Middle East: New order


There is something momentous unfolding in the Gulf. The wave of protests and general revolutionary feeling that has swept through the Middle East since December 2010, otherwise known as the Arab Spring, has seen governments ousted in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, while civil unrest has even battered the traditionally stable reputations of financial centres such as Bahrain and Kuwait.

Law firms have been just as affected by the tide of uncertainty as any other business and the dramatic extent of regional turmoil has seen international law firms downsize in their droves across the Middle East. As traditional thinking goes, any degree of change creates opportunities; however, the sheer scale and velocity of the market disruption makes this particular situation uncharted territory. Generally speaking, firms remain optimistic about economic growth across the region’s hotspots and recruiters are already starting to see the market look towards replenishing those areas that were the first to be cut back in 2009 and early 2010. So it seems that the outlook for the main financial centres is one of subdued growth following a few lean years. How are the region’s law firms poised to meet demand? Continue reading “Middle East: New order”

Qatari Diar Panel – The In Crowd


Qatari Diar is a trophy client for any firm with property or Middle East pretensions: being in the property company’s good books means working on some of the most prestigious real estate and finance deals across the world. Since it began life seven years ago, The Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company (known to panel firms simply as ‘QD’) has battled with the Candy brothers, financed London’s newest skyscraper the ‘Shard’ and even purchased the US Embassy’s old building in Mayfair. It now has 49 projects with a combined value of $35bn under development or planning in 20 countries around the world.

And to the delight of a handpicked few, the real estate investment company finalised its first-ever law firm panel in March, with 13 different firms making the cut onto one of the six sub-panels (see box, ‘The chosen ones, page 2). Continue reading “Qatari Diar Panel – The In Crowd”

Middle East – New ball game


On 2 December 2010 FIFA, the international governing body of football, officially announced that a desert state would be hosting the 2022 World Cup. Qatar, a country with a population of only 1.6 million people, endures average daytime temperatures in excess of 40°C in June and July. How will the players cope?

The bid chairman, and sixth son of the current Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was unruffled: ‘We will have to take the help of technology to counter the harsh weather. We have already set in motion the process.’

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Middle East – Still standing

As the Arab Spring spreads across the Middle East, investors are flocking to safe ground. LB discovers which states will prosper and which have the most to lose.

It is late April and tanks are being deployed by security forces in Syria following the government’s inability to quell civil resistance protests. Of the long list of countries affected by political unrest recently, those that have hit the headlines most emphatically include Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. But does this turmoil have the lawyers in the region’s main financial centres worried?

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Changing tack

Amid leaner times in the Gulf and a flat economy in Dubai, international clients are moving their focus to other key Gulf states. LB canvasses the leading domestic and international firms and asks, what next?

In early 2012, the sailing dhows off the coast of Abu Dhabi will have some serious competition on their hands. The emirate is due to play host to the yachts of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, in another sign of its growing profile and confidence on the world stage.

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