Fake antique ceramics, Persian rugs and argan oils

Be aware that the Djemaa El-Fna square and the adjacent Medina with its maze of souks (shops), an extremely popular tourist destination, are an absolute sham. Goods and souvenirs at the stores there are exorbitantly overpriced, among other as a result of the extremely high commission paid to referring locals (read our Marrakech helpful local scam).

fake-antique-pottery-scam-MarrakechBut even worse, is that the antique pottery, Persian rugs and precious essential argan oils that are sold at these stores (souks) are very likely to be counterfeit. Marrakech is home to a large-scale imitation industry that is solely targeted at unsuspecting tourists thinking they are closing the deal of their lifetime on an ancient piece of Moroccan history.

New ceramic pottery is produced elsewhere in Marrakesh, and subsequently processed and even slightly damaged to appear centuries old, before it is transported to the tourist traps around Djemaa El-Fna square.

fake-persian-rugs-scam-MarrakeshIn the Atlas Mountains around Marrakesh, brand new Persian rugs are rubbed with olive oil and left hanging in the burning sun for ten days to make them look hundreds of years old, they are also slightly cut with a pair of scissors as a final touch. After this process, the rugs are sold as genuine ancient rugs for thousands of Dollars to unwitting tourists in the Marrakesh Medina.

Some official looking Berber pharmacies in the Marrakesh Medina sell precious essential argan oils. These oils and the mystique herbal essences that are made from them according to century old recipes, have offered the Moroccan tribes with protection from all kinds of diseases and other misfortunes. The pharmacies pretend to mix these essences on location to sell them to tribal members now living in town. Some even feature an old Moroccan lady grinding argan nuts right on the spot. Tourists are also allowed to buy these essences, at a much lower price than outside of Morocco. However, be aware that these oils and essences are also forged by diluting the precious argan oils with cheaper oils, like olive oil.

The real 100% argan oil can be recognized as it is a somewhat turbid liquid at lower temperatures, due to coagulation. But you won’t find these at the souks around the Djemaa El-Fna square. Here, only diluted oils are sold, which will be clear at normal room temperatures.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Marrakesh and Morocco Tourist Scams Forum.


  1. At “Medina Herbal” pharmacy store in Marrakesh , you can find pure Argan products with an official certificate.

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