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TWO former Fox & Gibbons partners have set up a rival firm in Dubai, where a new Zaiwalla & Co office is also to open up soon.
Jeremy Key, the departing senior partner at Fox & Gibbons' Dubai office, has been joined by one of Fox & Gibbons' London partners, Christopher Dixon, to form Key & Dixon. The firm has taken over the offices that Nabarro Nathanson deserted earlier this year and will have links with the London firm.
Meanwhile, Zaiwalla & Co has formed a Dubai-based multi-cultural alliance with Bombay firm Advani & Co, which previously worked with Nabarros, and local Dubai firm Lutfi & Co.
Fox & Gibbons has also lost two other partners with a track record in the UAE. Richard Develder, from the firm's Abu Dhabi office, has joined US firm Bryan Cave's office there and London-based partner Paul Gibbs, who once managed the Dubai office, has become president and chief executive of one of his former Dubai clients, Gulf Marine Maintenance.
Christopher Dixon said working in Dubai with Jeremy Key would offer far more opportunities than Fox & Gibbons could.
"There is a natural match between what he does and my work in the Middle East."
Daniel Graham, head of legal resources at Fox & Gibbons, denied that the firm's Dubai practice would be damaged by the moves. He said: "We have more lawyers than ever in Dubai and will continue to be the strongest international firm in the area."
Zaiwallas senior partner Sarosh Zaiwalla said his firm had been planning to set up in Dubai for some time.
"We received a licence three months ago. When we were approached to set up an alliance it seemed like the perfect opportunity." He hopes the office will be up and running with six lawyers by the new year.
Richard Price, head of Clifford Chance's Dubai office said: "There is a lot of work in Dubai but it is always considered to be over-lawyered."