25 October 2012

Morocco: Moroccan King Tours Gulf Countries

Rabat — The sovereign's visit to the GCC states comes as part of a broader strategy aimed at diversifying economic partners, analysts say.

Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Tuesday (October 23rd) wrapped his eight-day Gulf tour. The sovereign crisscrossed Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan.

The discussions focused on economic co-operation and development. The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) leaders agreed to give Morocco grants worth five billion dollars.

Accompanied by a delegation of ministers and advisors, King Mohammed VI presented projects in four Gulf countries to be funded by their grants. Strengthening partnerships was also on the agenda.

These contributions fall within the framework of the strategic partnership established in 2011 between Morocco and the GCC. The assistance will amount to one billion dollars per year over the period of 2012-2016.

The visit to the four Gulf states was strategically important, said Former Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri. These countries are net contributors to the development projects in Morocco.

Investment was also on the agenda. Minister of Economy and Finance Nizar Baraka indicated that the projects presented focused on infrastructure investments to improve access to basic social services. In addition, the goal is to strengthen the development of other sectors, notably agriculture.

The visit also allowed discussion of "opportunities to develop public-private partnerships in several other sectors", according to the minister. Moreover, senior Gulf countries officials made no secret of their ambitions to boost their participation in the promising sectors of energy, tourism and telecommunications.

Promoting employment is another topic of concern. Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry HE Dr. Mohamed Bin Saleh Al Sada stressed his country's willingness to welcome more Moroccan workers who currently do not exceed 6,500.

According to Moroccan Minister of Equipment and Transport Aziz Rabbah, these are skilled workers including thousands of qualified technicians and executives.

"It is time to diversify our partners by taking advantage of friendly relations and shared cultural ties," said economist Slimane Chemmach.

The visit came against the backdrop of the global economic meltdown, where Morocco's primary partner, the European Union, is still in crisis.

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