Morocco Dirham - MAD
Visitors to Morocco will find themselves using the dirham for the duration of their stay. This is divided into 100 subunits, each of which is called a santim. The plural of santim is santimat.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
There are quite a few coins in use for this currency, some of which are santimat and some of which are dirham. The santimat coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50, although the 5 santimat coin isn’t often used. There are also some dirham coins, denominated as ½, 1, 2, 5 and 10 dirhams.
There are actually only four banknotes in use which might come as a surprise since there are a lot of coins. Clearly your pockets might get a little heavy while you are in the country using this currency! The banknotes are denominated as 20, 50, 100 and 200 dirham notes.
From past to present – the history of the dirham
The dirham has been used for a long time throughout the history of this country. Indeed it was used prior to 1882 when the dirham made way for the Moroccan rial. This currency remained in place for several decades until 1960, at which point the country re-introduced the dirham. From 1960 until 1974 one dirham equated to 100 francs. Eventually in 1974 the franc was replaced by the santim.
How to get hold of Moroccan dirhams
There are several things to note about the dirham, most of all the fact that it is known as a closed currency. This means the only trade in dirhams can be done within the country itself. However many dirhams you get while you are on holiday in Morocco, you should ensure you change them all back into your own currency before boarding the flight home.
There is a very low limit on the amount of dirhams you can import or export from the country as a traveller. This is limited to 1000 dirhams. As such while you may be able to get a few dirham in the UK you will still have to get more when you arrive at the airport. This means it is usually worth waiting and simply getting all the cash you need there.
When you return home you won’t be able to take back anything other than the 1000 dirham limit. Change your cash at the airport, retain your receipt just in case you are asked to present it when you leave the country through passport control and customs.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Moroccan dirham
This is relatively easy to do providing you have access to a currency converter. It doesn’t matter if you use one online or you use a converter app on your phone, although it makes sense to have one that is constantly updated so you get the latest information.
All you need to do is to find the Moroccan dirham from the drop-down list that is typically provided. Make sure you select your own currency to start with and then find the dirham on the right as your destination currency. It can be good to find the per unit conversion rate to start with, and then to try a few familiar amounts so you can see how many dirhams you will get in return.
Visiting the country is an experience in itself, but before you do that it might be good to visit the website of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco. You will find this at http://www.moroccanembassylondon.org.uk.
Travelling safely with Moroccan dirhams
For the most part you should enjoy a great time in Morocco. The country does experience demonstrations and there is a risk of terrorism so you should always check the latest information prior to travelling to the country.
The biggest problem that tends to occur is that of petty thievery. People’s bags can be snatched and opportunistic crime such as snatching money from cash machines does go on. Make sure you always look around you and use a machine inside a bank if you possibly can. The limit to how much cash you can take into and out of the country means it is sensible to limit the amount you take out of the cash machines as well. However you may still be forced to withdraw more than you need and to give it to a thief if you are unlucky. This is why it makes sense to exercise great care whenever you need to withdraw cash.
You should also take care to carry only what you need to with you. For example, if your hotel has a safe make sure you use it. Keep your passport there as well as your valuables and any cash or cards you don’t absolutely need to have with you. If you should pay for something with a credit card don’t let it out of your sight either.
Where to spend your dirhams in Morocco – and what to spend them on
You will find Morocco in North Africa, stretched along the north western coastline. It borders Algeria and also the Western Sahara area, which Morocco has chosen as its own land. This area is known as the Southern Provinces.
Even though you may not think you know much about Morocco you might be surprised at the number of areas and locations you will recognise. The capital is Rabat but this is arguably not as well-known as Casablanca or Marrakesh. These two areas tend to draw a lot of tourists and you may well want to go there yourself.
Of course you shouldn’t count out the idea of a visit to Rabat. This is a busy and bustling city and one that has many notable sights. You can visit the Mausoleum of Mohammed V which as the name suggests has several tombs inside it. One of the best places to visit here is undoubtedly the Rabat Archaeological Museum. If you have an interest in the history of the country as a whole this should not be missed. There are artefacts here that date back thousands of years and are quite amazing to see.
Elsewhere Marrakesh brings in plenty of tourists on an annual basis. It benefits from being right at the bottom of the mighty Atlas Mountains. This mountain range begins in Morocco and also runs through parts of Algeria and Tunisia. As you might expect there are many landmarks to be seen here. Indeed the Medina of Marrakesh is revered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Do make sure you head over to Jemaa el-Fnaa, which is a large square boasting all kinds of people and entertainers.
You cannot miss the souks in Marrakesh either. These are essentially markets and they are an experience in themselves. The colours and items here are quite amazing and you will undoubtedly want to take some cash with you to make the most of their wares. Don’t be afraid of haggling either – it is virtually expected of you!
There are many gardens and quieter places in Marrakesh as well that will bring you some peace away from the hustle and bustle of some of the locations mentioned above. Try looking for the Majorelle Garden and the Agdal Gardens to name just two.
Of course few can go to Morocco without succumbing to the temptation of visiting Casablanca. Made famous by the iconic film of the same name, this city is the biggest one in the entire country. You should take a look at the modernity offered by Casablanca Marina, which has a few parks to see among other things. However one of the best activities here is simply to look for the many boats that use the marina, which is very new indeed.
In a direct contrast with the likes of Marrakesh and its many souks, Casablanca offers Morocco Mall. This is a huge mall that was opened in 2011 and whatever you want to buy here you are sure to find it. It also has a huge aquarium built into the mall, so you can pair up your shopping trip with a great opportunity to see some common and more unusual fish of all kinds.
Morocco is a hot and enthralling country. With plenty of coastline to boast of there are beach-based holidays on offer as well as others that involve exploring the cities. If you have never been to Morocco before you may find it is an overwhelming and eye opening experience. However you may well find you fall in love with it and its many attractions.
It is as much about experiences as it is about specific destinations. Haggling down the price of anything you choose in the souks for example – now that is an experience that you may be nervous about but you will probably enjoy.
Finding out more about Morocco before you visit is well worth it, so you can base your holiday exactly where you would most like to be.