WASHINGTON, April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An American businessman whose massive limestone quarry in Oman was expropriated by that country's government has taken the first step towards initiating the first-ever investment arbitration under the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Boston real estate entrepreneur Adel A Hamadi Al Tamimi has served Oman with a notice of intent (NOI) to submit claims to arbitration. If the parties are unable to resolve their differences in the next 90 days, Mr. Al Tamimi may submit to arbitration claims that Oman has breached obligations under the FTA, and that he is entitled to at least US$500 million in compensation for harm arising from Oman's breaches. Mr. Al Tamimi is being represented by international law firm Crowell & Moring LLP.
The claims against Oman stem from the government's frustration of the terms of two 25-year lease agreements entered into by its state-owned enterprise, Oman Mining Company LLC (OMCO), and two of Mr. Tamimi's companies, Emrock and SFOH (the Companies) in 2006. These lease agreements provided the Companies with the unrestricted rights to mine limestone deposits in the Buraimi region of Oman near the United Arab Emirates-Oman border. Limestone from the Emrock and SFOH quarry was intended to support major projects, such as the world-famous artificial Palm Islands then being established in neighboring United Arab Emirates by the developer Nakheel Properties.
OMCO agreed to lease land to the Companies for the unrestricted limestone mining concessions it held in the region. OMCO was required under the agreements to obtain the necessary permits. However, OMCO failed to do so. Despite this failure, from January to August 2007, OMCO and the Omani Ministry of Commerce gave numerous assurances to the Companies that the requisite permits had been obtained and instructed the Companies to commence mining operations in September 2007.
Shortly thereafter, the Omani Environmental Ministry began to make formal complaints to OMCO, as the holder of the mining concession, about the scope of the Companies' mining operations. Disagreements between OMCO and the Ministry of Commerce, on the one hand, and the Ministry of the Environment, on the other, soon led to government interference in the Companies' operation of the quarry. Interference in the operations and harassment of the Companies continued into 2009, after the FTA entered into force. The harassment culminated in the confiscation of mining facilities by Royal Omani police and the arrest of Mr. Al Tamimi in May 2009 on charges of theft of rocks and sand and violations of environmental regulations. Despite Mr. Al Tamimi's eventual acquittal on all charges in June 2010, irreparable damage to his investment already had been done. The mining operations were forcibly shut down, equipment confiscated and sold to competitors, and employees dispersed.
Mr. Al Tamimi's claims were brought to the attention of senior Omani officials in December 2010 in an attempt to resolve differences without the need to pursue formal arbitration. To date, however, that effort has not yielded any results. Given the inability to resolve the parties' differences through informal means, Mr. Al Tamimi has started the process of availing himself of the right afforded to foreign investors under the FTA to pursue his claims through international arbitration. The FTA requires the United States and Oman each to afford certain protections to investors of the other. These include protections against unlawful expropriation, nationality-based discrimination, and unfair and inequitable treatment. The FTA also establishes an arbitration mechanism that investors may use to enforce their rights. In the present case, in the event the NOI does not lead to negotiation of an amicable settlement in the next 90 days, Mr. Al Tamimi expects to submit his claims to arbitration under the auspices of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, as provided for in the FTA.
"It is regrettable that Oman has thus far been unwilling to provide reasonable compensation to Mr. Al Tamimi via negotiation and that we are now forced to pursue his rights as an American investor under international law by taking the first step towards arbitration," said Mr. Al Tamimi's counsel, Arif Hyder Ali, the head of Crowell & Moring's International Arbitration Group, "We look forward to Mr. Al Tamimi being fully compensated for the damages he has suffered as a result of Oman's actions."
About Adel A Hamadi Al Tamimi
Mr. Al Tamimi is a successful real estate developer and businessman who is the Chairman and General Manager of Emrock Aggregate & Mining, LLC and SFOH Limited. Born of a prominent family in the Arabian Gulf region, Mr. Al Tamimi became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1986. Since that time, he has become a respected member of the New England business community. He operates principally in Boston, Massachusetts and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
SOURCE Emrock LLC