Real estate in United Arab Emirates

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company’s ‘top-tier practice’ handles a comprehensive range of real estate matters, with strong skill sets in commercial property and hotels and leisure. Group head Tara Marlow is highly rated and advised Sweid & Sweid Developments on the £280m sale of an office building. The group also includes the ‘very strongJeremy Scott, Mohammed Kawasmi and ‘impressive’ senior associate Andrew Balfe.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Quick and efficient’, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP’s advice is ‘always on the money’, say sources. The department, which houses specialist planning and hotel expertise, acts for an impressive roster of developers, investors and occupiers including Aldar Properties and Al Tamouh Investments. Key names in Abu Dhabi are David Nunn, hospitality lead Scott Antel and legal director Hazel Shakur Quinn (‘an exceptional talent’). Senior associate Monica Pukall is noted in Dubai. Mohammed Kamal joined Watson Farley & Williams and Stephen Greyling relocated to Singapore.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP

Comprised of ‘true experts’, DLA Piper Middle East LLP’s practice is 'a reliable partner on complex mandates’. Dubai-based group head Tom O’Grady is highly recommended and advised Gulf Resources Development & Investment on the sale of HSBC’s new regional headquarters. Abu Dhabi’s Duncan Pickering is ‘professional, collaborative and knowledgeable’. Helen Tapadar Hangari left to become general counsel at Realstar Group.

Hadef & Partners LLC

Hadef & Partners LLC impresses with its ability to find ‘pragmatic solutions to fit blue-chip investment requirements in frontier market transactions’. The ‘commercial and knowledgeableMichael Lunjevich heads the Dubai property practice and advised Souq Extra on the shari’ah-compliant sale of two retail centres. Abu Dhabi-based real estate lead Basil Siddiqi and Dubai-based Ashraf Sayed (‘a pleasure to work with’) are also noted.

Afridi & Angell

Afridi & Angell, which has particularly strong links with developers, finds favour for its ‘proactive, agile and responsive approach’. Key contact Shahram Safai advised Eagle Hills on the AED2.7bn development of three real estate projects in Sharjah. HDS Estates and Union Properties are also clients.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP shines in major real estate transactions and sources commend its ability to ‘stretch seamlessly across corporate and real estate’. Middle East real estate lead Ian Bevan, together with the corporate team, advised Tourism Development and Investment Company on the disposal of certain key assets to Aldar Properties. Senior associate Hayden Cameron is ‘commercially savvy’.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla handles a mix of investment, development and leasing matters — it also houses specialist litigation expertise. Group head Steven Henderson advised NCB Capital on the disposal of an office building to Aldar Properties. Counsel Wael El Tounsy, who leads the real estate litigation practice, and senior associate Keri Watkins are also recommended.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP’s real estate offering covers all the bases, with strength in development, investment, hospitality, finance and leasing. Dubai-based Alexis Waller, who ‘protects clients’ interests without being combative’, leads a team that acts for Al Tayer Group, Kent College and Binghatti Holding. Abu Dhabi-based senior associate Sarah Khalifa is 'a strong hotels specialist’. In early 2019, Peter Greatrex joined from Trowers & Hamlins LLP.

Dechert LLP

In a significant coup, Dechert LLP launched its Dubai real estate practice with the hire of new group head Stephen Kelly (‘straightforward and knowledgeable on market trends’) and Sarah Mahood from King & Spalding LLP. Highlights included advising the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority on the redrafting of the DIFC’s real estate laws.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP is best known for its robust development practice, with hospitality projects standing out as a particular sweet spot. Sector specialist Moustafa Said advised twofour54 on appointing Aldar Properties to build a new media and entertainment free zone in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP leverages its signature construction expertise to specialise in development matters. It is also routinely involved in investment, leasing and corporate transactions. Group head Philip Corfield-Smith is advising a major local developer on a mall project. Senior associate James Rayner, who provides support on the mall work, is also a key contact.

Addleshaw Goddard

Commercial and responsive’, Addleshaw Goddard is commended for the ‘great depth of experience’ practice head Louise Vun brings to bear. Strata law is a notable strong suit and key clients include Barclays Bank, Multiplex and Utmost Properties.


CMS’ group, led by newly promoted partner Geoff Smith, has a prominent hotels and leisure practice. It also routinely handles projects in the education, office and retail property spheres. Highlights included advising Aston Developments on the development, sale and leasing of Aston Towers.


The ‘small but outstanding team’ at Dentons ‘punches above its weight’, say sources. Senior associate Joe Carroll — ‘a gifted and modest real estate specialist’ — advised DMCC on hotel management agreements for a luxury hotel project.

Norton Rose Fulbright

At Norton Rose Fulbright, newly promoted partner Louisa Lynch is a key name. The department handles property finance, leasing transactions and asset sales and acquisitions, among other areas.

The Bench

The Bench, which is focused on the hospitality sector, secures praise for its ‘tailor-made service’, ‘broad industry knowledge’ and ‘modest yet effective lawyers’. The ‘commercially astuteJoby Beretta advised Golden Group Holding on negotiations with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for a new Muscat hotel.

Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams bolstered its team with the hire of new group head Mohammed Kamal, who ‘really knows his stuff’ — he joined from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. Highlights included advising Honeywell on long-term leasing arrangements for its new regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi.