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Clifford Chance

  • Image of United Arab Emirates
  • Image of United Arab Emirates
  • Image of United Arab Emirates
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Our team of over 80 lawyers advises clients on domestic, regional, and international matters and have delivered many first-of-a-kind deals. We opened our first UAE office in 1975 and are well known for innovative, market-leading work.

A sizeable team with a proven track record

We've advised clients in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for over 40 years, significantly longer than many other international law firms. We have in-house Arabic capability, and, in contrast to many other firms, we can advise on both English and UAE law.

Our offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are permanently staffed by over 80 lawyers. We base lawyers in the UAE, rather than bringing in out-of-region lawyers to resource complex transactions, because we believe that clients get the best results from teams who are familiar with the region's laws, languages, and business processes.

The size of our UAE team and our close links with the firm's other Middle East offices mean that we can quickly put together strong in-region teams who can work efficiently on complex domestic, regional, and international deals. These teams are used to working together and with specialist lawyers from the firm's international network.

We advise many financial institutions, corporations and government entities on regional matters and regularly deliver complex regional and international transactions.

A long list of first-of-a-kind deals

Our lawyers have the skills and experience to help clients reach their business goals in new ways. Recent firsts include:

  • the first ever statutory merger of two UAE public companies, the US$12 billion merger of Sorouh Real Estate Company with Aldar Properties in 2013
  • the first premium-listed, FTSE-index eligible equity-raising by an Abu Dhabi business on the London Stock Exchange; the £117m IPO of NMC Health in 2012
  • the first restructuring in Dubai that used a filing under Decree 57. Drydocks World’s landmark restructuring of US$2.2 billion of syndicated debt in 2012 used schemes of arrangement in Singapore and company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) in Dubai
  • the successful landmark restructuring of Nakheel's conventional and Islamic liabilities of over US$35 billion in 2011, including the legal separation of the Nakheel group from the rest of the Dubai World group which took Nakheel out of the jurisdiction of the Dubai Special Tribunal; Restructuring Deal of the Year:ALB Middle East Law Awards, 2013; Restructuring Deal of the Yea:, IFLR Middle East Law Awards, 2012.

Recent highlights

Awards and milestones

  • Middle East Law Firm of the Year: Chambers Global Awards, 2013
  • International Law Firm of the Year: ALB Middle East Awards, 2012
  • International Law Firm of the Year: IFLR Middle East Awards, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007
  • CSR Initiative of the Year: Corporate Counsel Middle East Awards, 2013
  • Corporate Citizen / CSR Law Firm of the Year: ALB Middle East Awards, 2012
  • Consistently achieved the highest number of Tier One rankings in Chambers Global and Legal 500 in the Middle East than any other competitor
  • First joint Saudi and foreign owned law partnership to operate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • We sit on the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) Courts Users Committee and Middle East Managing Partner, Graham Lovett, is Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the DIFCA (Dubai International Financial Centre Authority) Board. We were the first law firm to be registered to issue and conduct proceedings before the DIFC Courts.

Recent assignments

  • the development of the UAE's first carbon capture project and one of the Middle East's first integrated carbon capture and storage projects for Masdar (Abu Dhabi National Energy Company) in 2014
  • the first ever statutory merger of two UAE public companies, the US$12 billion merger of Sorouh Real Estate Company with Aldar Properties in 2013
  • the 2013 development of a US$4 billion refinery in Fujairah for the International Petroleum Investment Company (as shareholder and sponsor in the Project) and the project company.; This is the first project financing of a downstream oil and gas project in the UAE
  • the first restructuring in Dubai involving a filing under Decree 57 and also the first time a court-based process has been used to rescue a major UAE business in financial difficulty; Drydocks World restructuring. Banking, Finance and Restructuring Team of the Year:Corporate Counsel Middle East Awards, 2013
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone on a AED4.4 billion Islamic syndicated secured facility; Syndicated Deal of the Year: Islamic Finance News Awards, 2013; Islamic Finance Deal of the Year:ALB The Brief Middle East Awards, 2012
  • one of the largest ever public takeovers to be successfully implemented in the Middle East; Mannai and EFG Hermes on their recommended cash offer for Damas International Limited in 2012
  • the successful landmark restructuring of Nakheel's conventional and Islamic liabilities of over US$35 billion in 2011, including the legal separation of the Nakheel group from the rest of the Dubai World group which took Nakheel out of the jurisdiction of the Dubai Special Tribunal; Restructuring Deal of the Year:ALB Middle East Law Awards, 2013; Restructuring Deal of the Year: IFLR Middle East Law Awards, 2012.

Directory listings and client comments

Director listings

Chambers Global: UAE, 2013

  • Tier One in Banking & Finance 
  • Tier One in Capital Markets 
  • Tier One in Corporate/Commercial 
  • Tier One in Dispute Resolution 
  • Tier One in Real Estate 

Legal 500 EMEA: UAE, 2013

  • Tier One in Banking & Finance 
  • Tier One in Corporate and M&A 
  • Tier One in Dispute Resolution 
  • Tier One in Projects & Energy 
  • Tier One in Real Estate

IFLR 1000: UAE, 2014

  • Tier One in Financial and corporate - Banking and Finance 
  • Tier One in Financial and corporate - Capital Markets 
  • Tier One in Financial and corporate - M&A

Client comments

  • "They provide an excellent service both locally and internationally. They are innovative in their design of products, and they are cost-effective."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2013 
  • "Commercially oriented - they get the deal done."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2013 
  • "They know their stuff, are efficient and offer a good service. A market-leading firm."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2013
  • "They know everyone in the region and have lots of experience - they have done most of the biggest cases in this field. They understand the local and regional nuances as well as the idiosyncrasies of operating in this jurisdiction."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2013 
  • "Consistently on-the-ball."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2013