The 25-year-old El Bakkali, who came in fourth in the 2016 Olympics and bronze medallist in the 2019 world championships, finished in a time of 8:08.90.
Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia claimed silver, clocking 8:10.38, and Benjamin Kigen of Kenya took the bronze in 8:11.45.
Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya, the 2016 Olympic champion, failed to qualify for the Games, ruling off the East African nation’s chance of claiming their 10th straight Olympic steeplechase gold since 1984.
‘It was not easy for me to be in front of the Kenyans and Ethiopians. I know how hard it is to be first in front of them,’ El Bakkali told reporters.
‘I am so used to seeing Kenyans win, it’s a big accomplishment for me,’ he said later. ‘I have been aiming for this for years and this was my opportunity to show that Morocco is capable of winning this prize.
‘I have tried so many times to compare myself with the Kenyans and Ethiopians to see whether I could reach this gold, and I did,’ he added.