Qatar signs aid deal worth $1.25 billion for Morocco

Updated 28 December 2013
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Qatar signs aid deal worth $1.25 billion for Morocco

RABAT: Qatar and Morocco have signed an aid deal worth $1.25 billion, part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by Gulf states to the North African kingdom to help it weather ‘Arab Spring’ protests.
Four Gulf states — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE — agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5 billion to Morocco in the period 2012-2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism.
Each of the four countries has committed $1.25 billion to Morocco for the whole five year period.
The aid is very welcome to King Mohamed — who signed the accord with the visiting emir of Qatar — as he seeks to quell social discontent.
Morocco is under heavy pressure from international lenders to reduce its budget deficit after spending heavily on food and energy subsidies and higher public sector salaries in 2011 and 2012 to help defuse social tensions.
Morocco has budgeted to receive a total $1 billion in aid from the Gulf states for 2014.
It hopes to cut its budget deficit to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product next year from an estimated 5.5 percent in 2013.
Qatar was the last of the four Gulf states to sign the aid accord with Morocco. It was not immediately clear whether Qatar would disburse the aid installments for both 2012 and 2013, each worth $250 million, together.
The Gulf states have agreed a similar package of aid, also worth a total $5 billion over a five-year period, for Jordan.


Hajj season boosts Middle East hotel demand in August

Updated 24 September 2018
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Hajj season boosts Middle East hotel demand in August

  • Occupancy rates — a measure of the proportion of available rooms sold — in the region jumped to 63.4 percent from 62.1 percent
  • The average daily room rate — another key industry metric — increased 12.2 percent to reach close to $170 per night

LONDON: Demand for hotel rooms across the Middle East leapt last month providing welcome relief for an industry that has been grappling with an oversupply of hotel accommodation, new data showed.
Occupancy rates — a measure of the proportion of available rooms sold — in the region jumped to 63.4 percent from 62.1 percent, according to data provider STR’s research published on Sept. 24.
The average daily room rate — another key industry metric — increased 12.2 percent to reach close to $170 per night, while revenue per available room (RevPar) increased by 14.5 percent to reach $107.50.
The region’s hotel sector has been under pressure due partly to the impact of low oil prices and geopolitical risks, resulting in a slump in room revenue and occupancy as supply exceeded demand.
“It is true in the broader sense that we have been seeing a softening of market-wide RevPar levels in the hospitality sector across most major cities within the GCC countries,” said Ali Manzoor, partner, hospitality and leisure at property consultancy firm Knight Frank.
Analysts have blamed the year-on-year uptick in August on the earlier Hajj season and Eid Al-Adha holiday, rather than indicative of a change in outlook for the sector.
“The spike in occupancy levels in August was largely attributable to differences between the Gregorian and Hijri calendars,” Manzoor said.
This year, the pilgrimage period took place in August, helping to boost the industry’s performance that month. “It is therefore reasonable to expect hotels to underperform in the month of September in relation to last year,” he said.
Looking at data for the year-to-date, the UAE retains the highest occupancy rate in the Gulf region at 72.2 percent, though this represents a slight decline of 0.8 percent compared to the same time period last year, according to STR data.
Saudi Arabia’s occupancy levels stood at 58.1 percent year-to-date, marginally up by 0.2 percent on last year.