Joss Dare (scroll down for video interview) has steered Ashurst’s Middle East operations since becoming regional head in 2011, and overseeing a major strategic rethink in its Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices.
cThe outcome was decisive: the firm would focus on energy, transport and infrastructure and corporate work in this sector.
The revamp and focused approach led to both financial success and expansion on the ground. The first half of the 2012-13 financial year saw the Middle East practice come in 5 per cent ahead of budget and 16 per cent up on the equivalent half year in 2011, despite global firm revenue dropping 6 per cent.
While income increased, another outcome of the strategic review was the launch of an office in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, where it opens in January 2013 through an association with local lawyer Faisal Adnan Baassiri. Dare spearheaded the launch, its first in the country, after sourcing the relationship.
Meanwhile, Dare has been one of the firm’s most active partners, leading for the Kuwaiti government on the state’s new metro system project, the Saudi government on the Mecca metro project and the authorities on the Etihad Rail project to develop a train network across the UAE.
If you noticed a trend here, it’s because Dare did early on. He focused the firm’s efforts on winning government-side roles on infrastructure projects, which Ashurst figured are the first ones to come up when projects get started. As well as targeting the post-Lehman increase in projects, Dare ensured the firm developed strong ties with banks, accountancy firms, and technical advisers, as government often instructs multi-displinary teams that pitch together.