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Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

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posts: 53
reviews: 6
Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

Going to Marrakech this Sunday. I don't mean to imply anything untoward or give people the wrong idea with what I'm about to ask... it's fairly understandable that a white caucasian tourist is more likey to get harrased and pestered in Jemaa El Fna by the local touts, but I was wondering, as I'm an asian guy (Indian/Pakistani) not oriental as americans call South Asians the general term "Asians" would I still get unwanted attention from the many street vendors, traders/touts. The only thing on my side is that I have the same brown skin complexion as the locals. Being a born and bred Londoner, opening my mouth would soon give it away. Also the way a person dresses can be a big tell tale. So short of wearing a traditional djellaba, I ain't got much chance. Anyone here Asian or have an Asian friend who could advise me from personal experience?

Edited: 2:06 pm, December 06, 2012
posts: 805
reviews: 21
1. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

We came back yesterday and spent hours watching the goings on in the square from restaurant terraces. It didn't seem to matter what ethnicity people were they we're all getting hassled.

Edited: 2:18 pm, December 06, 2012
posts: 53
reviews: 6
2. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

thanks for your reply edgerswife. A lot of websites and contributors on TA are saying that if you want to avoid getting accosted, then you should look on from a cafe/restaurant terrace. Any good place you would recommend where we could have a nice meal/snack? thanks.

Marrakech, Morocco
posts: 4,324
reviews: 55
3. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

You are no more (and no less than) a target for the occasional hassle visitors can experience. Moroccans are genuinely interested in your background and will be plied with questions about your background. A few may even attempt Urdu or Hindi with you to engage in conversation whether you are speaking in Cockney or Estuary English ! Keep a smile on your face and a good sense of humour.

Also just to correct a little misconception here - "locals" are of an incredibly mixed racial background: the original Berbers, the early Arabs, the results of the sub-saharan slave trade and wave upon wave of European traders and colonists. Skin and hair shades vary from black to freckled redheads. It's one of the things I love about Marrakech.

For the record I am a brown skinned Caucasian.

Marrakech, Morocco
posts: 4,324
reviews: 55
4. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

There are many terrace cafe/restaurants surrounding Djemma al Fna and the streets that lead from the square. You would be extremely unlucky to be "accosted".

posts: 53
reviews: 6
5. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

@ pilobolus my choice of words (and may be topic) seem to be rubbing you up the wrong way. No offence intended.

posts: 805
reviews: 21
6. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

To be honest, we found wandering around the square and souks not too bad. Most people stopped when we said no thank you (granted with some people you had to say it a few times!).

We found shopping in the souks to be quite full on but after being ripped off over my first purchase (not by much but it dents your pride a bit!) I decided what I was happy to spend on something and stuck with that.

The restaurants around the square all seemed to be fine so we just found the ones with the best view.

The food stalls in the evening were manic and easily the worst for hassle but it was all good natured!

You may well find you get a monkey thrown on your shoulder in the square during the day but please don't entertain them.. Some of the monkeys were clearly distressed and it's really not fair.

Cardiff, United...
posts: 925
reviews: 30
7. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

Don't worry, you will blend in. Most Moroccans dress in western clothing, so until you speak, they will not know where you are from. If you put on a Islamic/Mosque hat, you will almost be invisible to the shop keepers.........LOL (trust me, it works).

If you want to haggle hard, speak in Urdu/Hindi first, when you get asked, tell them you are from Pakistan/India, then speak broken English, you will find prices are cheaper and fall quicker.........

You will get hassle from the food vendors at Jemma el Fna, this cannot be avoided, even for the locals, but take it in your stride, make a joke of the situation and just move on.......it can be great fun if you don't let it get to you. You will find that each salesman on the foodstall can only go to a certain distance, then the next food stalls salesman will move in....if you walk quickly then they tend not to follow you..........

Remember than the Koutoubia Mosque is open for prayers to Muslims, sometime the caretaker will even open up for you outside prayer hours, the design inside the Mosque is a must see if you are in Marrakech (as it is a working Mosque, it is only open to Muslims).

Have a great time

Edited: 4:31 pm, December 06, 2012
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 7,639
reviews: 63
8. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals


"hassled" is an emotive word. One persons hassle is anothers amusing banter.

Having had several Pakistani friends visit over the years I can say that the locals never guess Pakistan, always Indian (Moroccans love Bollywood films) and part of the nature of Moroccans is to guess where you are from and try to find a common language.

Disguising yourself in traditional dress would only work if you also pretended to be mute/deaf ;-)

Come with an open mind, a big heart and a huge sense of humour and you'll be fine.

posts: 370
reviews: 53
9. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

I was very pleasantly surprised by the lack of hassle we experienced in Marrakech this year. Of course we got approached by people continuously, but a polite 'no thank you' and a smile worked every time. I was expecting to be pestered on the level of Luxor but it was nothing in comparison. I found wandering round the souks and square really enjoyable, and felt completely safe at all times. It's a lovely city and I hope to go back again soon.

10. Re: Jemaa El Fna - Marrakesh. Being hassled by locals

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