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The Middle East continues to be a key market for the English Bar’s international efforts, with two distinct but overlapping key stands at its core – one of the world of construction arbitration, and one of

In the contentious construction work, the past few years have seen a notable number of disputes following infrastructure projects connected to the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted in Qatar. There has been continued investment into the education, health care, hospitality, logistics, and commercial sectors, there has also been continued interest in estate developments, as well as energy projects. Saudi Vision 2030 continues to make considerable progress, with the Riyadh Metro among the first of many projects to come online, with the Neom planned city in the Kingdom’s North West a large-scale project attracting a significant degree of attention.

More concentrated in the UAE is litigation work concerning free zones, benefitting from heightened activity in the UAE market. Even though two decades has been plenty of time for the Dubai International Financial Centre to have established itself as a clear leading free zone, matters involving jurisdictional challenges or areas of uncertainty are a key feature. The Abu Dhabi Global Market is making significant progress, hosting a large number of cases. In these free zones, there is a rise in demand for legal services related to corporate disputes, banking and financing issues, and international trusts and funds. The prevalence of global business disputes, particularly those involving fraud and complex cross-border asset tracing, is growing. Contract disputes outside of the construction space are also on the rise, especially regarding tech, fintech, transport, and defence. Disputes related to COVID-19 claims persist as clients continue to grapple with the domino effect the pandemic has had on their businesses. Cases relating to force majeure and material adverse change clauses, along with insurance matters are of particular significance. Furthermore, there is a notable focus on the issue of financial services regulation and digital assets. Cryptocurrency-related cases, involving breaches of agreements, secure transfer challenges, and regulatory obligations hold particular attention. Employment law in free zones is another notable area for London barristers, in that they tend to largely be based on English law and have bespoke employment regimes with at least some familiar elements to London practicioners. In addition, barristers are increasingly being sought after as arbitrators in disputes originating from diverse territories such as Jordan, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain.

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