DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A special judicial committee has been appointed to weigh in on potential legal disputes over the estate of Emirati billionaire Majid Al Futtaim, seen by many as a key pillar of Dubai’s tourism and economic growth.
Al Futtaim, whose eponymous company operates more than two dozen malls across the region, rose from working as a bank clerk to creating a $16 billion dollar business empire. He died in December. The Financial Times first reported over the weekend that Dubai’s ruler had appointed the committee amid reports of discord among his 10 heirs.
“There is a Special Judicial Committee whose role is to adjudicate potential legal disputes related to Mr. Majid’s estate and inheritance issues, not to oversee the company or its business,” the company confirmed in a statement to the The Associated Press on Monday.
“As we work through this transition, our businesses are continuing their operations as normal,” the company added.
The company operates VOX Cinemas and 29 malls in the Middle East. That includes Dubai’s iconic Mall of the Emirates, which boasts an indoor ski slope, penguin viewings and other experiences in blasting subzero temperatures year-round. The eye-popping display epitomizes Dubai’s over-the-top ambitions and attractions amid scorching hot weather much of the year. The company also became a franchisee of the French hypermarket chain Carrefour. It now runs over 300 Carrefour-branded supermarkets and hypermarkets across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
A previous family feud between Majid Al Futtaim and his cousin, Abdullah, required Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to step in to resolve it in the early 2000s. In announcing his death in December, Sheikh Mohammed described Majid Al Futtaim as one of Dubai’s “most important merchants.”