By David French

DUBAI, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The sale of British bank Barclays' Egyptian business has attracted bids from the two largest banks in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The UK-based lender is seeking to sell its African operations as part of a plan by Chief Executive Jes Staley to simplify its structure and improve shareholder returns, although attempts to sell the African businesses as one have come up against difficulties, including the disparate nature of the local units.

Interested parties had been invited to submit bids for the Egyptian unit by the end of August.

By this deadline both Morocco's Attijariwafa and Dubai-based Emirates NBD lodged offers, according to the two sources.

Barclays and Emirates NBD declined to comment. Attijariwafa didn't respond to a request for comment.

Emirates NBD, which is being advised by New York-based Perella Weinberg Partners, already has operations in Egypt, having bought BNP Paribas' unit there in 2013.

The general manager of the Moroccan lender, Ismail Douiri, told Reuters in March it was interested in Barclays Egypt, having been keen to expand there for several years. It is being advised by UBS.

Barclays has 56 branches and serves around 127,000 customers in Egypt, where it first established a foothold in 1864, according to the bank's website.

Sources have previously said Barclays Egypt's equity value was around $400 million.

(Additional Reporting by Lawrence White in London; Editing by Greg Mahlich) ((; +971 4 362 5864; Reuters Messaging: