Real estate in United Arab Emirates

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company is active on strategic-level real estate matters, often involving deep questions of onshore UAE property law. Practice head Tara Marlow advises on titling issues concerning proposed planned developments (both residential and commercial), as well as hotel management agreements, while Mohammed Kawasmi has expertise, in addition to transactional work concerning properties and REITs, in advising public bodies on drafting new legislation, having handled such a project for Saudi Arabia. Senior associate Malek Al Rifai is also praised by clients.

Practice head(s):

Tara Marlow

Other key lawyers:

Mohammed Kawasmi; Malek Al Rifai

Testimonials

Thorough and up-to-date knowledge of real estate laws and regulations, in-depth analysis of real estate-related legal intricacies, and a strategic view on the real estate aspect of the deal‘.

Tara Marlow is an expert in the hospitality and leisure sector, with a strategic approach to mega scale acquisitions in the hospitality sector in Dubai‘.

The team is very responsive, they come up with solutions and innovative ideas for the problems that we are facing. Also they provide feedback regarding the potential problems that might arise before any do‘.

I am always dealing with Malek Al Rifai – he is always responsive and very knowledgeable, thinks outside of the box, can co-ordinate the team and always comes up with an answer or solution‘.

Their local law experience is outstanding while maintaining international professional standards and high level of service quality‘.

Always available and attend to minor details. Special reference should be made to Malek Al Refai from the property team‘.

This team has gone above and beyond in terms of true partnership and team ethic, delivering on both the task at hand but also keeping an eye on other moving parts‘.

Tara Marlow always provides insight beyond expectation with a solution focused mindset underpinned by her human-centred approach. Tara has always gone above and beyond and clearly values transparency, authenticity and the fact that each day and each challenge is unique. Her value system and approach provides for the basis upon which trust, respect and lasting relationships are built‘.

Key clients

HSBC Bank

Abu Dhabi National Hotels

King Abdullah Financial District Development and Management Company

Deyaar Development PSC

Al Ahli REIT

Dubai Aerospace

Aldar PJSC

CBRE

Steigenberger Hotels AG

Marriott

Jones Lang LaSalle

Dubai Properties LLC

IFA Hotels & Resorts LLC

Majid Al Futtaim LLC

RIU Hotels SA

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Emerald Palace Group

Facebook

Goldman Sachs

Gartner

Dhahran Techno Valley Company (KSA)

Work highlights

  • Advised the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (REGA) on new regulations concerning the registration of real estate in Saudi Arabia.
  • Assisting the King Abdullah Financial District Development and Management Company with the ongoing development of its large-scale mixed-use master planned community project.
  • Advised ARTIC on the development of the Al Jazi Gardens project in New Cairo, Egypt; this project marked the first branded residence in Egypt, as well as representing JW Marriott’s first branded residences in the Middle East.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Out of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP's office in Abu Dhabi, David Nunn handles a number of the UAE's agenda-setting hotel management agreements. In addition to handling property transactions, Hazel Shakur Quinn also assists with the real estate elements of infrastructure projects, as well as with matters concerning the combination of new business models and UAE land use law. Clients also praise associate director Farida Sadiq, who is based in the Dubai office. Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood joined from Dechert LLP

Practice head(s):

David Nunn; Hazel Shakur Quinn; Farida Sadiq

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Kelly; Sarah Mahood

Testimonials

They have a deep understanding of the industry, diverse experience and a very flexible approach attentive to client’s requests.

BCLP are unparalleled in this sector. They have been commercial and pragmatic on each occasion that I have worked with them.

Hazel Shakur Quinn’s knowledge of the real estate market in the Middle East, and her ability to cut through problems and to understand and deliver what the client wants, is exceptional.

Key clients

Deliveroo

Abu Dhabi Ports Company

Omran

Anolia Holdings Ltd.

CHIC

Luxe Hotel

Arenco

Pennyroyal Limited (Mauritius)

Emirates Palace Company

Modon Properties PJSC

Oxley PlanetVision

IHG Hotels

Al Farwaniya Property Developments LLC

Work highlights

  • Advising The Emirates Palace Company on rebranding, transitional and management arrangement matters regarding the rebranding of the Emirates Palace Hotel (Abu Dhabi) under the Mandarin Oriental Hotels brand.
  • Assisting Abu Dhabi Ports Company with restructuring and leasehold arrangements pertaining to the KIZAD industrial zone.

Clyde & Co LLP

At Clyde & Co LLP, Alexis Waller advises on structuring property rights pertaining to flagship developments in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as the leasing of units of them. Hotel management agreements are another area of expertise for both Waller and Peter Greatrex. A number of further instructions concern the development of schools.

Practice head(s):

Alexis Waller

Other key lawyers:

Peter Greatrex

Testimonials

The real estate practice at Clyde & Co is very well balanced, with two strong partners that seem to have complementary experience and expertise.

Alexis Waller is very hands-on and not afraid to put in the hours to get a transaction completed on time and correctly. Alexis is an excellent negotiator and I also find her be extremely approachable, always available when needed, and technically excellent.

Peter Greatrex is very good at speaking the language of the client and honing in on what matters to his clients. Very approachable and always professional.

Key clients

World of Wonders Real Estate Development

Umm Al Qura Development & Construction Company

Work highlights

  • Advising Umm Al Qura Development & Construction Company on the development of the $3.2bn King Abdul Aziz Road project.

DLA Piper

Duncan Pickering heads the real estate team at DLA Piper, which advises on the development and leasing of new projects in Abu Dhabi and beyond. Hotel management agreements are another area of expertise, as are regulatory issues concerning residential developments. Senior associate Sean Cope and legal director Nicola de Sylva are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Pickering

Other key lawyers:

Sean Cope; Nicola de Sylva

Testimonials

The lawyers have an unequalled knowledge of the local real estate market and the local laws and rules. Their advice was always detailed, clear and extremely helpful’.

Sean Cope is a very skillful negotiator and drafts extremely well. He perfectly understands our business and our needs and is very responsive’.

The team is focused on providing pragmatic, cost effective solutions. They are responsive and their turn-around times are excellent’.

Duncan Pickering is incredibly approachable and always available to respond to client questions on real estate and property matters. We especially appreciate his sensible approach and presenting real world solutions rather than repeating theoretical legal doctrine‘.

Key clients

Gulf Related

GFH Financial Group BSC

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)

B&B Hotels

MENA Energy LLC

Salboukh Residential Compound Company

WeWork

Work highlights

  • Assisting the DMCC with a strategic real estate project involving developments within the Jumeirah Lakes Towers area.
  • Advised MENA Energy on the development of the real estate app Urban for the residential rental market in Dubai.

Hadef & Partners

Hadef & Partners has a broad real estate practice in the UAE. The team frequently handles transactions regarding complex issues of land registration and foreign ownership rules. Michael Lunjevich advises on retail and office sector matters, including bespoke new buildings, while Ashraf Sayed has experience of residential and retail sector expertise. In Abu Dhabi, Basil Siddiqi advises on the property rights planning of master communities, as well as sensitive restructuring matters. Philip Sequeira is the regulatory real estate head.

Practice head(s):

Michael Lunjevich; Basil Siddiq; Ashraf Sayed

Other key lawyers:

Philip Sequeira

Testimonials

It has good general knowledge of the local market from a legal and commercial perspective.

Michael Lunjevich has a logical and clear way of dealing with complex issues.

Very personable, knowledgeable and accessible.

Michael Lunjevich has an outcome-driven approach for both client and counter party.

Key clients

Jubail Island Master Community

Souq Extra LLC

Visa Middle East FZ LLC

Merlin Entertainments Developments Limited

Navitas Middle East FZ LLC

MAG Property Development LLC

Hogan Lovells International LLP

Hai Di Lao Group

ENBD REIT (CEIC) PLC

Fortune 5 Real Estate LLC

Regent International Private School LLC

Sunmarke School LLC

Work highlights

  • Advising Souq Extra on the management and operation of multiple retail centres, with a focus on the client’s retail centres in the Dubai Silicon Oasis free zone.
  • Acted for Visa Middle East in negotiations with Dubai-based developer Sweid & Sweid for the construction of a greenfield building, which would be the client’s regional headquarters.
  • Advised the Ha Di Lao Group on obtaining the lease for its first and flagship branch in the Middle East.

Addleshaw Goddard

The real estate practice at Addleshaw Goddard was recently bolstered by the arrival of Jeremy Scott from Al Tamimi & Company. Scott advises on retail landlord and tenant matters, issues regarding strata titling, and proposed mega-developments of luxury residential products.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Scott

Key clients

Khazaen Economic City

Palma Holdings Limited

IFA Hotels and Resorts KPSC

Sonder

Work highlights

  • Advising Khazaen Economic City on a DBOT arrangement for the development of a logistics facility.
  • Assisting real estate developer IFA Hotels and Resorts KPSC with strata titling and financing matters regarding two projects, The8 and Balqis Residences.

Afridi & Angell

Shahram Safai heads the real estate practice at Afridi & Angell. The team's workload includes hotel management agreements, off-plan developments and landlord and tenant matters, both within the Emirates and internationally. Advice to property owners' associations is another area of expertise. Associate Anna White provides support on many key matters.

Practice head(s):

Shahram Safai

Other key lawyers:

Anna White

Key clients

Saba Real Estate

Work highlights

  • Advising several owners’ associations in connection with their AGMs and their jointly owned property documentation.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla

At Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, Stephen Henderson handles property sales and leases, as well as hotel management agreements, including projects in new free zones and developments in the Northern Emirates. Instructions concerning proposals for new data centres are a particular area of expertise for senior associate Keri Watkins. Wael El Tounsy leads on property litigation.

Practice head(s):

Steven Henderson; Wael El Tounsy

Other key lawyers:

Keri Watkins

Testimonials

The team is efficient, and what makes it unique is the type of personal care you feel from day one.

They always make you feel any problem has a solution and in a very professional way they provide one-to-one care.

Steven Henderson is the most accessible, thoughtful and pragmatic lawyer I have dealt with in private practice. He is also a very strategic and insightful thought partner in tough scenarios and a very good negotiator.

No-nonsense and pragmatic advice dispensed as efficiently as possible. Strength in depth, so advice always available no matter how demanding the requirements.

Keri Watkins is delightful to work with – she inspires confidence, and works to find solutions.

Key clients

Emaar Properties (P.J.S.C)

Rooya Holding Investments

Jebel Ali Free Zone FZE

Al Zorah Development Co

Jumeirah International

Dubai Real Estate Corporation

NCB Capital DIFC

Omniyat Middle East Real Estate Developments LLC

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

GEMS Education

Jones Lang LaSalle

AWR Rostamani

Work highlights

  • Represented Rooya Holding Investments in negotiations with Marriott for the development of the Cairo Marriott Hotel in Egypt.
  • Advised the owners and operators of the Jebel Ali Free Zone on the first sale-and-leaseback transaction in the free zone.
  • Advising Al Zorah Development Company on the ownership structure and standard form documentation for the master planned Al Zorah community development project in Ajman.

Eversheds Sutherland LLP

Andrew Thomson heads up Eversheds Sutherland LLP's real estate practice. He advises both property users and investors in a range of sectors, but of late has been involved in a number of key deals in the logistics and data centre space, as well as a number of matters concerning universities and large corporate headquarters. Melissa Younan and Kevin Fidler are key principal associates.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Thomson

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Younan; Kevin Fidler

Testimonials

Andrew Thomson is one of the best attorneys in the region when it comes to real estate. He understands the commercial aspects of the business and is able to quickly identify and implement the best legal structure for each mandate. He’s a consummate professional who’s always accessible to his clients. He is very emotionally intelligent, and understands each unique requirement.

Key clients

AWJ Real Estate Development

Emirates NBD REIT

Saudi Telecom Company

Heriot-Watt University

Gulf Islamic Investments

Arcapita

Qatari Diar

Birmingham City University

Jumeriah Group

Hilton Hotels

King & Spalding LLP

At King & Spalding LLP, Jawad Ali and Osama Audi - crossing over with their broader corporate expertise - handle real estate development joint venture work. Moustafa Said is active in a number of matters concerning changes of hotel operators and new residential developments. The practice also has real estate funds expertise, and a number of deals have concerned entertainment projects in Saudi Arabia as well as data centres.

Practice head(s):

Jawad Ali

Other key lawyers:

Moustafa Said; Osama Audi

Testimonials

The team is very organized, committed and has the knowledge required to reach the results expected.

K&S was always punctual and eager to perform in a timely manner. They are always available to extend advice and support whenever required.

King and Spalding has an excellent real estate practice.

Moustafa Said has a collaborative and practical manner. He is capable of protecting client sensitivities and achieving client needs, while efficiently progressing to closing transactions with counterparties.

Key clients

Roshn Real Estate

Akaria

National Investment Corporation

Al Rajhi Capital

Midad

Emirates Hospitals Group

Burj Daman Real Estate Capital Partners

Seven Tides

Knowledge Economic City

Arcapita

NBK Capital Partners

Work highlights

  • Advising Akaria Real Estate on a joint venture development with Arabian Dream / Triple 5 for the development of a prominent mixed-use entertainment and shopping centre.
  • Advising National Investment Corporation on a mixed-use hotel and branded residences development in Abu Dhabi.
  • Advising Seven Tides on multiple sale and purchase agreements for Anantara Palm Jumeirah and Dukes Oceana.

Pinsent Masons LLP

At Pinsent Masons LLP, Philip Corfield-Smith advises notable developers on the property elements of significant developments, such as master community arrangements. Other work includes hotel management agreements, both in the UAE and further afield.

Practice head(s):

Philip Corfield-Smith

Testimonials

Hands on approach from all partners and senior staff. They are totally committed and get involved in every detail.

The partners we dealt with had in-depth knowledge of the industry. They took a personal interest in our matter, ensuring that priority was given to our concerns.

‘A mix of rigor, experience and result-oriented approach.

Key clients

Crystal One

Al Marjan

2020 Holding

Sonder

Eltizam Group

Silver Beach Properties Ltd

Senegal

Swiss Property

Work highlights

  • Advising a master developer client on three mega-projects, with project values exceeding AED10bn.
  • Advising master developer Al Marjan on the development of the $462m Al Marjan Island project.

Allen & Overy LLP

At Allen & Overy LLP, practice head Ian Bevan advises on the strategic-level elements of planned developments, as well as hotel management agreements. This crosses over with the firm's expertise in REITs and other fund structures, key areas of focus for Nick Smith. Senior associate Barry Noonan is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Ian Bevan

Other key lawyers:

Nick Smith; Barry Noonan

Key clients

InvestAD Brookfield Managers

Merex Investment Group

Aldar Properties

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Simon Green heads the practice at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, which is active in a range of sectors including retail (an area in which Majid Al Futtaim is a cornerstone client), hotels, utilities and leisure. The practice is also known for its work in outbound investments into British real estate among other work for private clients.

CMS

At CMS, Geoff Smith leads a team advising on residential developments, office leasing and other significant matters in different Emirates of the UAE and further afield. The practice has strong connections in Muscat. Laura Whiteley provides support at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Smith

Other key lawyers:

Laura Whiteley

Testimonials

The CMS practice hits well above its weight within the UAE real estate market. Whilst small it has an enviable client base and regularly receives high quality mandates from its world wide network‘.

Geoff Smith has extensive market knowledge and is well liked by his peers, as well as being easy to deal with and a fair negotiator‘.

CMS’ hands-on approach brings a real sense of having your own in-house legal department. They have developed a real sense of understanding the client, and not just the project in hand. This makes it easier for us to strategize on new projects, whereby they are on hand to offer advice and comment quickly to guide us forward’.

Key clients

Aldar Properties

Union Properties PJSC

Global Student Accommodation

Select Group

DMCC

Al Mutatawera Gulf General Trading Limited

Sweid & Sweid

Fajr Capital

Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN)

Al Naboodah Real Estate

Work highlights

  • Advised EY on taking a lease of 120,000 square feet of office space in a new prestigious development in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
  • Advised Oman Tourism Development Company on certain aspects of its development of Madinat Al Ifran.
  • Advised Sweid & Sweid on all of the jointly owned property documentation for the new Banyan Tree Residences in JLT, Dubai, ensuring that it is all in line with Dubai’s new jointly owned property law.

Dentons

At Dentons, senior associate Joe Carroll is very experienced in advising on the real estate elements of M&A deals, strata titling matters and leasing properties in the UAE's free zones.

Other key lawyers:

Joe Carroll

Key clients

Al Masaood

Asyad Group

DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre)

Inmarsat Global Limited

Keyz Investment Enterprises

National Central Cooling Company PJSC (Tabreed)

Al Farwaniya Property Developments

Alamar Foods

Noor Bank PJSC

Work highlights

  • Advised Asyad Group on the sale of a collection of luxury villas forming a part of Jumeirah Golf Estates, involving lease-to-own agreements.
  • Advising Al Farwaniya Property Developments LLC on drafting and negotiating construction contracts for the $1.2bn Reem Mall development in Abu Dhabi.
  • Advising Tabreed on its acquisition of Masdar City’s district cooling plants from a subsidiary wholly owned by UAE sovereign wealth fund Mubadala.

Norton Rose Fulbright

At Norton Rose Fulbright, practice head Louisa Lynch advises a number of prestigious businesses on property lease matters, and is adept at handling land sales to developers, strata title issues pertaining to new projects and hotel management agreements, one of several areas in which the practice co-operates with the firm's disputes team.

Practice head(s):

Louisa Lynch

Testimonials

Norton Rose has an excellent consolidated real estate practice, which dovetails effectively with the construction and financing teams to provide in-depth expertise and deep industry sector knowledge.

Key clients

Credit Suisse

HSBC Bank Middle East

Nakheel PJSC

Samba Financial Group

Korea Development Bank

MUFG Bank

Siemens Bank

Standard Chartered Bank

First Abu Dhabi Bank

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Natixis

The Norinchukin Bank

Mizuho Bank

Boubyan Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank

The Bench

At The Bench, Joby Beretta and Elise Gillians have a focus on advising operators and owners on hotel management agreements and similar matters.

Practice head(s):

Joby Beretta; Elise Gillians

Testimonials

When dealing with The Bench, I always feel that they are tailoring their services to my exact needs and solving my legal problems with a bespoke approach.

Joby Beretta is always available and very helpful, even when we change our demands without moving the deadlines, he never gets flustered and just gets the job done!’

Work highlights

  • Advised Rixos Hotels on hotel management agreements.

White & Case LLP

Louise Vun joined White & Case LLP as department head from Addleshaw Goddard in October 2019, bringing with her a significant practice in the hospitality sector, covering hotel management agreements for new and existing parties, as well as transactions outside the space in sectors such as education.