Real estate in United Arab Emirates
Under the leadership of Tara Marlow, Al Tamimi & Company covers the gamut of real estate matters, and stands out for having a dedicated regional hotels and leisure practice. The team is also active in the food and beverage, education and healthcare sectors. In a major deal in the hospitality space, the team advised Abu Dhabi National Hotels on the acquisition of a portfolio of five operational hotels in Dubai from Emaar Hospitality. Mohammed Kawasmi advises governments and governmental bodies in the GCC on new real estate-related laws and regulations. Senior counsel Andrew Balfe and associates Maha Dahoui and David Bowman are also noted. Jeremy Scott joined Addleshaw Goddard in 2020.
‘Al Tamimi combine excellent knowledge of the law with practical advice and support.‘
‘The team has a very good feel for the issues affecting the local market.‘
‘David Bowman is always very approachable, and thoroughly consistent and reliable in his approach.‘
‘Maha Dahoui knows the local regulatory environment like the back of her hand, and has good relationships with the local governmental agencies.‘
‘Andrew Balfe is clear with his advice, knowledgeable and instils confidence. His drafting skills are very good and he delivers an excellent product.‘
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Red Sea Development Company
King Abdullah Financial District Development and Management Company
Athr Real Estate
Standard Chartered Bank
Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi
Jaguar Land Rover
GEMS Education Group
Jabal Omar Development Company
Al Rayyadah Tourism Investment Company
Steigenberger Hotels AG
Public Investment Fund
RAZA (formerly Al Ra’idah Investment Company)
Dubai Properties LLC
- Advising Abu Dhabi National Hotels on the acquisition of five hotels from Emaar Hospitality.
- Advised Steigenberger DMCC on the negotiation of hotel management agreements relating to Jaz in the City, Deira Waterfront Development, Dubai.
- Advising Jabal Omar Development Company on strata structure of the Jabal Omar Development in Saudi Arabia.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a global reputation in real estate; in the UAE, it is noted for its 'long history' and 'good understanding of the local market'. The team has a strong profile for real estate deals in the hospitality sector, including projects in the region and internationally. Other recent work has included advising government and private sector clients on the restructuring of real estate portfolios. Planning lawyer Farida Sadiq has experience advising government entities in the region on planning laws and master plan schemes; Scott Antel heads the hospitality and leisure practice; and key partner Hazel Shakur Quinn draws on over 17 years of experience in real estate. David Nunn is 'clearly an experienced professional in the local market'. Associate Tom Price joined in 2018 from CMS.
‘BCLP has been a great partner on our projects and has always delivered excellent results. Their understanding of the law, interaction with government entities and ability to craft what was required is excellent.‘
‘Long history in the market, dedicated Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices, good understanding of the local market and able to turn their mind to a number of different mandates.‘
‘I believe the knowledge and experience that the team have are highly important for the client.‘
‘Significant expertise in the relevant industry and dealing with its various actors.‘
‘The individuals are always there when you need them; they treat and give you the time needed for any negotiation.‘
‘Scott Antel has unique skills and established credibility to specific deal parties, along with the ability to work flexibly.‘
‘Farida Sadiq and Ibrahim Elsadig are outstanding in their field and are excellent in communicating what is required to obtain the best results.‘
‘David Nunn is very friendly and approachable. Clearly an experienced professional in the local market.‘
Aldar Properties PJSC
Al Farwaniyah Property Developments LLC
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
Eagle Hills Properties LLC
Reportage Investment LLC
Al Tamouh Investments Company LLC
Oxley-PlanetVision Properties Ltd, Cyprus
- Advised Aldar Properties on the review of its suite of strata management and on the launch of two major real estate projects.
- Assisted Abu Dhabi Ports Company with development agreements and short- and long-term leasehold arrangements.
- Advised Deliveroo on all real estate matters related to the roll-out of its Editions business in the UAE.
Clyde & Co LLP
Clyde & Co LLP's experienced real estate and hospitality team is led by highly regarded partner Alexis Waller and was further bolstered by the arrival of Peter Greatrex from Trowers & Hamlins LLP in 2019. The two-partner team advises on residential, commercial and industrial developments in the UAE and wider region. In the hospitality space, it acts for leading hotel developers and operators; recent highlights include advising Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company on hotel negotiations with operators for five new hotels in the King Abdulaziz Road development in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
‘Clyde & Co are very strong in real estate.‘
‘Alexis Waller is strong technically and communicates well.‘
World of Wonders Real Estate Development
Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company
Al Tayer Group LLC
- Advising the developer responsible for developing the King Abdul Aziz Road project, which will feature 100,000 residential units; 28,000 hotel rooms; commercial and recreational areas; and a new mosque.
- Assisted World of Wonders Real Estate Development with a 72-storey mixed-use development that involves the sale of hotel rooms to third parties, as well as hotel apartments.
- Advising Binghatti Developers and the Binghatti Group on its various developments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The dedicated real estate team at DLA Piper Middle East LLP has established a strong position in the market and is noted for its 'profound market insight and experience'. In recent developments, senior associate Nicola de Sylva, who has in-house and private practice experience, was a new arrival in Abu Dhabi. The 'very professional' Duncan Pickering leads the 'very prompt, cooperative and knowledgeable' team, which also includes senior associate Sean Cope.
‘The Dubai real estate practice of DLA has a profound market insight and experience. They perfectly understand our business and our needs.‘
‘DLA Piper has the expertise and experience to provide exceptional legal services in different areas. Their lawyers/partners are highly experienced and very responsive.‘
‘DLA Piper’s international networks provides legal support to us operating in international locations.‘
‘DLA Piper’s real estate team are very prompt, cooperative and knowledgeable. The team have a very good insight on the international real estate market.‘
‘They are flexible and understanding when dealing with their clients. The team knows how to manage expectation and meet their clients’ needs.‘
‘Tom O’Grady and senior associate Sean Cope have excellent drafting skills. Tom knows perfectly the Dubai market and is able to perfectly explain clearly the complex local rules. A great business-oriented advisor!‘
‘Sean Cope is definitely a star! He is an interesting mixture of calmness, patience, and a pool of real estate knowledge. Our real estate team loves working with him.‘
‘I have found Duncan Pickering very professional, with exceptional knowledge pertaining to land development/real estate.‘
Miral Asset Management
Gulf Resources Development & Investment
GFH Financial Group BSC
Al Safar Group
Priory Education Services
Paramount Hotels & Resorts
SBE Hotel Management LLC
- Advised Miral Asset Management on the title structuring and disposal strategy for Yas South, a large-scale mixed-use development.
- Ongoing advice to Gulf Related on the development and leasing of Al Maryah Central Shopping Centre.
- Assisted SBE, a US-headquartered international hospitality group, with the UAE law aspects of its hotel management, rental pool and branded residences agreements for its maiden SLS property in the Middle East.
Hadef & Partners' real estate team is a 'well-oiled machine'; it combines 'true international standards and in-depth local knowledge'. Its clients include leading property developers in the UAE and broader region. Recent work highlights include its advice to Danube Properties Development on its latest real estate development, Danube Lawnz, a mixed-use community development comprising four low rise buildings of over 1,000 apartments and 32 commercial units; Ashraf Sayed led the team. Michael Lunjevich heads the commercial and property practice in Dubai. Other key practitioners in the sizeable team include head of property regulatory Philip Sequeira and Basil Siddiqi, who heads the real estate and construction practice in Abu Dhabi.
‘The team is a well-oiled machine with the partner leading the team ably.‘
‘The combination of true international standards mixed with in-depth local knowledge and expertise make Hadef & Partners unique in the UAE market.‘
‘Ashraf Sayed is an encyclopedia, not only on legal matters but also on commercial aspects. His drafting and negotiation skills are truly magical and he is a true role model to in-house legal professionals.‘
‘The individuals that I deal with at Hadef think commercially as well as legally.‘
Danube Properties Development LLC
Waterfront Market LLC
Jubail Island Master Community
Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society
Marina Arcade Real Estate LLC
MAG Property Development LLC
Lootah Real Estate Development LLC
Souq Extra LLC
- Prepared a comprehensive retail lease document suite for Waterfront Market LLC.
- Advised Jubail Island Master Community on the sales documentation for vacant plots of land.
- Acting for MAG Property Development on various real estate development projects.
Afridi & Angell's well-established real estate team has experience across all stage of property developments and transactions. It is a popular choice for developers, with clients including Saba Real Estate and new client Green Yard Properties. Practice head Shahram Safai's expertise covers sale and purchase agreements, lease agreements and negotiations, construction agreements and contractor liability, among other areas. Associate Anna White is another key contact, and often takes a significant role on the department's projects.
Dubai Silicon Oasis
Saba Real Estate
Green Yard Properties
Ishraqah for Development
International Business Consultants DMCC
Bluestone Fund Managers Ltd
- Acted for Green Yard Properties, a UAE real estate developer, on its transition to selling on a deferred basis in Dubai.
- Advising Bluestone on the formation of a real estate-focused qualified investment fund based in the Abu Dhabi Global Market.
- Assisting several owners’ associations with their annual general meetings.
Allen & Overy LLP
Ian Bevan's real estate team at Allen & Overy LLP acts for a host of private clients and government and government-related entities. A team of corporate and real estate lawyers advised Saudi Aramco on a land lease agreement with McDermott Arabia Company for the establishment of a fabrication facility in the King Salman International Complex for Maritime Industries in Saudi Arabia. Nick Smith heads the Middle East asset management group and his work includes advising on large-scale real estate developments and the establishment of real estate funds and REITs. Senior associate Barry Noonan is also noted.
‘A&O are very responsive. There has been one contact who has coordinated all services.‘
‘The team delivers top-tier service with a top-tier product. For sophisticated mandates they are always one of the teams I would consider.‘
‘Ian Bevan is commercially astute and very clear in his advice, with a sound grasp of the realities of the local market. His work is thorough and high quality.‘
‘Barry Noonan is very responsive and available. He offers good support through all matters.‘
Aldar Properties PJSC
Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco)
- Advising Saudi Aramco on a land lease agreement with McDermott Arabia Company for a fabrication facility.
- Acting for Palmassets SA ion the negotiation of a hotel management agreement with Rotana Hotel Management Corporation.
- Acted for HUB71 Ltd on the negotiation of an agreement with WeWork, pursuant to which WeWork will open its first co-working space in the UAE in early 2020.
Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla handles a range of real estate transactions, including contentious matters. In one highlight, practice head Steven Henderson advised Al Rostamani Real Estate on its first hotel project, a DoubleTree (Hilton Brand) in Mankool, Dubai, adjoining the Burjuman Shopping Centre. Counsel Wael El Tounsy specialises in real estate and construction litigation; senior associate Keri Watkins' areas of expertise include hotel management arrangements and landlord and tenant matters.
Dubai Real Estate Corporation
NCB Capital DIFC (previously Eastgate Capital Group)
Omniyat Middle East Real Estate Developments LLC
Dubai Properties Group (DPG)
Al Habtoor Group
Economic Zones World (the operator of the Jebel Ali Free Zone) / Jebel Ali Free Zone
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Al Zorah Development (Private) Company Limited
Jones Lang LaSalle
Emaar Development PJSC
- Advised Emaar Development on its joint venture with P&O Marinas to redevelop and gentrify the old Mina Rashid port area in Dubai.
- Assisted the owners and operators of the Jebel Ali Free Zone with the first sale-and-leaseback in the free zone.
- Advised Al Rostamani on a hotel project in Mankool, Dubai, adjoining the Burjuman Shopping Centre.
Advising on a range of commercial and specialist real estate transactions, Dechert LLP's real estate team has a broad offering, complemented by the firm's corporate and funds practices. The team has particular expertise in master planned communities and mixed-use and hotel developments across the region. In a significant mandate, the team advised Qiddiya Investment Company on its entertainment and leisure master planned community in Riyadh, one of Saudi Arabia’s mega developments being constructed as part of the 2030 Vision. Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood are noted.
1 International Fin Centre Associates
Qiddiya Investment Company
Dubai Real Estate Corporation
IMKAN Properties LLC
Frontier Investment Management Partners Ltd
Al Sharq Investments
Falconcity of Wonders
Third Generation Real Estate & Development LLC
Dubai World Central Corporation (DWCC)
Seven Tides Limited
Vincitore Real Estate Development LLC
- Advising Diamond Developers on the establishment of an AED1bn Real Estate Investment Trust in the DIFC, which is the first sustainable REIT to be listed on NASDAQ Dubai.
- Advising Qiddiya Investment Company on the title strategy and master community legal framework for the Qiddiya entertainment, sports and cultural mega-project.
- Advising SEE Capital on the establishment of a $400m REIT domiciled in the DIFC; and the acquisition and financing of $400m worth of real estate assets.
King & Spalding LLP is a popular choice for developers in master communities and mixed-use developments. The real estate group also benefits from the firm's strengths in investment funds and corporate and finance transactions. In ongoing work, the team is advising Azizi Developments on several real estate developments, including Azizi Riviera, Azizi Star and Azizi Aliyah Residences, with work involving drafting sale and purchase agreements and implementing other schemes for the sale of real estate. Moustafa Said is the name to note.
Total System Services
Jabal Omar Development Company
- Advising twofour54 on the appointment of Aldar Properties to build a new media and entertainment free zone in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
- Acting for Azizi Developments on a number of its real estate developments including Azizi Riviera, Azizi Star and Azizi Aliyah Residences.
- Advising FL2 Holdings on a mixed-use hotel and branded residences development in Business Bay, Dubai.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP's team handles real estate matters across the region, with an emphasis on the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. It acts as sole legal provider for Meydan City Corporation on real estate issues and continues to assist it with the development of its various master communities; recent work included advising on the restructuring of two mega-projects, with land values exceeding AED4bn. Litigation partner Damian Crosse has notable experience in property disputes. Philip Corfield-Smith leads the department. Soheyla Dad and Nayab Aziz are key associates in the team.
‘Pinsent Masons’ real estate practice is partner led and provides pragmatic, commercial advice. Value for money.‘
‘In terms of what distinguishes the firm, it is their relational approach to doing business.‘
‘Good, wide-ranging experience in the UAE.‘
‘Strength and depth – excellent expertise at partner level and also at associate level.‘
‘We very much value our relationship with Philip Corfield-Smith, who brings a world class level of service, is extremely responsive, and consistently brings the right level of commerciality to transactions.‘
Meydan City Corporation
University of Birmingham
Qatar Financial Centre Authority
- Assists Meydan City Corporation with the development of its various master communities, including two mega-projects.
- Advises Swiss Property on “La Reserve” in Dubai Healthcare City, a luxury 230-unit residential development comprising two towers and associated development facilities.
- Advising the University of Birmingham on a wide range of aspects relating to its project to develop a new purpose built campus in Dubai International Academic City.
At Addleshaw Goddard, strata law expert and real estate practice head Louise Vun - who has been working in the UAE for 12 years - advises on the management and operation of mixed-use developments, jointly owned property developments, gated communities and strata scheme developments. Other recent work includes advising on sale-and-leaseback transactions. Jeremy Scott joined from Al Tamimi & Company in 2020.
‘Louise Vun has in-depth local market experience that represents a significant value-add when she gives advice. She is also commercial and sensible in the scoping and billing of work.‘
Economic Zones World
Agricultural Bank of China
Bank of China
- Advising Utmost Properties, which is developing strata mixed-use developments in Dubai, on real estate / strata law regulatory issues.
- Assisting Sobha Group, which is developing strata mixed-use developments in Dubai, with real estate / strata law regulatory issues.
- Advising the developer of a new master community called Khazaen Economic City in Barka, Oman, on real estate and regulatory issues.
In the UAE, CMS is able to leverage its real estate expertise across its numerous offices in the UK and EMEA region. Practice head Geoff Smith and the team act for a diverse range of clients in the real estate, hotels, education and tourism sectors on property matters in the UAE and internationally. Key associate Laura Whiteley advises on acquisitions, disposals, property finance and asset management matters.
Union Properties PJSC
Global Student Accommodation
Al Mutatawera Gulf General Trading Limited
Al Naboodah Real Estate
Sweid & Sweid
Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN)
Al Osool Real Estate Development Company LLC
- Acting for Al Mutatawera Gulf General Trading, a Kuwaiti-headquartered education provider, on all aspects of a land purchase from Aldar and development/construction of The Arbor School, Abu Dhabi.
- Acted for developer Forum Group DMCC on the luxury villa community located on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.
- Advising Savills on its acquisition of the Cluttons Real Estate business based across the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, India and Egypt.
Dentons' real estate group acts for a mix of landlords, developers, occupiers and financial institutions. Among its areas of expertise is hotel franchising, an area in which the team has recently seen an uptick in interest in the market. Highly regarded senior associate Joe Carroll is a name to note.
‘Joe Carroll, though a senior associate, commands the respect of a partner. Joe is the most underrated and modest lawyer in the market, with outstanding technical and commercial skills.‘
Asyad Holding Group
DAMAC Real Estate Development Limited
DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre)
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones (ZonesCorp)
Inmarsat Global Limited
Keyz Investment Enterprises
M.H. Alshaya Co.
Majid Al Futtaim (MAF)
- Advised Masaood on the strata title and project governance documents for a mixed-use tower on Reem Island pursuant to Abu Dhabi’s new real estate laws and regulations.
- Advised Asyad Holding Group on rent-to-own documents for the sale of residential villas at Sienna Views.
- Advised Keyz Investment Enterprises on the precedent lease and kiosk agreements for retail and F&B units at a new box park development in the UAE.
The bilingual real estate practice at Eversheds Sutherland LLP is led by Andrew Thomson, who joined from Gowling WLG in 2018. The team is particularly strong in transactions involving logistics assets, though it handles a broad range of real estate matters for a diverse client base that includes developers, multinational corporates, investors and real estate funds. Melissa Younan joined with Thomson in 2018 and is a key principal associate in the team.
AWJ Real Estate Development
Emirates NBD REIT
Saudi Telecom Company
Heriot Watt University
Gulf Islamic Investments
Liberty House Group
- Advised AWJ Real Estate Development on the Rabwa project in Riyadh, a major real estate project for investment in commercial centres and residential complexes.
- Advised Gulf Islamic Investments on the sale-and-leaseback of units in the MADA residences in Downtown Dubai.
- Assisted with the purchase of a significant industrial facility in Jebel Ali Freezone for a global corporate.
Norton Rose Fulbright acts for notable players in the real estate sector in addition to institutional investors and large multinational corporates. It maintains a broad real estate practice, with areas of strength including build-to-suit transactions and hotel and leisure-related deals. Louisa Lynch heads the practice, with support from associates Samantha Shaw and Pamela Kaur.
Barceló Hotel Group
Mubadala Investment Company
Dubai Islamic Bank
HSBC Bank Middle East
Hadia Abdul Latif Jameel Group
- Advised Barceló Hotel Group on its proposed management of a 500-room, five-star resort hotel to be developed on Al Marjan Island by Marjan.
- Advised on the development of an aerospace maintenance hangar facility located on approximately 31,000 square meters of land in Seletar Aerospace Park on a build-to-suit basis.
- Advising Mubadala Investment Company on the buy-out of its real estate joint venture with Singapore’s CapitaLand Limited.
A 'nimble practice providing top-quality services at reasonable prices', The Bench maintains a focus on the hospitality sector, where it acts for hotel owners, operators and developers. Joby Beretta draws on over 18 years' experience in-house and in private practice. The firm was bolstered by the arrival of Gerard Hobby from an in-house position at Dubai Holding.
‘The service that I received from The Bench was bespoke in relation to my needs. Everything that I required was delivered promptly and in advance of our agreed deadline.‘
‘A very prompt and high-quality service, precisely tailored to my requirements.‘
‘Nimble practice providing top-quality services at reasonable prices.‘
‘Joby Beretta stands out with his unique combination of legal expertise, commercial acumen and pleasant personality.‘
International Hotels Group (IHG)
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
Golden Tulip MENA
PM Hotels d.o.o.
Golden Group of Companies (Oman)
Sunflower Hotels FZE
Al Aqqah Properties (t/a Intercontinental Fujairah)
Al Fahim Group
- Advised Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) on the hotel management agreements for the SO Sofitel Uptown Dubai project.
- Assisting PM Hotels with a luxury five-star hotel development.
- Assisting International Hotels Group (IHG) with the negotiation of hotel franchise and management agreements.