LAWFUEL – The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) announced …

LAWFUEL – The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) announced 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.’

He added: ‘Our vision in this regard is clear, as is our mandate: 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, the first U.S. law firm to join us, as a new member of the DIFC family.’

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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Notes and media contacts
Media enquiries:

Amira Abdulla
Dubai International Financial Centre
Tel: +971 4 362 2433

Shaima Al Zarouni
Dubai International Financial Centre
Tel: +971 4 362 2432

About the DIFC:

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an onshore hub for global finance. It bridges the time gap between the financial centers of Hong Kong and London and services a region with the largest untapped emerging market for financial services.

In just under two years, over 321 firms have registered at the DIFC. They operate in an open environment complemented with world-class regulations and standards. The DIFC offers its member institutions incentives such as 100 per cent foreign ownership, zero tax on income and profits and no restrictions on foreign exchange. In addition their business benefits from modern infrastructure, operational support and business continuity facilities of uncompromisingly high standards.

The DIFC is made up of the following core bodies:

1. The DIFC Authority (DIFCA) – Responsible for the Companies and Security Registries and attracting financial as well as non-financial institutions to set up in the DIFC. The DIFC Authority is also responsible for developing the financial services industry. (

2. The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) – An independent, unitary regulatory authority, responsible for the regulation of all DIFC operations. Its principle-based primary legislation is modeled on that used in London and New York and its regulatory regime operates to standards that meet or exceed those in major financial centers. (

3. The DIFC Courts – An independent court system set up to uphold the provisions of DIFC laws and regulations, the courts provide comprehensive legal redress in civil and commercial matters within the DIFC. The DIFC Courts system is especially designed to deal with all of sophisticated transactions that will be conducted within DIFC. The DIFC Court laws, based on the common law, not only sets out the jurisdiction of the court but also provides for a dispute resolution services, including arbitration and mediation, thus allowing for the independent administration of justice in the DIFC. (

DIFC Investments- The creation of DIFC Investments will result in the allocation to it of all non public administration activities previously carried out by DIFC Authority. This will include amongst other things all commercial and other activities such as the operation and management of any current and future subsidiaries, the development of the centre’s investment strategy and relevant policies and any other strategic investments or alliances which will further the goals and objectives of the Dubai International Financial Centre and contribute to the fulfillment of the Centre’s vision. Some of the companies and organizations that DIFC Investments owns include:

1. The Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) The DIFX is the region’s first international financial exchange for equities, bonds, Islamic products, funds, index products and (subject to regulatory approval) derivatives. The target areas of the DIFX for seeking issuers include the Middle East and North Africa, as well as South Africa, Turkey and the Indian sub-continent. The regulator of the DIFX is the Dubai Financial Services Authority. The DIFX is located in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and its owner is the DIFC Authority. (

2. Hawkamah- the first Institute for Corporate Governance in the region, has been established in partnership with a group of international institutions, including the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UAE Ministry of Finance and Industry, Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Union of Arab Banks (UAB), Dubai School of Government (DSG), Young Arab Leaders (YAL), and the Institute of Management Development (IMD). (

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