Understanding work culture In Marrakech

work culture in Marrakesh
Updated 2022-07-10 15:20

Marrakech is a cosmopolitan city, with people from different origins and various spoken languages. Working or starting your business there means getting adapted to its cultural diversity without breaking the rules and regulations of the company to which you belong. In this article, you will find everything you need to succeed in your relationships with your colleagues and partners while working in Marrakech

The basics of business culture in Marrakech

The cultural mix of Arabic, Muslim, Berber and French has provided Morocco, especially Marrakech, with unique and complex business etiquette. As the majority of Moroccans are devout Muslims, their Islamic values have an impact on their business culture. Morocco is, in fact, a formal French protectorate, and plenty of its business practices are based on the French system. As in many other Mediterranean countries, a high sense of hierarchy and close interpersonal relationships are the main features of the Moroccan business culture.

The decision-making in Moroccan companies is primarily top-down, and there is rather weak employee participation. Lower-ranking employees could, in some cases, be consulted. However, their contribution might not have an impact on the decision. Accordingly, supervisors usually have sole responsibility for internal decisions. As a result, they are not made quickly, and it takes several rounds of negotiations.

In concluding an agreement with local business partners, interpersonal skills play a significant role. Most firms would prefer to get to know their potential partners prior to doing business with them.

Time management in Marrakech

In Morocco, business contacts tend to have a more liberal perception of time than in most Western countries. Punctuality is not always seen as a necessity. Still, arriving on time for meetings is an important factor, even if you may have to wait. An agenda for meetings is generally set in advance, and meetings may begin and close much later than planned.

Greetings and titles in Marrakech

The method of greeting a Moroccan business person differs depending on their gender. If you meet a person of the same gender, it is common to shake hands. Women can also be greeted with a kiss on the cheek, alternating cheeks three times. If you meet a person of the opposite sex, it is advisable to allow your counterpart to offer you their hand. There are some Muslims who may prefer to avoid shaking hands with someone of the opposite sex. If this is the case, a head nod and a smile would suffice. You should always address your business colleagues as Mr., Mrs., or Ms. unless you have already started using first names.

The dress code in Marrakech 

Work clothes are kept formal, and both genders tend to be advised to dress accordingly. It is recommended that men wear dark suits, while women are encouraged to wear a classic style of clothing (such as dark suits, long skirts and dresses covering most of the arms and legs). It is also preferable to be well-coiffed.

Business cards in Marrakech 

Although there is no official protocol for exchanging business cards, it is preferable to have your business card written in French and/or Arabic on one side. You are also recommended to exchange your business card with your right hand because the left hand may be considered to be immoral, as in most Muslim countries.

Running business meetings in Marrakech

Business meetings are usually long, and it is hard to predict when they will be ended. If you are starting your business in Marrakech, you may want to use a freelance interpreter, as most negotiations are held in French (as well as Arabic, but rarely in English). The majority of meetings usually begin with short talks. Suitable topics for such talks may include family, sports, and weather. You must always avoid discussing sex, religion, and the Moroccan royal family.

Overseas business contacts would need to ensure that the most senior person in the room is sympathetic to their point of view and would have to make their offer directly to them. The process of negotiation, especially when it comes to the price, might take some time, as your counterparties may feel that they have the last word and that they are winning. It is therefore essential to initiate negotiations at a price that enables you to come down and give the impression that the counterparty has been successful in the negotiation. It is fairly normal to interrupt someone, and it is not considered rude. However, given that people tend to speak at the same time, you should keep coming back to the conversation to make sure that everyone understands what you are saying.

You may be invited by a Moroccan business partner to dinner at their house or in a restaurant. In either case, you need to dress nicely and ensure that your spouse is also invited to the dinner. When you are invited to dinner at someone's home, you may want to take off your shoes and salute everyone. You should never eat with your left hand since it may be considered immoral in the Muslim culture. Meals may be eaten on a shared plate. If this is the case, you must eat from the portion of the plate that faces you the most.

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