Australia's Jason Scrivener set the clubhouse target as Morocco's Younes El Hassani gave the home fans something to cheer in the Hassan Trophy on Thursday.
Scrivener carded five birdies and one bogey at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to finish four under par, a shot ahead of world number 1,117 Hassani, who fired three birdies and 15 pars in a flawless 69.
Hassani, whose only made cut in 17 appearances on the European Tour came at the same venue in 2010, told Sky Sports: "I played good today. I hit a couple of fairways and when you do that it's easier on the second shot to hit the green.
"I also made a couple of (recovery) shots like Seve (Ballesteros) and made three birdies and no bogeys."
The Red course in Rabat measures almost 7,500 yards - the Blue course is staging the Lalla Meryem Cup on the Ladies European Tour this week - and Hassani added: "It's a very big course for me - 250 metres is a long hit for me. I have to play good tomorrow and shoot one or two under, depending on the weather and my game."
Spanish Open champion Andrew Johnston and France's Romain Wattel were two shots off the lead after opening rounds of 70, Johnston showing no signs of being affected by the celebrations which followed his maiden title at Valderrama last month.
The 27-year-old carded four birdies and two bogeys to finish a shot ahead of South Africa's Dean Burmester and France's Alexander Levy, who at 97th and 100th respectively are the only players in the world's top 100 in the field.