Morocco: website gives new twist to 'arranged'
CASABLANCA, Morocco, March 26, AFP
Marriage in Morocco has an increasingly changing face these days as
young men and women in search of lifetime partners head for the souk, in
this case a "cyber" marriage souk.
In a country where many marriages are still arranged, a click of a
computer mouse will take the Internaut to Soukzouaj, a free site where
thousands of lonely hearted young Moroccans look for their soul mates
"This marriage site was created in June 2010," Yasser Nejjar, founder of
soukzouaj.ma, told AFP.
"So it's recent but but it has a real success because it's free and
Every day almost 2,600 prospective partners visit the site, two
thirds of them women. Its shows a map of Morocco divided into 16
sections, and the user can click on the part of the country they choose
to start their search.
"Today, for example, there are 1,670 posts from women as against 870
from men. To my mind that means women are more daring than men," Nejjar
"Most of the posts show there is a great desire for commitment and
'seriousness', in what they call 'halal', that is to say legal, which is
in line with religious norms. In short, marriage."
Observers of Moroccan society regard matrimonial sites as a new
phenomenon, linked to new forms of communication, even if there are many
family-arranged marriages in a country where Islam is the state
"Today girls make demands," said sociologist Soumaya Naamane
Guessous."They want husbands who love them, who respect them, men not
smothered by their mother, who allow them to live far from their
She says that the success of soukzouaj, quite apart from the fact
that it is free, in a country where arranged marriages are common, is
due to the fact "that young girls no longer accept the first suitor who
knocks at their family's door, or whom the family suggests."
Latest official figures show more than 13 million surf the net in
this North African kingdom of about 32 million residents.
The Internet has also played a role in recent demonstrations for
pro-democracy reform in Morocco, following a trend across the Arab world
that started in Tunisia where sweeping protests led to the ouster of
president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January.
The first rallies in several Moroccan cities on February 20 were in
answer to a call by young people via Facebook.On Soukzouaj, most of the
posts by women, in the Moroccan dialect, darija, and French, emphasise
the need for "respect" for them and a requirement that the prospective
spouse be a "practising Muslim".
"Young Moroccan woman, teacher, seeks Muslim with a good heart, good
man, who respects women and is generous from every point of view," reads
The men, for their part, highlight their social standing and
"I am Simo, 28, from Rabat, computer engineer in a ministry,
practising, nice and very serious, looking for serious girl from same
city for serious relationship which, God willing, will result in a
bright and holy marriage," said one man in search of the wife of his
The arrival of marriage sites demonstrates the upheavals and changes
resulting from the modernisation of part of Moroccan society, observers
"We see, too, that there is a lot of loneliness, disappointment among
both men and women," said NĂ¢amane Guessous.