UAE to build Red Sea port in Sudan under $6 billion investment program

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CAIRO – The United Arab Emirates will build a new Red Sea port in Sudan, as part of a $6 billion investment package, said DAL Group Chairman Oussama Daoud Abdellatif, a partner in the agreement which marks the first major foreign investment since the army came to power. during a coup in October.

Abdellatif said the package includes a free trade zone, a major agricultural project and an imminent $300 million deposit in Sudan’s central bank.

Western donors suspended billions in aid and investment to Sudan after the coup, plunging an already struggling economy into further turmoil and depriving the government of much-needed foreign currency.

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Ibrahim told Reuters on Wednesday that a memorandum of understanding had been signed with the United Arab Emirates for a port and agricultural project, but details were not previously released.

The finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the details of the deal.

The $4 billion port, a joint project between DAL Group and Abu Dhabi Ports, owned by Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, would be able to handle all kinds of cargo and compete with the country’s main national port, Port Sudan, Abdellatif said.

Located about 200 km (124 miles) north of Port Sudan, it would also include a free trade and industrial zone modeled on Dubai’s Jebel Ali, as well as a small international airport, he said. . The project is in “advanced stages”, with studies and designs completed, he said.

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Rumors of Gulf investment in Port Sudan and agricultural projects elsewhere in the country have in the past sparked opposition and sometimes protests.

Port Sudan has long been plagued by infrastructure problems and was shut down by a political blockade for six weeks late last year, losing business with major international shippers.

The UAE deal also includes the $1.6 billion expansion and development of an agricultural project by Abu Dhabi conglomerate IHC and DAL Agriculture in the northern city of Abu Hamad. of Sudan,” Abdellatif said.

Alfalfa, wheat, cotton, sesame and other crops would be grown and processed on the 400,000 acres of leased land, he said. A 500 km (310 mile) $450 million toll road linking the project to the port would also be built, funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

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Under the agreement, the Fund would also deposit $300 million in the Central Bank of Sudan, Abdellatif said.

After the military overthrew Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion in grants and in-kind aid to Sudan, which military and civilian leaders say is n have not been fully provided.

Two senior Sudanese government sources told Reuters that the broad outlines of the new agreement were agreed between Sudanese leader General Abdelfattah al-Burhan and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed during a meeting. recent visit to the Gulf State.

A representative from Abu Dhabi Ports said the company made no comment, while representatives from the ADQ, Abu Dhabi Fund, IHC and the governments of Abu Dhabi and the Emirates United Arabs did not immediately respond to requests.

“We and our partners in the UAE have already invested in a bank, a hotel, a mining operation,” said Abdellatif, whose conglomerate has also bid for control of one of the largest companies in Sudan Telecommunications, Zain Sudan.

“The UAE wants a stable Sudan so they can make more and more of these investments, but we don’t expect everything to be perfect,” he added. (Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir and Khalid Abdelaziz; Additional reporting by Yousef Saba in Dubai, Editing by Aidan Lewis, William Maclean)

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