Tirana, 22 September 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
To come to Albania and invest enormous amounts of money and to be savagely beaten on the street. This was the case with a Lebanese businessman who was savagely beaten by several people and who in the recent hours, announced that he has decided to withdraw from the investment of 450 million USD and leave Albania. Besides the 450 million USD investment in the Lalez Bay, Omnix company based in Dubai, with branches in Middle East and North Africa, announced that it will also suspend other projects in Albania.
The protagonist of this serious event was the 54 year old businessman from Lebanon, Faadi Mitri. A few days ago, he was barbarically beaten in the road linking Tirana to the only airport in the country. Faad Mitri was travelling as a passenger on a vehicle which crashed with another vehicle. After the crash, the people who were in the other car got out and beat him with baseball sticks and then left. The people who attacked him while he was travelling with his family, asked him to leave Albania and suspend his activity in the Lalez Bay. One of them was caught by police, while the two others are still at large. The Lebanese businessman was rushed to the hospital in a serious condition. Meanwhile, in the recent hours, as you can see from the photos that IBNA brings you, he left with a charter and his state of health was not that good.
Company officially announces its departure from Albania
Omnix Contracting and Engineering Albania announced that “this serious criminal act managed to ruin the company’s efforts for the construction of a tourist complex in Lalez Bay”.
According to the company, this investment would create 1200 jobs until 2018 and would offer Albania the image of the number 1 tourist destination in the Adriatic and the Balkans.
Jamal Abu Isaa, head of OMNIX Group, said that the attack against the investor was done in order to convince the investor to withdraw not only from this project, but from any other investment in the Republic of Albania.
Businesses alarmed: Omnix’s departure will slow down foreign investments
Albanian and foreign businesses see Omnix’s departure as a slowdown of foreign investments. They say that this departure due to the use of violence, is the biggest damage made to the image of Albania and the efforts to attract foreign investments.
Representatives of associations of tourism say that Albania will be lacking such investment, at a time when the country needs it more than ever.
For the American Chamber of Commerce, Omnix’s departure will have a more negative impact than the hundreds of millions USD investment. It demands from the government to intervene on issues of property ownerships, which have often turned problematic for investors.
Foreign Investors Association in Albania (FIAA) declared today that this event has happened at a time when international partners and the government of Albania are intensively working together to improve business climate in order to attract foreign investments, which are much needed for the development of the country and the improvement of living standards in Albania.
FIAA calls on state institutions to take tough measures against these “common enemies”.
Politics involved in the debate
The event in question also sparked political reactions. The first one to talk was former PM Sali Berisha and he was followed by the leader of opposition, Lulzim Basha.
Berisha said that Mitri left after “he was tortured by the government mob”. According to him, Omnix would start the construction works for the luxury tourist complex in the Lalez Bay, amounting to 1,5 billion euros. Berisha says that the Dubai based company left in order for a company which was close to the government, to benefit 40 hectares of land in the much desired coast, a few kilometers away from Tirana.
Meanwhile, Mr. Basha says that Albania lost not only 450 million USD, but also 1200 jobs. According to Basha, the country lost “a very big opportunity to have a tourist investment, among the most serious ones in the Balkans, which would have a positive impact on the national economy”.
Basha says that he considers the prime minister’s lack of comment on this development as unacceptable: “Edi Rama is keeping quiet, because he needs Albania to be poor, without jobs, without investments, because this way, it is easier for him to rule with gangs and smugglers”.
He added that the opposition called on Omnix to review its decision as “investments in Albania are much needed”.
From the ranks of the majority, it was the Speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta who reacted. He called for the perpetrators to be brought before justice as soon as possible. “Let us hope that this will be the last painful case where the life and safety of a foreign investor are threatened”.
Meta says that greater efforts must be made to create a more positive climate of trust and safety, not only physical, but also legal, for all foreign and national investments.
To invest and risk your life
Unofficial sources claim that this event occurred as a result of a conflict on property. The property in question is located in the tourist coastal area of Lalezi Bay, 35 km away from Tirana, purchased by the Dubai based company, Omnix Albania, chaired by Mitri. The aim was to build a residential and tourist complex. The project included a 5 year tourist resort, an aqua park, 370 luxury apartments, a tourist boulevard, shops, bars and restaurants which would put the Albanian coast on the list of destinations with high standards of tourism.
Meanwhile, police said that this event occurred following a brawl after the car accident. But even if this was the case, a question is asked: What investor would come to a country where his life is threatened over a damaged car?
In conditions of the lack of safety, no foreign entrepreneur would accept to spend money in Albania, in this country where you could get slaughtered over a car accident and even more, over property issues.
It is clear that the life of the Albanian and foreign citizens, especially those who are rich and do business, is threatened at any moment. Those who have money, are targeted and face constant lack of safety. State Police says that it is working hard to maintain order. However, lack of security is alarming in the country.
This is yet another blow given to foreign investors in Albania and comes at a time when the country is attempting to compete with neighboring countries in tourism.
This way, Albania fails for the second time with the standards in tourism, as a few years ago, the second biggest company in the domain of tourism, Club Med, also left the country. /balkaneu.com/