Sunday, August 12, 2007

Talal Abu Ghazaleh and the Amman municipality

In 2003, a large area in central Amman, previously designated as land for the headquarters of the army and other security services, was earmarked for an ambitious urban renovation project lead by the Hariri group. Thus, the Abdali project was born.

The 350 dunum parcel of land belongs to a government owned company called Mawared. While the government, through Mawared, is a partner in the project, this initiative is a purely capitalist endeavor.

So, when the investors became more ambitious, they attempted to purchase adjacent properties. While some sold at handsome prices, others refused. The Talal Abu Ghazaleh Group refused.

According to the website set up by Abu Ghazaleh, the Amman Municipality first prevented their company to build on the land they own in the area. Later, the mayor tried to mediate a sale between the Abdali project and Abu Ghazaleh, threatening to confiscate the land and buildings if Abu Ghazaleh refused to sell. This is what later transpired, with the municipality publishing a notice of confiscation for the land.

According to Jordanian law, the government can only confiscate land if it is for projects of public benefit. To get around this, the municipality published a map showing that the land to be confiscated will be used to open a street and for parks. Fahed Fanek wrote a commentary practically dismissing the municipality’s claim that the confiscation is for public benefit. The municipality in term responded by insisting that the confiscation was necessary for expanding the road system in the area.

Yesterday, Abu Ghazaleh threw a bombshell. They revealed that the municipality had confiscated two pieces of land in the area last May, only to resell them to the Abdali project in July. It is obvious that the municipality is abusing its power for the benefit of the Abdali Project. Abu Ghazaleh is appealing to the supreme court. I think they have already won in the court of public opinion.

6 Comments:

At 9:54 AM, Blogger M Kilany said...

Excellent update... What a Fiasco!? Indeed... "they have already won in the court of public opinion."

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger Hatem Abunimeh said...

I’m bewildered; I can’t make a firm stand on this contentious issue. In one way I’m for urban sprawl, modernization, beautification, and so on, on another I feel for those that are very passionate about their property. Regrettably, there don’t seem to be any possibility of any compromise from either side, it is a sad situation.

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Kilani: Thanks!

Hatem: I think that if the right price is offered, there can be a compromise.

 
At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abu Ghazaleh is a megalomaniac. The land was not being "confiscated" (you make it sound as if no compensation was going to be paid).

A figure (and a company) like Abu Ghazaleh would have definitely gotten a fair price for the property from the GAM. He is not some downtrodden beggar who will get cheated out of his property.

He spent thousands and thousands of dinars on newspaper ads arguing his case, making it sound as if the municipality wants to destroy his consulting business.

Having said all that, the legal aspect of this is in the grey area. Yes, Abdali is a commercial project but also a major urban development in Amman. This urban push needs better roads around it. So the issue can be seen as relevant to the public good.

In my business life I have seen megalomaniacs at work, who would wage all out wars to prove how strong they are and gain some negotiation position.

Last word I heard that Abu Ghazaleh agreed to sell in the end.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

أكيد الأستاذ والعبقري والمفكر طلال أبوغزاله إنسان غير مضطهد أو فقير أو مصاب بجنون العظمة، ولكن الحق يقال، كيف من الممكن أن يقوم رجل أعمال ببيع مقره الذي استقر به قرابة عشرة أعوام وقام بتأسيس مجمع بل إمبراطورية أن يستنغي عن موقعه بهذه البساطة، يا أخي بطلعلو ينكد على أمانة عمان ويرفع عليهم قضية وينادي بحقوقه مهما كانت الظروف، وهذا حق. وين المشكلة، المهم في الأخير هو باع بعد ما أخذ حقه وكسب شهرة أكبر لإنو بطلعلو. أحمد أ أ

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger sou said...

Copy paste to what they did in Down Town Beirut with our properties

 

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