Herbert Smith is set to open an Abu Dhabi office in January 2008, with the intention of having a Saudi Arabian presence in due course.

The Abu Dhabi office, which is expected to receive its licence by the end of this year, will be run as an extension of Dubai.

In total the office will have five lawyers, with at least two transferring from London, and will focus on projects.

Herbert Smith opened in Dubai earlier this year after poaching finance partners Nadim Khan and Zubair Mir from Norton Rose.

It has since strengthened its presence in the emirate by transferring Paris-based international projects partner Neil Brimson, Tokyo projects partner David Laurence, London M&A and projects partner Stephen Rayfield and London litigation partner Craig Shepherd.

Senior partner David Gold said the firm will boast 30 lawyers in Dubai by the end of the year and as such is moving into new accommodation in the heart of the financial district next month.