A&O launches in Qatar a week after taking on Australian market

The office will focus on high-end corporate and finance work. It will be headed by real estate partner Robert Porter, who has previously worked across the magic circle firm’s Dubai and London offices.

Porter will be joined by corporate partner Chris Thornes and a team of associates.

The move comes in the wake of last week’s news that A&O was launching two offices in Australia following the capture of 14 partners from Australian Clayton Utz (8 February 2010). The magic circle firm will initially have a total of 17 partners in the jurisdiction.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Regulatory Authority granted A&O a licence to practice international and QFC law earlier today (15 February), paving the way for the new office.

A&O now has a presence in four of the major Middle East financial centres, with established offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as an associated office in Riyadh.

Managing partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured) said in a statement: “The pace of growth in Qatar over recent years has been impressive, fuelled by its status as the world’s largest natural gas exporter.

“It’s emerged from the global downturn relatively unscathed and is poised to take advantage of the broad, strategic interest it’s attracting from investors around the world. As a centre for international capital flows, Qatar’s an important cornerstone in our strategy to remain one of the pre-eminent legal advisers in the region.”

Porter said: “This move underlines Allen & Overy’s long-term commitment to the Middle East and to meeting the needs of our clients both regionally and globally.

“This is an exciting time to be in Qatar, and we’re looking forward to contributing to its economic development while growing alongside our clients in one of the most promising centres in the Gulf.”