Bob Charlton will become the region's head of finance when he returns from sabbatical at the end of February. Charlton has experience in the region, having previously worked in Jeddah.
Although likely to be based in Dubai, Charlton will also be responsible for heading the Saudi Arabia group. Freshfields is one of the few firms able to advise on Saudi law through the licence of senior associate Fares Al-Hejailan.
Most overseas firms can only advise on Saudi law through an associated Saudi firm. Freshfields also has a close working relationship with The Law Firm of Salah Al-Hejailan, the oldest and largest Saudi firm.
Freshfields has had an office in Dubai since 2005, but co-senior partner Guy Morton told The Lawyer last week that the firm would be investing in emerging markets, including the Middle East.
The firm also secured a licence to practise in Bahrain in July 2007 and has an offering there that often works for the Bahrain Ministry of Finance.