Yanja El Khattat: "We are keen to develop relations with Spain"

Support for the proposal for autonomy for the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty creates favourable conditions for promoting investments 
Yanja El Khattat
Yanja El Khattat

Dakhla, the former Villa Cisneros, offers multiple and interesting business opportunities for Spanish companies in sectors as relevant as logistics, the new port of this region is called to emulate in the Atlantic the relevance of Tangier Med in the Mediterranean, fishing, industry, trade, aquaculture, renewable energies and tourism, among others.  

The president of the Dakhla region, Yanja El Khattat, is a Saharawi elected by his Saharawi neighbours in the elections held in September 2021 and came to Madrid on the occasion of the Morocco-Spain Business Forum - Dakhla Edition to promote economic and investment opportunities. In this region, considered as the southern provinces of Morocco, the Spanish government's position of considering King Mohammed VI's proposal for a broad autonomy for the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty as a serious and realistic option is highly valued. 

In this interview, the President of Dakhla focuses on his visit to Spain.

What is the aim of the President of Dakhla's visit to Madrid? 

The main objective of this event organised in Madrid is to showcase the potential of the Dakhla Oued Eddahab region and to explore investment opportunities and the business climate in this region, as well as to further strengthen relations between our country, Morocco, and Spain. 

This event is also a good opportunity to present the significant development that our region has experienced in all areas, thanks to structural projects carried out in the framework of the implementation of the Integrated Development Programme of the region, inspired by the New Development Model of the Southern Provinces announced by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, which covers all socio-economic, cultural and environmental sectors. 

It should also be known that this is not the first time that we organise similar activities, because we have organised many activities in Dakhla such as the 3rd Moroccan-Spanish Forum on "the role of the regions in development" in February 2024 and the Morocco-Spain Investment Forum in June 2022.

Yanja El Khattat
Yanja El Khattat

Do you consider that the current situation offers good investment opportunities for Spaniards? 

Of course it does.  Relations are currently at their best and we all have a responsibility to work to consolidate and deepen them.  

Spain and Morocco have an obligation to move forward together to build a better future, especially after the new phase of bilateral relations, which began with the meeting between His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the Spanish President of the Government Pedro Sánchez in April 2022, and the adoption of the Joint Declaration between our two neighbouring countries. 

Does Morocco's new Investment Charter offer many facilities for investment? 

The New Investment Charter makes it possible to improve the legal environment, promote investments and permanent and quality employment, reduce disparities between provinces and prefectures of the Kingdom and direct investment towards priority sectors.  

The Charter aims to strengthen the attractiveness of the Kingdom and attract more foreign direct investment and support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.    

What are the benefits of the Dakhla Regional Investment Centre? 

The Regional Investment Centres act as a one-stop-shop and have as their main mission the facilitation of business creation, the promotion of investments and to help and assist investors in all administrative processes by using digital platforms that provide all the necessary information. 

The Regional Investment Centre of Dakhla, as elsewhere, plays an important role in accompanying investors throughout the administrative process, providing them with the necessary information on the various sectors and introducing them to the various tax and other incentives to help companies become more competitive and establish themselves in the region. 

Can the Spanish have a positive plus because of the historical ties with Dakhla, the former Villa Cisneros? 

There are many common factors that Morocco and Spain in general, and especially Dakhla, share with many Spanish regions.  

Our geographical and historical links should be reasons to promote our relations and we should have taken advantage of them to strengthen our position as the link between the European and African continents. 

The Dakhla Oued Eddahab region is a territory coveted by investors due to the investment opportunities and possibilities it offers in various sectors such as fishing, agriculture, tourism, renewable energies, trade and logistics... Therefore, and despite the fact that Spaniards have a plus for the reasons mentioned above, they are called upon to be more competitive and aggressive in order to take advantage of the investment and business opportunities that present themselves.

Yanja El Khattat
Yanja El Khattat

Do you think that the Spanish government's support for Morocco's proposal for broad autonomy for the Sahara under its sovereignty favours investment possibilities? 

No doubt about it. This position of the Spanish Government in supporting the Kingdom of Morocco's proposal for autonomy for the Sahara under its sovereignty has contributed to a considerable improvement in relations between the two countries and has created favourable conditions and possibilities for promoting investment and giving a significant boost to bilateral relations and trade between the two parties. 

In view of certain misgivings that may arise in the Canary Islands, what message can the President of Dakhla send to the Canaries? 

The message I can send to all the active forces and political and economic actors in the Canary Islands is that these misgivings are unfounded, and I can assure you that we have an enormous will to activate and work to develop relations between our region and the Canary Islands, simply because we are convinced that we are condemned to work together to achieve the expected progress and guarantee a prosperous future for our sub-region, and also because we share the same challenges and the same ambitions.

Can a complementary partnership framework between the Sahara and the Canary Islands be a mutually beneficial reality? 

We will certainly be open to consider all initiatives aimed at developing partnership and complementary collaboration between the two regions and strengthening commercial, economic and human relations between the two parties. 

This framework of collaboration should serve the common interest, promote exchanges and the rapprochement of socio-economic actors from the Canary Islands to the Dakhla Oued Eddahab region, and ensure the well-being of the populations of the two regions. 

Is the initiative to strengthen the Atlantic façade for the Sahel countries strategic and beneficial for the whole region? 

The Atlantic Initiative launched by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to promote the access of the Sahel States to the Atlantic Ocean is a favourable framework to unify the efforts of the countries in the region and ensure multidimensional cooperation for a secure, prosperous and stable African continent. 

This initiative is part of His Majesty the King's multiple initiatives towards Africa and aims to establish sustainable development and integration in the continent especially in the Sahel and Sahara region and will be of great benefit to all its countries and peoples. 

I believe that our region will be the first beneficiary of this royal initiative due to the important investments made by our country such as the mega-project of the new Atlantic port and its activity zone which will create a logistic and economic hub and a bridge between the Kingdom of Morocco and the European countries with the Sahel and West African countries. 

What message do you want to send to the Spanish people during this visit? 

This event is a new demonstration of our firm will to work together to strengthen our cooperation, to deepen the partnership between our two neighbouring countries and I want to say to all Spaniards that we are here to further strengthen the friendship between our two friendly peoples and I take this opportunity to call on Spanish entrepreneurs to take the initiative and take advantage of the new political context to invest in our region and build a prosperous and very promising future for all.