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Coronavirus : Morocco to rely on fewer resources as Gulf countries suspend aid

Fouad Ali El Himma and Nasser Bourita’s February visit to Saudi Arabia had raised hopes for having Morocco strengthen ties with Gulf countries. Contrary to what happened during the 2008 financial crisis and the Arab Spring, these countries preferred to not financially support Morocco amid the coronavirus crisis.

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The coronavirus crisis has been a great indicator to Morocco regarding its diplomatic ties with Gulf countries. Since the creation of the Special Fund for the management of the negative effects of Covid-19 on the Kingdom’s economy, in March 15 by King Mohammed VI, no contribution of Gulf countries has been announced so far. Meanwhile, the USA ($ 660,000) and the EU (150 million euros) announced in March their financial contributions to the special fund.

Indeed, Morocco’s traditional allies in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, made no contribution under these difficult circumstances, even as the Kingdom's foreign exchange reserves are at their lowest. The situation comes as a series of diplomatic crises have marked ties between Morocco and these countries.

This situation has also forced Morocco to draw from the International Monetary Fund’s Precautionary and Liquidity Line almost $ 3 billion that had been approved by the IMF’s executive board on December 17, 2018.

Generosity, in the past

The current situation, however, differs from the support traditionally shown for Morocco during each and every economic crisis.  

Amid the 2008 financial crisis, King Abdellah of Saudi Arabia granted Morocco $ 500 million to navigate the losses. The United Arab Emirates immediately reacted to the generosity of the Wahhabi sovereign by announcing a $ 300 million donation for Morocco. Better yet, after the Arab Spring, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries granted the Kingdom $ 5 billion for the period between 2013 and 2018.

In November 2013, the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed Ben Zayed, granted Rabat $ 100 million to finance the development of renewable energies in remote areas. In January 2017, a few months before the crisis with Qatar, Abu Dhabi offered a $ 10 million grant to the Mohammed VI Foundation for Solidarity.

The fall in oil prices in the world is probably of no help in this situation. Faced with the current issues, Morocco can only count on its own resources in this unprecedented health, economic and financial crisis.

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