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Updated Feb 5, 2020

During a state visit by Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Ghazouani to Abu Dhabi on January 31, the United Arab Emirates approved a loan of US$2 billion to help the country through a particularly dire fiscal period. This is a considerable sum given that Mauritania’s foreign exchange reserves were only at US$1.1 billion, and the country could not afford to pay its civil servants their full salaries. It is not currently known where exactly these new funds will be invested.

Mauritania has long held close relations with the Gulf States, and this is not the first time it has received a sizable loan from the region. Kuwait loaned the country several hundred million dollars during the 1990s. In 2015, Saudi Arabia gave it a US$500 million loan, which Western observers believe helped to fund the upgrade of the Mauritanian armed forces, as these costs do not appear in any budget documents.

These loans are the payoff of Mauritanian support on the international stage in favor of its Gulf partners. The country has supported the Saudi-led coalition in its war against Yemen despite not sending a single soldier to fight. To Mauritania, the war is a quagmire with no discernable winner emerging from it. During the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Mauritania sided with its Saudi partners and restricted diplomatic relations with Qatar.

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