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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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1975-2015: Celebrating 40 years in the Middle East.

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:

  • Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and Commercial Bank of Dubai on a US$425 million Islamic financing and leasing (ijara) to Emirates for two aircraft, including Emirates' 50th Airbus A380 in 2014
  • DP World Limited on the acquisition of Economic Zones World from Port and Free Zone World for a total cash consideration of US$2.6 billion, subject to certain adjustments, and its delisting from the London Stock Exchange in 2015
  • 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
  • two of the largest restructurings in the Middle East in the past year: the Dubai World US$14.6 billion restructuring and the Amlak Finance US$2.7 billion restructuring in 2015
  • lenders to Dubai Parks and Resorts on a US$1.15 billion Islamic facility and a separately, Goldman Sachs and other lenders, on a US$690 million facility for the IPO in 2014
  • advising on the debut issuance by Etisalat in 2014 which represents a rare example in the GCC of a bond programme being used for acquisition financing/refinancing and represents the largest ever corporate issuance from the GCC.

Recent highlights

Awards and milestones

  • International Law Firm of the Year, IFLR Middle East Awards, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007
  • International Law Firm of the Year: Corporate Counsel Middle East Awards, 2014
  • Middle East Law Firm of the Year: Chambers Global Awards, 2013
  • International Law Firm of the Year: IFLR Middle East Awards, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007
  • 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

Directory listings

Chambers Global: UAE, 2015

  • Tier One in Banking & Finance
  • Tier One in Capital Markets
  • Tier One in Corporate/M&A High End Cross Border
  • Tier One in Dispute Resolution
  • Tier Two in Real Estate & Construction

Legal 500: UAE, 2015

  • Tier One in Banking & Finance
  • Tier One in Islamic Finance
  • Tier Two in Construction
  • Tier One in Corporate and M&A
  • Tier One in Dispute Resolution
  • Tier One in Energy & Infrastructure
  • Tier Three in Real Estate

Chambers Global: UAE, 2014

  • Tier One in Banking & Finance
  • Tier One in Capital Markets
  • Tier One in Corporate/M&A High End Cross Border
  • Tier One in Dispute Resolution
  • Tier Two in Real Estate & Construction

Legal 500: UAE, 2014

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

Client comments

  • "Our go-to firm for complex matters – they are commercial as well as being able to advise on the legal risk."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2015
  • "They are flexible, innovative and able to bring deals to a close within a tight timeframe."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2015
  • "They are clearly leaders in their field. They are technically very good, efficient and commercial."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2015
  • "A stellar international firm, with a substantial practice. They are able to do the big-ticket cases that require teams of associates."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2015
  • "The team has not only been excellent in terms of work quality, but has also been extremely impressive in terms of commercial acumen."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2015
  • "They are the ‘go-to’ firm for a large number of major local and international financial institutions and sponsors."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2015
  • "They provide ‘an excellent level of service, with great response times and business acumen’ and to some, is the market leader in the region."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2015
  • "The team stands out for providing advice that is ‘always accurate, precise and provides a clear way forward without sitting on the fence’."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2015
  • "Clifford Chance is recommended for its ‘response times and industry knowledge’."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2015
  • "Excellent, they are clearly one of the leading firms."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2014
  • "A long-standing firm with client-focused, results-oriented and practical lawyers."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2014
  • "The advice and service that every member of the team provided was undoubtedly world-class."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2014
  • "We found them to be outstanding - they've been available 24/7. When one senior lawyer travels, the others they make available are fully briefed. It's been a very positive experience."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2014
  • "Clifford Chance is a regionally strong firm - they've been here a long time."
    Chambers Global: UAE, 2014
  • "Always highly professional, responsive, and solution-oriented; the lawyers on the case pull out all stops to get deals over the line."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2014
  • "Clifford Chance ‘doesn’t just follow instructions but helps the client to formulate the right instructions’."
    Legal 500: UAE, 2014