DLA Piper has an impressive presence in the Middle East and, in addition to the UAE, has offices in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Dubai office acts as the hub for the firm's Middle East practice and a secondment was a great opportunity to gain exposure to a different jurisdiction in an environment of central importance to the regional and international business. The office is much smaller than the Leeds office where we both spent the first 18 months of our training contracts and everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
Dubai is an exciting place to live and work with endless options of bars, restaurants and beaches - every weekend felt like a holiday! Weekend highlights include attending the Dubai World Cup and hiring a yacht to sail around the Palm. We took the opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi, Oman and Zanzibar, as well as a three day trip to Wadi Rum, Petra and the Dead Sea in Jordan.
The Middle East is culturally diverse with expats living and working in Dubai from all over the world. We were lucky enough to be in Dubai during Ramadan and were able to attend the office Iftar which was a good opportunity to experience local religious traditions. The Dubai office also hosted the annual beach sports day at which we were split up into teams with clients and took part in various games and activities on the beach.
I was sat in the Litigation, Arbitration and Investigations team and gained invaluable work experience in areas which I had not yet had exposure to such as Construction Arbitration and Bribery and Corruption Investigations matters. Being the largest team in the Dubai office there are lots of fee earners to get to know and a variety of work to get involved with.
I was given interesting work with a large amount of responsibility which came at the perfect time for my progression into life as an NQ in September.
I was involved in a particularly interesting research task which required me to draft an advice note setting out the legal system in each of the jurisdictions within the GCC and the contrast between the Civil Law system compared to the Common Law system that I had been used to back in the UK.
I was part of the Corporate team where I was predominantly involved in cross-border M&A and joint venture work for clients ranging from Islamic investment banks to oil companies and international hotel groups. The team is much smaller than the Leeds team so I had the opportunity to take on high levels of responsibility and build on transactional and commercial skills that will be invaluable for the transition from trainee to associate. Projects have been interesting, extremely varied and include the purchase of a stake in a global agricultural company with subsidiaries in 11 African jurisdictions and the acquisition of local businesses based in Mauritius and the Seychelles. I gained knowledge of how corporate transactions operate in the GCC as well as worked on international matters with teams around the world including Paris, Greece, Cyprus, and Africa.
I had never been to Dubai before but could not recommend it enough! My time on international secondment has been the highlight of my training contract and an unforgettable experience.