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Simmons & Simmons is launching an office in Qatar on the back of its government work and recent developments of the country's vast natural gas reserves.
As revealed on www.the lawyer.com/lawyernews on 7 May, the new office is due to open in September, following partnership approval this week. The Qatar office will be the nineteenth office in the firm's international network.
Simmons says that the office will enable the firm to build on its close relationship with the Qatari government, which it has advised on corporate, financial markets, property and litigation.
Qatar's economy has been revolutionised by the development of its gas reservoir the North Field, the largest in the world at 900 trillion cubic feet.
Simmons senior partner Janet Gaymer said that the opening of the office was not associated with being better placed to handle post-war reconstruction work in Iraq. "Iraq is something of a red herring, as we'd been planning this office for a long time before the war. We see it as a natural development alongside the Abu Dhabi office."
It is understood that Simmons is the first firm to take advantage of a change of law that enables foreign firms to set up as standalone firms rather than in association with a local firm. Simmons had to apply for a licence through the Ministry of Justice and get regulatory approval to open the office.