A practical currency and money guide to travel, living and doing business in Western Sahara and the Moroccan dirham (MAD).
What's in this Western Sahara currency guide:
The official currency of Western Sahara (country code: EH) is the Moroccan dirham, with symbol د.م. and currency code MAD.
The Moroccan dirham (MAD) is the official currency of Morocco, a country located in North Africa. Here are a few things to know about the Moroccan dirham:
The Moroccan dirham is issued in both paper and coin form. The paper currency comes in denominations of 20, 50, 100, and 200 dirhams, while the coinage comes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 10 dirhams.
The design of the Moroccan dirham features various cultural and historical symbols of Morocco. The front of the banknotes typically features a portrait of a historical figure or a depiction of a cultural or natural feature of Morocco. The back of the banknotes typically features a depiction of a historical monument or a traditional Moroccan design. The coinage also features cultural and historical symbols, such as the national motto and the coat of arms of Morocco.
Western Sahara is a territory located in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, and Mauritania to the east and south. The territory has been the subject of a long-running dispute between Morocco, which claims sovereignty over the territory, and the indigenous Sahrawi people, who are represented by the Polisario Front, an organization that seeks independence for the territory.
The history of Western Sahara is complex, but it was a Spanish colony until 1975, when Spain withdrew and the territory was divided between Morocco and Mauritania. The Polisario Front, with support from Algeria, began an armed struggle for independence, which led to a ceasefire in 1991. However, a final resolution to the conflict has not been reached and the territory remains under Moroccan control.
The UN has recognized Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory, and the Sahrawi people have been seeking self-determination through a UN-led process of negotiations. The Polisario Front has proposed a referendum on independence, while Morocco has proposed autonomy for the territory.
Due to the ongoing dispute and tensions between parties, it is not considered safe for tourist and travelers to visit Western Sahara, and the US state department has advised against all non-essential travel to the area.
It is important to note that The status of Western Sahara is not resolved and the situation on the ground can change unexpectedly, it is recommended to stay informed about the situation and follow the guidance of the local authorities.
The official currency of Western Sahara is the Moroccan Dirham, as it is controlled by the Moroccan government.
Western Sahara is a mostly cash-based economy, and credit and debit cards are not widely accepted. Moroccan Dirhams can be obtained from banks and currency exchange offices in the territory, and it's important to note that the exchange rate of foreign currency to the Moroccan Dirham is set by the Moroccan Central Bank, which it can fluctuate depending on the global economic situation.
Due to the disputed status of Western Sahara, the banking system is relatively underdeveloped. There are a few banks in the territory, but they are all branches of Moroccan banks. It's also rare to find ATMs that accept foreign debit and credit cards, it's advised to bring enough cash to cover expenses.
As the economy and infrastructure of Western Sahara is highly linked to that of Morocco, it's important to note that you may be able to find more and better services in larger cities in Morocco.
Managing your money effectively while living and working abroad can be challenging, but there are several steps you can take to ensure that your finances are in order.
By following these tips and managing your money effectively, you can reduce financial stress and enjoy your experience living or doing business in Western Sahara.
The safety situation in Western Sahara can vary depending on the specific location and current events. The territory is currently under Moroccan control, and a long-standing dispute over its sovereignty continues, which can lead to tension and sporadic bouts of violence.
There are also regular protests and demonstrations in Western Sahara, particularly in the larger cities such as El Aaiún and Dakhla, and these can sometimes turn violent. The Moroccan authorities have been known to disperse these protests forcefully, which can lead to injury or arrest.
Mining and oil exploration activities also bring foreign workers to the area, but they also have been known to face harassment, especially if they work in mines that are operated by companies with links to Morocco.
While most foreigners are not targeted in Western Sahara, it's important to note that the political situation in the area is unpredictable and can change rapidly. There are also many restrictions for travelers. Access to certain areas may be restricted, and there have been reports of harassment, arrest and even detention of foreigners trying to access certain areas, particularly in refugee camps and those areas where the Polisario Front is present.
Due to the ongoing disputed status and tensions in the area, the US State Department advises against all travel to Western Sahara and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) also recommends against travel to the area. If you do decide to travel to Western Sahara, it's important to stay informed about the situation, follow the guidance of local authorities, and be prepared for restrictions on movement and communication.
Here we list some key points for expats and businesses to consider when managing financial dealings in Western Sahara:
Understand Moroccan dirham currency exchange rates: Exchange rates can have a big impact on your finances, so it is important to keep an eye on the MAD exchange rate and consider using a currency exchange service or a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees to get the best exchange rate.
Use a local Moroccan dirham bank account: A local MAD bank account can make it easier for you to manage your finances and pay bills while you are in Western Sahara. It may also be more convenient to use a local MAD bank account to make purchases and withdraw cash.
Research local laws and regulations: It is important to understand the local laws and regulations that apply to financial transactions in Western Sahara. This can help you avoid legal issues and ensure that you are complying with local requirements.
Consider the tax implications: It is important to understand the tax implications of living or doing business in Western Sahara. This can help you plan your finances and ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.
Seek financial advice: If you are unsure of how to manage your finances in Western Sahara, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a financial professional who is familiar with the local financial system. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid financial pitfalls.
The exchange rate of Moroccan dirham (MAD), or the amount of MAD that can be exchanged for a foreign currency, can fluctuate rapidly based on a number of factors, including economic conditions, interest rates, and political events. Below you can check the latest USD/MAD rate plus recent trend, chart, and historic rates.
12 May 2023
|1.3% ▲||2 Week|
25 Feb 2023
|1.7% ▼||3 Month|
26 May 2022
|3.3% ▲||1 Year|
27 May 2018
|7.6% ▲||5 Year|
28 May 2013
|18.7% ▲||10 Year|
31 May 2003
|10.7% ▲||20 Year|
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make an International Money Transfer to Western Sahara or planning a trip or maybe living there, so will need to exchange and spend Moroccan dirham.
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It is important to note that the exchange rate of the Moroccan dirham can change rapidly and that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. It is advisable to carefully consider the risks and factors that may affect MAD exchange rates before making any financial decisions.