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UAE injects $2 bn investment into Mauritania in latest Africa expansion

The UAE has expanded its presence in Africa [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 February, 2020

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Mauritania will receive $2 billion in investments from the United Arab Emirates, state media said on Sunday.
The United Arab Emirates will pump $2 billion into investment and development projects in Mauritania, state media said on Sunday, during a visit by the country's new leader renowned for his anti-jihadist stand.

"The UAE announced on Sunday the allocation of $2 billion to fund investment and development projects, as well as a soft loan for Mauritania," the official news agency WAM reported.

The West African country's President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and other Emirati officials during the visit.

Many see Ghazouani, a onetime chief of general staff, as the mastermind behind a security strategy that has kept jihadist movements out of Mauritania even as they ravaged parts of neighbouring Mali.

Mauritania's defence ministry on Thursday denied media reports that the UAE was constructing a military base in the country.

Read more: From Libya's skies to Somaliland's shores: The UAE's unprecedented activity in Africa

Mauritania - along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger - is part of the G5 Sahel force fighting jihadists in Africa's Sahel region.

It is also a member of a Saudi-led military coalition battling Houthi rebels in Yemen, although it has not sent troops to the front.

With a GDP of $5.2 billion in 2018 according to the World Bank, it ranks among the poorest countries in the world despite rich deposits of gold, iron and copper.

Ghazouani has consolidated his grip on power since taking office in August, the first transfer of power between two elected heads of state in a country shaken by multiple coups d'etat from 1978 to 2008.

The UAE, which has used its vast oil wealth to promote itself as a regional tourism, banking and services hub, has a zero-tolerance policy against extremism.

Read more: What is the UAE's game in the Horn of Africa?

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted that a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed with Ghazouani.

"Our countries have a long history of strong relations. Today, we have many opportunities to deepen these ties, enhance cooperation in various fields and consult on issues and developments in the region," he said.

The UAE has in recent years played an unprecedented role in events in Africa, in moves that suggest it aims to be more than just a regional power.

Abu DHbai has expanded its foothold in the Horn of Africa by establishing new military bases and has provided billions of dollars to regimes in the region, including Somaliland and Eritrea, along which lies the strategically-important Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

"You turn over any rock in the Horn of Africa, and you find the UAE there," a former Trump official told Reuters.

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