leather regardless of the animal used.
Whether you want an item you can wear or decorate your house, there is certainly a Moroccan item waiting for you.
6. Light Up Your Life with Lanterns
Morocco is famous for one-of-a-kind lanterns. These lanterns range in size, weight and materials. The lighter lanterns tend to be much more affordable because artists usually create them from aluminum. However, if you want a higher-end lantern then you can always purchase a glass or heavy-duty fixture. Metal lanterns often include glass ornate fixtures and make fantastic indoor or outdoor light fixtures.
Lanterns are the perfect Moroccan item to decorate your house with. Better yet, perhaps you can find a metal etched Moroccan lantern.
7. Hammered Metal: A Timeless Tradition
Metaline of the lasting traditions of Morocco is the art of etching metal. Craftsmen adorn numerous decorative pieces with metal etchings, but you can also find metal etchings on other items include teapots, trays and pieces of jewelry.
The process of etching metal is quite time-consuming, so most items will be more expensive with etching. There are many items available that claim to be Moroccan metal etched pieces, but for true authenticity look for a Moroccan vendor.
8. Get Creative with Musical Instruments
Morocco boasts of producing two different kinds of instruments, the Arab instruments, and the indigenous-inspired instruments. The famous Gnawa musicians of southern Morocco introduced a variety of instruments to the country. The Gnawa is an ethnic Moroccan group that unites based on their love of music. This group expresses themselves using a range of age-old musical rituals.
Photo by Enfo / CC BY-SA
The Gnawa, also known as the Gnaoua, were originally brought to Morocco as slaves from the east and West Africa. The songs and chants they sing often refer to the injustice of their ancestry. The Gnawa use music as a form of healing. There is a hypnotic beat to their music, and it often proves to have an extremely calming effect.
You can purchase traditional Arabic guitars almost anywhere in the country, but if you want a Gnawa instrument then you should head to one of the southern coastal areas of even the Sahara. The people of Morocco are friendly. If you find yourself visiting the area, you might even be able to bargain for a musical lesson from them, too.
If music is not your forte, then there are some more culinary-inspired items native to Morocco you should consider.
9. Spices and Dried Goods to Make Your Dishes Delightful
turmeric there are many quality spices native to Morocco, and purchasing them directly from Morocco will prove much fresher and tastier than those you can buy from an importing country in North America or Europe.
Many of these spices include saffron, turmeric, cumin, and ras al hanout. There are other food items including figs, dates, olives, and almonds. These spices and dried goods are available in practically all shops or handouts. However, do your best to avoid any touristy shops, since these shops will definitely overcharge you.
Spices and dried goods make for excellent gifts. They are easy to transport and relatively inexpensive. You can find these spices and dried goods all over Morocco; however, some regions have more than others depending on the time of year. For example, saffron comes mostly exclusively from Tillouane.
Moroccan items are truly one of a kind. Morocco might be small, but it is making a name for itself in unique items worthy of exporting to other countries. The next time you are in the market for unique, handmade items, consider something Moroccan-made.