Haggling: Moroccan Souk Style
During a weekend excursion in Moroccan while studying Human Rights and the Moroccan Experience last summer I was able to utilize my Spanish and French skills in the Rabat Sebbat Souk to save some green. A Souk is a Middle Eastern or North African open-air market and often the center of day-to-day commerce in this region of the world. The downtown Sebbat Souk is more than just a place to shop it’s an experience all to itself and is alive with color, sound and the occasional furry pet.
Whether your interested in a colorful pashmina, some jewelry or leather in any shape or form, most anything can be find in this Rabat destination. Located in the heart of the Moroccan capital near the main thoroughfare of Hassan II the souk is a central attraction for locals as well as tourists.
The trick to shopping in a Souk
It is realizing that the posted price is little more than a price maximum and as thus is not what you should actually be paying. Portraying indifference is important, as is utilizing any other language skills you may have rather than English. I learned this lesson through trial and error and discovered that when I pretended to be French or Spanish speaking I was able to cut prices in half or more.
While the merchants favored local language speakers I generally found them to be more open and friendly than their European counterparts. Whereas European merchants seemed to be all about the sale the Moroccan viewed interacting with tourists as a way to find out more about different people and cultures while making a sale.
The Souk was Huge
The size of the Sebbat souk was a little daunting but the friendly atmosphere and the sights and sounds of the various shops and stands grabbed my attention right away. As I haggled I got caught up in thinking in terms of the Moroccan currency (the dirham) and later discovered I had been haggling over pennies.
The Moroccan dirham is currently equal to about .11 US dollars so don’t get caught up haggling over a few pennies. This exchange rate coupled with the quality of goods I found in the Rabat souk made my shopping experience one of the best. From the thirty dirham (about $3) green pashmina to the twenty dirham (about $2) silver ring to about the twenty other items I brought back my weeklong shopping trip only cost around fifty US dollars.
The Sebbat souk may seem like the traditional shoppers destination but in reality the experience of wandering around a souk is unlike any shopping experience I’ve ever had. From the exotic spice stands to the little hole in the wall jewelry shops to the carpeted pathways leading you from shop to shop this souk is unlike any shopping center I’ve seen. The ability to haggle and interact with other tourists as well as the locals selling their wares makes the souk experience not just another shopping experience but rather a chance to step into the shoes of a local.
By Sandra Alves