Terrorist groups suspected of channelling funds into Dubai real estate: Report – WION

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A large amount of real estate transactions in Dubai is suspected to involve people associated with groups subjected to US sanctions for their alleged ties to terrorist organisations like the Hezbollah and Houthi rebels, says a report by Nikkei Asia. 

The report is based on data pertaining to hundreds of thousands of properties obtained by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS). Typically, countries try to stymie terrorist financing by severing ties of such organisations and individuals from the financial system and freezing their assets.

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However, this new revelation made on Tuesday (May 14) in the investigative report, a result of a collaborative investigation by 74 media entities across 58 countries, shows a gap in these sanctions, potentially allowing money laundering and terrorism financing.

The Middle East has witnessed growing instability since the Israel-Hamas conflict erupted in October, further exacerbated by intermittent tensions between Israel and Iran, which briefly escalated into open hostilities in April. 

Iran-backed groups, including the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, have remained highly active amid these tensions.

Terror affiliates on the list

The property data lists real estate developer Adham Tabaja, suspected of Hezbollah affiliation, and Qatari-based financier Ali al-Banai, linked to funding Hezbollah operations.

Adham Tabaja, sanctioned by the US in 2015, reportedly owns significant property assets in Dubai. Ali al-Banai is allegedly part of an international financial network supporting Hezbollah, extending across the UAE, Lebanon, Qatar, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Another figure, Ali Osseiran, under sanctions for alleged money laundering facilitation for Hezbollah through art businesses, is listed as owner of property in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

The investigative probe suggests that over 200 people, including those under US sanctions, may have purchased real estate in Dubai. Responding to inquiries, the UAE’s Oslo Embassy said that the nation is committed to safeguarding the global financial system’s integrity and collaborating with international partners to combat illicit finance.

Also watch | UAE Floods: Experts says climate change was behind Dubai’s record rainfall

In March 2023, the European Union classified the UAE as a “high-risk third country” for money laundering, indicating concerns regarding the effectiveness of the nation’s anti-money laundering measures.

Despite the vibrant growth and investment opportunities within Dubai’s real estate market, questions have arisen regarding the adequacy of oversight mechanisms.

The investigation was carried out by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

(With inputs from agencies)


Sneha Swaminathan

Sneha takes interest in everything that has political ramifications. Big time foodie and a tribal art fanatic. She graduated from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi Uni


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