A consortium led by Bahamas-based Kerzner Internationalhas signed an agreement with the government to develop a luxury resort on the coast near El-Jadida, 80 kilometres southwest of Casablanca. The consortium will own and operate the resort, which will include a major casino complex.
Rabat will take a 50 per cent stake in the project, Kerzner will hold 34 per cent, while the remainder will be split between Societe Maroc Emirates Arabs Unis de Developmentand the local Caisse de Depot de Gestion. As part of the agreement with the government, the Kerzner-led venture will gain exclusive rights to conduct gaming operations within a 160-kilometre radius of the centre of Casablanca. Project costs are estimated at $230 million and construction is scheduled to begin in 2005, with completion in 2007. The resort will stretch along six kilometres of coastline and include a 600-room hotel, an 18-hole golf course, conference and leisure facilities and the casino. Kerzner's other major project in the region is the $1,200 million Atlantis development in Dubai (MEED 25:6:04). The promotion of tourism is a key part of the government's economic development plans and in 2001 a programme was launched, called Plan Azur, aimed at increasing annual tourist arrivals to 10 million from 2.3 million by 2010 and raising tourism's contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) to 20 per cent from about 8 per cent.