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Syria

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Editorial

Legal market overview

As perhaps the most visible continuation of the 2011 Arab Spring and regional tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia-led alliances, Syria’s civil war has entered its seventh year. Key military developments in 2017-18 include the recapture of large amounts of territory held by Islamic State, including the overwhelming majority of population centres. Oilfields are located in areas under Russian-aided government control as well as in areas held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which are supported by various NATO members. Other rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, are backed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Much legal work, therefore, concerns market exits. What limited optimism or inward investment there is tends to come from investors in nations supportive of (or at least amenable to) the government. Syria is subject to EU and US sanctions; however, Russian and Chinese investors, who are not affected by the sanctions, take the view that the conflict will not continue indefinitely. In any case, much of the country’s infrastructure will have to be rebuilt in the coming years.

Under usual circumstances, a firm’s inclusion in editorial would be dependent on a physical presence in the country; however, for obvious reasons, many lawyers mentioned in this coverage are primarily based outside Syria. All ranked firms have an office in Damascus.

Al-Ahmar & Partners, Attorneys and Legal Advisors in association with Amereller Rechtsanwälte handles a range of work concerning infrastructure, market exits and related litigation. Kanaan Alahmar, who is based in Munich, advised Ferrero on registering a trade mark in Syria, while counsel Alissar Alahmar advised four real estate developers on freezing real estate projects without liquidating them. George Albaba, also a counsel, leads on litigation mandates.

At International Legal Bureau, Mazen Khaddour, who divides his time between Beirut and Damascus, has a track record in corporate and commercial work. The firm acts as local counsel for international firms with a strong presence in the region.

Oussi Law Firm has a track record in commercial, finance and intellectual property matters. Gabriel Oussi and Louay Oussi are the names to note.

Sarkis Attorneys at Law handles a range of work concerning banking, infrastructure and dispute resolution. Fardi Sarkis, alongside handling international arbitration work, advised the Aga Khan Foundation on procuring a water treatment plant, and VTB Bank on bank guarantees under Syrian law.

Sultans Law handles corporate, commercial and employment work from Cairo. Samer Sultan and litigator Radwan Alkhateeb are based in Cairo. Senior associate Osama Sultan is a key contact in Aleppo. Clients include Nestlé, which the firm advises on labour law, and Kia Motors, which instructs the team on relations with its Syrian distributor.

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