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Moroccos Religious Law Poses Challenge For Airbnb Guests

Rabat – The British owners of a riad in Asilah said that the internet accommodation service Airbnb does not comply with Morocco’s religious laws.Airbnb, which allows property owners to rent out rooms and even entire homes to guests from anywhere in the world, is required to adjust its policies to adapt to Morocco’s law regarding booking a room for unmarried couples.According to, Bridget Holden and her Moroccan partner, who own a four-bedroom semi-detached townhouse in the medina (old city) in Asilah, have given up renting their house.“We’ve had the property for years, and only decided to start letting it in July,” she told the English website. “But we found that the people making the booking were not the ones turning up to stay. Some were local young couples posing as foreigners, and when they’re unmarried Muslims they’re breaking the law – and so are you,” she added.According to the same source, the manager of a riad in Marrakech that uses Airbnb said, “It’s not uncommon to have spies in the medina who let the police know about riads who do not respect the law.”“They will barge in in the middle of the night to fine the riad and the couple,” he added.With an exception for foreign couples, Moroccan unmarried couples are not allowed to book a shared room in any accommodation facility.Property owners also run the risk of heavy fines if they book a room for unmarried couples or fail to provide local police with accurate information about guests.Under Article 490 of the Moroccan Penal Code, couples can be jailed for having sexual relations outside marriage. But Morocco’s Justice Minister, Mustapha Ramid, said in July, “unmarried couples will be arrested only if the perpetrators confessed or if they were caught in the act of having intercourse.”According to figures released by the company on Monday, Airbnb currently does not employ staff in Africa or have an office on the continent, but “Morocco is an interesting market,” and “Marrakesh alone has over 3,000 listings.” read more