Read this before Doing Business in Morocco

What makes Morocco and Business in Morocco such a hot business destination? Proximity to Europe, first world infrastructure, and economic and political stability – these are the reasons to do business in Morocco. But there are a few things to be kept in mind before doing business in that country. Let’s begin with the first – importance of having a local business partner in Morocco.

Why is it so important to have a business partner in Morocco?

The Moroccan society is based on a hierarchy of relationships. If you are looking to expand your business in Morocco, you need to know the right people and offer appropriate favors. As a foreign businessman, it is impossible to do so, on your own. You need help, and only a Moroccan business partner would be able to negotiate the labyrinths of business and political connections in Morocco.

How should you conduct business in Morocco?

Tread very carefully when it comes to Islam

There are a few things to be kept in mind while doing business in Morocco – the primacy of Islam to Moroccan society is something you should be well aware of. You should be aware of the basics of Islam and tread very carefully when it comes to religion. You shouldn’t criticize, disrespect or make sarcastic remarks on Islam in any way, even as a joke, as not only is it a business deal breaker, it could also lead to more trouble than you could possibly handle. You may not mean any harm, but that’s how it will be seen.

Develop Personal Relationships

In Morocco, it is important to build personal relationships with your business partners, if you are to gain their loyalty for a long term. This also helps you to gain access to their network of business associates and contacts in the bureaucracy and government. Handling the bureaucracy in Morocco is really quite hard, that’s why you need all the friends you can get.

Practice your French

French is the most important language in Morocco. While English is spoken by some of the businessmen here, French is the dominant language and not speaking in French would put you at a disadvantage. Hire a translator if you have no knowledge of French.

Dress to Impress

Morocco is a highly appearance conscious society, that is why it is very important that you should dress well at all times. Wear conservative clothes, elegant suits and expensive shoes. While there are no restrictions on men, women are supposed to dress more modestly, and cover as much of the body as possible.

Handling a Business Negotiation in Morocco

Business meetings in Morocco should always be conducted face-to-face, in person, rather than by phone or through Skype. You should schedule the meeting days in advance and never hold a meeting or conduct business on Friday between 11:15 AM to 3 PM.

It is important for you as a foreign businessman to arrive at a meeting right on time, but you shouldn’t expect punctuality from a Moroccan business partner, because of the easy going approach which is common in that country. Also, be prepared to be interrupted many times during a meeting because of the open door policy followed by all Moroccan businesses.

Moroccans take a long time to arrive at a decision, and it is important for them to form a personal connection before entering into a business partnership. Never criticize your Moroccan business partner in public or cause him to lose face. Moroccans are very polite by nature, but disrespect won’t be tolerated. Never try to rush a meeting, and be careful enough not to come across as domineering, aggressive or impatient.

This article is a part of our ongoing series on “Doing Business in the Middle East and North Africa.” Our goal is to inform people about the right way to form a business partnership with local business partners in the region, and to offer a better understanding of the business culture and etiquette followed in that part of the world. The intention is to ensure that you are comfortable and know what to expect during a business negotiation with a business partner in the Middle East or North Africa. Please send us your suggestions on how we may help to serve you better. Ciao!