Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld becomes first U.S. Law firm to open office at Dubai International Financial Centre

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) announced today the issuance of the first license to a U.S. law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, to open an office at the DIFC. Operating from the DIFC, Akin Gump will have access to a broad range of emerging markets stretching across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
Akin Gump, a firm with 15 offices around the world and a well-established Middle East presence, is now registered by the Dubai Financial Services Authority and authorised to provide legal services to financial institutions operating in the DIFC.
Akin Gump’s Chairman, R. Bruce McLean, commented: “We entered the Dubai market to advise our clients on increasing investment to and from the Middle East. The area’s dramatic growth and continued development has further solidified our commitment to the region. We are very pleased to be the first U.S. law firm to be licensed in the DIFC, and we hope that others will follow our lead.”
Nasser Alshaali, Chief Executive Officer of the DIFC Authority, said: “The ability to provide specialist legal advice is an important part of the infrastructure we are creating within the DIFC. As we continue to grow both horizontally and vertically, the DIFC is strengthening its many core competencies, including legal advice. The continued rapid growth of the DIFC proves that this centre has become a truly international gateway for capital, which benefits Dubai, the UAE and the wider Middle East. In this regard, we are especially pleased to welcome Akin Gump.”
Akin Gump lawyers have been advising clients in the region for several decades, and the firm has had a presence in the Middle East for over seven years. The Dubai office, managed by energy and projects partner Gavin Watson, was opened in 2005 and advises clients on a range of matters, including alternative investment products, corporate/commercial activities, private equity transactions, and energy project development and finance.
Mr. Watson noted: “The importance of being licensed to operate in one of the world’s largest untapped financial markets cannot be overstated. The DIFC is doing a tremendous job of bringing together an array of resources to support the region’s economic growth. With significant expertise in private equity and investment funds, and a strong reputation in energy project development and finance, Akin Gump is ideally positioned to help our clients participate in this dynamic market. As the first U.S. law firm in the DIFC, we will work closely with the relevant authorities to raise awareness in the United States of the Dubai International Financial Centre and the significant opportunities it presents for U.S. corporates and investment institutions.”
The Dubai International Financial Centre was created by Dubai in 2004 to serve as an onshore hub for global finance, bridging the time gap between the financial centers of Hong Kong and London. With approximately USD $1 trillion in infrastructure projects underway or planned throughout the region, Dubai and the DIFC have emerged as key operational centers for firms seeking to provide specialized financial and legal services to the United Arab Emirates and beyond.

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