Legal Market Overview
Bahrain has historically positioned itself as a Middle Eastern financial hub with close proximity to the Saudi Arabian market but with greater political stability than neighbouring countries like Lebanon. However, the decline in oil prices in recent years coupled with the booming financial services sector in Dubai continues to threaten this position. One way in which the country has remained competitive is through its growing fintech sector with ‘sandbox’ regulations, where payment systems are tried and tested before entering the market, encouraging start-ups to do business in the country.
Like most GCC countries, there is a strong emphasis on diversifying the economy and placing less reliance on the oil and gas sector. One key area of focus is on tourism, with Formula 1 and pearl diving two key attractions. The island is connected to Saudi Arabia through the King Fahd Causeway and draws in many visitors from that region.
As for the legal market, international firms such as Baker McKenzie,Trowers & Hamlins LLP, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP are all based in Manama. Regional firm Al Tamimi & Company also has a strong presence in the market and the key local firms are Zu’bi & Partners, Attorneys & Legal Consultants, Newton Legal, Hassan Radhi & Associates and Haya Rashed Al Khalifa Attorneys at Law & Legal Consultants. Norton Rose Fulbright recently closed its Manama office with key lawyer Joanne Emerson Taqi relocating to Sydney.