Wessal Capital to invest $2.4bn in Morocco
Wessal Capital, a joint venture created by Morocco and four Gulf States, will invest AED9bn ($2.4bn) in tourism infrastructure in the Moroccan capital Rabat.
Wessal Capital fund is focused on tourism development in Morocco and is supported by Qatari fund Qatar Holding, the Kuwait Investment Authority's Al Ajial Investments, Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Aabar, Saudi Investment Fund and the Moroccan Fund for Tourism Development (FMDT).
It is the fund's second and the larger investment after an initial AED6bn ($1.6bn) project to build hotels, a cruising port, marina and a plan to renovate the old medina in the port of Casablanca.
Rabat's projects will be the second phase of the Bouregreg valley development, located where the Bouregreg River meets the Atlantic Ocean, initiated by Morocco in 2006.
There will be hotels, a marina, residential housing, urban green spaces, a museum and a theatre with a property base of 110 hectares, a statement from the company said.
"Rabat is starting to become a great cultural destination, that is why we are planning theatres and museums," Moroccan tourism minister Lahcen Haddad told Reuters.
The minister added that the Moroccan government is planning to spend another AED9bn ($2.4bn) to renovate the urban areas of the city.
Four Gulf states - Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total of $5bn to Morocco between 2012 and 2017, helping the North African kingdom to keep Arab Spring uprisings at bay.
However, the Wessal Capital funds, worth $3.4bn, are separate from the aid package.
Morocco, where tourism accounts for around 8 to 9% of the gross domestic product, saw little of the turmoil of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts that ousted autocrats in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
It hit a record 10mn tourists in 2013 and expects a further 10% rise this year. However, tourism receipts slipped slightly to AED57.55bn ($15.6mn) from AED57.83bn ($15.7bn) in 2012.
Along with remittances from the 4.5mn Moroccans living abroad, tourism is now Morocco's biggest source of foreign currency, vital to a fragile balance of payments.
Source: Construction Week