King & Spalding to establish Middle East presence
Subject to partnership approval next month, King & Spalding intends to establish an office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to respond to growing client demand in the areas of Islamic finance, energy, real estate, private equity and international arbitration in the Middle East and North Africa. Details are being finalized.
Robert D. Hays, chairman of King & Spalding, said “Many of our lawyers have been handling client matters in the Arabian Gulf region for over 20 years, and with the explosive growth in investment within the region and the vibrant regional business hub that has developed there, we believe the timing is right for King & Spalding to have a significant presence in the region. In addition, the firm’s Middle East office will provide a gateway to other rapidly expanding business regions of the world, in particular India and the Far East.”
The highest concentration of King & Spalding’s clients outside the United States is in the Arabian Gulf and the level of work for those clients has grown dramatically over the past decade. The firm was named the top Islamic finance legal advisor by Euromoney in 2004, largely based on the pioneering Islamic finance, private equity and real estate work the firm has done for those clients in the United States and Europe. Many of those same clients are now calling on the firm to provide its expertise on similar transactions within the Middle East.
The firm’s energy practice also has extensive experience in the Middle East, handling numerous projects in the region, and is poised to enhance its ability to serve clients based in and with interests in the Middle East. The firm’s arbitration and capital markets practices also stand to benefit greatly from the firm’s presence in the Middle East, due to the presence of a regional arbitration venue and the Dubai International Financial Exchange in the DIFC.
The plan calls for Partner Philip Weems, the leader of King & Spalding’s energy practice, to lead the effort in Dubai. Weems has extensive experience working in the Middle East and lived in Asia for more than 10 years. He plans to relocate from the firm’s Houston office. Jawad Ali, a partner in the firm’s Islamic finance and investment practice, would also relocate to Dubai.
Ali, currently resident in the firm’s London office, has lived and practiced in the Gulf region and has an active practice currently focusing on Middle Eastern clients. Isam Salah, the head of the firm’s Islamic finance and investment practice, will be splitting his time between the firm’s offices in New York and Dubai.