"Is Morocco safe?" "What?! You're going there alone?" "I would never travel to a Muslim country as a woman by myself."
These are things that I have heard so many times. And I'm going to set you all straight right now:
Yes, Morocco is safe.
Yes, I travel there by myself.
After traveling to Morocco 5 times now, I can confidently say that it is not any less safe than traveling to Mexico and Europe. In ways, it is actually safer than these places. Or even the US.
Let me tell you why...
1) Morocco's travel rating is the same or better as Mexico and most of Western Europe.
The US rates countries based on how safe they are to travel to
. The lowest/best rating a country can get is 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions) and the highest is a level 4 (Do Not Travel). Morocco
is rated a 2, meaning you should Exercise Increased Caution. Nearly all of Western Europe, Mexico, most of Africa, a chunk of Asia are rated this or higher.
2) Compare the stats on violent crime between Morocco and the US. Personally, I'd take Morocco any day.
Some quick facts based on the numbers...
- You're 56 times more likely to be raped in the United States than in Morocco.
- There are 955 times the amount of Murders with a Firearm in the US.
- There's 76% more robberies in the US than in Morocco
- You are 29 times more likely to be murdered in the US.
Sure these stats are averages for both countries as a whole. Some areas in the US are safer than some areas in Morocco and vice versa... but I've learned that we aren't "safe" just because we are in the United States. It's a very false belief that I think many Americans hold on to, especially those who have not traveled outside the country much.
3) Morocco takes security VERY seriously.
Morocco's livelihood very much depends on tourism these days. It has built up its reputation as one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world. Morocco as a country has taken many safeguards to prevent crime and terrorism for this reason. Marakech Menara Airport has one of the most extensive and strictest security screenings I've experienced while traveling, and I've been to quite a few countries.
In the city of Marrakech, police are throughout so their presence is known. There are even undercover police in the Medina, just to monitor tourists, make sure they are safe and keep petty and violent crimes to a minimum. Acts of crime on tourists are punishable at a high offense, and the locals know it.
4) The people are generally friendly and peaceful.
Since 9-11, I think sometimes there is sadly a belief by some that those of Islamic faith are "extreme" or "full of hate". I encourage anyone who questions if there is any truth to this to really get to know a Muslim person and spend time with people of the faith! There are hateful people of ANY religion or culture. Most Moroccans (like everyone else in the world) just want to live in a world that is peaceful and stable. The Moroccan people are some of the nicest, kindest, most accommodating people I've ever met. They will go out of their way to help you. I've been treated like family by friends and strangers alike. I never feel looked down on because I'm a woman. If anything I feel more protected, cherished, and loved.
So if you're thinking about traveling to Morocco, don't let the thought of it being unsafe keep you from going! Sure there are things to look out for and be aware of (which I'm thinking I'll cover in a future post!), but this is true for anywhere you go. Just be on alert, use street smarts, and - most importantly - embrace the culture and have fun!