As France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy looks south and east to the Maghreb and the Levant for his Union for the Mediterranean, Gulf-based investors are mirroring the move by looking north and west.
Ever-closer links with Europe mean that the entire North African coast is now fertile ground for investment. Sensing the opportunity, developers from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Bahrain have launched billions of dollars worth of real estate projects in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco over the past three years.
Although all these markets have potential, it is Morocco that offers the most immediate opportunities.
Located just 14 kilometres from Spain, and with strong cultural links to France, Morocco is the closest the Arab world gets to Europe.
For Gulf investors, it offers a unique opportunity to invest in a stable, mature market that still has strong growth potential, while remaining in the reassuring environment of an Islamic Arab country. The hope is that these factors will transform the country into one of the leading investment destinations for both the Middle East and Europe.
This is important for its neighbouring countries too. If the planned projects in Morocco prove to be commercially successful, there will be a domino effect across North Africa. Equally, if the projects fail, the region will continue to lag behind the Gulf as the region’s project capital.