Investment project by Hayel Saeed Anam Group in Sahil Al-Ushak (the Lovers’ Coast) in Aden's Al-Tawahi District on May 17th 2022. (South24)

Aden Investment Lands: Corruption Threatens the Cosmopolitan Nature of the City


Fri, 27-05-2022 02:23 PM, Aden

Raad Alrimi

The investment land file in the capital Aden has been smeared with accumulating corruption over three decades since the signing of the Yemeni Unity Agreement in 1990 between South and North.

This distorts the beauty of Aden, the most important Southern city, and opened the door completely for plundering the city’s lands under the banner of investment and its projects which were mainly monopolized by Northern bodies supported by the official state authorities. 

The number of sites in Aden dedicated to the investment purposes reached 238 according to the final report, seen by "South24, and prepared by Aden’s Investment Land Affairs Committee. 

The final report, seen by "South24, and prepared by Aden’s Investment Land Affairs Committee.

Those lands vary according to Aden’s districts and regions. Some of them take the lead regarding the number of investment lands. They include Al Buraiqeh, Madinat Al-Shaab (Al Shaab City), Sheikh Othman District, Al-Qahira’s neighborhoods, Al-Mansoura District, Aldarin’s neighborhoods, Al Memdara’s neighborhoods, Dar Saad District, Khormaksar District, Al-Arish’s neighborhoods, Al-Gulwah’s neighborhoods and Al-Tawahi District.

Offending projects

Regarding the investment projects for which those lands were granted, Mohammed Sulaiman, Land Representative in the General Investment Authority told “South24”: “There are few categories of projects which were actually implemented, especially after 2000 while many of the lands were sub-sold".

Khalil mentioned a set of failed projects including the “Firdaws Project” which was a big investment project in Al Buraiqeh’s Amran but it has not been implemented yet. Likewise, the “Jenan Aden Project” has so far stumbled and has not been carried out amid causes and conditions some of which are known and some are unknown.

There are various purposes announced by investors when they requested obtaining the state lands in Aden. According to contracts, obtained by “South 24”, those purposes include many industries such as “food, beverages, cigarettes, clothes, leather, wooden products, paper, chemicals, oil, coal, rubber and plastic".

Moreover, they include “construction, cement, glass, marble, metals, scrap, machines and devices, electricity projects, gas cylinders filling stations, gas transportation, fuel stations, central refrigerators, banks, tv and radio devices maintenance projects, cars electrical devices and watches maintenance workshops, photography studios, restaurants, cafes, hotels and chalets".

According to contracts and official documents, a group of Northern names (individuals and entities) come on top of the list of investors who were given lands in Aden to establish investment projects which haven’t been implemented yet. Those lands have been looted under the banners of such projects. 

On top of the list of these names are “Hayel Saeed Anam Group, Naji Saleh Al-Rowaishan, Ali Nasser Qassem Al-Shamiri, Abdulkarim Yahya Mashnas Alwadeei, Mujahid Saleh Ali Al-Daily, Mohammed Ahmad Al-Kahali, Hammoud Saleh Kamel and his Partners, Thaghr Aden Tourism Group, Mohammed Othman Al-Arifa, Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam, Mohammed Ahmad Al-Akwa and Ahmad Saleh Al-Saidi”.

Commenting on this matter, Awad Al-Shaabi, the Academic at the University of Aden told “South 24”: “there are broad areas which were granted to investors where no projects have been implemented”. 

He added: “Some investors exceeded the investment time limits regarding investing in the lands granted to them. Others violated the agreement by exploiting their personal ties during the former regime era. Some left those areas without investments as if they were their own properties. According to the Investment Law, the state should restore the ownership of any land given to an investor if four years pass without achieving the determined project”.

He added: “For example, in Sheikh Othman, Batweel investment project has been seen as the most important one in the district, as vast areas were taken away from Hamed Stadium owned by Al Wahda Sports Club. Pillars were constructed there by investor Batweel to build shops on the basis that their ownership will return to Al Wahda after the end of the 20 years-investment period as determined in the contract. However, Batweel still invests in this project as if it is its own property. There are many other cases if an extensive search is performed”.

In addition to the expiration of the determined maximum time given to some investors to implement their projects, others changed the main purpose for which state lands were granted to them. They unlawfully shifted to other purposes and projects which harmed Aden and its environment. For example, a land was transformed to a medical investment project although it was originally granted to establish a tourism entertainment project or vice versa. 

In this context, Ahmed Al-Salami, Seera District’s Tourism General Manager told “South 24”: “There are several sites located for investment inside Crater District in the capital Aden. However, the nature and the function of such granted land changed. This includes Babel Clinic which was originally granted to establish a tourism project but it was transformed to a medical project”.

He added: “the investment mistakes in Aden are very numerous including Al-Rehab Hotel which was built near the sovereign Aden Airport that caused much disturbance for the hotel lodgers because of air traffic”. Al-Salami stressed that the investment file should be addressed with “more scientific and practical methodology”.

“Some of those who managed the tourism projects did not act responsibly. A certain mechanism in allocating lands is supposed to be there. The investors and the facilities should be examined as well as preparing documents, introductory, financial and banking backgrounds about them. The requirements of each facility should be taken into consideration such as how many stars a hotel will be classified, what are its needs and so on”.

According to a study, obtained by “South 24”, the issues related to lands granted in Aden for investment purposes are associated with many troubles, some of which amounted to corruption. This is because the lands were given to investors for investment purposes, but they were later secretly sold. This puts the future of Aden lands for investment purposes on the line and threatens the future anticipatory and strategic vision about Aden’s cosmopolitanism.
A General Plan for Aden which shows the investment lands in the city (2005-2025)

The sluggishness and the collusion of governmental bodies have largely contributed to the spread of corruption and transgressions regarding the land investment file in Aden. The government has not taken the due measures against the investors whose contracts’ ultimate time expired without achieving any projects. This is in addition to investors who secretly sold the lands given to them as well as the investors who carried out projects which are different from what originally agreed upon when they took these lands from the state”.

By examining the files and the exclusive documents obtained by “South 24” and sorting their investment cases, the lands given to the investors can be classified into the following categories:

-Lands held by investors whose procedures are completed including receiving lease contracts and implementation notifications. Thus, they have to begin working or they will be withdrawn from them.

- Lands held by investors who don’t complete procedures as they basically lack neighborhood units and land documents.

-Lands which have witnessed disputes with governmental bodies.

-Lands granted in the name of investment and being put in the investors lists but they are sold to other parties for non-investment purposes. 

“South 24” has lists of the investors and the lands granted to them. They are officially documented lists issued by government bodies in Aden. 

Basically, the corruption accusations regarding the land investment file are directed against those who hold the Aden Governor position, the branch directors of the General Authority for Investment, directors of the Public Works and Roads Office, directors of the State Lands and Real Estate Department, and directors of the governorate’s General Tourism Authority in the governorate. 

Proposed solutions

In 2005, “Master Plan”, the British company specialized in the urban cities sector, presented a project to distribute the land uses in Aden in an urban manner, but the project has so far not been implemented. (1)

In this regard, Ibrahim Moneim, the former Director of Seera District, told “South 24”: “The Master Plan’s project was not read. It is an international plan which determined Aden’s needs for residential and investment construction of all kinds to preserve the cosmopolitan nature of the city of Aden and, not to allow it to be drained”.

In a report issued in 2003, a committee formed by Aden’s local authorities recommended looking at the investment issues and granting lands based upon several measures to reduce investors' transgressions that violate the law in addition to the activation of the investment laws. 

The committee recommended “setting out determinants to identify investment projects which can receive privileges and facilities”. It also recommended that the value of an investment project should not be less than 100 million riyals, and that the project should create at least 20 job opportunities. Additionally, investment projects should not be granted away from the planned sites designed for that. The investor, according to the committee, should deposit a bank guarantee that represents a percentage of the project value or the full value. A legal investment document should be issued to the investor.

Moreover, the committee recommended that “these determinants be accompanied with a set of administrative and organizational procedures in order to facilitate the procedures for the investor, following up and accompanying the implementation of these projects and ensuring that the land is used for its original purpose in light of the agreed time programs".

As for Ahmed Al-Salami, bringing discipline to the investment lands is the responsibility of several governmental bodies, local or ministerial, through joint coordination to avoid violations like what happened to the residential and investment city Al-Madain in Dar Saad District. It was built near sewages which made people refuse to buy or settle their due to the spread of mosquitoes in the area”.

In 2016, The Aden Port Protection Society presented a paper to the then Governor, Major -General Aidrous Al-Zubaidi. It talked about the corruption in Al Mualla port and the corruption associated with the Hayel Saeed‘s Wharf Agreement in Al Mualla Wharf. The society recommended abolishing the deal and transferring the management of Al Mualla Wharf to the Gulf of Aden Foundation. (See the picture below)

A paper presented to Former Yemeni Prime Minister, Muhammad Basindawa in 2013 talked about a violation made by “Wedian Trading Co. Ltd” affiliated with Rashad Hayel Saeed Anam as it backfilled over 19 m2 area in Al-Tawahi’s Hajif in 1997. (See the picture below)

The society recommended abolishing the contract and restoring the tenant’s infringing area according to the contract items. It also recommended not allowing the tenant to use the area which was unlawfully backfilled by the tenant. 

“South 24” contacted Hayel Saeed Group to comment on the documents and accusations but we have not received a reply yet. 

Current situation

So far, no measures were taken by successive governmental bodies or Aden local authorities towards the aforementioned issues and tens of other cases. The corruption cases related to the land investment file have further grown amid concerns of the ramifications resulting from the relevant bodies’ silence, absence and collusion.

After the South24 Center published this report in its Arabic version last Sunday, the governor of Aden Ahmed Lamlas directed on Monday, May 23rd, a careful inventory of all stalled and violating investment projects and investors who did not abide by implementing their projects.

Raad Alrimi
Journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies in Aden.

Aden Investment LandsSouthYemenYemenCorruptionAden City