35 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – APRIL 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM MIDDLE EAST International law firm Allen & Overy has become the latest entrant into Saudi Arabia’s legal market, having received license and opened an office in Riyadh, ahead of its merger with Shearman & Sterling, which is on track for May 1. A&O’s team includes new partner hires Hosam Ibn Ghaith from Hassana Investment Company and Haris Meyer Hanif, who previously headed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s MENA finance practice for over 11 years. Following the completion of A&O’s merger with Shearman, they will be joined by Shearman’s team in Riyadh, led by Dr. Sultan Almasoud, who has headed the firm’s presence in the Kingdom for nearly a decade, and includes partner Mohsin Suleman. Addleshaw Goddard has announced that Anna Zeitlin has joined the partnership in Dubai as head of fintech and financial services regulatory practice. Zeitlin was previously a legal director at PwC Legal’s Dubai office, where she headed the same practice group. She has also completed stints at Eversheds Sutherland and Watson Farley & Williams. Zeitlin specialises in fintech and financial regulatory work in the Gulf region. The firm is looking to expand its capabilities in the rapidly evolving fintech sector. Indian legal giant Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas has set up an office in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) international finance centre in the United Arab Emirates. The office will be led by a team of senior professionals, including some who are in the process of relocating from India and others who are based in the region already, the firm said in a statement. Dubai has been the recipient of strong Indian law firm traffic last year, as the Middle East’s need for diversification pushes it to increase trade ties with growing Asian markets like India. UAE-based full-service law firm MAS Advocates has announced its intentions to enter the Saudi Arabian market with an alliance with local firm AlAmmar Law. Under the unified brand of MAS LAW, the combined entity brings together over twenty-five lawyers and legal professionals, including seven partners. MAS is known for its criminal and commercial dispute practice, while AlAmmar has built a client base for commercial and corporate transactions in the region. International law firm Stephenson Harwood has strengthened its dispute resolution practice in the Middle East with the hire of partner John Lewis in Dubai from Charles Russell Speechlys. Lewis, who has practiced in the Middle East for more than 15 years, advises clients in sectors such as real estate, healthcare, and financial services, on disputes before civil and common law courts and international arbitration tribunals within the region. Freshfields has advised Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, on its successful takeover of UKbased automobile giant McLaren Group, which was guided by Ashurst. Under the reorganisation, long-term strategic investor Mumtalakat will take full ownership of the share capital of McLaren Group Limited. The Ashurst team was led by partners Drew Sainsbury and Molly Woods, with McLaren relationship partner, Rob Aird. The Freshfields team was led by partners Pervez Akhtar, Richard Tett, and Rhys Evans. Dubai-based Habib Al Mulla and Partners has announced the appointment of Rabih Tabbara as their new construction-focused dispute resolution partner. Tabbara left Ince & Co’s Dubai office after almost five years as partner. He has also previously spent time at DWF, K&L Gates and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Tabbara specialises in international arbitration with a particular focus on construction and energy disputes. His experience extends to the oil and gas sector where he advises clients on disputes relating to feedstock supply agreements, crude oil pricing and refinery operations. International law firm Trowers & Hamlins is bolstering its presence in the Middle East with the relocation of partner Eileen Duncan to the UAE, where she will lead the firm’s regional real estate practice. “In her new role Eileen will lead the firm’s Middle East real estate strategy, working closely with the growing specialist team across the Gulf and collaborating with colleagues in other departments to deliver a fully integrated client service,” the firm said in a statement. Egyptian law firm Sharkawy & Sarhan served as legal counsel to Neptune Energy Group on its $4.9 billion sale to Eni International. The oil and gas team at Sharkawy & Sarhan advised on the deal, led by partner Heba Anwar Ahmed Raslan, who was closely supported by associate Farahnaz Abdel Bary. Sharkawy & Sarhan has been advising the Neptune Energy Group on Egyptian law aspects of its oil and gas upstream business in Egypt for several years. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has enacted the world’s first Digital Assets Law, a new securities law and related amendments to select existing legislation to cater to the consequences of the new digital assets regime and revised securities regime. In a statement, the DIFC said the legislative enactments aim to ensure DIFC Laws keep pace with the rapid developments in international trade and financial markets arising from technological developments, and to provide legal certainty for investors in, and users of, digital assets. The latest partner hires, big-ticket deals, office openings and more. COMPILED BY NIMITT DIXIT MIDDLE EAST NEWS ROUNDUP