a VirtualTourist member from Baltimore asked on Nov 18, 2007
I am planning on studying in Meknes this summer and by the time I am there I will have been taking Arabic for one year, but I am curious to know if it would be easy to travel around without knowing a great deal of the language. I am also concerned about safety. Is this a place where I should always travel in a group, or will I be okay traveling alone? Any information would be appreciated! Thanks!
You should have no problems communicating. especially if you have some French as well as English. Any attempt to speak Arabic will be greeted very enthusiastically, and people will spend ages correcting your pronunciation.
Morocco is fine to travel about onyour own in, just be sensible. Like anywhere.
you can traveling around Meknes without Knowing arabic language,
im from the desert Merzouga very nice place ,i hoppe to see you there some day .
here my email :
I know that is not your question but Syria or Egypt will be a much better place to learn Arabic than Morocco. Moroccan Arabic has lots and lots of Amazigh (Berber) and French words.
They are much safer too.
Thanks for the info! If I do study in Meknes, I will be there for about 6 weeks. I've done some reading and it seems to be a small place that won't offer too much excitement. I don't want to be able to explore everything in a weekend, are there ample amounts of things to do? Is travelling to other cities within Morocco easy/affordable? Anything you would recommend that I not miss out on? Thanks so much!
I don't know what you're reading, but I wouldn't call Meknes small. It has a population of around half a million.
Egyptian and Syrian Arabic have foreign words in them too. (Turkish, English...) And if you learn Moroccan Arabic for instance and then you go to Egypt, you will not be able to communicate well because of the differences. Each Arabic country has a different spoken Arabic, so the good thing is you learn the Standard Arabic that all the Arabs speak and you can use that in any Arabic country with no trouble.
And in what way Morocco is less safe than Egypt and Syria?
You could be mugged in Casablanca or Tangier. I traveled extensively in all 3 countries. Morocco is a nice country but it is my opinion that Egypt and Syria are safer.
Egyptian Arabic and to a certain extent Syrian Arabic are more understandable in other Arabic countires because of the TV/Movie industry than Gulf or Moroccan Arabic.
It is true that all dialects have English or French words but Moroccan has plenty of Amazigh language influence
Moroccan Arabic/Darija has quite a few differences to the classic Arabic spoken in Egypt etc but you can learn the differences.
I still think Morocco is one of the safest countries to be in - but there is the chance with the increase in tourism that things might slowly change - ive always felt safe travelling on my own but generally its been either by public transport or with my own rental car - and remote areas ive been with my friends and Moroccan family - but ive done things like gone off with strangers ive befriended in towns ive just stopped at for the night on my way through and gone to community weddings till 3am and that sort of thing and not felt unsafe.
as for the language yes its easy to travel without the language - Moroccans are very gifted in the multilingual department french, spanish english, italian, german - ive known guys who left school at 15 and can speak 7 languages including High German just from dealing with tourists) especially those involved with tourists and because there are many with a need to take opportunity of any source of income - and your blonde hair and charming smile will bringing them rushing to any help they can offer you!
(so the safety issue will be more along the lines of not falling for their lines - most have got a woman - and if theyre in the tourist industry will have a few others as well - or they mightnt have money to have got married yet - moroccan women have their places to be and that is with their family whereas the men are free and out and about looking for opportunities - and they definitely are doing that in the foreign woman department as well)
so take care and enjoy the excellent opportunity having a year in Meknes will give! have a good read around the many excellent pages and tips (in the travel guides) that VTers have written to help you with travelling in Morocco!
sorry I mean the 6 weeks in Meknes.
As for things to see there is quite a number of destinations that you can do as day trips that would keep you busy for all those weekends youre not in class!
including Fez and Moulay Yacoub, Volibulis and Moulay Idriss (see my accom tip for there - Assia has lots of opportunities too), day/weekend trips to Rabat, up to Ouzzane, the souk at Khemisset, down to Ifrane and even Azrou and surrounds
I have not yet travelled to Morocco though I plan to within the next 2 months. Regarding your question of safety in travelling, if you are travelling anywhere in a foreign country alone, it is wise to map out an itinerari with contact numbers, locations, etc. as part of preparation.
If you are going from Meknes to Agadir, for example, you might leave your intinerari with a completely trustworthy person, such as a e mail it to a family member back in America. Or if you have a female friend who you trust. You would include dates of departure and return, contact numbers, etc.
For yourself, it would be wise to investigate your destination. Do you have emergency numbers? A local police number? Your destination hotel phone number? A friend in the area?
Do you have a cell phone you can use in Morocco? If so, that would make everything so much easier and safer. You could call your hotel if you get lost. And if you needed to contact someone in an emergency, you have the numbers and phone available.
As people have mentioned, international travel requires one to be wise, and aware. It always helps to be prepared too. In fact, it may allow you to enjoy your trip more.
As is said by Muslims to those travelling: "Fi amanu Allah"; translated: 'Go in the security of God'.
I dont know much about teaching in mekens. What I do know is that in damascus there is an institute regognized at world level (it houses hundrededs of foreign mainly europen, students)it is run by dr. ghassan alsayyed. Tel 00963 11 33925806 ,
Fax 00963 112120164
if you dont like small cities, damascus is a huge city with a population of 5 millions, and lots to do on the extra curricular. best of luck
well meknes is a bite dangerous city by night, not like marrakech or fes, u should take the language course in marrakech or fes,,,,,,,
and no need to speak arabic to moove around, here u can always find someone who speak english
simo from marrakech
Language is not too much of a problem if you speak French. Otherwise it can be tricky.
Meknes is a very safe place. Women will of course get hassled a lot which can get very annoying ;)