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United Arab Emirates > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Legal 500 Doing Business in the United Arab Emirates

Contributed by Fichte & Co.

Doing Business in the United Arab Emirates graphic

1. What are the key facts on doing business in the UAE?

When considering doing business in a foreign jurisdiction, an investor must consider a wide range of commercial, political and capital security issues that will impact the final decision of investing in a particular country.

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Legal market overview

The UAE’s economy continues to be shaped by developments in energy, oil and gas. The government’s ambitious renewable energy targets for 2020 could see more than $50bn worth of investment made in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) solar power sector by 2020. Several large projects, notably in the petrochemicals sector, are now underway, which is also helping to drive economic activity. However, governments, financial institutions and corporates across the Gulf region have had to adapt to the fall in oil prices and subsequent drops in revenue. This has reshaped M&A activity, with local investors increasingly looking to the wider region and beyond – especially to Africa – for investment opportunities.

The UAE legal market is highly competitive and hosts many international law firms. There were new arrivals to Abu Dhabi, including Fichte & Co. opening an office there in November 2016. Other significant recent developments include Mayer Brown hiring corporate and securities partners from Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla and opening its Dubai office in 2016, while Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP recruited Charles Fuller, Andrew Tarbuck and Anthony Pallett from Latham & Watkins LLP in November 2015. Law firms are also expanding into new practice areas. The growing role of the Middle East as a hub of international trade combined with the gradual opening of the Iranian market has prompted several law firms to establish corporate and financial institutions investigations practices, which are advising on sanctions-related issues.

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Legal Developments in United Arab Emirates

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Thoughts on the Extradition Rules under the UAE Laws

    This article assesses the feasibilities and outline of the process of extradition in the UAE. The article also reviews how extradition succeeds through judicial collaboration internationally.
  • Arbitration Article Series V: Challenging an Arbitration

    In this case the losing party will file an annulment case. However, it may be possible to argue that the parties have accepted the tribunal’s jurisdiction, or have waived any right to object, or have lost that right by not objecting at the first opportunity.
  • Investors win Dh84m claim against developer in Dubai

    A Dubai developer has been ordered to pay three men Dh84m after they failed to deliver villas the men had purchased from a housing project near Dubai Land.
  • The Public-Private Partnership Law Review 3rd Edition

    The Philippine chapter of The Public-Private Partnership Law Review 3 rd edition was contributed by SyCipLaw partners Marievic G. Ramos-Añonuevo and Arlene M. Maneja . The chapter includes information on public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the Philippines, including general framework, bidding and award procedure, contractual arrangements, financing, and recent developments and decisions.
  • Arbitration Article Series IV: Enforcing Arbitration Awards

    In this case the losing party will file an annulment case. However, it may be possible to argue that the parties have accepted the tribunal’s jurisdiction, or have waived any right to object, or have lost that right by not objecting at the first opportunity.
  • Arbitration Article Series I: Rise of Arbitration

    The UAE has rapidly emerged as a leading financial centre, attracting large global investors and businesses. As international developers and contractors continue to invest in construction projects, there has been an increasing trend in the use of arbitration in Dubai. The arbitration process is the preferred method to resolve disputes by commercial companies. As the certified language of arbitration proceedings is in English, a specialist tribunal can be appointed as opposed to the more broad UAE courts, and arbitration is generally more cost-effective and less time-consuming. This has led businesses and investors in the UAE to ensure that arbitration clauses or agreements are inserted into their contracts. Furthermore, the downturn in economic conditions in the real estate market over the past few years has led to an increase in disputes in general, and parties are more likely to issue court proceedings than to try to recover their losses through other ventures.
  • Arbitration Article Series II: Appointing Arbitrators

    An arbitrator can be appointed directly by name (this is not the common method used), through the court or through the arbitration centre. If you agree for the court or arbitration centre to appoint an arbitrator you need to make an application. The arbitration provisions of the Civil Procedure Code contain mandatory provisions concerning the appointment of an arbitrator. There must be an odd number of arbitrators, although there is no limit set on the number of arbitrators.
  • Arbitration Article Series III: Terms of References

    Parties wanting to enforce an award under the New York Convention must satisfy the requirements of the UAE Civil Code. In practice, enforcing arbitration awards can be a lengthy and unpredictable process. It is common for the UAE courts to require the foreign award to satisfy the rules and procedures of the UAE, and they may refuse to enforce it if there is a violation of local laws. One potential difficulty arises in convincing the UAE court that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute in the first place (irrespective of the arbitration agreement between the parties). The UAE courts normally have a fairly broad jurisdiction over disputes including, for example, claims connected to money or assets within the UAE and claims arising out of contracts executed or to be performed in the UAE, as well as claims over foreigners who are resident in the UAE. Therefore, it is difficult to prove that the UAE court did not have jurisdiction over the order.
  • An Introduction to Corporate Guarantee

    In the UAE, the risk management activities inherent in running a corporate or investment banking business remain of crucial importance, not least because of the strong local characteristic of “name lending”, by which is meant lending or providing other banking facilities to family or other private businesses, primarily on the strength of the “name” or “names” of the proprietors standing behind the business, rather than on the strength of the asset quality and underlying credit of the particular business. Of course, in practice, there is commercial overlap between the proprietors and the companies which they own, but the credit analyses can break down where poor banking practices and procedures result in poorly constructed legal documentation and gaps in guarantee and security support documents.
  • An Introduction to Personal Guarantee

    The economic boom in UAE has resulted in huge developments and a considerable increase in trade. This in turn has led to a rise in transactions which require a fast debt recovery mechanism. According to common practice in the UAE, the most secure and quickest method is the post-dated -  and in some cases undated – cheque. This is often requested by creditors (financial institutions) and sellers, mostly in real estate transactions and trade. The rationale is mostly economic to individuals who are issuing the cheque, and how does personal guarantee play a role? In this Article, we attempt to analyze and overview UAE laws on Personal guarantee.

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