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Editorial

Following a sustained fall in oil prices, the Saudi government recently unveiled its national transformation plan Vision 2030, which aims to reduce dependency on oil, diversifying the economy through developing the health, education, infrastructure and tourism industries. The plan’s key objectives include the promotion of PPPs and the privatisation of certain government entities. Some regional investors have already shown willingness to participate in the diversification and this has been a source of work for law firms.

There are also several major restructurings taking place, including some formal insolvency proceedings. Concerns over regional stability and the war in Yemen also mean that projects are being put on hold, with funds being diverted to the defence sector.

Like many countries in the Gulf, the legal market is populated by a mix of international and local law firms, although complete foreign ownership is prohibited. International firms must therefore operate in association with a domestic firm, but with varying levels of integration. Recent combinations include Shearman & Sterling LLP in association with Dr Sultan Almasoud & Partners and The Law Office of Nasser Al-Hamdan in association with Herbert Smith Freehills. The legal hub is the capital Riyadh, but firms also have offices in Jeddah and Mecca, as well as Al Khobar, where many of the large energy companies are based.

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