Nabarro Nathanson has effectively closed the Dubai office it opened four and a half years ago.
Its Dubai-based partner Tony Pennington is to return to the UK to work in Nabarros' Sheffield office and Jeremy Key, a partner in the Dubai office of Fox & Gibbons for seven years, has moved into Nabarros' office in the Dubai World Trade Centre to form the new legal consultancy of Jeremy Key & Co.
Senior assistant Mark Rocca will continue at the Dubai office from where he will service Nabarros' existing clients and "assist Jeremy Key in expanding the Dubai office".
Key said his new firm would be associated with Nabarro Nathanson: "There is a natural synergy in having a shared office and staff."
Nabarros' spokesman Chris Hinze said: "We were having conversations with Jeremy because he wanted to come out of Fox & Gibbons. He has a very strong reputation in Dubai.
"Jeremy said he wanted to set up on his own. To do this he would need large resources behind him, the sort of resources and back up we can offer from London. We came together to form Jeremy Key & Co, in association with Nabarros. Tony Pennington could then come back to the UK."
The new firm will refer clients who require UK work to Nabarros. Pennington will retain his links to Dubai clients.
Key's staff also includes two Arabic lawyers. Key said his patch was mainly Dubai rather than other Gulf states: "In my view that's where most of the work will be."
He is working on several Dubai infrastructure projects involving state and private enterprise finance.
Nabarros' set up its Dubai office in January 1992 with resident partner David Nicholson, and associated with three other law firms - Advani & Co from Bombay, Gebran Majdalany from Qatar and Al Bawardi & Mahmoud from Abu Dhabi. At the time, the firm said the office would aim to provide international and pan-Gulf advice, mainly in commercial banking and construction work.
The link with the three other law firms has also ended.