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Why the Middle East is the new Legal Expertise Hotspot

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The sandy shores of Dubai are fast becoming the most desirable place to practice law, here's why.

With miles of sandy beaches, blue seas and an exotic culture, the Middle East is the perfect travel destination for a laid-back holiday and some time away from the daily 9-5. However, it’s also rapidly making a name for itself as a hotspot for the top talent in the Legal market. Perfectly placed between Asia and the West, the area is not only attracting multinational companies with an eye for business, but lawyers from all over the world who are flocking to its shores, and for good reason.

Apart from the unique lifestyle change that comes with moving to a different country, what the Middle East offers lawyers is a huge amount of opportunity in a place that has shot to international prominence in recent years. Sixty years ago, Abu Dhabi was nothing but a fishing village, and its rapid transformation into a global powerhouse, thanks to the oil it produces, certainly shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Due to its wealth, its status as one of the world’s largest oil producers, and its stable economy, the Middle East has become a massive hub for international trade and arbitration.

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Indeed, due to its location, countries like the UAE are currently getting a lot of investment from Asia, particularly China, that are aimed at opening new markets. Combine that with its proximity to a slowly-opening market in Iran ,whose demand for lawyers to advise on sanctions and trade is growing, and you end up with an attractive prospect for any lawyer wanting to experience the law from a very different angle to that in the UK. If you’re looking to diversify, there is no better place to work than somewhere you can deal with everything from trade to corporate advisory in one place. 

The Middle East isn’t only a hub for international trade, however, but for all areas of law. The rate of property development in the United Arab Emirates is staggering, and as such there is a huge need for high quality lawyers specializing in construction, property, litigation and arbitration, as well as corporate lawyers to advise with everything from building contracts to corporate advisory work. The increasing demand for lawyers has attracted a huge amount of international, influential companies from the UK and America, who have set up offices in cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. These firms often provide a full service, working within everything from finance to corporate and litigation, with offices in countries as diverse as Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 

The perks of the job also provide a compelling reason to switch bases and head from London to sunnier shores. Lawyers working in the Middle East not only have the benefit of a unique lifestyle change and the chance to work in an exotic location, but an impressive remuneration package thanks to the tax-free salaries in the UAE. Though the pace of work is just as fast as it would be in London or America, there are small but significant changes in the way that business is done. Many lawyers working abroad cite greater client contact and being part of smaller, high-quality teams as some of the key selling points of a working life in the United Arab Emirates, as well as the potential for advancement within the company. 

Is this popularity set to continue in the future? As the Middle East becomes a more established Legal hotspot, expect a lot more senior hires to be made as the market continues to grow, as well as an increasing demand for lawyers. As the newest Legal expertise hotspot in the world, don’t expect applications to transfer to the Middle East to slow down anytime soon: for lawyers looking to diversify and challenge themselves, this is the perfect place to work.