In the Knightsbridge area of London, a huge Georgian town house has become a symbol of the conundrums facing baffled Egyptian investigators in their hunt for what they believe are the Mubarak family’s hidden millions.
It was here, at 28 Wilton Place, where Gamal Mubarak, the former president’s youngest son, resided from at least the early 1990s until 2010, according to The National newspaper who covered this story a couple of weeks ago.
And according to the UK property website Zoopla, the house is worth a cool £6.75 million ($10.4 million).
Of course, at first glance this is an example of the extravagant life of the Mubarak family. But something more sinister is at work.
According to The National, London property records for 28 Wilton Place show Omar Zawawi, an Omani businessman, owns the property. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s time to Google.
He is owner of Omar Zawawi Establishment, a Muscat-based conglomerate. He is also special adviser for external liaison to Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman and an all-round powerful man.
While the National’s story politely claims “there is no suggestion that any of his dealings with Gamal Mubarak were anything but above-board and legitimate”, Rebel Economy is not so sure.
In fact, the story catalogues what appears to be long-standing ties between the Mubarak family and Dr Zawawi:
According to news accounts, Dr Zawawi’s contacts with the Mubarak family date to at least 1980, when Mena, the Egyptian state news agency, reported a meeting between Dr Zawawi and then vice president Mubarak.
On February 6, 2011, five days before Mubarak was forced from office, Dr Zawawi, now in his 80s, travelled to Cairo to deliver a letter to the president from Sultan Qaboos, according to news reports.
And in June 2011, Gamal and his brother Alaa sent a letter to Dr Zawawi, a copy of which was published in the Washington Times newspaper on June 24, 2011.
In the letter, Mubarak’s sons insisted that no member of his family could receive a fair trial in Egypt and asked Dr Zawawi to “use your esteemed global standing to shed light on what is going on”.
It’s a telling indication of the way the Mubaraks saw themselves – as similar to Gulf dynasties and monarchies. What’s even more telling is that real Gulf dynasties and monarchies allowed the Mubarak family to think this was true to give the Gulf better control over the Arab world’s most populous country.
Rebel Economy spoke with an Egyptian banker familiar with the relationship between the Omani businessman and the Mubaraks. He said Mr Zawawi took Gamal under his wing in the late 1980s, giving him use of his house and even buying him a luxury car in London.