Omar Ayesh

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Omar Ayesh
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Born (1968-11-01) November 1, 1968 (age 52)
Gaza, State of Palestine
NationalityCanadian
CitizenshipCanada
Alma mater
  • Bosphorous University
  • Ajman University
Occupation
  • Entrepreneur
  • Chairman of real estate company
AwardsSheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award
Ernst & Young Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Omar Ayesh (born 1 November 1968) is a Canadian entrepreneur and chairman of real estate company Nobles Holding. Ayesh was the subject of the largest real estate scandal in the Middle East, which inspired him to create the Global Justice Foundation, an organization aimed at fighting commercial corruption in developing markets.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Early life and education

Ayesh was born into a Palestinian family in Gaza. He first studied industrial engineering in Turkey’s Bosphorous University before transferring to Ajman University in the United Arab Emirates in 1989. He began his career by establishing Andalus Automotive, a network of pre-owned vehicle showrooms in the UAE, which he eventually expanded into North America before turning to real estate development.[7][8]

Career

As the United Arab Emirates economy grew in the late 1990s, the Emirate of Dubai allowed foreign ownership of real estate. Ayesh started investing in real estate under the brand Tameer Holding Investment, a company that Gulf International Bank valued at USD$5.2 billion before the global financial crisis of 2007-08.[9] Tameer’s early projects included properties like the Elite Residence, The Regal Towers, Abu Dhabi’s Tameer Towers, and The Princess Tower, the List of tallest residential tower in the world until 2015. Ayesh expanded Tameer's land bank, with Mediaquest’s The Gulf Marketing Review listing Tameer as third in regional brand value in May 2007.[10][11] Ayesh's business drew him the attention of several regional and international awards, including the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award,[12] the Ernst & Young Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year Award[13], and others.[14][15] In August 2008, Ayesh formed Nobles Properties, with a project planned in Dubai’s Business Bay which was delayed by the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 global financial crisis.[16][17] Nobles signed a partnership agreement with Qatar First Bank in 2009 to fund opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. The venture’s first project was a US$500 million city under Libya’s Economic and Social Development Fund[18] with plans for developments in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, once those countries are stable enough.[19]

Tameer scandal and legal battle

When Ayesh established Tameer, he partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi Investment Group, headed by Ahmed Suleiman Al-Rajhi. It initially purchased a 50% stake in the company in 2005, steadily increasing its shareholding to 75% in early 2008,[20] at which point Ahmed Suleiman Al-Rajhi engineered a hostile takeover of the Al-Rajhi Investment Group, pushing Ayesh out as President and depriving him of assets estimated at US$1.16 billion. Ayesh sued the company on accusations of embezzlement, corruption, and the reallocation of assets to Rajhi-owned companies. The matter continued in the Legal system of the Dubai legal system for years until the Dubai Court of Cassation ruled in Ayesh’s favor; however, the political leverage of the Saudi banking clan has kept them from paying damages awarded as of January 2021. The matter has received considerable media attention, with some calling it the largest financial scandal in the history of the Middle East.[21][22][23] In November 2020, in a civil suit the Emirate of Dubai’s Court of First Instance found that Ayesh was indeed 25% shareholder of Tameer, and ordered Ahmed Al-Rajhi, the minister of labor in the Saudi government, to pay nearly US$600 million in compensation and damages (2.2 billion UAE dirhams). Al-Rajhi was found guilty of creating shell companies, devaluing Ayesh’s company, and illegally expropriating assets.[24] The Gulf News reported that, “An experts’ report to the presiding judge suggested that the asset disposal was being attempted ‘at much lower prices’ than their market value in order to ‘empty the company assets.’”[25]

Global Justice Foundation

Ayesh has sponsored the Global Justice Foundation (GJF), an organization designed to promote business ethics and standards of corporate governance in developing markets without the benefit of the rule of law. He states his experience with corruption, intimidation, and abuse in the financial dealings of companies and individuals, with the aid of government officials, led him to establishing GJF.[26] The foundation is working with other victims of Middle Eastern corruption, “looking at ways to assist them in filing their own lawsuits and to amplify its message that the region must fight corruption more diligently.”[27] The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in their 2020 study on global fraud and abuse reported that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia lead the region in instances of corruption.[28]

References

  1. Nair, Manoj (November 26, 2020). "Dubai Court orders whopping Dh1.6b compensation to founder of Tameer Real Estate Company". Gulf News. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  2. Fund, John (December 7, 2020). "Follow Up the Abraham Accords by Promoting the Rule of Law". National Review. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  3. Lennox, Dennis (June 22, 2019). "Kenneth Starr's new group makes Saudi Arabia and UAE uncomfortable". American Spectator. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  4. Fund, John (October 23, 2019). "Cleaning Up Corruption Is a Key to Middle East Stability". National Review. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  5. Herzog, Ashley (June 4, 2019). "New Group Led by Kenneth Starr Targets Middle Eastern Corruption". Townhall. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  6. Qassim, Jafar (December 1, 2020). "UAE court convicts Saudi minister of fraud". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  7. "Omar Ayesh - History". Omar Ayesh official site. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  8. "About Our Founders". Winfooz.com. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  9. "Tameer Case". Global Justice Foundation. April 7, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  10. "Omar Ayesh - History". Omar Ayesh official site. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  11. "About Our Founders". Winfooz.com. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  12. "The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award - Winners & Testimonials". Dubai Chamber. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  13. "Ersnt & Young welcomes award finalists". TradeArabia. February 23, 2008. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  14. "CEO 2007 awards". Arabian Business. November 1, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  15. "Rich List-Omar Ayesh". Arabian Business. December 10, 2008. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  16. "Executive Chairman". Nobles Properties. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  17. "Dubai-based investor buys US property for 6.3 million USD". Naseba. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  18. "Qatar First Investment Bank signs its first deal with Nobles Properties". Qatar First Investment Bank. May 2009. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  19. "Nobles Properties - Projects". Nobles Properties. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  20. Vivekanand, P.V. (April 30, 2005). "Al-Rajhi Group Buys 50% Stake In UAE-Based Tameer". Arab News. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  21. Whitley, Jared (June 18, 2019). "When corruption strikes Dubai". Washington Times. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  22. Anuzis, Saul (June 10, 2019). "Opinion: Dubai, Riyad need rule of law if they value U.S. partnership". Detroit News. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  23. Fund, John (Dec 7, 2020). "Follow Up the Abraham Accords by Promoting the Rule of Law". National Review. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  24. "Washington, D.C.: Statement on Omar Ayesh Winning Dubai Court Case Against Saudi Minister of Labor". Global Justice Foundation. November 29, 2020. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  25. Nair, Manoj (November 26, 2020). "Dubai Court orders whopping Dh1.6b compensation to founder of Tameer Real Estate Company". Gulf News. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  26. "Global Justice Foundation – About Us". Global Justice Foundation. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  27. Fund, John (December 7, 2020). "Follow Up the Abraham Accords by Promoting the Rule of Law". National Review. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  28. "Report to the Nations: 2020 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse" (PDF). Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Retrieved January 12, 2021.

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