Ask your average Joe on the street what the Middle East means to them and they will probably answer “oil and war”. But for the corporate world, the Middle East represents a massive market in various stages of emergence.
Law firms have piled into the Middle East since it became fashionable to have a presence on the ground. Denton Wilde Sapte and Trowers & Hamlins have been long-term residents in the region and the magic circle and leading US firms all have permanent bases there now.
But Kennedys and Conyers Dill & Pearman only opened in Dubai in the past couple of months, showing that interest is still high for firms in all sectors.
The mandates luring firms to the region are illustrated by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s and Dewey Ballantine’s recent instructions on the first acquisition of a Dubai Stock Exchange-listed company.
Meanwhile, Norton Rose hit the headlines after winning the mandate to advise Etisalat on its $2.65bn (£1.4bn) acquisition of a 26 per cent stake in Pakistan Telecommunications Company.
This Middle East Special Report delves into the problems law firms face in their attempts to expand into new jurisdictions within the Middle East and the efforts required to establish a foothold in the first place.
Many law firms are making money out of big infrastructure projects, with the UK magic circle locked in a heavyweight battle with the leading US firms for the multibillion-dollar energy, water, liquid natural gas and infrastructure projects.
But the explosion in the market has created a flowon problem – a lack of construction contractors. The Lawyer analyses how this has come to pass and its possible effects as it threatens to bring the industry to its knees.
The Lawyer also looks into increased acceptance of Islamic finance and the new wave of expected IPO activity, while also turning an eye on a new law in Dubai that crystallises the burgeoning property market.