Hydrogen's Rowena To gives a 2019 review of the NQ Middle East legal market and looks ahead to what 2020 holds

Having placed more than 135 lawyers in the Middle East, predominantly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh, Hydrogen’s Middle East Legal team is best placed to help NQ or junior lawyers considering relocating to the region find the right position.

If you are due to qualify in the UK over the next year, there is no need to requalify to be able to practice in the Middle East, and now is the time to take advantage of the opportunities we have for you there. We had more newly qualified opportunities in 2019 than the previous two years combined, and we expect to see more of the same demand at that level in the coming years.

2019 market review

Although some firms have prioritised candidates with previous experience in the Middle East, or with Arabic language ability we still had numerous roles for NQ lawyers in corporate, banking, TMT, FS regulatory, dispute resolution and construction this year.

Many of the Magic Circle, Silver Circle and US firms continued to grow their associate ranks over the course of 2019 and we also experienced an increase in demand for projects and energy lawyers and corporate lawyers at the mid to senior level in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

2020 market forecast

The Middle East has a number of large scale projects on the horizon, including Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and these are driving significant investment in the region, alongside some strong M&A activity. The knock-on effect of this will be increased demand for lawyers in a number of specialisms.

In TMT for example, innovation and consumer demand means the space is constantly evolving and therefore so do regulations, licensing and data protection laws, as well as associated areas such as IP infringements. Dubai is also positioning itself as a global leader in the fintech industries. We already have roles for star corporate and TMT NQs, currently at US and Silver Circle firms and we expect this to continue as new tech drives the sector forward next year.

If you would like more information on any of the opportunities we have across a number of locations in the Middle East, or want some advice on relocating to the region, contact me at rowenato@hydrogengroup.com.


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About the author



Rowena To

Senior Manager, Hydrogen Group

Senior Manager of our Middle East team, Rowena places lawyers across the Gulf in private practice and in-house.