While it is known that Moroccans are more likely to cross the Mediterranean to set foot in France or Spain, around 3,000 Moroccans have nonetheless made their way up here to Finland. For many, the only thing known about this country back in Morocco was that it exists on the map. Coming to Finland then seemed to be an adventure in which to discover its land and culture.

The first noticeable wave of Moroccans arrived here sometime around the 1960s. Finland presented an opportunity to change and improve their economic and social situation. This has lead many to pursue higher education and obtain a master’s or Ph.D degree, start up small businesses or search for a more stable career such as a doctor or engineer. Such education and career choices presented many opportunities for building friendships with Finns. In fact, after living here for many years, some Moroccans have also chosen to marry a Finnish partner.

Today, Moroccans are dispersed across Finland, as they have settled in cities such as Turku, Oulu, Tampere and, of course, the Capital Region. In fact, some Moroccans are also part of a “Moroccans in Finland” Facebook group in which seasonal greetings are regularly sent out. It is easy to come across these Moroccans in Helsinki, as they catch up in a Moroccan-owned café at the Central Railway Station on weekends or mingle in the Moroccan barbershop, where most Arabs, Somalis and some Finns swing by for a quick haircut.

The larger Moroccan community tends to come together in the mosque, masjid, or to enjoy a meal during the holy fasting month of Ramadan and religious occasions of Eid AlAdha. A great place to experience a glimpse of Moroccan culture in Finland would be the restaurant Marrakech in Oulu. Its furniture was brought along all the way from Morocco. Here anyone can enjoy some famous Moroccan mint tea along with a delicious tagin. The first Saturday of every month seems to be a popular night, as the restaurant quickly fills up with customers that want to enjoy their dinner as well as the exciting belly dancing.

And so, if you do then find yourself to be a fan of Moroccan culture after all, you can always take a trip across the Mediterranean to the Maghrib and experience Morocco for yourself!

Sarrah Kassem