The notice is in connection with Lebanon’s breach of the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the UAE and Lebanon. (Beirut city skyline used for illustrative purposes.) Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Al Habtoor Group has issued a formal notice initiating an investment dispute against Lebanon, as the UAE conglomerate sets out to legally protect nearly $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) of its investments in the country.

The notice is in connection with Lebanon’s breach of the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the UAE and Lebanon, the company said in a statement, referring to an agreement put in place to protect UAE investments in Lebanon territory since 1999.

“In particular, Lebanon and its central bank have imposed restrictions preventing Al Habtoor Group from freely transferring its funds amounting to over $44 million (Dh161.6 million) from the Lebanese banks,” Al Habtoor Group further revealed.

“Lebanon has also failed to secure a safe and sound environment for Al Habtoor Group’s businesses and investments. As a result of Lebanon’s actions, Al Habtoor Group has incurred and continues to incur significant losses and damages.”

With Lebanon now finding itself mired in deep financial crises that threaten to further destabilise the country, foreign investors particularly from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are concerned about protecting their business interests.

‘Vigorously pursue rights‘

Al Habtoor Group, represented by the international law firm White & Case LLP, added that it intends to pursue its rights “vigorously, locally and internationally”.

By sending a formal notice of dispute to the government bodies in Lebanon in early January 2024, Al Habtoor Group triggered the six-month cooling-off period under the UAE-Lebanon Treaty.

“If the dispute is not resolved within six months and the Al Habtoor Group claims are not settled, it will be open to Al Habtoor Group to commence appropriate local and international legal proceedings against the Lebanese Republic in accordance with the Treaty,” the company added.

Al Habtoor Group said it has deposited funds at banks in Lebanon, and invested in luxury hotels branded under Hilton Hotels & Resorts, a shopping mall, a 100,000 square metre entertainment and leisure destination named Habtoor Land and other real estate investments across the country.