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In-depth features

Over the past several years, many international law firms have drawn down their presence in Abu Dhabi in favour of consolidating their work in nearby Dubai. Major international firms which no longer have an Abu Dhabi office include Norton Rose Fulbright, Herbert Smith Freehills, Baker Botts, Hogan Lovells and Simmons & Simmons; all of them serve the country’s other six emirates from Dubai.


Dubai is the main hub for legal work in the UAE, though places like Doha, Muscat, Manama and Riyadh are also home to large concentrations of law firms and lawyers.



Gowling WLG has been in the Middle East for more than 30 years. Partner Jon Parker is one of the most prominent trademark specialists in the region today, with more than 25 years of experience in trademark matters, including 10 years at the UK Intellectual Property Office. He provides advice on a wide range of matters, including brand creation, filing and protection strategies and their implementation, including the use of the Madrid Protocol. Tamara El Shibib joined the team in July 2021 as a patent and technology transfer consultant. El Shibib has been practicing in the Middle East since 2009, and her arrival has allowed Gowling WLG to enhance its patent and technology transfer offering throughout the MENA region. With over 70 specialized patent attorneys, agents and specialists across the international Gowling network, the UAE office is able to assist clients with patent drafting in all disciplines, filing, prosecution and offer a one stop shop for global portfolio management.



Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) was established in Kuwait in 1972 under the name of T.M.P. Agents at a time when intellectual property protection was still in its early stages of development in the Arab region. However, since the firm’s launch, AGIP has consistently been at the forefront of efforts to improve the infrastructure of IP in the Arab world. It has worked in close coordination with Arab governments and multilateral organizations on introducing an efficient IP system that has brought up significant changes to the region and has supported governmental committees and officials charged in revising and drafting new laws and regulations for the enforcement of IP rights in several Arab countries, including the UAE.


Al Tamimi & Company is a corporate law firm with 17 offices across nine countries in the Middle East. Omar Obeidat, head of intellectual property and a partner at the firm, is particularly strong on pharmaceutical regulatory affairs and acted for many pharma clients. Partner Nick O’Connell, although now based in Riyadh, is noted for his extensive knowledge media and telecommunications-related matters in the UAE, ranging from regulatory advice on advertising content through to film production and financing, telecommunications regulatory advice and commercial agreements in the telecommunications space. Andrew Fawcett was promoted to partner in Abu Dhabi, where he is a member of the firm’s digital and data team. The firm has UAE offices in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and multiple locations in Dubai.


Audiri Vox is a Dubai-based, sixth-generation law firm that focuses on work in 50 primarily Islamic countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The firm handles multiple high value global trademark portfolios; all aspects of patents, franchising and enforcement work; and ensures that patents and trademarks can cleared for use before their adoption. Audiri Vox is noted for its IP valuation work through a team of chartered accountants and valuation experts. Sarmad Manto is the firm’s managing partner; he was previously a partner at United Trademark & Patent Services.


Baker Botts launched its Dubai office in 2005 and has recently doubled the size of its team there. In addition to its intellectual property work, the firm also advises on infrastructure projects, complex real estate and real estate finance transactions, merger and acquisitions, privatization and dispute resolution. Haitham Hawashin joined the firm’s corporate department as a partner in its Dubai office in October 2020. Hawashin has extensive international and regional experience in public and private M&A, capital markets, private equity and complex cross-border transactions across many sectors, including technology and energy. Hawashin joined the firm from Herbert Smith Freehills in Dubai.


Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla uses its local knowledge and global resources to help domestic and international clients meet the increasingly sophisticated requirements of doing business in the UAE. The firm has drafted important UAE legislation and now advises clients on their practical application. The firm has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Executive chairman Habib Al Mulla focuses on litigation and arbitration and has been involved in drafting many of the country’s modern legislative structures.


In January 2022, Basma Alaydi Advocates & Legal Consultants joined Clout to form Alaydi & Clout, a UAE-based law firm which provides a broad range of legal services for clients seeking to expand into the MENA region. The firm boasts a growing cryptocurrency practice, noting that “cryptocurrency businesses are still a novelty in the UAE [and] finding the right information on the subject can often be challenging.” Ahmad H. Haddad is the firm’s managing partner; he heads the firm from Abu Dhabi and has an LL.M in Intellectual Property Law.


Bird & Bird has offices in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Melissa Murray, who is a partner and head of the firm’s commercial and IP practices in the Middle East, has a wealth of commercial expertise in the Middle East across a variety of sectors. She provides advice to international businesses on commercial, corporate and general litigation matters relating to their operations in the UAE and the wider Middle East region. Her experience includes advising on hospitality, IT, IP, franchising, media, data protection, privacy and other matters.


BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates is a home-grown Dubai law firm that has grown to include offices in three other emirates, plus in Erbil, Beirut, Muscat and Riyadh. Senior partner Ahmad Bin Hezeem served with the Dubai Police and taught at the Dubai Police Academy; he then served as deputy director general of the Ruler Court of Dubai Government. He has expansive litigation experience. Partner Munir A. Suboh, who leads the firm’s IP practice, is based in Dubai. He has advised many high net worth clients on setting up regional strategies for the protection of their IP rights; he represents a range of clients in sectors including media, FMCG, tobacco, industrial, pharmaceuticals and others.


Cedar White Bradley is a regional legal services consultancy that provides intellectual property services through its member firms in the Middle East and North Africa region. Auday Alobaidy, the firm’s anti-counterfeiting manager, is also noted for his brand protection work. He brings nearly 25 years of experience of IP experience to the firm, including overseeing another regional firm’s Dubai operations prior to joining CWB. As the firm’s anti-counterfeiting operations manager, Alobaidy oversees the implementation of strategic market investigations, raids and enforcement strategies.


Charles Russell Speechlys boasts a full-service technology, media and telecommunications team led by Mark Hill, who long-time Gulf watchers will remember as founder of The Rights Lawyers, an IP boutique he founded in Dubai in 2003. Hill is skilled in handling both contentious and non-contentious work in the creative, technology and related industries. In addition to its Dubai office, the firm also has Gulf region offices in Doha and Manama, as well as the UK, the EU and Hong Kong. Senior associate Lara Haidar is also a key contact.


Clyde & Co. has 40 offices worldwide, and has been in the Middle East for more than a quarter century. The firm provides legal advice on copyright and design ownership, exploitation, and infringement, as well as cross-jurisdictional challenges. Its staff has experience assisting clients with patent applications, implementation, and trade secret protection. Partner Joycia Younghas extensive experience advising a range of clients in the retail sector, including advice on the licensing of IP through traditional franchise models and in the regional development of franchise rights. Former partner Rob Deans, who has over 20 years’ experience handling IP matters, and has been practicing in MENA since 2003. has recently put up his own firm, Deans IP. The firm has offices in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


Deans IP is a regional IP specialist founded by Rob Deans in September 2020. Deans, a former long-time partner at Clyde & Co., is widely-respected in the Middle East for his work on trademark portfolio management, managing cross-border disputes and providing other IP advice. Senior associate Adam Cusworth also joined from Clyde & Co.; his experience lies in enforcement and commercialization work.


Paul Allen has developed an award-winning IP team for DLA Piper in the UAE. Allen has assisted software developers with development, distribution and reseller agreements, has undertaken major intellectual property assignments for innovation incubators, including an intellectual consultancy for a research-based university, and advised on an A$200 million (US$148 million) corporate takeover. The firm maintains offices in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


Gowling WLG has been in the Middle East for more than 30 years. Partner Jon Parker is one of the most prominent trademark specialists in the region today, with more than 25 years of experience in trademark matters, including 10 years at the UK Intellectual Property Office. He provides advice on a wide range of matters, including brand creation, filing and protection strategies and their implementation, including the use of the Madrid Protocol.


Local independent firm Hadef & Partners handles both contentious and non-contentious intellectual property matters, advising clients on the legal, regulatory and commercial aspects of intellectual property in the UAE. James Dunne, who heads the trademarks and brand protection practice from Dubai, has more than a decade of experience in the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Australia. The firm also has an office in Abu Dhabi, and can also provide advice elsewhere in the Middle East.


Rouse acts for a strong base of local and regional clients, including academic institutions and highly successful Middle Eastern companies operating on a global stage. It has an affiliation with a firm in Saudi Arabia to strengthen its practice there and elsewhere in the Gulf. Principal and UAE country manager Bassel El Turk provides clients with a wealth of knowledge about the UAE and the broader region.


Saba & Co. Intellectual Property,also known as Saba IP, is a Beirut-based IP specialist that was established in 1926, at a time when intellectual property was still in its infancy, particularly in the Middle East. Today, it has offices in more than 30 jurisdictions and, unlike many firms based in the Middle East, is not a family-owned business, which makes the lawyers you’re likely to work with shareholders in the firm rather than employees. Partner Hady Khawand provides sound, practical advice.


Partner Raza Rizvi heads the Simmons & Simmons ICT and intellectual property team across the Middle East. Rizvi has been based in the Middle East for more than a decade, providing specialist commercial, regulatory and transactional advice to clients in the TMT and life sciences sectors. He advises businesses that are concerned with technology, data and IP (including FinTech) across the Middle East and Africa.


SMAS-IP (Saud MA Shawwaf Law Offices and Abu Setta & Partners) traces its roots to1964, when it was formed as a law firm dealing mainly with petroleum affairs, litigation, banking and other commercial matters. Today, the firms concentrate on IP issues from its 16 branches across the Middle East and North Africa.


Hatem Abdel Ghani is a partner and director of the IP group at The Legal Group, where his portfolio includes more than a hundred high-profile international clients. He frequently conducts trainings for his clients with IP enforcement authorities across the MENA region. Ahmad Barasneh and Jamila Cherraf, both partners and senior legal consultants, are also key contacts at the firm. In addition to Dubai, the firm also has offices in Cairo, Casablanca, Jeddah and Amman.


United Trademark & Patent Services is a top-notch regional law firm which offers the full realm of intellectual property services and domain name services. The firm is led by the well-known Yawar Irfan Khan, Hasan Irfan Khan and Maria Farrukh Irfan Khan. In addition to the UAE, the firm has offices in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan and Bahrain, as well as in part of North African and South Asia. One of the firm’s most well-known cases involved the successful seizure of the Middle East’s largest counterfeit consignment ever: With the help of Dubai Customs, a consignment of counterfeit medicines worth AED5 million (US$1.36 million) was intercepted while entering Dubai.

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