The new office will focus on corporate, dispute resolution, energy, financial products, infrastructure and real estate, and will add to the firm’s existing middle east bases in Dubai, Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia, where it has an association with local firm Fares Al-Hejailan.
July said an exact date for the launch will be decided on once the firm has received its licence.
He added: “We have an indication that our licence application has been favourably considered but there is lots of red tape to go through before we can say, yes, we are on the ground.”
July, who focuses on finance, energy and infrastructure, relocated from London to the Middle East last week along with Ian Poynton, who is to co-head the firm’s Middle East and North Africa (Mena) corporate practice alongside Dubai-based Bruce Embley.
The pair joined former London finance partner Bob Charlton, who moved to Dubai earlier this year to head the firm’s Saudi Arabia and Mena finance practice.
July said he will work out of Dubai until the license has been formally granted, adding that the firm has already secured temporary accommodation in Abu Dhabi.
While the long-term plan for the new office is to offer a full range of legal services, initially July will work alongside three associates. London associate Will Breeze has already relocated to the region with Marc Sevre about to follow. Natalya Dingley, who was previously based in Hong Kong and currently works in Dubai, will also move to Abu Dhabi.
July said he will be joined by another Freshfields partner in the coming weeks, but at this stage it is not certain which office that person will relocate from.