Stephenson Harwood > Dubai, United Arab Emirates > Firm Profile

Stephenson Harwood
United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates > Employment Tier 2

Stephenson Harwood has a ‘commercially astute‘ employment team with a ‘genuine understanding‘ of the local laws and proceedings. The team advises across the full range of contentious and non-contentious employment issues including international data protection and privacy, employee benefits and incentives, pensions and immigration. Kiersten Lucas heads the practice and advises clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, energy and natural resources sectors. Senior associate Emily Aryeetey has an experienced cross-border practice and has a ‘razor-sharp understanding of local employment laws‘.

Practice head(s):

Kiersten Lucas

Other key lawyers:

Emily Aryeetay


‘This team has exceptional knowledge, and this shows in their work product. Their tremendous experience consistently puts them in a position to give the client the best chance of reaching an advantageous outcome. This is often done through creative means, and I believe this sets them apart from most of the other firms in the industry. Their communication is also a strong suit of theirs. They communicate quickly, efficiently, clearly, and in a manner that is easy for anyone to digest. Collaborating and working with them is not only a good investment from a results perspective, but is also a pleasure from a personality perspective.’

‘Emily Aryeetey is one of the shining stars in the legal sector in the Middle East region. Ever since I first started doing work with her, I have enjoyed every moment of it. Beyond her fantastic personality, she understands the client and the client’s needs very well. She understands that achieving the best results take creativity. Not only does she offer this, but she offers a tremendous ability to explain the proposed solutions so that they can be understood, digested, and agreeable. She is very reliable, and I have found that her approach leads to consistent positive results, while also diminishing the fees and time necessary to get to the solution.’

Great mix of international and bilingual (English/Arabic etc) lawyers across disputes and regular advisory work. They’re all very good and well-regarded lawyers. International firm experience and standards across the board but with genuine understanding of local law/processes and extremely well-connected. They obviously have real strength in depth – it’s a very experienced and commercially astute team and, unlike many firms, they are genuinely specialists and are focused 100% on employment law issues. Their Employment Team is the full package.’

My go-to person is Emily Aryeetey, who is one of the leading members of the team, and in the market generally. She gives excellent advice. She’s got the international expertise plus razor-sharp understanding of local employment laws and then some – she’s extremely knowledgeable about regulatory issues, immigration, data protection, and everything else coming down the track around the edges of employment law. She gets into case details at lightening speed and is amazing at quickly finding a plan of action that works with the way that things are done in the business. That commercial and cultural understanding is invaluable. Emily is a consummate professional, who will always go the extra mile, but also manages to be totally approachable and genuinely one of the loveliest lawyers to deal with.’

Key clients

Amplify Marketing Agency DMCC

Arcus Infrastructure Partners

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

Galderma International SAS / Galderma Middle East FZ LLC

Grupo Forma 5

Litasco Middle East DMCC

Peacock Group Holdings

Shalina Resources Limited / Shalina Resources Limited (Branch), DMCC / Chemical Africa SA

TSA Group

Uberbinder, Inc / Uberbinder Limited

Access Hire

Accord Healthcare MENA



AES International

Al Tayer Group

Atlas Mara Banking Group

Axiom SL Group, Inc

Bank of China

Cigna Insurance Middle East


deVere Group

Edenhurst Capital

Hamburg Sud

Hanover Communications

Inspired Education Group

LGT Group

LOC Group (London Offshore Consultants)

M&C Saatchi

Mizuho Group

Quantum Global Solutions

Robert Walters

Sentinel Commodities DMCC

TMF Group

National Oilwell Varco

Work highlights

  • Advising the owners of TSA Group, a global hotel and hospitality consultancy that operates in over 50 countries, on the employment aspects of its sale to Florida-based Frontline Performance Group, a strategic hospitality software and performance consultancy.
  • Acting for one of the world’s leading independent financial advisory organisations, with more than $10bn under advice from over 80,000 clients in 100 countries, defending a number of multi-jurisdictional employment disputes involving various employment dispute forums.
  • Acting for a private individual client who was formerly employed at an international law firm in relation to a discrimination claim in the DIFC under the new DIFC Employment Law (DIFC Law No. 2 of 2019), which came into force on 28 August 2019.

United Arab Emirates > Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation Tier 3

Stephenson Harwood's disputes expertise stretches from local to foreign courts and arbitration centres, and takes in a breadth of sectors, including energy and natural resources, financial services, marine and international trade, and construction. Fraud and asset recovery litigation are areas of particular strength, and the group has also recently been handling an increasing amount of sanctions work. Senior practitioners Nicholas Sharratt and Mark Lakin were recently joined by Philip Clarke, who brings significant contentious regulatory expertise from his role with the Dubai Financial Services Authority to the group.

Other key lawyers:

Nicholas Sharratt; Mark Lakin; Michael Hartley; Omar Khattab; Philip Clarke


‘The arbitration team is: experienced, attentive to details, response timing is superb to all queries (even on holidays), sound judgement and advice, competitive pricing, can provide the best external expert support needed to have a successful winning arbitration.’

‘Nicholas Sharrat is always available to provide sound advice and support at any time. He has full knowledge, experience and control over the team and follows up personally on all matters including crucial deadlines. He has proven a high level of expertise and legal knowledge in large arbitration disputes and we recommend to engage him without any doubt.’

‘They really make us feel like they are the company’s in-house team as opposed to our external counsel, given that they make such an effort to understand the company and work alongside us. In terms of disputes they are first class.’

‘Collaborative style, with attentive partner input.’

‘Think outside the box, and go the extra mile.’

Key clients

Bridging Finance

Petrogat FZE

Emirates NBD

Maad Investments

MOG Holding Limited

Atlas Mara Banking Group

Svitzer Salvage BV.

Sahara Energy Resource Ltd

Surbana Jurong PTE LTD

Symphony Towers

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented Svitzer Salavge in a claim against the Iraq state-owned South Oil Company in ICC arbitration proceedings.
  • Acting for a private individual who was formerly employed at an international law firm in relation to a discrimination claim in the DIFC under the new Employment Law.
  • Acting for Sahara Energy in several contentious matters arising out of the storage of gas oil pursuant to a collateral management agreement.

United Arab Emirates > Shipping Tier 3

Stephenson Harwood fields a range of practitioners from both common law and civil law backgrounds, who come together to operate as a ‘very well oiled machine‘; the team is therefore able to handle the full gamut of contentious and advisory mandates in the UAE and abroad. Lead partners Mark Lakin and Nijoe Joseph recently welcomed Rania Tadros, who joined from Ince in April 2022 to manage the Dubai office.

Practice head(s):

Mark Lakin; Nijoe Joseph

Other key lawyers:

Rania Tadros; Saif Almobideen


‘The firm has been excellent in the delivery of their services. They used personnel from both their Dubai and London offices, but their offering was seamless. You could really tell that they are a very well oiled machine!’

‘They have provided their advice in a succinct manner which allows us to understand the issues at hand and the best course of action to take in order to navigate around the issues. They continually provide their advice on time and within budget. Their offering is unique in that they have personnel who are not only able to advise on English law and other international courts, but they also have personnel in their team who are able to provide us with in-house UAE litigators, who read and write in Arabic fluently, so that local court support is able to be provided within all courts within the United Arab Emirates.’

‘The shipping sector is a unique one and the SH team demonstrates immense knowledge of it.’

‘The practitioners are very reachable and the speed with which they response to the queries makes them different.’

‘Their ability to respond promptly and provide strategic advice, in particular Mark Lakin who has been facilitating our queries outside normal work hours, plus, has made himself available on weekends and holidays providing us efficient service round the clock.’

‘Stephenson Harwood LLP have a strong team which communicate openly with each other and agree on and set team goals based on outcomes and results, rather than just on the amount of work being done.’

‘They are able to tackle issues with a wide perspective and formulate effective problem resolution options.’

‘Saif Almobideen is commercially and strategically astute. His analytical and technical skills are strong and has an excellent understanding of maritime and insurance disputes and UAE law. He is able to set the strategical approach in the game and consider the commercial perspective to generate sound, pragmatic solutions and advice.’

Key clients

EnTrust Global

Drydocks World – Dubai.

Sahara Energy Resource Ltd

Svitzer Salvage BV

Canopius Global Specialty (Re)insurance

West of England (Hellas) Limited


Steamship Insurance Management Services Limited

Petrogat FZE

National Bank of Fujairah

Work highlights

  • Advised EnTrust Global’s Blue Ocean Funds on financing the acquisition of United Arab Chemical Carriers.
  • Advising National Bank of Fujairah on a $45m financing for Stanford Marine Group.
  • Acting for Sahara Energy, an Africa focused commodities trader with HQ in Geneva, in contentious matters arising out of the storage of gas oil pursuant to a collateral management agreement.

United Arab Emirates > Banking and finance: Corporate finance (including Islamic lending) Tier 4

Under the expert leadership of Nijoe Joseph, the 'commercially savvy' team at Stephenson Harwood assists both borrowers and lenders with the full spectrum of banking and finance matters across the Middle East region and beyond. Aviation, shipping, energy, infrastructure and real estate are sectors of particular expertise. In February 2022, Rustum Shah joined from Hogan Lovells (United Arab Emirates) LLP to head up the firm's Islamic finance offering.

Practice head(s):

Nijoe Joseph

Other key lawyers:


‘The experience with Stephenson Harwood LLP over the years has been remarkable. The firm has been successful in delivering within the committed timelines and the attention of partners to matters entrusted is quite commendable. Further, the firm’s fee proposal has been quite competitive without any compromise on quality of work.’

‘Nijoe Joseph is an excellent lawyer and someone who understands the specific requirements of his clients and provides assistance based on those needs. He gets involved quite deeply into matters that are entrusted to him which gives clients the comfort that the advice provided by the firm is effective and in their best interests. Being a relationship partner as well for us, he has managed the relationship quite efficiently and has always been in touch. Nijoe provides practical advise to his clients highlighting the pros and cons of a matter and hence is highly recommended for sound legal advice.’

‘They are very commercially savvy. They help get the deal done while protecting our interests.’

‘Nijoe Joseph is a trusted partner that I can count on. He’s proactive and very knowledgeable.’

Key clients

EnTrust Global’s Blue Ocean Funds

Yellow Door Energy Limited

National Bank of Fujairah PJSC

Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited

Commercial Bank of Dubai PSC

Emirates NBD Bank PJSC

China Construction Bank

ICICI Bank Ltd

Axis Bank


FIM Bank (Malta)

Bank of Baroda

Jumbo Electronics

Work highlights

  • Advising EnTrust Global’s Blue Ocean Fund on a loan facility to United Overseas Group in relation to its acquisition of United Arab Chemical Carriers, a Dubai-headquartered international shipping company.
  • Advising Yellow Door Energy on the project financing of five solar power plants in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, led by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
  • Advising the National Bank of Fujairah on a $45m financing for Stanford Marine Group.

United Arab Emirates > Infrastructure and projects (including project finance) Tier 4

With banking expert Nijoe Joseph at the helm, Stephenson Harwood is well placed to advise sponsors, borrowers and lenders on a wide range of project financings. Senior associate Toufic Safie is another key contact for such matters. The firm also has a strong reputation for handling contentious work with a nexus to the infrastructure sector; Nicholas Sharratt is the name to note for arbitration proceedings involving leading developers and contractors in the Middle East market.

Practice head(s):

Nijoe Joseph

Other key lawyers:


‘We were very pleased with their partners and team’s performance. Key qualities: very business minded/embracing a strong positive commercial mindset, they had a clear understanding of our business needs and worked around the clock to make the transactions happen. Great knowledge of local (UAE) and English law. Overall, a pleasure working with them.’

‘Nijoe Joseph: very knowledgeable, strongly business minded, always there to help.’

Key clients

Yellow Door Energy

Rania International Co. LLC

West Hydrocarbon Commercial Investment LLC

Oman State General Reserve Fund and their subsidiary Oman Energy Development LLC

Somagec Investments

RF Real Estate (ME) Consultancy LLC

Hua Zhang Environmental Resources Investment Limited

Sahara Energy

Work highlights

  • Advising Yellow Door Energy on the project financing of five solar power plants in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, led by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
  • Advising a UAE based developer on the development of a 200MW coal fired power station in the Nacala region in Mozambique.
  • Advising Power Finance Corporation, REC and Yes Bank – as lenders to SB Energy – on a large wind farm project in India.

United Arab Emirates > Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 5

Stephenson Harwood is a well regarded advisor on high-value, mutli-jurisdictional M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions, and is regularly instructed on such matters by leading public and private companies. Leading partners Diwakar Agarwal and Sandeep Dhama are ably supported by recommended senior associate Toufic Safie.


‘Exceptional team, very knowledgeable, great client service mentality.’


Key clients

Abraaj Global Credit Managers

Shareholders of Al Dahra Group

Inspired Education

KIMS Healthcare

Knowcross Limited

Eddyfi Technologies

Esyasoft Technologies

EnTrust Global Fund

Livio AB

Cleartrip Inc


Zhongman Petroleum and Natural Gas Group

Grabba International DMCC

BRP Bizzozero & Partners SA

Work highlights

  • Advising EnTrust Global’s Blue Ocean Fund on a loan facility to United Overseas Group in relation to its acquisition of United Arab Chemical Carriers, a Dubai-headquartered international shipping company.
  • Advised Inspired Education Holdings, a UK based educational services provider, on the multi-million dollar private equity acquisition of Synkers Lebanon, a Lebanese-based education platform with a subsidiary in Dubai.
  • Advising the owners of TSA Group, a global hotel and hospitality consultancy that operates in over 50 countries, on its sale to Florida-based Frontline Performance Group, a strategic hospitality software and performance consultancy.

Iraq > Leading firms

India > Foreign firms

In addition to acting for international and Indian banks and other financial institutions, Stephenson Harwood also has a dedicated private wealth practice to assist ultra-high-net-worth families in India, the Middle East and elsewhere on their wealth management and investments. The firm combines its global/Asia capabilities with a close connection to the India market providing financing, corporate and disputes expertise in the mid-market range in sectors including resources, healthcare and technology. It also advises, on a pro bono basis, the British Asian Trust. Kamal Shah, who heads the group (and the Africa group), primarily advises on complex disputes in India, often with cross-border elements and spearheads a respected arbitration practice. Meanwhile George Cyriac (dual qualified in New York and India) has some decades of experience on cross-border corporate, private equity and restructuring transactions in Asia. Nijoe Joseph is reported to be ‘one of the most respected banking and finance lawyers in the UAE’; he has noteworthy experience of shipping, aviation and financing (including Islamic finance) expertise while Gregory Xu in Singapore, leads the general banking and project finance offering for Southeast Asia.

Practice head(s):


Stephenson Harwood has a strong team of partners covering India across different jurisdictions – UK, Middle-East, Singapore. In India the team has been advising on merger & acquisitions, litigation and arbitration, finance matters, IPOs and covers various sectors including technology and outsourcing work. They are a reliable option for many mid-market transactions for both inbound and outbound work. Attention to customer service is exceptional. Professionalism and integrity in every regard. Always apply the right level of expertise and partner supervision of senior and junior staff is very good.

‘I would highly recommend the services of the banking and finance team of Stephenson Harwood, Dubai office. The team is well organised, provides effective advice and makes the relationship both effortless and pleasant. One of the significant quality of the team to be highlighted is their ability to turn around within the committed timelines and which helps us in closing matters with our clients. They are also cost effective.’

‘Nijoe Joseph is one of the most respected banking and finance lawyers in UAE. He tries to understand the needs of the clients and provides effective advice based on the requirements. If a matter is entrusted to Joseph, he would be available throughout whenever required. As a partner, his availability and engagement in a matter is to be specifically mentioned. Joseph is also easy to work with and always willing to take the time to discuss our concerns and respond to questions. Even during the pandemic as well, Joseph has been in constant touch and provided the necessary support at all times.’

‘The firm punches above its weight. Top quality but at more reasonable price points than the magic circle firms. Also, they are quite commercial and pragmatic.’

‘George Cyriac leads their Indian M&A efforts and stands out. He is hands-on, commercial and pleasant to work with. He is able to build a rapport quickly with Indian clients.’

‘Kamal Shah heads their India group and is a great litigator.’

Key clients


Axis Bank

Yes Bank

HDFC Bank Limited

State Bank of India, Hong Kong branch

Mr Ravi Ruia and Mr Prashant Ruia

Mizuho Bank

Aditya Birla Finance Limited

Power Finance Corporation Limited

REC Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted on a limited basis as local counsel to State Bank of India, Hong Kong Branch on its US$1 billion loan financing from Japan Bank for International Cooperation, a policy-based financial institution, wholly owned by the Japanese government.
  • Acting on a transaction involving Brookfield group acquisition of certain projects of the RMZ Group by acquiring shares of identified RMZ Group entities including that of RMZ Infotech Private Limited.
  • Acted for Power Finance Corporation Limited, REC Limited, and Yes Bank Limited on a transaction involved financing of a 326.70 MW(ac) wind power project, in the State of Madhya Pradesh at an estimated project cost of INR 220,721,00,000 to be developed by SBESS Services Projectco Two Private Limited, an indirect subsidiary of Softbank.