WikiArabia 2019/Travel Guide

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WikiArabia 2019
                     Marrakesh, 4—6 October 2019
Menara Gardens.jpg

WikiArabia 2019   Venue   Program   Participants   Travel Guide   Submissions   Team   Friendly Space Policy   FAQ   Extra Activities

Practical InformationEdit

Morocco and MarrakechEdit

Morocco is a kingdom in Western-North Africa with a population of over 35 million. The capital is Rabat and the largest city is Casablanca.

Marrakech (Arabic: مراكش, Tifinagh: ⴰⵎⵓⵔⴰⴽⵓⵛ), also spelt Marrakesh, is one of the imperial cities of Morocco.its name originates from the Amazigh words “mur (n) wakush”, which means "Land of God". Marrakech is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the Atlas Mountains and a few hours away from the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape has made it the main tourist destination in Morocco.

TelecommunicationEdit

The international dialling prefix of Morocco is +212.

The mobile telephone network in Morocco can be accessed via one of the major operators: Orange, Inwi or Maroc Telecom (IAM - Ittisalat Al Maghrib). Network coverage is generally good at least in populated areas but mostly also in the countryside.

Beware that roaming with international cards from most countries is very expensive, so think about buying a local card.

SIM Cards can be purchased with an ID; the card itself is free, the fee paid is credited to the account. They can be purchased in various shops with official logo of the phone companies and top-ups are form of scratch cards for 5 to 100 dirham. The cards are used by sending the scratch code to some number which is explained on the scratch top-up card.

Money and pricesEdit

The currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD), exchange rates for Moroccan dirham, as of 2019, are US$1 ≈ 9.5 dirham, €1 ≈ 11.0 dirham, £1 ≈ 12.0 dirham.

What? Price?
Fruits 4 dirham/kg (orange), 8-10 dirham/kg (banana)
Water 5-6 dirham (1.5 liter)
Coke 0.5 l 5.50 dirham
Te/coffee 6-8 dirham
Tagin or couscous 25-60 dirham, depending on how touristy

Note that cash is still the most widely used method for payments in the country.

Important notice: The dirham is a restricted currency, meaning that it cannot be taken out of the country and is not available abroad. Dirham may generally not be exported or imported. A tolerance of 2,000 dirham applies to tourists; more information can be found at the Moroccan customs website.

Electricity and voltageEdit

The voltage in Morocco is generally 220 V, and outlets will fit the two-pin plug known as the Europlug, the most commonly used international plug.

American and Canadian appliances, which are built to use 110 V. may be damaged if they're plugged into a 220 V unless your appliance is "dual-voltage" (designed for both 110 and 220 V). If not, you'll need a power converter as well as an adapter.

Time, Climate and ClothesEdit

Morocco adopts the GMT+1 time.

Marrakech is located inland near the Atlas mountains, the temperature in October are in average 21°C but vary from 16°C (mostly nights) to 29°C. You will mostly need to pack a warmer top for the evenings.

SafetyEdit

The country is overall relatively safe place to visit; However, women especially will often experience harassment if alone. Note that homosexuality is criminalised (up to 3 years in prison), concerned tourists should be self-aware and careful.

To stay safe, follow common sense, e.g. avoid dark alleys, be a group whenever possible, keep money and passports in a safety wallet or in a hotel safety deposit box.

The tap water is suitable for bathing, locals drink it with no problems but visitors often find it hard to digest. To be safe, opt for bottled mineral water, available at the numerous marketplace kiosks and food stalls.

LanguagesEdit

Morocco has two official languages: Arabic and Amazigh. Day-to-day communication is using Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and French (mostly with tourists and foreigners). Spanish is spoken in some parts but English is not widely spoken in the country. You may notice in some place the Tifinagh script used to write in Amazigh languages.

Here is a list of some useful words and phrases in Morocco:

Word in English Arabic Arabic (latin transcription) Darija (Moroccan Arabic) Tashelhit (Amazigh)
Hello مرحبا - السلام عليكم marhabaan Ssalam - السلام Azul
Good morning صباح الخير sabah alkhyr S-bah L Kh-ir - صباح الخير Tifawin
Good evening مساء الخير masa' alkhayr M-s L Kh-ir - مس الخير Timensiwin
Thank you شكرا shukraan Shouk-ran - شكرا Tanmirt
Yes نعم naam Iyyeh / ah / wah - إييه / آه / واه iyyah
No لا la L-a - لا ohoy
Goodbye وداعا wadaeaan Bes-lama - بسلاما layhannike
What’s your name? ما اسمك؟ ma asmak? Ashno smytek? - أشنو سميتك؟ Maysmanak
My name is ... اسمي هو ... aismi hwa ... Smyti .... - سميتي... ismyi
Where are you from? من أي بلد أنت؟ min ayi balad 'anat? Mnine neta? Or Mnine neti? - منين نتا؟ منين نتي؟ Omani atgit
I am from ... أنا من ... ana min ... Ana men ... أنا من ... Nkin sg...
House منزل manzil Dar - دار Tigmi

Places to visitEdit

There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around all the different souks, historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums. The prices for most museums are around 70 MAD. Some recommended tourist attractions are

  • Jemaa El-Fna, (free) square at the heart of the medina.
  • Souks, (free) traditional markets of Marrakech next to Djemaa El-Fna.
  • Koutoubia Mosque, (free, muslims only) old mosque with its landmark minaret.
  • Saadian Tombs, (70 MAD) preserved tombs of Saadian rulers.
  • Majorelle Gardens, (70 MAD) park designed by Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s.
  • El Badi Palace, (70 MAD) palace built by Sultan Ahmed al Mansour with exhibits dating back to the 12th century.
  • Menara, (free) gardens of orchards and olive groves surrounding a large water reservoir.
  • El Bahia Palace, (70 MAD) built at the end of the 19th century for grand viziers of the sultan.
  • City gates (Babs) of Marrakech, (free) around the walls of the old town, e.g. Bab Agnaou, Bab Ksiba.

TransportationEdit

AirplaneEdit

The main international gateway to Marrakesh is Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK). The airport has two terminals housed in one complex (a third terminal has newly opened).

Both terminals have money exchange offices, and there are many ATMs throughout the airport terminals and arrivals halls. On ATMs, check for the logos to be sure that the machine accepts foreign credit cards. Some ATMs work only in French. If your card is taken at the ATM, tell airport security and they can help you get it back. There are no potable water dispensers after the security check and the small shops only see overpriced 0.5L water bottles. However the tap water from the WC tastes slightly of chlorine but is drinkable.

For any issue regarding lost luggage or properties, ask your airlines or the airport information desk (phone numbers: +212 52 444 7910 in Marrakesh, +212 52 253 9040 in Casablanca).

Other services at the airportEdit

Free Wi-Fi connection, prayer room, post office, free toilets, duty free shopping, luggage storage and lockers, airport clinic, lost & found, car rentals, etc.

Transfer from/to the airportEdit

The conference organizers have secured free bus transfers for all participants from and to the airport before and after the conference, i.e. 3th and 7th October. Conference volunteers will be waiting for you in the main arrival hall in Marrakech-Menara airport.

However, there are other three other possibilities: public bus (no.19 at 800 metres from terminal 2), taxi (outside the arrival halls of terminal 1 or 2) or car rentals (arrival halls).

TrainEdit

Marrakesh Train station, southernmost railway stop, has several trains departing from and to most domestic rail destinations in the country, e.g. Casablanca (including Airport), Rabat and Tangier (with new high speed trains from Casablanca or night trains), Fez.

For tickets and timetables, check https://www.oncf.ma/en/

Bus and Grand TaxiEdit

There are many long distance bus companies operating within Morocco which serve Marrakech and other cities. The bus companies mostly used by tourists are CTM and Supratours (serves cities with no railway) which have their own bus stations. Other companies do exist and have offices at the long distance bus station.

The bus companies travel to destinations such as Agadir (4h), Safi, Casablanca (4h), El Jadida, Essaouira (4h), Fez, Meknes, Ouarzazate (regular, 4h), Rabat, and Taroudant.

Grand Taxi are often faster alternative than buses but are more expensive and often wait for being full and gather in the bus station before leaving for your destination.

Hotel and Conference VenueEdit

The venue of the conference is Zephyr Hotel (located at Les Portes de Laazouzia, Targa، 40000 Marrakech).  Set in Marrakech, the airport is 13 km from 9 km from Djemaa El Fna, Zephyr Marrakech offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. The 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a kids' club and currency exchange for guests. All guest rooms at the hotel have a seating area and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. All rooms feature a desk. Buffet and à la carte breakfast options are available every morning at Zephyr Marrakech.

ContactsEdit

Emergency contactsEdit

  • Moroccan Police: 19
  • Moroccan Police Emergencies: 112
  • Moroccan Royal Gendarmerie: 17, 177
  • Ambulance/Fire Service: 15, 150

The nearest hospitals in Marrakesh:

  • Ibn Tofail Hospital, Adresse: Rue Abdelouahab Derraq, ☏ +212 4444 8011.
  • Polyclinique du Sud, Adresse: 2 Rue Yougoslavie, Gueliz, ☏ +212 4444 7999,

Useful contactsEdit

What? How to contact?
Marrakech Tourist Information At the intersection of Avenue Mohammed V and Rue de Yougoslavie
Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK) https://www.marrakesh-airport.com, ☏ +212 4444 7910
ONCF - booking train tickets https://www.oncf.ma/en/
Bus companies CTM http://www.ctm.ma/, Soupratour http://www.supratours.ma/en/
Zephy Hotel http://www.zephyrmarrakech.ma, ☏ +212 524 396 841/838