Horizons & Co > Dubai, United Arab Emirates > Firm Profile

Horizons & Co
United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates > Dispute resolution: local litigation Tier 3

Horizons & Co is regularly engaged to handle real estate and construction mandates, acting for both property managers, contractors and developers in contractual, damages, and insurance disputes as well as financial institutions in proceedings regarding project financing. The team has also been active in criminal complaints for defamation and slander, confidentiality breaches and bankruptcy proceedings. Ali Ismael Al Zarooni, who handles criminal, financial and tax disputes alongside construction work, heads the team with Areen Jayousi. Legal manager Lilas Alakhras is noted for her wide-reaching practice and Natasja Pollemans joined from KBH Limited in 2023, adding expertise in international trade and energy disputes. Oliver Dupenois and Paul Suckling  left the firm in 2023.

Practice head(s):

Ali Al Zarooni; Areen Jayousi

Other key lawyers:


‘The team works well together and is geared up to provide good advice to clients. The team is very strong in UAE civil and criminal law advice.’

‘Areen Jayousi has an excellent client service approach and takes great care to understand the issues from the client’s perspective needs. He also handled the matter with great sensitivity and understanding of the positions of the various parties. He is very knowledgeable about UAE laws and has great experience navigating local sensitivities. He provides his advice in a way that is comprehensive but cuts through the complexities to focus on the practical realities of the situation, so that the client can see a way through the noise to a positive outcome.’

‘Horizons is a strong independent UAE law firm. They have very good capabilities in the onshore UAE Courts. They are also very active and visible in the market.’

‘Areen Jayousi is an exceptional practitioner with an unrivalled command of local UAE substantive and procedural law. Given his prior experience inhouse, Areen also intimately understands the importance of client care and is extremely user friendly. He is an all round pleasure to deal with and is my ‘go to’ choice of local UAE Counsel. I instruct Horizons because of Areen.’

‘Areen Jayousi is a well rounded lawyer, who is sought by his clients for his legal advice and unique approach of strategizing. He is an experienced lawyer with very strong knowledge of UAE law.

‘Ali Al Zarooni and Lilas Alakras are excellent. Very good on strategy. ’

‘Dedication and responsive is part of their routine which gives peace of mind to their clients. To me personally is the extra mile they take on every case as they are protecting their own rights not just looking at it as a business, that’s the quality you don’t find anywhere else which is priceless.’

‘The local litigation is great and I would without hesitation recommend them. The unique combination of western qualified lawyers and local Arabic litigation lawyers working seamlessly together is unique to Horizon’s in my experience.’

Key clients


Horizon Gulf Electromechanical Services LLC

Heriot Watt University Dubai

Arabtec Construction LLC & Belhasa Six Construct LLC (ABJV)

Abaar Investments – PJS subsidiary of Mubadala Investment PJSC

IMKAN Properties LLC


Constructora San Jose S A, Constructora San Jose S A Abu Dhabi Branch

Tav Tepe Akfen Investment Construction & Operation Company & Consolidated Contracting Engineering & Procurement S.A.L. – Offshore

Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC

Work highlights

  • Appointed by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, in relation to execution applications for bounced cheques to the value of AED 130,000,000 and applications for the enforcement of two separate mortgages.
  • Act for Horizon Gulf Electromechanical Services LLC as a subcontractor in an almost-240 million-dirham dispute concerning the Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital (AJCSH) construction project.
  • Acting for Arabtec Construction LLC & Belhasa Six Construct LLC, who are the parties to a joint venture which constructed one of Dubai’s most prestigious hotels, which was severely damaged by fire during a New Year’s Eve celebration, causing damage valued at AED 1.245 billion.

United Arab Emirates > Real estate Tier 3

Frequently acting for construction contractors and developers, the team Horizons & Co is well-informed on real estate acquisitions, disputes, and leasing. Ali Ismael Al Zarooni has an impressive litigation track record, and represents real estate companies in development, land ownership, and transactional delay disputes. Areen Jayousi handles contentious commercial and residential property matters, as well as master development agreements.

Practice head(s):

Ali Ismael Al Zarooni; Areen Jayousi


‘I can only speak about Areen Jayousi in a positive way.’

Key clients

Abaar Investments – PJS subsidiary of Mubadala Investment PJSC

IMKAN Properties LLC

Al Reef Real Estate Investment

G&Co Real Estate Development – LLC

Al Burj Real Estate LTD

Work highlights

  • Represented Abaar Investments in its dispute against an Abu Dhabi property management company.
  • Represented Al Reef Real Estate Investment in a claim against a semi-governmental entity and developer.
  • Represented IMKAN Properties LLC as a claimant against certain purchasers of its real estate units.

United Arab Emirates > Construction Tier 4

Contractor, subcontractor, and land disputes remain a key component of the practice at Horizons & Co. Boasting a strong litigation track record, firm founder Ali Ismael Al Zarooni is well-versed in sizeable hotel development projects. Areen Jayousi counts design and engineering partners, as well as owners and developers on his client roster, while Amr Mostafa is adept at luxury property disputes. Oliver Dupenois and Paul Suckling  departed the team to join DWF Middle East LLP in August 2023.

Practice head(s):

Ali Ismael Al Zarooni; Areen Jayousi

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Horizon Gulf Electromechanical Services LLC

Teejan Contracting Co. LLC.

Arabtec Construction LLC & Belhasa Six Construct LLC (ABJV)

Constructora San Jose S A

Tav Tepe Akfen Investment Construction & Operation Company

Consolidated Contracting Engineering & Procurement S.A.L.

Hasabi Real Estate L.L.C

Work highlights

  • Represented Tav Tepe Akfen Investment Construction, Operation Company, Consolidated Contracting Engineering, and Procurement S.A.L on a construction dispute that arose against the counterparty in this project.
  • Acted for Arabtec Construction LLC & Belhasa Six Construct LLC following the severe fire damage of their hotels.
  • Representing Constructora San Jose SA in an ongoing dispute before the Abu Dhabi courts in relation to the construction of a building for a European museum franchise.

Established in 1999, Horizons & Co. is an Emirati-founded firm of 75+ UAE, GCC, and international lawyers and support staff across offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We are a disputes focused firm that uniquely blends local and global knowledge to rapidly and effectively deliver solutions for our clients.

Dispute resolution is our strength – litigation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is what we do. As a client-centric firm, we are constantly evolving in line with developments in the legal and technological landscape. We are continuously expanding and honing our legal expertise with a forward-looking outlook and a focus on delivering innovative solutions to enable a better future for our clients, employees and community.

Horizons & Co. focuses on managing business critical and complex litigation, arbitration and all forms of ADR. Our lawyers licensed to appear before all levels of the UAE courts advising on commercial, civil and criminal matters, the DIFC and ADGM courts, and a range of Arbitration seats, both local and international including the DIAC, Arbitrate AD, SCCA, IICRA, LCIA and ICC among others.

Our expertise within dispute resolution encompasses:
Construction and real estate: Our comprehensive grasp of UAE construction and property law, coupled with extensive commercial real estate knowledge across all property types, positions us as industry leaders. We regularly represent developers, contractors, and state-owned entities in significant litigation and arbitration proceedings.

Joint venture and partnership: Disputes within joint venture and partnership arrangements often arise. We understand the avenues available and the crucial need for prompt and decisive action to safeguard assets and ensure equitable entitlements for all parties.

Commercial: Effective legal representation is imperative in managing commercial disputes, given their potential for complexity, especially with the intricate UAE legal landscape. Leveraging our expertise, we offer tailored support to efficiently address client concerns and support them in achieving their desired commercial objectives.

Insolvency and restructuring: Specialists in resolving complex and often high-profile disputes relating to insolvencies and financial restructurings, our lawyers assist multinational banks, financial institutions and corporations navigate challenging scenarios. Regularly instructed to act for both claimants and defendants, we are the firm of choice for providing on-the-ground advice.

Financial institutions: Representing financial institutions has been a central focus since our firm’s inception. Through extensive engagement in complex disputes, we have gained unparalleled insight into the distinct regulatory requirements and unique commercial operations of the sector.

Employment: Our strong track record encompasses representing multinational corporations, family-owned businesses, individuals, and governmental entities, we offer comprehensive guidance on the full range of employment law matters, with our expertise spanning UAE Labour Law, free zone regulations, and DIFC and ADGM Employment Law.

Enforcement and asset recovery: With a dedicated enforcement and asset recovery practice, our team integrates substantial expertise in litigation and arbitration, investigative insight, and strategic thinking to guarantee that our clients’ successes translate into tangible outcomes.

White-collar crime: Managing white-collar and corporate crime matters involves a proactive and sensitive approach. We act for a range of clients, including financial institutions, government-owned entities, multinational corporations, high-net-worth individuals, and family businesses, as well as the clients of international law firms, providing unparalleled support while minimising reputational damage.

Regulatory and compliance: The regulatory landscape in the UAE is constantly changing, with an increasingly complex framework of established and evolving legislation across all sectors as well as ever more active regulators. Our expert team focus on managing risk, ensuring compliance and facilitating the best possible outcomes.

Energy and infrastructure: Energy and infrastructure disputes present unique challenges, requiring particular technical and procedural expertise.We have decades of experience representing both local and international clients in this space,preventing and resolving disputes for operators, developers, suppliers, contractors and others in both the governmental and private sectors.

Data protection and privacy: With data-related disputes increasing as well as new issues brought by the advent of AI, the accompanying threats to businesses have grown exponentially. Our experts guide clients through the maze of regulatory, litigation or arbitration procedures required to navigate this fast-changing area.

Technology and licensing disputes: There are known difficulties with disputes in this space, particularly as the landscape is constantly changing due to digital transformation and technological advancements. Our team of local and international experts adeptly harnesses various dispute resolution mechanisms to effectively assist clients in resolving their issues in the most favourable manner.

Investigations: With the increased diligence of regulators in the UAE and globally empowered to investigate and fine, our team of contentious practitioners leverage their deep experience to counsel clients on these risks. Offering support with internal investigations and advice on managing outcomes, we are ready to defend clients should regulators or authorities investigate their activities.

Private client: As seasoned experts, our practitioners prioritise resolution in sensitive private and professional matters, aiming for the effective and cost-conscious protection of business interests or personal affairs. Acting as our clients’ trusted in-house counsel, we provide strategic, creative, and bespoke guidance with succession and estate planning, private wealth and family law issues.

Criminal defence and extradition: Criminal charges and extradition requests carry substantial ramifications. We specialise in representing often high-profile individuals facing serious, life-altering charges, prioritising the provision of top-tier defence while safeguarding their rights under the UAE Constitution and Criminal Procedure Law.

Expert opinion: Our experts are frequently called upon by international law firms, corporates and individuals, to provide expert opinion on intricacies of UAE law. Their nuanced but practical approach means they are renowned for skilfully detailing the legal implications or interpretations of often complex legal issues and identify risks and practical advice.

Private notary: The privatisation of notary services in Dubai aligns with the smart government transformation process and enables our experts to offer clients efficient solutions for processing their commercial or private transactions swiftly and seamlessly.

Department Name Email Telephone
Construction & Real Estate
Joint Venture & Partnership
Insolvency & Restructuring
Financial Institutions
Enforcement & Asset Recovery
White Collar Crime
Regulatory & Compliance
Energy & Infrastructure
Data protection & Privacy
Technology & Licensing
Private Client
Criminal Defence & Extradition
Expert Opinion
Private Notary
Partners : 5
Legal Professionals : 45+
All staff : 75+

Areen Jayousi, Partner

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capacity?

My greatest achievement in a professional capacity is without a doubt having been made Partner of a prominent local law firm in my early thirties. My decision to leave a more than comfortable existence in an in-house position turned out to be the best professional decision I have made.

My greatest personal achievement, one that I’m immensely proud of is having the opportunity to raise my three beautiful children, Khaldoun, Qusai and Mariam.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

The firm is unique in that we specialise in dispute resolution only. With our sole focus on the effective resolution of complex UAE disputes, we train our lawyers extensively in both civil as well as common law principles. By doing so our lawyers are not simply bilingual, but also adept at providing advice and legal analysis from both a common & civil law perspective.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

My advice to my younger self would be not to over complicate things. I have found that breaking complex issues down to their bare bones can be a very effective way to deal with issues, no matter how complex they first seem to be. I have learnt that taking ones time to deal with the complexity of the issues is the right way to go as opposed to diving right into the deep end.

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

Having assisted many developers in the UAE, I recently revised the entire suite of contractual documents for a large semi-government real estate developer. With recent legislative changes and a tough real estate market as a back drop, amendments to their existing contracts were imperative.  Subsequent to the amendments being made, the client provided the firm with a certificate of appreciation, stating that in-house efficiency had greatly improved as well as their internal collection management process as a direct result of the amendments made to their contractual documents.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

Given the current market trends and difficulties in relation to the economy, we are currently witnessing a higher number of disputes, with some major companies now contemplating high profile litigation. The biggest challenge going forward will be to ensure that clients are well advised in relation to their legal options and not solely litigious. It will be even more important going forward for clients to correctly study all possible amicable resolutions prior to filing claims.

Adv. Ali Al Zarooni, Chairman

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capacity?

On a professional level, my greatest achievement has been the establishment and operation of a successful UAE multi-disciplinary law firm. The firm has grown exponentially since its inauguration and continues to thrive in this fiercely competitive legal market. Over the last 31 years, the firm has worked tirelessly to establish its unwavering reputation as a world-class leader in all areas of UAE Federal Laws as well as off-shore (free) zones. Furthermore, the relationships that we have established with other highly regarded law firms across the GCC, Middle East, Europe and other international regions reinforces the strength of our multi-jurisdictional firm.

On a personal level, I am most proud of my wife and the four wonderful children that we have raised. It can be difficult to maintain a work / life balance and we have learned how to work together to order to raise our children as best we can.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

Horizons & Co. is a client-focused law firm committed to delivering exceptional legal services. Since the firm’s inception in 1999, we have sustained our commitment to bringing the highest possible standards of legal services in both the UAE and further afield. In order to act differently, one must think differently and this belief has cultivated a firm where lateral and medial thinking are equally regarded, meaning that solutions to client problems are often found through practical, clever and often unexpected ways. Our staff have been globally sourced and bring unrivalled experience in a plethora of jurisdictions which is a key factor for many clients given the UAE’s geographical centrality. Conclusively, we are a local firm that thinks internationally and this has proven to accelerate our success over and above our peers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t become a lawyer! No, I am joking! I have learned so much about myself through the establishment of Horizons & Co and I feel both humbled and proud of what I have achieved. If I were to have a conversation with my younger 25-year old self, I would advise that I invest in clever, committed and hard-working lawyers as their value cannot be underestimated. Although my younger self might wince at the cost of hiring top-tier lawyers, it is these people that you must ultimately put your trust in, in order to preserve and develop the reputation of the firm. Secondly, it is wise to consider installing high-quality IT systems as this is likely to ensure efficiency in the day-to-day running of the firm so do your research and find the most suitable system!

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

Upon initially reading this question, I immediately thought of when I completely re-drafted an entire suite of contracts for a large-scale developer. The original contracts had a number of serious omissions and would have left the developer in a disadvantaged position should a dispute have been raised in the future. However, when I consider this question over my career to-date, I am struck by the number of situations in which I have helped clients to reach a settlement with the other side. Negotiations have often badly broken down and it would seem that settlement is impossible. Perhaps a tenacious litigator would strive for the ‘win’ but I believe that a greater victory can be achieved if both sides walk away feeling like they have won. It can be difficult to enable negotiations but by clearly defining the gains to both sides this often leads to an agreement which adds value to both businesses.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

Economic activity in the UAE has hastened in recent years, most notably the non-oil private sector which has shown slower progression despite the expansion of credit lending year-on-year. This has been attributed to softer economic conditions which have reduced clients’ spending power. Despite this, it is predicted that the construction sector in the UAE will continue to grow in 2020, ahead of the Expo. In light of this, the biggest challenge for clients doing business in construction and engineering companies is managing cash-flow. Projects need to be delivered on time and within budget or companies may face serious and costly legal challenges. Construction disputes continue to rise in the UAE and we are increasingly seeing clients that are unable to manage cash-flow in order to pay legal fees. In this current economic climate, Horizons & Co remain devoted to helping our clients identify successful solutions, reduce risk, and maximise opportunities.

Ali Al Zarooni, Founder & Managing Partner

Ali Al Zarooni, Founder and Managing Partner of Horizons & Co., outlines some of the key development he is seeing in the UAE legal market and beyond, exploring how this is likely to impact clients and the further growth and strategic direction of the firm. He also highlights the benefits of new tools and technologies in the legal sector and how these have resulted in an evolution in the firm’s approach to client service and relationship management.


1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate Horizons & Co. from your competitors?

I feel there are three main points that really differentiate Horizons & Co. from its competitors.

First, our dedicated focus on dispute resolution. This includes expertise in international and local litigation and arbitration across civil, commercial, and criminal law. The firm boasts leading partners and local experts whose practices concrete solely on disputes and they offer tailored support throughout the whole disputes lifecycle. This specialisation means we have an unparalleled depth of expertise and makes us the go-to firm for local and multinational clients and international law firms in need of market-leading on-the-ground advice in the UAE. Our awards and rankings for dispute resolution and our client testimonials are testament to this.

Second, our quality of client service and legal excellence. The firm was founded with a vision of providing exceptional client service comparable to leading global firms and we consistently and continually emphasise legal excellence and client satisfaction. We have adopted international best practices in service delivery, technology adoption, and added value for clients. Our success is evidenced by a significant portion of our client base comprising of international, top-tier law firms seeking local law advice for their clients, as they know they clients will receive the same high level of service and support.

Third, our culture and diversity. While Emirati-founded and strong proponent of Emiratisation, we have a global team and mindset, with staff from over 20 nationalities and lawyers qualified in various countries worldwide, including England & Wales, Australia, and the US. This diversity enriches the firm’s knowledge base, bringing in global perspectives and best practices, which benefit clients with diverse business interests. Additionally, we pride ourselves on gender diversity, with significant female representation in leadership positions and throughout the whole firm. This contributes to a diverse and inclusive culture, which enhances our commercial success and our ability to best support clients, through the divergence of varied perspectives and skills.

These three qualities in particular, make us the standout choice for clients seeking high-quality contentious legal services in the UAE and wider region.


2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

As a firm, we are strategically positioned to capitalise on the growth of arbitration as a preferred method for dispute resolution in the UAE and the wider Middle East region. As this a core service of the firm’s, we are uniquely equipped to handle increasingly complex and sophisticated arbitration cases. The growth of Dubai as a preferred seat for arbitration means our practice will grow in parallel, as we see the city continuing to attract more and more international clients as their preferred location to settle disputes.

The recent launch of arbitrateAD with new rules underscores Abu Dhabi’s ambition to establish itself as a leading business destination and centre for dispute resolution, further fuelling the growth of arbitration in the UAE and wider region. Additionally, neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are also ambitious in developing their arbitration centres. Last year, the Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration (SCCA) announced the publication of its revised SCCA Arbitration Rules bringing significant positive improvements and aligning it with international best practices. This presents further opportunities for our firm to provide expert guidance due to our experience, deep regional knowledge, and strong relationships across the Middle East.

In addition to arbitration, we anticipate increased work in relation to insolvency and restructuring, particularly with the implementation of Federal Decree-Law No. 51 of 2023 on Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy. This legislation introduces significant updates to the restructuring and insolvency landscape in the UAE, fostering a more conducive business environment and enhancing investor confidence. The inclusion of restructuring concepts aligning with international standards and the establishment of a specialised court demonstrate the UAE’s commitment to promoting a rescue culture and providing greater certainty to distressed businesses and their stakeholders. As experts in this, we are exceptionally well positioned to advise creditors and debtors, who need to advice on the different options available to them and in navigating the legislative landscape.

Moreover, the extension of liability for directors to managers and “de-facto” directors aims to promote effective corporate governance and mitigate corporate failures due to mismanagement. Given our robust regulatory and compliance contentious practice coupled with our insolvency and restructuring expertise, means we anticipate high demand for our services in providing comprehensive support to individuals, businesses or their creditors traversing challenging economic conditions.

I am very confident our firm is very well prepared to provide exceptional support to clients in the evolving and ever-changing legal landscape in the UAE and the broader region, leveraging our expertise in arbitration, litigation, ADR, and insolvency to meet the growing demand for specialised legal services.


3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

The main change implemented by our firm that benefits clients is our commitment to continuous improvement and adoption of new technologies to enhance service delivery and cost-effectiveness.

One significant enhancement is the investment in legal tech tools for document management, case research, communication, and billing. These technologies streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve efficiency, ultimately benefiting clients by providing them with more transparent and frequent communication about their legal matters. Clients can stay informed and engaged throughout the process, which enhances trust and strengthens the client-firm relationship.

Additionally, the adoption of innovative fee arrangements, facilitated by technology and modelling, enables the firm to offer competitive fees in a manner that is accessible and predictable for clients. This approach demonstrates our proactive effort to align with clients’ needs and preferences while ensuring transparency and fairness in billing practices.

Overall, these changes reflect our dedication to providing exceptional service and value to clients by leveraging technology to optimise processes, enhance communication, and offer competitive fee arrangements.


4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Naturally, technology is changing the way we interact with clients and the services we provide to them. I would, in particular, highlight three main changes.

First, providing greater efficiency and transparency. Technology enables us to offer more efficient and transparent services to clients. Clients can receive regular updates on their matters and billing in real-time, eliminating the need for constant email or phone communication. Additionally, sharing documents and information is done securely, enhancing data protection and accessibility.

Second, the advent of online dispute resolution. In the field of arbitration particularly, technology has brought notable changes with the emergence of online dispute resolution platforms, virtual hearings, and other virtual services. This allows for smoother and more accessible dispute resolution processes, reducing the need for physical presence and travel.

Third, and almost as a caveat to the above, it has put more importance on personalised client interactions. While technology may reduce the volume of face-to-face meetings, our firm has adapted by focusing on more meaningful and personalised interactions with clients. More than ever, we focus on building strong, long-lasting relationships with clients, extending beyond immediate legal concerns to encompass broader commercial needs, business strategy, and knowledge sharing. Therefore, we are placing more emphasis than ever before on client relationship management and providing quality, tailored support that extends beyond providing just legal advice on their issue in hand.

Therefore, technology enhances the firm’s ability to deliver efficient, transparent, and personalised services to clients, which ultimately means we can have even more valuable and meaningful relationships with our clients.


5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

As a disputes lawyer, my focus naturally gravitates towards achieving significant financial victories for my clients through successful court outcomes. However, I increasingly recognise that the most valuable service we can offer our clients and add value to their businesses is by facilitating proactive negotiations and aiding them in reaching settlements. Commercially, it is often in the client’s best interest to avoid costly and protracted disputes, enabling them to move forward swiftly and efficiently.

Despite being a disputes lawyer, I view myself as a commercial partner and a facilitator of resolution. I believe in supporting our clients in clearly articulating their issues, objectives, and reasons for their grievance and then use these as the basis to explore how I can achieve the outcome they want. By guiding them on the best strategies to achieve their goals, I empower them to pursue resolutions that are aligned with their business interests.

While litigation may sometimes be unavoidable, arbitration and mediation can offer viable alternatives that I encourage my clients to consider. Clear definition of the issue at stake and their objectives not only provides clients with clarity on their desired outcomes, but also enables me to assist them in negotiating with the opposing party to find mutually beneficial solutions.

By facilitating constructive dialogue and understanding between parties, I believe I add tangible value to my clients’ commercial operations while potentially averting the need for court intervention. I see my role as not just being there to resolve a client’s dispute, my aim is to contribute to the overall success and growth of their business.


6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Clients increasingly seek stability and strategic direction from their law firms, particularly in complex legal matters or uncertain economic and geo-political environments. They value the considerable guidance, regulatory and compliance support, proactive advice, and innovative solutions that we provide and our ability to address not just their legal concerns, but also our support and enhancement of their broader commercial interests.

This distinctive approach sets us apart as more than just lawyers for our clients; we are their commercial partners. We strive to deeply understand their business, strategic objectives, and long-term plans. Our commitment extends beyond individual cases or matters; we maintain ongoing relationships, continually sharing key legal and industry developments, anticipating risks, and identifying opportunities for growth. This client-centric approach has earned us a strong base of long-term clients, including corporate entities and international law firms, who rely on us for stable, consistent communication and strategic advice.

Looking ahead, envisioning the firm’s trajectory in three years is challenging, but there are certainly plans for expansion in terms of personnel, market presence, and services offered. We are committed to continuing to evolve in line with global advancements, striving to maintain our position as a pioneer in the UAE legal market and the wider region in terms of depth of legal knowledge and client service, including technology adoption and other ways we can enhance our clients’ experience.

While we always embrace change and never want to rest on our laurels, the firm remains grounded in its core values of providing excellent legal advice and exceptional client service, ensuring that our clients continue to receive the stability and strategic direction they seek as we support them in their growth.

Areen Jayousi, Partner

Areen Jayousi is a Partner at Horizons & Co., who specialises in dispute resolution. In the below interview, he explores significant trends in the UAE legal market and beyond, observing key developments that will impact clients and shape the future trajectory of the firm. He particularly highlights the growing sophistication of arbitration in the Middle East and how the approach taken by Horizons & Co. to client relationships and matter management adds tangible value.


1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate Horizons & Co. from your competitors?

I feel that Horizons & Co. stands out in the legal landscape for the deep understanding of local and international dispute resolution offered by our highly specialised legal professionals across our litigation and arbitration teams.

We have a client-centric approach, prioritising individualised and strategic guidance.  We foster strong, long-term relationships to address unique client needs.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion, and we are proud of a multi-national team that brings together diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences.   Our team possesses a wealth of knowledge and skills that empower us to offer sophisticated legal guidance to our diverse roster of local and international clients. We take immense pride in representing clients with a broad geographic footprint, reflecting our commitment to providing exceptional legal services to organisations and individuals across borders.

Collectively, I believe that these differentiators position Horizons & Co. as a law firm that not only meets but exceeds client expectations, making us the preferred choice in a competitive legal market.


2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

We anticipate a growing preference for arbitration as a primary method of dispute resolution in the coming 12 months. This shift is propelled by several key drivers.  For example, arbitration is often perceived as a more efficient and timely alternative to traditional litigation. The streamlined process, flexibility in scheduling, and the ability to select arbitrators with expertise in the relevant industry contribute to faster dispute resolution.

The global enforceability of arbitration awards under international conventions, such as the New York Convention, enhances the appeal of arbitration. This feature provides parties with the assurance that awards can be recognised and enforced across various jurisdictions.

The recent introduction of arbitrateAD’s new rules reflects Abu Dhabi’s aspiration to position itself as a central hub for dispute resolution. This development not only propels the growth of arbitration within the UAE but also contributes to its expansion across the broader region.

Similarly, neighbouring nations such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others are actively advancing their arbitration centres. A prime example is the unveiling of the updated SCCA Arbitration Rules which introduce significant enhancements aligned with international best practices.

Further, the disruptions caused by the global pandemic have accelerated the adoption of virtual and remote dispute resolution mechanisms. Arbitration, with its adaptability to online platforms, has gained prominence as an effective means of resolving disputes.

Leveraging our firm’s rich legacy of experience, profound expertise in the regional landscape, and strong affiliations across the Middle East and beyond, these recent advancements not only underscore our commitment to excellence but also open new avenues for us to offer unparalleled expert guidance.


3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Our commitments to continuously improving the service we offer our clients is supported by the integration of technology and sophisticated modelling allowing us to streamline our internal processes, resulting in increased cost efficiency. This, in turn, enables us to offer more competitive and flexible fee structures that align with our clients’ budgets and objectives.

Our innovative fee arrangements are designed to prioritise transparency and predictability. Through advanced modelling, we can provide clients with clear insights into the cost implications of legal services, fostering a more open and collaborative relationship.

Technology-driven fee arrangements enable us to tailor our services to the specific needs of each client. This customisation ensures that clients receive value-driven legal solutions aligned with their unique circumstances and objectives.

By combining technological advancements and sophisticated modelling techniques, we are confident that these innovative fee arrangements will not only optimise our internal processes but, more importantly, enhance the overall client experience by offering cost-effective, transparent, and tailored legal solutions.


4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Technology has profoundly influenced the way we engage with our clients and the spectrum of legal services we can offer at Horizons & Co. The impact of technology is multifaceted and has led to transformative changes in our approach to client interactions and service delivery.

Technology has revolutionised communication channels, allowing for seamless and instant interactions with clients. We leverage various platforms, such as secure messaging systems, video conferencing, and collaborative document-sharing tools, to ensure efficient and real-time communication.

Advanced legal research tools and analytics have significantly expedited the process of gathering information and staying abreast of legal developments. This not only enhances the quality of our legal advice but also allows us to provide timely insights to clients on emerging issues relevant to their cases.

Technology has played a pivotal role in fortifying data security and confidentiality measures. We employ robust cybersecurity protocols to safeguard client information, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and instilling trust in our clients regarding the protection of their sensitive data.

In summary, technology has become an integral part of our legal practice, influencing the way we communicate, collaborate, conduct legal research, and deliver services to our clients. These advancements empower us to provide efficient, secure, and client-focused legal solutions in an ever-evolving technological landscape.


5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business

In my capacity as a legal expert specialising in UAE disputes, I undertook a pivotal role representing a distinguished construction firm embroiled in a complex arbitration scenario, posing substantial threats to both its financial stability and market standing. This intricate dispute, centred around alleged contractual breaches, demanded an astute comprehension of construction law intricacies and a nuanced understanding of the legal landscape in the UAE. Employing a meticulous approach, I conducted a comprehensive analysis of the contract, diligently gathered critical evidence, and strategically leveraged my negotiation prowess.

The culmination of these efforts not only led to a successful defence during arbitration proceedings but also resulted in securing a highly favourable settlement that safeguarded the client’s crucial business relationships. This pivotal achievement not only averted potential losses exceeding AED 10 million but also elevated the firm’s standing as a reliable and legally compliant entity. Consequently, this triumph played a pivotal role in the client’s ability to secure additional lucrative contracts, substantially amplifying the overall value of their business. The positive ripple effects of this success reverberate not only in financial terms but also in the enhanced reputation for legal resilience and adherence to stringent compliance standards.


6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Yes, increasingly, clients are seeking both stability and strategic direction from their law firms. The legal landscape has evolved, and clients now view their legal partners as more than just service providers; they look for long-term collaborators who can contribute to the stability and strategic vision of their business.

In my experience, clients prioritise law firms that can consistently deliver high-quality and reliable legal services. This stability ensures that their legal needs are met consistently, fostering trust and confidence in the client-law firm relationship.  In an ever-changing business environment, clients value law firms that not only address legal challenges but also contribute to effective risk management. Law firms that can provide predictable legal outcomes and anticipate potential issues play a crucial role in helping clients navigate uncertainties.

Law firms that demonstrate a deep understanding of their clients’ industries and business environments are highly valued. Clients look for legal partners who can provide insights beyond legal advice, offering strategic guidance that aligns with industry trends and market dynamics.

Clients seek law firms that are willing to engage in strategic collaboration. This involves actively participating in discussions about the client’s long-term goals, contributing legal expertise to shape business strategies, and aligning legal services with broader corporate objectives.

In a dynamic business environment, clients appreciate law firms that demonstrate adaptability to change. Firms that stay abreast of legal developments, emerging trends, and technology advancements can guide clients through evolving landscapes, ensuring they remain legally resilient and strategically agile.

In summary, clients increasingly look to law firms not only for legal expertise but also for stability, strategic direction, and a collaborative approach. Law firms that understand and respond to these evolving client expectations are better positioned to build lasting, value-driven partnerships.

We are excited to develop our strategic plans for expansion, in terms of market presence in our geographical location and services offered.  I believe that our forward-looking approach reflects our commitment to meeting the evolving needs of our clients and enhancing our overall capabilities.

As part of our expansion strategy, we are actively scaling our team with the addition of talented professionals. This growth aims to bolster our existing expertise, ensuring that we can continue to provide top-tier legal services across various practice areas. Our focus is on recruiting individuals with diverse skills and experiences to enrich the depth and breadth of our team.

We are strategically expanding our market presence to reach new geographies and industries. This involves a targeted approach to establishing a stronger footprint in key markets, building relationships, and raising awareness about our legal capabilities. By broadening our reach, we aim to better serve clients and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

By pursuing these strategic initiatives, we aim to position our firm for sustained growth, strengthen our reputation as a leading legal service provider, and most importantly, continue delivering exceptional value to our clients. We look forward to the exciting journey ahead as we expand our team, broaden our market presence, and enhance the range of services we offer.

Leading UAE Law Firm Horizons & Co. Announces Partnership With The Dubai Business Group For Gold And Jewelry Designers

In line with Horizons & Co. Law Firm’s strategy, we are pleased to announce a significant partnership with the Dubai Business Group for Gold and Jewelry Designers a non-profit organisation established under the initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

Horizons & Co. welcomes experienced Senior Counsel Paul Blakeway to the firm’s Arbitration practice.

Leading UAE Dispute Resolution firm Horizons & Co is delighted to announce that Paul Blakeway has joined the firm’s Arbitration practice as a Senior Counsel.