The Middle East
The Middle East is a popular destination choice for lawyers and legal support alike. A move to the Middle East often provides the opportunity for lawyers to practice on a more broad and general basis with high exposure to multi-jurisdictional work. Support staff are relied upon heavily in a role that is a true amalgamation of PA and technical secretarial skills. An increase in the sophistication of the legal market in recent years has seen international firms continue to set up in the region. Those who have a long standing presence have continued to expand their teams and as such, we have seen an increase in business services role such as HR, Business Development / Marketing and Finance which were previously run through their London operations.
There are a range of locations to consider when looking at a move to the Middle East. We have extensive experience providing recruitment services for clients in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. With many firms hosting offices in either Dubai, Abu Dhabi or both, the UAE continues to be the most populated legal market in the Middle East North Africa region for western expats.
Dubai is often the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of the Middle East. This is largely due to the very deliberate and specific plans of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, to promote Dubai as a tourist destination as well as a business and cultural hub. Essentially the legal centre of the region, a large percentage of the international firms headquarter their Middle East practice from Dubai, many of whom are located in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) and also the nearby Emaar Square.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, housing the federal government offices and is home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri family and the President of the UAE who is from this family. In recent times, Abu Dhabi has stepped up its self promotion as a top tourist destination and has become a true competitor to it’s sister city of Dubai. With attractions such as the Formula 1, the Yas Island Ferrari World experience and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi is now also able to offer something from the city of old and new. With increased infrastructure Abu Dhabi is now a much easier drive of only an hour and a half from Dubai, however law firms in each city do not promote commuting between the two for safety reasons.
Legal work in Abu Dhabi has a strong local and government focus and the city was thought to bring extensive amounts of legal work back in 2008. Post global financial crisis, the picture is looking a little different. Due to the saturation in the market of international firms and a limited amount of work available, many firms have removed their official presence from Abu Dhabi as the work has decreased.