Open Letter to the Lebanese Government, represented by President Najib Mikati, Prime Minister of Lebanon
Peace be upon you, and may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, We address the Lebanese government, represented by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, with this open letter to express our deep concern about our investments and projects in the Lebanese Republic.
Despite the promises, encouragement, and facilitations pledged to us by successive Lebanese governments to protect and support our investments in Lebanon, as Al Habtoor Group in particular, and Gulf investments in general, we, without hesitation, contributed substantial funds and investments to the Lebanese economy, believing in this beloved country and supporting its good people. Unfortunately, we have consistently observed with great concern and regret explicit hints about the potential threat to Gulf investments in Lebanon. This has caused considerable frustration and concern for us and all investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, not to mention the “detention” of our group’s funds and Gulf and foreign investment funds illegally in Lebanese banks. This has been done with the cover of the Lebanese government and the Central Bank of Lebanon. The massive losses we incurred are due to the instability in the political, economic, financial, and social situation that the Lebanese Republic has reached. This is exacerbated by the control of certain militias over the state’s resources, security, and economy. Furthermore, these armed militias have involved the Lebanese state in pointless wars, worsening the economic situation further and leading to the current dire state.
Here, we can only emphasize our position by holding the Lebanese state fully responsible for compensating us for all the massive losses we have suffered to date. We urge the Lebanese authorities to take immediate and necessary measures to ensure the protection of these investments and properties.
Therefore, the Lebanese state must confront the sources of threats and take preventive measures to guarantee the state’s protection of these investments and properties against such risks.
The role of the Lebanese government in protecting our investments in Lebanon and compensating us for these losses is not just a request but a duty. It is not only a moral duty but a legal obligation imposed on the Lebanese government by agreements and international treaties signed with the United Arab Emirates in particular. Therefore, the consideration of this option stems from the investment nature of the Al Habtoor Group, being Emirati in its registration and senior management. Additionally, our companies in Lebanon are registered in Lebanon, have bank accounts there, and are part of the mentioned group both factually and legally.
The reality is that the investment option is protected by a highly important bilateral agreement signed on May 17, 1998, between the United Arab Emirates and the Lebanese Republic. This agreement aims to encourage and mutually protect investments and was ratified by the Lebanese Parliament under Law No. 61 dated March 31, 1999.
The successive Lebanese governments’ need to attract foreign capital led to the attraction of foreign funds and the granting of all economic, political, and legal guarantees to foreign and Arab investors, signing more than 50 agreements in this context. This confirms Lebanon’s adoption of an investment approach based on the “open-door policy,” and its regional commitments are absolute to provide foreign and Emirati investors with complete reassurance about recovering their funds without any restrictions or conditions.
According to this agreement, Lebanon commits to protecting the investments, properties, and funds of all investors holding UAE citizenship, ensuring fair and equitable treatment, the highest priority, free transfer of funds, non-expropriation of ownership, compensation for subsequent damages, and the unconditional right to resort to international and regional settlements.
Therefore, the Lebanese state is urgently required to:
- Take all necessary measures to stop and limit the militias that, due to their reckless actions, involve the Lebanese state in futile conflicts that only bring destruction and instability to the Lebanese state, its economy, and its people.
- Guarantee and protect these investments and properties and ensure compensation in case of external aggression.
- Respect international agreements and treaties, compensate us for all the damages and losses we have suffered to date, and lift the freeze on all our funds held forcibly in Lebanese banks to avoid complicating and escalating the current situation, moving to other legal and political stages.