Somewhat paradoxically, Abu Dhabi has been thought of by many expatriates as the ugly sister of its neighbour, Dubai. Yet Abu Dhabi is the seat of government in the United Arab Emirates, and it is also the state’s centre of industrial, commercial and cultural activities. Moreover, as the wealthiest of the emirates deriving most its income from oil and gas, Abu Dhabi supported most of the other emirates, particularly hard-struck Dubai, throughout the global financial crisis.
In doing so, Abu Dhabi halted its growth throughout the GFC, but has since started to continue its expansion. The government is looking to invest massively over the next two decades as part of the 2030 master plan, with the emirate set to outpace Dubai’s construction volume in the next few years. Vast infrastructure projects like Khalifa City and Yas Island (home of the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 GP) are the result of billions of dollars being pumped into the economy. This progress has been carefully planned and it seems as though the government is intent on expanding properly and efficiently. Not surprisingly many leading international firms are either establishing a presence in Abu Dhabi or expanding their operations there to benefit from this substantial investment.
THE LEGAL MARKET
With this expansion and the rising prices of oil and gas, it is to be expected that demand for excellent lawyers in Abu Dhabi is rising. Most of the Magic Circle firms have offices in the emirate, as do most leading US firms. Opportunity is vast in practice areas like construction, energy, oil and gas, projects and corporate, and many more. Whilst most firms have only recently received their permits to open their offices more recently and the while at this point the teams remain relatively small compared to Dubai, there is no question Abu Dhabi is the growth engine of the UAE and also offers some of the best corporate, financing and projects work in the Middle East. Unlike some of the expansion in Dubai however, the magic circle firms are growing their practices in Abu Dhabi based solely on increasing work demand, and this organic pace of growth should ensure a balanced recruitment market in the long term. For any lawyer serious about taking their career to tax-free UAE, considering Abu Dhabi as an option is a must.
LIVING IN ABU DHABI
For lawyers with young families, Abu Dhabi is ideal. Parks, beaches and play areas abound and the international schools are excellent. There is also a large and welcoming expat community which makes the social integration easier.
More generally, the expatriate standard of living is high and the fact that the region is a tax haven means remuneration for lawyers is amongst the highest in the world. Contrary to popular myth, alcohol is available (with a licence!) and English is an official language of the region. Overall, the emirate is also well organized and easy to get around, is only 1 ½ hour drive from its sister Dubai and suffers far less of the traffic issues than many of its neighbours.
If you are interested in working in Abu Dhabi, get in touch with one of our international consultants on +61 2 9266 2900 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
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