* First part of pledged $2.5 bln expected in Q1 -aide
* Investment in ports discussed with Qatar's emir
* Moroccan king touring Gulf; due in UAE, Kuwait this week
By Regan Doherty
DOHA, Oct 22 Morocco expects to receive early
next year the first part of $2.5 billion in aid it was promised
by wealthy Gulf Arab states, an advisor to King Mohammed said on
Cementing ties between Arab monarchies at a time of
political turmoil, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait last year
agreed to disburse that sum to Morocco and the same amount to
Accompanying the king on a tour of the Gulf region, Yassir
Zenagui said in an interview with Reuters that the trip had not
so far resulted in new pledges of aid and that none were
"The aim of the tour is to present projects with concrete
budgets and feasibility. We're coming to work on what was
already agreed, to execute what has already been decided by the
GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)," Zenagui said.
None of the $2.5 billion promised had yet been transferred,
but that should change soon.
"We don't expect it to be this year, Q1 of next year looks
more reasonable," Zenagui said.
Foreign aid is important to Morocco, whose $90-billion
economy is heavily exposed to the debt-scarred euro zone through
trade, tourism revenues and migrant remittances.
The country's leadership is also anxious to avoid a drop in
living standards, having largely been spared the political
unrest that has toppled regimes in other parts of North Africa
and the Middle East.
In August, the International Monetary Fund approved a $6.2
billion precautionary line of credit for the North African
country, to be treated as "insurance" in case economic
conditions deteriorated further.
INVESTMENT IN TOURISM
King Mohammed visited Saudi Arabia and Jordan before
travelling to Qatar. He will visit the UAE on Tuesday and Kuwait
on Wednesday, a spokesman said.
Infrastructure, health care, education, housing and
agricultural investments are on the trip's agenda, Zenagui said.
On Sunday the king and Qatar's Emir discussed industrial
ports in the Moroccan cities of Nador and Safi that could be
used to export oil and gas, he said.
Last year Qatari fund Qatar Holding, the Kuwait Investment
Authority's Al Ajial Investments and Abu Dhabi's sovereign
wealth fund Aabar agreed to inject 20.8 billion dirhams ($2.5
billion) into a newly created vehicle called Wessal Capital that
would focus on tourism development in Morocco.
Zenagui said he expected Saudi Arabia to shortly join the
vehicle, which would run separately from the aid programme of
the same value.
"We will have a structure with access to liquidity at
reasonable rates in international markets. The aim is to create
something open to any financial structuring, including a public
Morocco hopes Gulf institutional investors will buy into its
planned sale of a $1 billion-plus sovereign bond, which has been
delayed to the end of November from October.
Zenagui did not say whether the issue had been discussed
during the king's tour.
King Mohammed has kept his distance from Gulf Arab
monarchies since his coronation in 1999, making far fewer
official visits to the region than his late father King Hassan.
Some of the Gulf's most influential rulers, including Saudi
King Abdullah, regularly visit Morocco but mostly for medical or
other private reasons. However, concern over the spread of Arab
Spring revolts has brought Arab monarchies closer to each other.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia; Editing by John Stonestreet)