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"Liwa" first began operating as a petroleum company in 1939. Due in part to the area's large petroleum sources, the company was able to grow locally. By the 1950s, "Liwa" had become one of the leading companies in the United Arab Emirates.
"Liwa" concentrated on the regional, Middle East petroleum market, however, which limited the company's international exposure.
Mr. Salah Salem Al-Shamsi, a well known businessman in the Middle East, opened "Liwa Chem" in the late 1990s, allowing "Liwa" to enter the chemicals industry.
"Liwa Chem" helped the main "Liwa" company enter other, non petroleum related, business areas.
In 2005, "Liwa", along with American partner "Occidental Petroleum", was able to win eight out of fifteen exploration areas in the long awaited EPSA-4 auction, making both "Liwa" and "Occidental Petroleum" two of the first international petroleum companies to be allowed to operate in Libya after the Libyan Embargo was lifted.
Nevertheless, "Liwa" still remains a largely unknown company on an international scale.