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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Arab Emirates > Real estate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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Who Represents Who

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Al Tamimi & Company’s team is praised for its ‘strong local knowledge and understanding of the wider Middle East region’. Jeremy Scott, who made partner in 2017 and ‘has good overall appreciation of clients’ requirements and options available’, advised Jabal Omar Development Company on sales and hotel management contracts related to a $3.2bn development project next to the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Tara Marlow heads the real estate, hotels and leisure practice.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP advises on deals, financing and related matters across the UAE and the Middle East. Key figures in Abu Dhabi include Mohammed Kamal, who advised Apple on the opening of a store in the Dubai Mall, David Nunn, who advised Al Tamouh Properties on an AED310m shari’ah-compliant construction finance facility, and Scott Antel. Dubai-based senior associates Monica Pukall and Stephen Greyling are also recommended.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP is noted for its ‘excellent service, commendable response times and strong industry knowledge’. In Dubai, practice head Tom O’Grady and legal director Helen Tapadar Hangari advised Al Asseel Developments on condominium arrangements for 500 serviced apartments in the Address Jumeirah Gate development. Duncan Pickering, who is based in Abu Dhabi, has ‘vast experience in real estate transactions and is very approachable’.

Hadef & Partners LLC advises developers, real estate funds and high-net-worth individuals on transactions, including real estate financings. Michael Lunjevich and newly promoted partner Ashraf Sayed advised ENBD REIT on the purchase of the Binghatti Terraces building for cash consideration and an existing tower in Sharjah. Executive partner Basil Siddiqi is also recommended.

King & Spalding LLP is ‘very knowledgeable in real estate development matters, providing practical legal advice based on deep knowledge’. The team advised Aldar Properties on off-plan sales of its development on Reem Island. Moustafa Said is ‘very experienced and a strong technical lawyer’ – he advised Jabal Omar Development Company on buying three hotels in Mecca. Stephen Kelly and Sarah-Jane Mahood joined Dechert LLP in July 2018.

Afridi & Angell has a track record advising local and international investors on projects in the UAE. Shahram Safai advised China Lesso on the AED1bn purchase of a plot of land for the construction of a shopping centre. Other highlights concern leasing and real estate funds.

Allen & Overy LLP’s real estate team handles work ranging from transactions through to new developments. Ian Bevan advised Aafaq Holding on a mixed-use development around Al Ain Club’s stadium.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla is praised for its ‘excellent response times and industry knowledge, and for its ability to act and think from an in-house lawyer’s point of view’. Practice head Steven Henderson advised Dubai Real Estate Corporation on the construction of an MGM and a Bellagio hotel in Dubai. Senior associate Keri Watkins is another name to note in the practice, which also advises Benchmark Group and Centara International Management.

Clyde & Co LLP’s practice covers transactions and developments across the real estate space. Alexis Waller is ‘always there to assist clients’ – she advised Binghatti Group on various developments. Senior associate Sarah Khalifa has ‘a very solid understanding of hotel-related transactions’; she and Waller advised Arab Hotels and Resorts on agreements for International Hotel Group to manage its hotel in Jeddah.

Pinsent Masons LLP is praised for its ‘strong sector knowledge and proactive attitude’ to work concerning a range of real estate assets. The ‘tenacious and detail-focussed’ Philip Corfield-Smith advised Bhatia Group on negotiating a hotel management agreement with Marriott. James Rayner is a key senior associate.

Key figures at Addleshaw Goddard include Louise Vun, who handles a range of matters, often concerning complex strata law issues. Clients include Multiplex Constructions and China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

CMS established its real estate practice in the UAE with the recruitment of legal director Geoff Smith from Afridi & Angell. Smith (who ‘has strong market knowledge and is a reasonable negotiator; he wants to get the deal through rather than score points’) advised Global Student Accommodation on a sale and leaseback arrangement with Emirates NBD REIT regarding Dubai’s first-ever student housing project.

Dentons’ real estate practice in Dubai is led by senior associate Joe Carroll, who advised Al Ain Hospitality Investments on hotel management agreements for a new mixed-use hotel and apartment development near Dubai marina. Other work concerns real estate finance and real estate finance.

Gowling WLG’s Andrew Thomson is ‘commercial, responsive and experienced in the UAE market’; he and principal associate Melissa Younan advise Regus on its serviced office portfolio across the UAE, and acted for Premier Composite Technologies on a shari’ah-compliant sale and leaseback of four warehouses.

The Bench has a particular strength in hotel management work. Senior legal consultant Joby Beretta is ‘legally very sharp and extremely commercial, all while staying personable’; he advised Atlas Hospitality on the renewal of a hotel management agreement regarding the Radisson Blue Dubai Media City.

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