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Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber (Arabic محمد بن عيسى الجابر, DIN 31635 Muḥammad bin ʿĪssā al-Ǧābir, born 1959 in Jeddah) is a Saudi Arabian businessman and billionaire, who also holds Austrian nationality. He is known for hotel and resort investments through MBI International. He lives in Paris, London, Vienna and Jeddah.
Al Jaber has three children (a son and two daughters) who hold executive positions within the MBI group.
His MBI International group compromises the following companies:
MBI International & Partners and its companies are estimated to be worth more than 6 billion euro. In April 2011, Al Jaber announced that he owned 80% of the Group and mentioned a 300 million euro profit for the year 2010.
In 1982, Al Jaber founded Jadawel International Construction & Development. In 1989, JJW Hotels & Resorts was established in Portugal; it currently operates 60 hotel and leisure resorts in Europe and the Middle East. In 1992, AJWA Group for Agro and Food Industries commenced operations following the construction of the largest rice storage and processing facility in Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Islamic Port.
In 2003, Al Jaber opened negotiations to purchase J.A. Jones Construction, a US subsidiary of the failed Philipp Holzmann construction group. However, the negotiations were not completed. The same year, an Al Qaeda bombing attack took place in May at Al Jaber's Dorrat Al Jadawel residential compound in Riyadh.
In 2001, Al Jaber intended to buy 2 hotels Le Meridien from Nomura, and the Lameira estate, a property that was eventually sold to Irish group Oceanico.
In Septembre 2003, Al Jaber and former Syrian minister Abdul-Kaleg Nihad Ibrahim Pacha took over the management of Quinta Vale Da Gondra Hotel e SPA (Unipessoal) Lda.
In January 2008, Portuguese press reveals that Al Jaber is back in Algarve and invested about €200 million to buy from Starman (a joint-venture between the Lehman Brothers bank and Starwood Capital Group) the Hotel Dona Filipa in Vale do Lobo, the golf course San Lourenzo in Quinta do Lago, the Hotel Penina and its 3 golf courses. Other assets in the regions are the Pinheiros Altos Golf Resort, the Formosa Hotel.
In 2002, Al Jaber became known in Austria for the first time with the acquisition of the famous Grand Hotel from the Japanese airline All Nippon Airways. He later acquired The Ring hotel on Kärntner Ring.
In the beginning of 2008, Al Jaber propose to help financially troubled Austrian Airlines with investments through taking a 20% stake in the company. However, he withdrew his offer in May 2008 after the company published its negative quarterly results, accusing the company manager Alfred Ötsch of hiding him the level of trouble Austrian Airlines was facing.
In July 2008, Al Jaber took a 60% stake in Kneissl Holding GmbH, an Austrian manufacturer of sports equipment. JJA Beteiligungsverwaltungs GmbH bought the entire company back in December 2012 for €1,98 million, offering a 20% rate to the creditors.
In 2008 Vienna's Trialog Institut named Al Jaber 'Man of the Year' for his work in promoting inter-cultural understanding. Presenting the award, Karl Blecha, former Federal Minister of the Interior and of the Austrian-Arabic Association, praised Al Jaber for his work towards building bridges through education and understanding and his support of peace, tolerance and democracy.
In 2007, JJW signed an agreement for the takeover and the expansion of the Palace Schwarzenberg Hotel in Vienna, along with Magnat Real Estate. However, delays to the project ensued, giving rise to a complaint by Magnat in December 2011. An amicable settlement was reached and Magnat awarded €2.65million towards the stock.
In 2007, Al Jaber expanded the portfolio of the Guernsey-based JJW Hotels & Resorts group by acquiring The Eton Collection hotels for a reported £70 million. During the recession three years later, five of the hotels went into administration, although there were no employee redundancies. A further two hotels in the collection were unaffected. Another group, Westmont Hospitality, purchased the five hotels for £55 million. The London Berners Hotel, also owned by JJW Hotels & Resorts, was purchased by Marriott International.
JJW Hotels & Resorts currently owns and operates a 4-star boutique hotel in Leeds, 42 The Calls and a 5-star luxury boutique hotel in Edinburgh, the Scotsman Hotel. JJW sees more scope to expand the portfolio by acquisition particularly in the United Kingdom .
In 2008, Al Jaber personally guaranteed three loans contracted by his hotel and food companies from Standard Bank. Following failure to repay the loans, the bank took Al Jaber to court in 2011, resulting in the freezing of his assets, which Al Jaber declared resulted in a personal loss of $1.6 billion. The case was settled after the two parties reached a private settlement in December 2011.
In July 2008 Al Jaber announced his intention to invest more than one billion euro in the Tours de Levallois project. However, the payment of €243 millions was delayed and, in 2011, the city of Levallois went to court. As a result, planning application was revoqued and the city recovered the building land.
October 2008, he announced plans to acquire 12 hotels in France from the Starwood Capital Group for $2billion. In February 2009, the agreement was extended to two additional hotels: the Hôtel de Crillon and the Louvres hotel. However, JJW Hotels & Resorts failed to pay an additional €100 millions as a frontline payment, leading Starwood to end the agreement and seek alternative investors. As a result, both sides filed complaints for breach of contract: Starwood for Al Jaber’s non-payment, and Al Jaber for non-respect of the exclusivity clause, seeking a €675 millions compensation. On the 8th of April 2010, the Paris Commercial Court ruled that JJW had breached its contractual engagements and therefore terminated the agreements between JJW and the plaintiffs in March 2009. Furthermore, the Court ordered JJW to immediately pay Starwood€100 million, in addition to the €50 million already paid. In February 2011, the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the guilt, but cancelled the €100 million compensation.
In April 2012, heavily indebted and approaching the deadline for repaying a 95.6 million euro loan from Aareal Bank, JJW France requested the Paris Court of Commerce to place it under safeguards.Saveguard was granted upon the condition that Al Jaber will inject 15 millions euros in the company. However, the payment having not been made, on the 16th of July, the Paris Commercial Court ordered JJW France to enter receivership.
Al Jaber got married in 1978. He has two daughters, Mashael (1986) and Bashayer (1990), and a son, Mohsen (1992), all being co-investors with their father, and hold executive responsibilities within MBI companies. In 2007 he obtained Austrian nationality.
The MBI Al Jaber Foundation is a UK registered charity and is governed by a Board of Trustees chosen for their areas of expertise in the Middle East. MBI Al Jaber is the founder, sole patron and Chairman. The Foundation provides scholarships to graduate students from the Middle East and sponsors educational and cultural projects that promote better understanding between the peoples of the Middle East and the wider world. He has also backed female education in Saudi Arabia and is a UNESCO special envoy. Al Jaber founded the MBI Trust in London and subsequently endowed the MBI Al Jaber Chair in Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. His philanthropic activity has been cited as a model of good practice within the UK. In 2000, he was founding patron of the London Middle East Institute at SOAS, directed by the MBI Al Jaber Chair. Since 2005, through the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, has been a main partner of Connecting Cultures, an educational initiative that promotes dialogue with young people from the western and Arab world via wilderness expeditions. In 2009 The MBI Al Jaber Building, which won a RIBA award for architectural excellence, was inaugurated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 2007, the MBI Al Jaber Foundation made a £1 million gift in support of the UCL Institute for Cultural Heritage. In 2007, Al Jaber agreed to invest 10% in the building of the Vienna Tourism University (Modul University Vienna), a project handled by the Vienna Economic Chamber. In 2012, the MBI Al Jaber Grand Hall was officially opened at the University of Westminster following a careful restoration of the historic Grade II listed hall, a project made possible by a donation through the MBI Al Jaber Foundation. Also in 2012, MBI Al Jaber sponsored the International Conference of National Commissions for UNESCO "Euro-Arab Dialogue: Contribution to a New Humanism" held in Vienna and organized by UNESCO with the support of the MBI Al Jaber Foundation.
Al Jaber holds the following honorary degrees:
In end of 2011, legal proceedings were filed against Al Jaber, the Non-Executive Chairman of AJWA group for Food Industries, for untrue facts being documented in the company records by members of the company administration. The charges were against Al Jaber in his capacity as Non-Executive Chairman of Ajwa, for acts that were performed by the employees of the company and not by him personally, and resulted in the company being fined.
In May 2011, Al Jaber publicly denounced a defamation campaign by Austrian Media: those had pointed at financial difficulties met in several companies that Al Jaber had invested in in the country. He accused the newspapers of reporting one-sided version of events.
In an article published April 23, 2010, entitled Saudi Arabia: Free Trapped Migrant Workers, New York based,NGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW) identifies Jadawel International as a company failing to renew workers residency and work permits for Saudi Arabia and for nonpayment of salaries in a timely manner. In a follow on article May 28, 2010, entitled Saudi Arabia: Company workers Unpaid, Trapped, HRW reports continuing labor law violations at Jadawel International’s Dhahran and Riyadh compounds. on May 29, 2010 United Press International (UPI) published under “World News” Some in Saudi Arabia Unpaid, Stranded addressing nonpayment of salaries and non renewal of residency permits. These concerns were further addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights by Jorge A. Bustmante, Special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. In their World Report 2011, HRW provides an update to the Jadawel situation indicating a partial payment of salaries had been made in August 2010. In their World report 2012 HRW indicates that as of August 2011 Jadawel employee salaries were again 6 months in arrears,”