Doing Business in the UAE | World Law Group

[author: Al Tamimi & Company]

In World Law Group’s Doing Business In Guide, member firms around the globe share how to successfully do business in their countries, key investment sectors, and what business opportunities are hot in the market right now. In this chapter we cover the UAE.

Part 1: About Al Tamimi

1. What distinguishes your firm from others in your market?

Al Tamimi & Company is a leading law firm in the Middle East and North Africa. With 17 offices across 10 countries, the firm has unrivaled experience, having operated in the region for over 30 years. Our lawyers combine international experience and qualifications with expert regional knowledge and understanding. We are a full-service firm, specializing in advising and supporting major international corporations, banks and financial institutions, government organizations, and local, regional, and international companies. Our lawyers provide quality legal advice and support to clients across all our practice areas, and our market-leading dispute resolution practice is uniquely positioned to advise clients in litigation, mediation, and arbitration. The team of accomplished dispute resolution practitioners is unmatched in size and expertise in our region and acts on the largest and most complex disputes. Our Dispute Resolution team is one of only two firms ranked in Band 1 for MENA-wide disputes capabilities in Chambers and Partners.

2. What are three words that describe the culture of your firm?

Collaborative. Unique. Consistent.

3. How does your firm participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives?

The firm is committed to being a responsible business, this starts with safeguarding the environment through action. We are ethical in the way we engage with our communities and stakeholders. And finally, we are accountable and transparent in how we operate and are governed as a business.

We are taking positive action: from our approach to recycling, energy consumption, travel, and waste disposal to pro bono and community projects.

At Al Tamimi & Company, we align our responsible business practices with the United Nations Development Goals (SDGs), which define global priorities and aspirations for 2030 to contribute to global sustainability and social progress. We commit to minimizing the potential negative impact of our choices and, in parallel, increasing our positive impact on society. Additionally, we have an impact on the other SDGs through our actions and plans.

4. Are there any new and exciting initiatives, practice areas, or industry focuses in your firm?

Al Tamimi & Company (and its clients) has a strategic focus on Africa, and it is excited by the prospect of building on its existing footprint. Of course, all eyes are on Saudi Arabia with its projects and legislative development, and the firm has a significant presence in the Kingdom, and it wants to build on the ground expertise to support both the public and private sectors.

The region is a hotbed of socio-economic activity, and the firm wants to ensure it is equipped to service client requirements, regardless of the matter or the jurisdiction. Al Tamimi & Company will achieve this by collaborating as one firm across its offices and leveraging its on-the-ground intelligence to stay well-informed and connected.

Part 2: Doing Business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

1. What is the current business climate in the UAE, including major political, economic, and/or legal activities on the horizon in your country that could have a big impact on businesses?

The UAE has strategically invested in sectors such as tourism, which has emerged as a cornerstone of the economy, drawing millions of international visitors annually. Additionally, the wholesale and retail trade sectors, repair services, real estate, business services, construction, and manufacturing contribute substantially to the nation’s economic landscape.

The UAE is a global hub for commerce, it boasts a business landscape that is made up of the world’s leading multinational organizations, many of which maintain the Emirates as their headquarters for the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. In addition, the public and private sector continues to build a leading business ecosystem that is designed to support Small and Midsize Enterprises (SMEs) and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

2. From what countries do you see the most inbound investment? What about outbound?

The economy of the UAE has experienced significant diversification across a range of key sectors; the nation’s strategic focus on multiple sectors has enabled it to establish itself as a dynamic and multifaceted economy. It is a global hub for commerce and boasts a business landscape that is made up of the world’s leading multinational organizations, many of which maintain the Emirates as their headquarters for the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. The UAE continues to innovate and flourish on the global stage and attract foreign direct investment from around the world. The top five FDI nations investing in the UAE are the UK, USA, France, Singapore, and Switzerland.

3. In what industries/sectors are you seeing the most opportunity for foreign investment?

The Ministry of Industry & Advanced Technology has identified key sectors that will receive significant investment and support so that they can drive and develop the UAE economy for the future. These include F&B, pharmaceuticals, electronics, advanced manufacturing (3D printing), heavy industries (metals), petrochemicals & chemicals, rubber & plastics, machinery & equipment, hydrogen, media technology & space technology. All of these sectors are experiencing substantial investment, from both national businesses and foreign companies, which are leading to partnerships forming.

4. What advantages and pitfalls should others know about doing business in your country?

The UAE is a global hub for commerce, it boasts a business landscape that is made up of the world’s leading multinational organizations, many of which maintain the Emirates as their headquarters for the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. In addition, the public and private sector continues to build a leading business ecosystem that is designed to support SMEs and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. The GDP growth rate for the UAE is expected to remain positive in the coming years, with an average growth rate of 4.3% for the period 2023–2028. The UAE is a stable and prosperous country with a strong economy. The government has been investing heavily in infrastructure and development, and the country is a major hub for trade and finance. The UAE is also a popular tourist destination. These factors are all contributing to the growth of the UAE economy.

5. What is one cultural fact or custom about your country that others should know when doing business there?

The Emirati culture is part of the social and commercial fabric of the UAE. Cultural influences have created an environment that is harmonious and welcoming, which is rooted in Emirati hospitality. Commercially, the influence of family businesses is evident in the local economy. These businesses have a heritage that began with modest trading or being sole traders, and today they represent a modern Emirates as conglomerates that work with the world’s largest brands. Family businesses have evolved their business over the years, today they have a diversified portfolio of activities and are managed and governed to international standards.

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