A Guide to Dispute Resolution in the Gulf

Dispute Resolution Partner Shaistah Akhtar has, with Dr Gordon Blanke, co-edited a new publication, Dispute Resolution in the Gulf – GCC Approaches and Egyptian Influences.

Having first-hand exposure to contentious work in the Middle East, the editors realised that there were few, if any, reliable reference resources for dispute resolution in the region. The resulting project was developed to fill this gap – a “first port of call” handbook answering key questions on legal systems and dispute resolution mechanisms in key jurisdictions in the area.

The Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) have been regular recipients of foreign direct investment since the early 1990s, creating one of the most stable investment environments in the Middle East.  This has in turn increased the need for an understanding of the litigious and transactional environments – a natural fit for the study the editors wished to undertake.

While each of the legal systems in these jurisdictions has evolved in its own way through historical, religious, political and colonial conditions, the influence of the Egyptian legal system is widespread.  To this day, Egyptian interpretations of legal codes continue to shape the legal landscape across the Gulf and the wider Middle East. The book contains a chapter on dispute resolution in Egypt to further understanding of this regional legal feature.

The influence of Sharia law in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, is also treated in a dedicated chapter.  While dispute resolution mechanisms tend to be comparatively secular, the application of Islamic Sharia law in public policy and its importance in the evolution of legislation make this indispensable.

The guide is designed to be an accessible first resource for lawyers and non-lawyers alike, providing context and understanding on common queries that might arise in the regional dispute resolution landscape. Beyond practical application, the work provides an opportunity to gain an understanding of a fascinating body of law, whose significance is set to grow as economic development progresses in the region.