Simmons & Simmons and Allen & Overy have been instructed to assist in setting up a unique free zone in Dubai, which previously was wholly handled by Clifford Chance
John Holmes, managing partner of Clifford Chance's Middle East operations, said the extra lawyers were brought in because of the "very sharp timetable" in the establishment of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). "The situation required for the work to be spread around rather than having all the eggs in one basket," he said. Clifford Chance is handling the establishment of a regulatory agency for the DIFC, which will be the first commercial centre in the Middle East to have regulatory and commercial laws that are independent of the Dubai and federal government. One source said DIFC needs to have its own laws to be a world class financial centre. Dubai's three other free zones are governed by a mix of federal law and their own laws and regulations. Sources said it remains an issue as to whether the United Arab Emirates, the federal body governing Dubai, will grant such independence. A federal law is required to allow this. Allen & Overy is handling the setting up of commercial laws. The work is split between its London partner Simon Gleeson, a specialist in regulation of securities and financial markets, and the firm's Dubai office. Ibrahim Mubaydeen, managing partner of Simmons' Abu Dhabi office, is preparing DIFC for the introduction of Islamic banking, and its London arbitration partner, Karyl Nairn, is advising on dispute resolution. Andrew Ward, former managing partner of Simmons' Abu Dhabi office, said: "The DIFC reserved the right to divide up the work and was interested in some of our ideas, and were instructed as a result." Drafts of the new laws governing the centre's regulatory boundaries are expected later this year. It is understood that six banks tabled bids at the end of August for a financial advisory mandate. Proposals are based on a requirement of $500m-$700m in order to finance the establishment of the financial district. The DIFC expects to issue its first licences in the first quarter of 2003.