Jordan: $1B Porto Dead Sea development in legal tussle with tribes

Jordan: $1B Porto Dead Sea development in legal tussle with tribes
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Published October 1st, 2015 - 13:00 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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The project is expected to increase Jordan's hotel capacity by 25 percent. (Jordan Camera)
The project is expected to increase Jordan's hotel capacity by 25 percent. (Jordan Camera)
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The government and tribes in Maeen and the Dead Sea area entered a legal dispute over a plot of land where a major tourism project is being constructed, just some 40 minutes drive southwest of Amman.

Tribes claim they own the land where the JD800 million Porto Dead Sea is being developed by the Cairo-based Amer Group, while the investment body says the land is state property.  

Work on the project started in April 2014. 

On Wednesday, President of the Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) Montaser Oqlah told The Jordan Times that tribes hold ownership deeds from the Ottoman period. 

Tribal lands, known in Jordan as “wajihat”, are state lands that were distributed among bedouin tribes during the Ottoman period to use for grazing and cultivation purposes 

A representative from the Abu Wandi tribe recently sent the developer a notice to evict, saying that a western Amman court issued a 2011 verdict in favour of the tribes and against the government by upholding the tribe’s ownership to the disputed property. 

The dispute, according to a copy of the notice that was made available to The Jordan Times, started in 1993 when the land was registered under the management of the Jordan Valley Authority. 

But Oqlah said the commission has recently challenged the court verdict as a third party, adding that the disputed 800 dunums  are owned by the state and the commission seeks that the verdict be reconsidered. 

“The issue is currently at the court and we trust our judicial system,” Oqlah said, insisting that the possession of Ottoman documents by the tribes does not mean they are the owners of the land. 

“The government will not allow any actions that will harm the reputation of the Kingdom and its investment environment,” he said. 

According to the development company, Porto Dead Sea consists of four five-star hotels, an international health and spa centre, three malls, and 11,000 apartments. 

The company says the project will contribute significantly to the development of the Dead Sea area and increase Jordan’s hotel capacity by 25 per cent.

Set to be ready by 2019, Amer Group states that the first phase of is scheduled for completion in 2016.

By Omar Obeidat

 

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