Wires

Egypt says resolves row with Dubai's DAMAC

CAIRO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Egypt has settled a row with aDubai-based developer over a land contract reached when HosniMubarak was in power, a minister said on Tuesday, a deal thatcould help remove uncertainties that have depressed interest inthe once-booming property market.

The Egyptian government said last year it was seeking tosettle disputes over the price of land and other issues withabout 20 foreign and local investors, in a bid to avoid costlyarbitration and rebuild confidence in Egypt.

"We have at last reached an agreement with (Dubai-based)DAMAC, a final settlement (was) approved by the board of the newurban communities authority ... two days ago," said InvestmentMinister Osama Saleh, speaking at a conference in Cairo.

DAMAC had said last year it had filed an internationalarbitration case against Egypt over a land row and theconviction of its chairman and owner, Hussain Sajwani.

The Dubai group said it had no statement to make after theminister's remarks. "Whilst the international arbitration caseis ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment," saidNiall McLoughlin, the company's senior vice president.

The minister described the case as one of the mostcomplicated problems in terms of investment deals for Egypt.

Several cases claiming land was sold to too cheaply byMubarak's government were raised in the courts before the formerpresident was ousted in an uprising last year. Since hisoverthrow in February 2011, the rows have gathered momentum.

The land disputes further damaged investor confidence, whichwas already badly hit by the political turmoil.

Real estate investment had been a major driver of theeconomy in the years before Mubarak's overthrow, contributing togrowth rates that hit 7 percent a year. Growth since theuprising has tumbled as investment in this and other sectors hasdried up.

In November 2011, an Egyptian newspaper said the row withDAMAC was one of three disputes that had been resolved. But thatwas not confirmed at the time by officials.

(Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer in Cairo and Praveen Menon in Dubai;Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by David Holmes)

((edmund.blair@thomsonreuters.com)(+20 2 2578 3290)(ReutersMessaging: edmund.blair.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))

Keywords: EGYPT INVESTMENT/DAMAC