Gulf SWFs pledge billions in investment in Morocco

Aabar Invesments joins in creation of Wessal Capital

Sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Kuwait led pledges on Thursday to invest almost $3 billion in Morocco.

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and the Moroccan state agreed to establish a 50-50 investment joint venture worth $2 billion that aims to help Rabat fund major development projects, a statement from the Moroccan government said.

Visiting Qatari ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Morocco's King Mohammed attended the signature ceremony for the agreement in Rabat to set up the joint venture fund between the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and its Moroccan equivalent.

QIA's Qatar Holding, Kuwaiti Investment Authority's Al Ajial Investments and Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments also agreed on Thursday with Morocco's Fund for the Development of Tourism to inject Dh20.8 billion ($2.5 billion) into a newly-created vehicle called Wessal Capital.

It will focus on the development on new resorts in Morocco, a statement from the tourism ministry said.

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the UAE Armed Forces, also attended the signing ceremony for the setting up of Wessal.

"The four partners will equally contribute to Wessal. It will be 25 per cent for each of them," said a source familiar with the matter.

"Wessal will create an investment firm led by Morocco to fund investment opportunities proposed under Morocco's tourism development plan by 2020," added the source.

Morocco and Jordan were invited earlier this to join the Gulf Co-operation Council.

Morocco's tourism ministry said the creation of Wessal was the "result of a partnership that consolidates the historical and brotherly ties between Morocco and Gulf Arab countries".

Morocco has devised a plan worth Dh100 billion in investment to join the world's top 20 holiday destinations and double tourism receipts to Dh150 billion by 2020.

Tourism is Morocco's main source of hard currency, contributes close to 10 per cent of its gross domestic product and directly employs 450,000 people.

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