I am often asked how I do business in Morocco — a Western woman traveling alone unable to speak Arabic. While I admit to some passable French that gets me part way, I truly couldn’t have started this business without my good friend, guide, translator, body guard, driver, and spiritual counselor Majid, who you will hear a lot about in these posts as he is an indispensable part of my story. So before I go further, I need to give you some background.
I met Majid on my first trip to Morocco with my parents in 2007. He was our guide on a tour throughout Morocco. For the ten days we spent together, much of it driving, he talked nonstop about the history and culture of Morocco interspersed with intense discussion of spirituality and religion, even more heartfelt on his part because it was the week of Ramadan. I left that week passionate about Morocco and with a glimpse of a world I had never been introduced to before and that intrigued me. And, of course, Majid is the one who introduced me to argan oil after a visit to the desert which left my face parched.
Majid Alaoui, while not affluent, is a descendent of the Alaoui dynasty who have ruled Morocco since the 17th Century. The Alaouis are direct descendents of the Prophet Muhammed and so Majid claims to have the “light of the Prophet” in his blood. He radiates a certain magnetism which he attributes to this light and which causes people in the street to stop and kiss his hand. It is this self-confidence that allows him to maneuver in multiple environments and which makes him invaluable as my associate in Morocco. From taking privileged Americans on tours through his country to negotiating the souks and forging relationships with the Berbers, Majid is comfortable in any situation.
Through him and the trust he instills in people, I have gained access to a world that most Americans don’t get to see. When we travel, we go where the locals go. I have learned what to eat, when, how and where. I have met wonderful people who have welcomed me into their homes. He is a wealth of knowledge on Moroccan history and culture and is full of insights into the way Moroccans think from being able to read the signs of destiny to how to avoid the forces of bad spirits. And it is much of this philosophy that has kept me motivated through the many obstacles of starting a business — not only those of doing business in Morocco.