UAE business group issues investment dispute notice against Lebanon

The conglomerate has invested close to $1 billion in the country

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A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 10 Jan 2024, 12:33 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 12:32 AM

UAE conglomerate Al Habtoor Group has served a dispute notice against Lebanon for breaching the bilateral investment treaty the country has with the UAE.

“Lebanon has breached its obligations under the treaty towards Al Habtoor Group. In particular, Lebanon and its Central Bank have imposed restrictions preventing … the group from freely transferring its funds amounting to over $44 million from the Lebanese banks,” the group said in a Press statement on Wednesday.

Lebanon has also “failed to secure a safe and sound environment” for its businesses and investments. “As a result of Lebanon’s actions, (the group) … has incurred and continues to incur significant losses and damages.”

The conglomerate has invested close to $1 billion in Lebanon. Among these are funds within the Lebanese banking system; and investments in luxury hotels branded under Hilton Hotels & Resorts, a shopping mall, a 100,000-sqm entertainment, leisure destination named Habtoor Land, and real estate.

Under the UAE-Lebanon Treaty that entered into force in 1999, Lebanon undertook to protect Emirati investments in its territory.

The conglomerate “intends” to pursue its rights “vigorously, locally and internationally”.

“By sending a formal notice of the dispute to the various Lebanese government bodies in early January 2024, Al Habtoor Group (has) triggered the six-month cooling-off period under the UAE-Lebanon Treaty,” it said.

If the dispute is not resolved within six months and claims not settled, the group could “commence appropriate local and international legal proceedings against the Lebanese Republic in accordance with the treaty”.

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