A day after the visit of Saudi Crown Prince sparked protests in Tunisia, two sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia will lend Tunisia $500 million at a favorable interest rate and will finance two projects worth $140 million.
Tunisians staged a protest against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, denouncing him as a murderer involved in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Crown Prince, who faces no overt criticism in his country, received lavish receptions earlier in his tour in visits to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Tunisia’s President, Beji Caid Essebsi received the Crown Prince and awarded him the republic’s medal, the country’s highest official award. The African country has been struggling economically and is dire need of funding.
An advisor to the president, Nourredine Ben Ticha told state television that “Tunisia will announce in a few days important deals with Saudi, including a loan with low interest rate, agreements on investment and other important details”.
An official and a source close to the discussions between Prince Mohammed and Essebsi, told Reuters that the loan would be worth $500 million. The two sources also acknowledged that the Saudi Development Fund will finance two projects worth about $140 million, but did not give more details.
Tunisia is currently struggling to cut its budget deficit, stabilize falling foreign currency reserves and manage expectations of international lenders demanding reforms such as trimming the public wage bill.