x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE a much needed powerful ally

As Libya rebuilds it is counting on the UAE for fuel, infrastructure experience and energy investment.

The UAE has lent military support to the rebels and ordered the unfreezing of Libyan assets during the conflict.

Now the rebels are counting on the Emirates to help in the rebuilding effort.

The UAE is well positioned to supply fuel for power generation as well as less tangible assets, according to an official from the National Transitional Council, the rebel government.

It has a wealth of expertise in ports, construction, customs and immigration, all of which will be needed to establish a functional nation, said Dr Aref Nayed, who was recently appointed the council's ambassador to the UAE and the chief executive of its stabilisation committee.

"We would like to save ourselves many years of complicated studies and consultants and so on by using these experiences," Dr Nayed said in Dubai.

The transitional council has asked the UN to unfreeze up to US$5 billion (Dh18.36bn) in Libyan funds within two weeks to kick-start the reconstruction effort.

Dr Nayed declined to put a figure on how much foreign investment Libya would ultimately need.

"We had this weird situation in Libya where all our money was being invested somewhere else and we were targeting foreign investment," Dr Nayed said. "We will invest in Libya as Libyans."

Several UAE companies were investing or about to invest in Libya before the conflict.

They included Al Maskari Holding, a private energy investor based in Abu Dhabi, which had been planning for a $3bn power project that would send electricity to Europe through high-voltage cables under the Mediterranean.

Trusta, another UAE energy company, partnered with the Libyan state oil company in 2009 to upgrade the strategic Ras Lanuf refinery, which exports to Europe.

OMV, an Austrian oil company that is one-fifth owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company, counted on Libya for 10 per cent of its oil supply before the conflict began.

This month, it told analysts it had been in talks with the rebels.

The rebels consider oil and gas production, which accounted for an estimated 80 to 92 per cent of government revenues before the conflict, the linchpin of the reconstruction effort.

ayee@thenational.ae