Alabbar hits back

EMAAR chairman Mohammed Alabbar has launched an astonishing attack on the media, after claims he met with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul and Motaz Batter Published  March 6, 2005

EMAAR chairman Mohammed Alabbar has launched an astonishing attack on the media, after claims he met with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Alabbar visited Palestine two weeks ago, amidst reports he had then met senior Israelis to discuss a deal to buy 21 homes in the Gaza settlement. Emaar announced the formation of a new company, Emaar Palestine, shortly after his visit. But after being under fire from the Arab media, Alabbar appeared on Dubai TV last week to refute the claims. Asked where the reported US$56 million figure (for the housing deal) came from, Alabbar insisted: “I didn’t offer any numbers — they are just estimation made. We didn’t ask about the value, the whole process was just a proposal to leave the facilities [settlements] intact to avoid loss if demolished. Newspapers write anything without asking!” He was then asked why he was prepared to pay Israelis any cash for land that is still technically under occupation. Alabbar replied: “That’s a wrong question! I told you that that is just newspapers’ gossip, no monies or prices were mentioned.” He later rounded on the media again, saying: “If newspapers there (in Israel) are after gossip and striving to achieve flashy hits by forging facts, like one of the reporters who insisted on changing facts that I myself told him about, then I would say to them: “May God forgive you!” Many media organisations claimed the deal was worth US$56 million to the company, but Alabbar is now adamant no deal has been finalised. He explained: “The media has mentioned numbers and figures which are not true. We haven’t had any discussion about numbers. We are fine, if we get to have the approval to leave the facilities as they are. Demolishing is costly even to Israel along with other debris to be removed. So [Israel] would benefit if it doesn’t go on with bulldozing the settlements.” Alabbar added: “But let’s argue by saying that they [Israelis] agreed to leave the settlements as they are against a price, then, we in the group would buy them and offer them to the Palestinians to improve their way of life within a month. Also, it’s worth mentioning that some charities offered to pay up the price for the settlements, but not a word was brought up about that yet!”

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