Now, this is interesting. Do any of you remember the story earlier this year about US-based investor Adel al Tamimi? In a nut shell, this guy (who is based in Boston) had two of his companies (Emrock and SFOH) enter into 2 25 year lease agreements with state-owned Oman Mining Company back in 2006 to develop a quarry in the Jebel Wasa region (very close to the UAE border, between Buraimi and Hatta). Anyway, so the story goes: al Tamimi spent a lot of money on infrastructure at the site including access roads and accommodation as well as plant equipment purchases and hires in 2007. Come 2009 he was arrested and thrown in jail for 3 months for the theft of rocks & sand and violations of environmental regulations(!), and of course his mining operations were shut down. In June 2010, he was acquitted of all charges, but not before his mining operation was confiscated and sold off! The land was taken back by the government, the equipment was sold to competitors and workers were dispersed thus effectively destroying his ability to conduct his business.
Quite understandably, al Tamimi was a little bit hacked off that all his investments had been flogged by Oman Mining Company and so in April of this year he formally filed notice to request international arbitration (a very firm part of the Free Trade Agreement between Oman and the USA) to resolve his dispute with Oman Mining Company. Now the process seems to work with a 90 day notice, and then the case if not agreed is allowed to be referred to an international arbitrator who will make a final ruling. Emphasis on international. Anyway, Muscat Daily today reported that al Tamimi's lawyers formally filed last Friday a request for arbitration. The amount in dispute is considerable: US$ 560m
Now this is interesting because on the face of this story, it looks like Oman Mining Company failed to hold up it's end of the agreement and did not secure the appropriate permits and licenses to conduct the works. If the arbitrator rules in favour of al Tamimi, it'll be very interesting to see how Oman reacts - if they don't pay up, the investing world will surely notice. First the debacle with Blue
I look forward to hearing the outcome of the arbitration, hopefully it'll be reported on locally - and good job to Muscat Daily for covering this today.