plans to open in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The new office, which is waiting for regulatory approval, will be the firm’s second base in the Middle East. It already has a 74-lawyer presence in Dubai.
Clifford Chance’s Gulf managing partner Graham Lovett said: “The decision to apply for a licence in Abu Dhabi represents a great opportunity for the firm in one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic countries in the region.
“An office in Abu Dhabi will demonstrate the continued commitment of Clifford Chance to the UAE and the region.”
Recent deals for Clifford Chance in the region include advising private equity house Abraaj Capital on the $1.41bn (£710m) acquisition of Egyptian Fertilisers Company, and advising Aldar Properties PJSC on the establishment of its Islamic convertible sukuk issuance programme listed on the London Stock Exchange. Clifford Chance is just the latest in a string of firms to scale up their Middle East operations in recent months, including magic circle rivals Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
As reported by The Lawyer (18 June 2007), A&O opened in the city in June, the same month it launched an association in Saudi Arabia.
Freshfields announced plans last month to parachute its former London head of finance to the Middle East as part of a renewed focus on the region (The Lawyer, 9 January).