Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

UAE and Morocco train sights on further trade with rail deal

King Mohamed VI of Morocco (left) met with UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, during a state visit last week to discuss trade WAM
King Mohamed VI of Morocco (left) met with UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, during a state visit last week
  • Commitment to bilateral trade
  • UAE to invest in Moroccan rail
  • AED3.6 bn trade in 2022

Leaders from the UAE and Morocco have signed a declaration aimed at boosting bilateral trade, including a commitment to invest in high-speed trains in the North African country.

President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and King Mohammed VI met during a state visit to Abu Dhabi last week.

No specifics were disclosed about the rail investment deal with ONCF, Morocco’s national railway operator.

The country’s 2040 Rail Strategy includes plans to extend its high-speed rail network, with trains travelling at speeds of up to 320 km/hr. They also aim to connect 43 cities, up from the existing 23, covering 87 percent of the population.

A budget of $37 billion has been allocated to the strategy, according to ONCF.

In October, local media also suggested that Morocco will build a high-speed rail link between Casablanca and Madrid – to be completed ahead of the north African country hosting matches at the 2030 Fifa World Cup.

Samer Talhouk, a country risk analyst at BMI, formerly known as Fitch Solutions, said the transport and logistics sector is of particular interest to the UAE, as evidenced by visits from Emirati companies such as Abu Dhabi Ports Group and Etihad Rail earlier in 2023.

“The enhanced economic alliance with the UAE will serve to bolster Morocco’s position as a key exporter to Europe and enhance the kingdom’s efforts to position itself as a hub for foreign investment targeting regional supply chain diversification,” he told AGBI.

Several other memoranda of understanding were signed to establish new partnerships across sectors including rail, water, clean energy, phosphates, agriculture, ports and aviation.

“This strengthened partnership with the UAE will also help Morocco support its claim over Western Sahara,” Talhouk added. “The MoUs include plans to develop Dakhla’s airport and port, drawing the UAE into investments in the disputed territory.”

Dakhla is the capital of the Moroccan-administered province of Dakhla-Oued al-Dahab in the Western Sahara where a dispute began in 1975 following the withdrawal of Spain, the colonial power.

Morocco claimed sovereignty but faced resistance from local people and its military wing, the Polisario Front. A referendum was promised but has not materialised. Morocco’s claim to the territory has been recognised under the Abraham Accords.

Doubling trade

The UAE and Morocco want to double bilateral trade and investment volumes over the next seven years.

The two countries formed a taskforce in May to build on their AED3.6 billion ($991 million) non-oil foreign trade last year, which was up 16 percent from 2021 and more than two-thirds higher than 2020.

The UAE is the second-largest foreign investor in Morocco, accounting for $14 billion – more than 20 percent – of the total foreign capital stock in the kingdom.

During King Mohammed VI’s visit, the establishment of an investment partnership related to the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project was also agreed.

Upon completion, the project – estimated to cost $25 billion – will be the world’s longest offshore pipeline and is scheduled for completion in 2046.

Agreements were also signed on joint cooperation between the countries’ financial markets, plus an investment partnership in the tourism and real estate sectors.

Morocco’s real GDP growth increased to 3 percent in the first half of 2023, but the country was devastated by the Al Haouz earthquake in September, which left more than 3,000 people dead.

However, the World Bank said preliminary evidence suggests that conditions have normalised quickly in most destinations and authorities have announced an ambitious reconstruction and development plan for the High Atlas Mountain region.

Latest articles

Musicians perform at the Sharjah Ramadan Festival. Retailers offered discounts of up to 75% on local and international brands

Sharjah’s Ramadan retail sales peak at nearly $110m

Ramadan retail sales in Sharjah hit a new record high of AED400 million ($109 million) in 2024, reinforcing the positive outlook UAE companies had ahead of this year’s holy month. Sales jumped 25 percent year on year during the Sharjah Ramadan Festival 2024, which concluded last Saturday, the UAE state-run Wam news agency reported, quoting […]

The UAE wants dialogue to address the ripple effects of geopolitical challenges on global trade

UAE to advance talks on debt sustainability at global event

The UAE’s finance ministry intends to advance discussions on global macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability at the 2024 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG). The spring meetings will be held in Washington, D.C., from April 15 to 20. The UAE will also promote a dialogue to address […]

A woman buys cooking oil at a market in downtown Cairo, Egypt

EU to provide ‘urgent’ $1bn short-term aid to Egypt

The European Union (EU) will provide €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in urgent short-term financial aid to support Egypt’s economy. The funding is part of the larger €5 billion macro-financial assistance package.  The remaining €4 billion will be released as longer-term assistance over 2024-2027 but is yet to be cleared by the 27-member bloc. The aid […]

Adnoc sought advice from investment banks on buying a significant stake in BP, a media report said

UAE’s Adnoc explored acquiring BP

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) explored the possibility of acquiring British oil major BP but abandoned the plan as it did not fit into its strategic growth objectives, a media report said.  The talks did not advance beyond the initial stages, Reuters reported, citing informed sources.  The UAE state oil company also sought advice […]