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KIA’s Al-Ajial Fund invests 400 mln euro in Morocco Gulf states aims to bolster partnership with mega project

RABAT, April 2, (Agencies): Al-Ajial Investment Fund of Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is investing 400 million euro in the Wessal Capital Gulf-Morocco venture, an equal share to that put in by the sovereign funds of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and Morocco. Al Ajial Investment Fund General Manager Waleed Al-Fehaid told reporters in Casablanca, late Tuesday, that 780 million of the total investment would be channeled to the Wessal Casablanca-Port project. King Mohammed VI had earlier in the day inaugurated the project, which is aimed to bolster this gulf-Morocco partnership.

The official said this is the first time for a group of Arab sovereign investment funds to join hands on such mega development project. The project would greatly benefit Casablanca, Morocco’s monetary and economic capital. Gulf partners, too, are eager to seize such investment opportunities in the country and to diversify the exchange and progress towards the aspired strategic GCC-Morocco partnership. The Gulf-Morocco investment partnership is broken into equal contributions by Kuwait Investment Authority, Qatar Holding, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar, Saudi Investment Fund, and the Moroccan Fund for Tourism Development (FMDT). The total Wessal Capital stands at $3.4 billion. The Wessal Casablanca-Port project includes construction of a residential complex at par with design seen in big cities across the world, and a business-suited complex, along with luxury hotels and green and recreational spaces. The venture also includes building a scientific city, a scientific library, a new fishing port, and a cruise station, as well as rehabilitation old Casablanca to preserve and restore its cultural identity and rebuff its touristic appeal.

Initiative
Wessal Capital is a separate initiative from the GCC’s grant of USD five billion to Morocco made earlier. It serves to attract the attention of major international investors and finance institutions to the country.  The launch of the Wessal Casablanca-Port project coincided with the signing of eight new agreements between the new body on one hand and state bodies and international and financing institutions on the other. Four Gulf states - Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5 billion to Morocco between 2012 and 2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism. The Wessal Capital funds, worth $3.4 billion, are separate from the aid package, the statement carried by the state news agency said.

“Wessal Casablanca-Port will completely change the city. There will be hotels, cruising port, marina and an ambitious plan to renovate the old Casablanca’s medina,” Haddad said. “The property base is worth 1.3 billion dirhams.” Morocco, where tourism accounts for around 8 to 9 percent of the gross domestic product, saw little of the turmoil of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts that ousted autocrats in North Africa such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. It hit a record 10 million tourists in 2013 and the country expects a further 10 percent rise this year. However, tourism receipts slipped slightly to 57.55 billion from 57.83 billion dirhams in 2012. Along with remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans living abroad, tourism is now Morocco’s biggest source of foreign currency, key to a fragile balance of payments. Moroccan King Mohammed has kept his distance from Gulf Arab monarchies since his coronation in 1999, making far fewer official visits to the region than his late father King Hassan. However, concern over social unrest has brought Arab monarchies closer.

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