Charles Russell signs Saudi agreement for Middle East expansion

Charles Russell has signed a formal association agreement with independent Saudi Arabian firm Al-Soaib, gifting it its third foothold in the Middle East.

The firm already has a presence in Bahrain and Qatar, launching the latter office just last year (15 August 2013).

The two firms have worked together in the past, particularly on corporate, finance, litigation and IP issues, but will now work in formal association.

Al-Soaib chair Mohammad Hamad Al-Soaib said the firm had been “actively looking” for ways to work with international firms and that formalising the relationship with Charles Russell would benefit its clients.

Charles Russell’s Bahrain office head Patrick Gearon said the relationship demonstrated the firm’s committment to the region, and Saudi Arabia was a “natural next step” to its existing Middle East presence.

Al-Soaib was established in 1995 and has offices in Riyadh and the eastern port city of Al Khobar.

Charles Russell is joining over 20 international firms with a presence in Saudi Arabia, the vast majority also through formal association agreements with a local firm. Last year Ashurst (12 November 2012), King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin (28 October 2013) and US firm McGuire Woods (12 March 2013) all launched in the kingdom. Meanwhile Clifford Chance broke new ground by establishing its own mixed Saudi Arabian partnership (6 January 2014).

Separately, the firm has made two hires for its Bahrain office. Ashley Freeman has joined the firm from the Central Bank of Bahrain, where he was general counsel, to head up its Islamic finance practice. He has become a senior counsel at Charles Russell.

The firm has also hired banking and Islamic finance specialist Wesam Alshafei as a legal consultant from local Bahrain firm Zubi & Partners.

For more on the Saudi legal market, read our in-depth analysis, Keys to the Kingdom