Holland & Knight has extensive experience providing legal counsel to clients in the Middle East region. The lawyers in our Abu Dhabi office include both international and locally trained lawyers who represent multinational companies and contractors doing business in the greater Middle East, India and Africa, as well as Middle Eastern companies conducting business in the United States and worldwide.
Local Presence, Global Resources
Our Middle East Team offers an in-depth knowledge of the region, its business climate and legal traditions, as well as access to the resources of our international firm with more than 1,000 lawyers and professionals, in the U.S., Latin America and Asia. Combining local know-how with Holland & Knight's broad range and depth of legal services enables us to offer seamless, comprehensive representation in the Middle East region. We are well-positioned to help clients in the Middle East identify and maximize business opportunities, avoid risks, and solve problems effectively when they arise.
Companies looking to establish a foothold in the region or local entities in need of counsel rely on our team in areas that include:
- Banking and Finance, including Islamic Finance
- Wealth Planning and Preservation (Islamic trusts (waqf))
- Regulatory issues
- Islamic Law
- Construction and infrastructure development
- Corporate Services
- Energy/oil and gas law
- Saudi Law counsel (in conjunction with Saudi affiliates)
- Compliance Services Omani Law counsel (in conjunction with Omani affiliates)
- Hospitality Industry
- International and Cross Border Transactions
- Intellectual Property
- International Litigation and Arbitration
- Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations
- Private Wealth Services
- Public project tenders
- Real Estate, including residential and planned development
- Transportation (air, rail and sea) and global logistics
- Healthcare and Life Sciences
- U.S. Public Policy and Regulation
The Advantage of Hands-On Experience
Our breadth of experience enables our clients to rely on us for all their legal needs ranging from straightforward transactions to complex, multifaceted matters in a broad scope of industries. Whether our clients are providing medical services to developing commercial satellite imaging, our lawyers have the knowledge and know-how to provide comprehensive guidance. This includes advising institutional clients and serving as lead counsel in some of the seminal regional deals (project finance, PPPs, infrastructure, energy, financing and M&A) exceeding a total of US$ 50 billion.
Our lawyers are highly experienced in transactions, including constructs structured under Islamic Laws involving:
- ijaras (leasing arrangements including in Islamic aviation financing deals)
- sukuk (derivative ownership certificates)
- musharakas (partnerships)
- mudarabas (limited partnerships)
- murabahas (deferred sale financing arrangements)
- muhassas (undisclosed agency partnerships)
- istisnaas (procurement agreements)
- takaful (Islamic insurance)
- Islamic funds
Our team in the UAE represents foreign banks establishing operations in the United States and foreign banks entering the Middle East and Africa. Members of the team are active in the industry, which includes serving on the panels of the leading regional banks. We also provide training to judges, public prosecutors and law students in the region, as well as U.S. companies and their foreign affiliates, to proactively develop effective anti-corruption compliance programs. Clients turn to us for guidance on international taxation and insurance issues as well as regulatory and compliance matters associated with their U.S. activities. Depending on the needs of each client, we can work closely with lawyers throughout Holland & Knight who regularly handle anti-money laundering compliance and U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) matters.
Holland & Knight has one of the largest construction practices among leading international law firms. Our Middle East Team is actively engaged in a wide range of construction projects, including hotel projects, throughout the Middle East. When we are handling a regional maritime matter, we draw on the experience and knowledge of one the largest and most geographically diverse international maritime practices of any U.S.-based law firm. Our portfolio also includes transactions that involve all modes of transportation, including public-private partnership (PPP) projects in the UAE and Africa. In addition, we assist clients in a variety of project and equipment financing matters.
Our Middle East Team also draws on more than 75 years of aviation law experience when advising international airlines, including Middle Eastern-based airlines and related entities, on regulatory matters. In addition, our Middle East corporate services practice handles all matters pertaining to the establishment and operation of businesses in the region. We also provide clients guidance on the raising of capital, listing on regional securities exchanges, local licensing, and labor and employment matters.
Our lawyers counsel leading international and regional clients on varied regulatory matters from the appropriate country perspective to establish local operations and the export of sophisticated dual-use technologies from the U.S. to support operations in the Middle East. We also advise U.S. clients on licensing for permissible transactions with Iran and Sudan, such as the sale of agricultural products, and on Iran and Syria sanctions.
We counsel security-related clients in connection with bidding on security services for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, and various Middle Eastern and African national and regional governments. In addition, our lawyers work with international security firms that want to establish local operations and U.S. contractors doing business in the region.
The following are select engagements handled by members of our Middle East Team:
- provided counsel to the arranger in connection with advice on structuring the first-ever sukuk approved by the Capital Market Authority in Saudi Arabia for an aggregate issue of SAR 3 billion (US$ 800 million), (awarded Sukuk Deal of the Year and Country Deal of the Year - Saudi Arabia 2006 by Islamic Finance News)
- advised a global energy supplier on the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) distribution network to supply oil and gas exploration, as well as on production operations, truck and bus fleets
- provided counsel to an export credit agency (ECA) in relation to a complex aviation financing transaction encompassing Islamic, common (New York) and relevant civil laws
- concluded arbitration on behalf of the Dubai branch of a Hong Kong contractor; secured an award in excess of AED $ 100 million (representing approximately 95 percent of the value claimed)
- advised and oversaw a US$ 7 billion LEED-certified commercial, retail and residential megaproject in Doha, Qatar, with more than 100 buildings and an underground metro
- served as common lenders' lead Saudi law counsel to, inter alia, JBIC, conventional and Islamic lenders for Petro-Rabigh in connection with a US$ 8.5 billion refinery and petrochemical project at Rabigh (awarded Project Finance Deal of the Year 2006 by Euromoney magazine/IFLR)
- provided counsel in contract negotiations involving a US$ 2.3 billion medical center project in Qatar
- negotiated contracts for the design and construction of a hotel and tower for a 48-story, mixed-use development consisting of a 300-room luxury hotel and 360 residential apartments; the contract value was approximately AED $2 billion
- advised U.S. and Middle Eastern clients on U.S. and international sanctions and export controls against governments in the region; this includes counseling members of the energy, agriculture, banking, construction, shipping and aviation sectors on options that are available to them when sanctions directly affect their businesses
- advised a leading UAE leasing company on the finance of 11 aircraft engines in a transaction worth US$ 169 million
- represented clients that provide medical training services to medical facilities in the Middle East, including a U.S.-based company that provides medical staff for assignments at hospitals and universities and offers U.S.-based training programs for medical professionals from the region
- advised a major petrochemical sponsor in connection with the first-ever refinancing of several conventional finance loans into Islamic ijara financing arrangements in Saudi Arabia
- advised a major private aircraft owner based in Abu Dhabi in the sale, purchase and registration of 18 aircraft (fixed wing and rotary wing) in a transaction worth more than US$ 220 million
- served as counsel to a government in the region on a free trade agreement with the U.S.
- represented a luxury hotel and resort company with the development of branded hotel condo residences in Fujairah, UAE, and in the drafting of affiliation and management agreements for a five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi
- represented a leading U.S. not-for-profit healthcare system in its affiliation with an agency that provided healthcare consulting services in the region, including the development of Dubai's international healthcare program
- advised various international banks on Islamic financing arrangements and other banks on diminishing musharaka aviation financing structures
- acted for a contractor in a dispute/mediation involving the design, construction and operation of an RO/desalination plant; the form of contract used was an amended FIDIC design, build and operate (2008 edition)
- represented a U.S. military entity in government contract matters related to the procurement of high-tech aircraft, satellite, and other equipment and systems
- advised a Middle Eastern airline in regulatory, commercial and compliance matters, including in alliance negotiations, handling enforcement queries raised by U.S. authorities, assisting with opening new gateways in the U.S., reviewing commercial agreements, and providing export control and trade sanctions advice
- served as lead Saudi law counsel to the sponsors of the US$ 526 million polypropylene Al-Waha project in Saudi Arabia advising on structuring, negotiating and documenting the first Greenfield project to be wholly financed on a novel co-purchase arrangement structure and without any commercial bank debt (awarded Middle East Islamic Deal of the Year 2006 by Project Finance magazine and Project Finance of the Year by Islamic Finance News)
- advised a shipowner on the Somali pirate hijacking of a very large crude carrier (VLCC), including compliance with a U.S. presidential executive order and disputes arising under relevant charter parties
- represented the manufacturer and installer of a people-mover system at New Doha International Airport in Qatar in contract interpretation and claims resolution matter
- advised the lenders on the US$ 500 million reverse-murabaha (tawarruq) of an infrastructure project
- represented an electric utility offtaker for a 32 MW photovoltaic solar generation project, including in the procurement, EPC contracting, performance warranty and financing aspects of the undertaking
- advised the leasing arm of a leading UAE bank on the lease finance and construction transaction of a derrick lay vessel worth more than US$ 110 million
- represented the prime contractor with contract administration, claims processing and resolution on a multimillion dollar project supporting the U.S. Embassy in Sather, Iraq
- advised a leading Abu Dhabi-based real estate and property management company in the settlement of a real estate claim valued at US$ 30 million
- represented a leading international hotelier in connection with the development, management and branding of villas and residences in a large mixed-use project in Dubai
- assisted a global LNG shipping and marketing company with the development of a new offshore LNG marine terminal
- advised a global insurer in establishing insurance operations in the United Arab Emirates, and counseled a UAE insurer on the creation of homeowners' insurance policies in the region
- represented a trustee for several banks with ship mortgages on oil tankers owned indirectly by Qaddafi's Libya, protecting its security interest in the assets without arrest of the vessels
- counseled a Dubai-based ground service provider in complying with U.S. sanctions and export control regulations
Full Access to Dispute Resolution Services
In addition to developing the strong industry and government relationships that help us protect our clients' interests, our Middle East Team also maintains close working relationships with leading local arbitrators and litigators who are trained in Shari'ah law and can provide dispute resolution services when the need arises.