The Legal 500

Legal market overview

While uncertainty over the low oil price is generally tempering activity in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being powered by its position as a business hub for the region. Dubai’s successful bid for Expo 2020 led to the UAE government budgeting $8bn worth of new projects, and further growth is being driven by new real estate and tourism investment. Moreover, the government has set ambitious renewable energy targets for 2020, which could see more than $50bn worth of investment made in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) solar power sector. Construction and property remain the main drivers of the UAE economy, with the hotel and leisure sector particularly fruitful.

There has been a robust period of inbound, outbound and regional M&A activity, with numerous transactions being driven by private equity investment in sectors such as hospitals and education. More companies have expanded their business operations through leveraged finance in the region, which is a growing trend. One significant example of this was Etisalat raising $4.3bn through the region’s largest corporate bond sale to fund the bulk of its $5.7bn purchase of a majority stake in Morocco’s Maroc Telecom from Vivendi.

Islamic finance also continues to flourish, with the global sukuk market continuing to grow and a number of new participants including sovereigns such as the Government of the Hong Kong SAR, as well as the governments of the UK, Luxembourg and South Africa.

For law firms operating in the region, the UAE market remains intensely competitive, with significant pressure on fees; as a result, some firms have retrenched during the year. 2014/15 saw the exit from Abu Dhabi of a number of leading law firms, including Latham & Watkins LLP, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, and Baker Botts L.L.P. and, most recently, Simmons & Simmons Midle East LLP, all on the pretext of shifting their focus to Dubai. In reality, work emanating from the government institutions based in Abu Dhabi remains tightly controlled.

The Dubai International Financial Centre – the UAE federal financial free zone in Dubai – continues to attract business, with most law firms believing an office base there is a prerequisite of successful practice. Furthermore, the DIFC has its own courts and the jurisdiction is increasing its caseload, albeit the main forum for litigation in the UAE remains the local court system.

Law House Advocates and Legal Consultants
www.lawhouse.ae

Established in 2007, Law House is a full-service law firm advising and supporting local, regional and international corporations, financial institutions and individual clients in the UAE. Within the Middle East, Law House is strategically positioned in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is connected to a network of correspondent offices in the GCC, Europe, Asia and USA. Other than a wide experience in local customs, laws, regulations and practices, the firm’s highly qualified teams of lawyers are also experienced in several international jurisdictions, equipped with global knowledge and skill-sets to best serve clients.

Firms in the spotlight

Al Safar and Partners Advocates and Legal Consultants
www.alsafarpartners.com

Al Safar & Partners advocates & legal consultants was established in 1981 by advocate Mahdi Al Safar and has completed 33 years among the best of UAE’s law firms. The firm provides general legal advice to its clients. In the year 2008 senior advocate Ms Kavitha Panicker, managing partner of the firm, undertook the mission of growing the firm to its current status and the setting up of operational processes for quality management...

Interview with...

Law firm managing partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments in United Arab Emirates

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to
  • Aligning Our Interests – Regional Mobility In The Context Of Tourism

    At the recently held Summit 100 Business Forum in Sarajevo, many topics of contemporary relevance for the region of Southeast Europe were expectedly touched upon. Be it the supply of sustainable energy, the position of women in business, or the issues related to infrastructure & transport conditions, it was an opportunity for a number of prominent experts and government officials to weigh in with their opinions on how to improve the overall business situation in our region. However, one of the greatest impressions from the conference have been the discussions on the mobility of goods and people within our region, as well as the respective implications. Having in mind the beginning of summer being just a few days away, perhaps the most illustrative example in this regard can be the tourism industry and the ways in which it has been – or potentially can be – affected by such regulatory frameworks of SEE countries.
  • EBRD Activity In Serbia

    According to recent reports, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has plans of investing more than EUR 3 billion in the Western Balkans region, of which approximately EUR 300 million is assigned to Serbia.
  • Slovenian Competition Agency Adopts A Commitment Decision In The Hyundai Case

    On 12 March 2015, the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency (" HAT "), the national distributor of Hyundai vehicles, together with a network of authorised repair shops for Hyundai motor vehicles.
  • Bosnian Diaspora Looks To Invest Back Home

    According to recent media reports, the Bosnian Central Bank (BCC) has presented information regarding the scope of investments made by the country's diaspora.  More precisely, it has been reported that more than EUR 1.5 billion of investments are being made by the Bosnian diaspora each year through remittances and formal channels – meaning that the exact figure is even larger when accounting for other, informally made investments which have been proven to exist. If to some these figures seem somewhat overblown, it should be noted that there are around 2 million registered citizens of BiH around the world, ranking the country 1 th in the world when looking at the share of immigrants in relation to the population, at the same time further showcasing the importance of diaspora's involvement in investment practices. 
  • Ikea Invests In A Designer Outlet Complex In Croatia

    ​Recent news reports show that IKEA, the world famous Swedish multinational retailer, is getting ready to invest EUR 88 million in the construction of a Designer Outlet complex in Croatia.
  • Karanović & Nikolić Attends TMA Europe Conference In Rome

    ​Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Europe held its ninth annual conference in Rome on 9 and 10 June. Partner at Karanović & Nikolić, Maja Jovančević Šetka , attended the conference as a board member of TMA Serbia.
  • NSTLAW takes part in the Briefing Session on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

    American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia has scheduled a Briefing Session on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on Tuesday, June 21 at 15:00 at AmCham premises in Smiljaniceva 24, Belgrade.
  • GRP Rainer: Assessing intention to prepare a will

    A prerequisite for an effective will is a serious intention on the part of the testator to prepare one. Assessing any intention to draft a will can prove to be critical.
  • EGC: Winnetou to retain trademark protection for time being

    On March 18, 2016, the General Court of the European Union ruled that the well-known novel character Winnetou shall continue to enjoy trademark protection (Az.: T-501/13).
  • Maria Borzova gives expert opinion on pharmaceutical market situation on PharmVestnik-TV

    Manager of VEGAS LEX Life sciences projects Maria Borzova has discussed current pharmaceutical market issues in the 7 days in 7 minutes program on the PharmVestnik-TV channel.