RABAT, MOROCCO-The Moroccan government has signed tourism and real estate deals with two Dubai-based property firms totaling $9 billion, a government statement says. Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding will manage and contribute financing $5.1 billion of riverside and seafront developments in the capital, Rabat, and $2.4 billion in resorts near Marrakesh.
The 10-year projects also include a new marina for pleasure craft in Casablanca and a $650-million residential and tourism complex in the northern port of Tangier. King Mohammed attended the signing ceremony at his palace in Casablanca to highlight the importance of the deals for Morocco, which plans to double tourists to 10 million by 2010. The plan is for the development of a chain of resorts along the country’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines financed by international investors. Emaar and Dubai Holding are expanding rapidly beyond their Dubai base.
Emaar is also expanding across the Middle East, Turkey, India and Pakistan.
A government statement issued last year admitted that foreign investment has been slow in Morocco because of currency exchange restrictions, complex rules for companies and uncertainty over land ownership rights. But the monarchy is attempting to make the country more investor-friendly.
Government-owned Dubai Holding will oversee five of the eight projects in partnership with Moroccan state investment fund Caisse de Depot et de Gestion. Dubai will provide 30% of the finance for the Moroccan projects itself and the rest it will seek to raise from other financial partners. Other deals still to be announced will take the value of Dubai Holdings’ investments in Morocco to $12 billion, the company says in a statement. Emaar says its investments in Morocco now totaled $6.9 billion spread over six projects.