Leading French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel will launch two new offices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week, opening simultaneously in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The firm will open with 10 lawyers split equally between the two new offices, with Casablanca and Paris partners Sami Fakhoury?and?Yassir Ghorbal leading the Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices respectively.
The launch is aimed at connecting Gide’s North Africa offices in Algiers, Casablanca and Tunis with the Middle East.
Gide senior partner Pierre Raoul-Duval said: “For us, the opening of the two offices is part of a long-term strategy plan. We’ve been in the region for more than 30 years. We took the decision to open slightly over a year ago. In spite of the crisis we’re moving ahead, because we believe there’s existing work and development possibilities at the moment.”
Raoul-Duval was one of the team of young lawyers that established Gide’s presence in Riyadh 30 years ago. Gide works with Dr Waleed N Al-Nuwaiser in Riyadh, where the firm first established a presence back in 1977.
Raoul-Duval said: “We’ll be building up the offices along the way. We’re there to stay. It’s very important for us to allow access to the Middle East to our clients.”
Raoul-Duval said the firm would open the offices with lawyers from its existing network, but would be open to hiring in the future. “We’re a firm that very much likes to grow internally,” he said. “Of course, we’ll be looking for young and bright people out there, but at the beginning the lawyers will be from our own offices.”
Fakhoury said: “The judicial systems in the UAE and other countries in the region are largely inspired by French civil law, meaning we’re ideally positioned to advise national and international clients on their activities across the Middle East and North Africa.
“It’s a big market, but we’re the only firm of French origin there. We already have an existing client network in the region. A lot of UAE investors are investing in North Africa.”
Gide has worked on some big deals in the Middle East, bagging mandates from the World Bank and the government of Kuwait on the drafting of a PPP law.
The firm has also acted for the government of Qatar in the past, working on the drafting of a new water law.
Ghorbal said: “What we’re trying to do is to build a bridge between the Middle East and North Africa.”
The Abu Dhabi and Dubai office launches will take the firm’s network to 24 offices in total. Gide opened in Hong Kong in May 2006, Kiev in September 2006 and Ho Chi Minh City in October of the same year.