Building roads and expanding cities, ports and industrial parks - Morocco is pressing ahead with economic development in Western Sahara without waiting for a political settlement on the disputed territory.
The latest sign of the kingdom's assertive approach to the former Spanish colony was on show last weekend at a business forum organised by Moroccan authorities in Laayoune, the region's largest city.
"This is a very rich region," said Rokia Derham, Morocco's secretary of state for foreign trade.
"There is great potential in industry, fishing, agriculture or the relocation of services. We want to see foreign investors coming," she told AFP.
Morocco and the Polisario Front fought for decades over control of Western Sahara, until a 1991 UN-brokered ceasefire froze the conflict and left Rabat in control of most of the desert area.
The forum urged French companies to "give their business new momentum" by investing in a territory touted as a "model of regional development".
"We want to push development and the economy," the region's president Hamdi Ould Errachid told some 200 entrepreneurs, including 50 from France, at an opening ceremony.
The forum highlighted the "appeal" of the area, situated at the door to sub-Saharan Africa, and the "opportunities" in sectors such as renewable energy, finishing, tourism and construction.
Staged a month before UN-led negotiations on the fate of the territory are set to resume, the forum sparked Polisario Front condemnation.
In an open letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the independence movement said it was an example of Morocco's "hostile expansionist policy".