The Middle East legal jobs market is buoyant, with notable demand in key areas, especially in private practice for legal professionals who have experience of large scale infrastructure projects or oil and gas projects. We explore the hiring hotspots.
Demand in the Middle East
There are a number of job openings in the Middle East – mostly within private practice. There are opportunities at all levels of experience, ranging from newly-qualified to partner/general counsel level.
Most jobs are located in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but Doha is very up and coming and there is also always demand for lawyers in Saudi Arabia.
Key in-demand areas
There are opportunities at all levels of experience, ranging from newly-qualified to partner/general counsel level.
Most demand is for energy, litigation, finance and corporate lawyers. But you will need prior international experience to be successful when applying for these jobs. This means that if you have experience in a London firm, you will generally be at an advantage.
In private practice, corporate lawyers have been the most sought-after as markets have become more fluid, lending volumes have risen and merger and acquisition activity has increased. A number of large-scale infrastructure projects in the Middle East (for example, the building of new railways or airports) is leading to notable demand for lawyers with this experience.
Legal specialists with experience in energy and oil and gas projects have also been in demand recently, while an increase in arbitration volumes meant litigation lawyers became more sought-after. As always, Arabic-speakers who can bring a book of business with them are particularly in demand.
The in-house jobs market has been quieter although there has been some hiring in a number of areas. In particular, government-backed institutions have been relatively active in the market as these businesses were keen to grow. The majority of vacancies were for positions located outside of the UAE in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Will I need to speak arabic?
Generally, you will not need local language skills. But there are some cases where firms seek Arabic-speaking professionals because of their ability to communicate and network locally, or where local UAE or GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) regulations play a key part in the role.