In profile: our blockchain work in the Middle East

Mishcon de Reya has advised high profile government entities in the Middle East since 2018 on emerging technology matters.

Our work in the Middle East to date has been incredibly exciting and provides a useful example of our techno-legal offering, which we see as being constituted of four distinct pillars: institutional awareness; target state roadmapping; regulatory diagnostics; and technical platform design and builds.

In partnership with global consulting firm Berkeley Research Group (BRG), we have worked with leading governmental stakeholders in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and their respective financial free-zones, ADGM and DIFC to improve their institutional awareness.  We have provided key stakeholders in the UAE with bespoke education and awareness building workshops focussed on distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain (DLT).  These workshops have then been followed by comprehensive guidance documents, disseminated to government entities in the relevant jurisdiction, which set out the great potential and value proposition of DLT as a transformative and exciting innovation, while providing robust working definitions for some of the key terminology in the space. Notably, the guidance documents identified and made recommendations in respect of the jurisdiction’s most prominent areas of legal and regulatory uncertainty, ambiguity and friction.

The provision of educational workshops and clear, comprehensive guidance represents the first two initiatives of an ambitious, detailed and fully-costed strategic roadmap which we have devised for the Abu Dhabi Government.  This roadmap seeks to firmly establish the jurisdiction as a world-leader in emerging technologies such as DLT, with the government fulfilling an active role as a centre of excellence, regulator, platform provider and advocate over a three-year period.

A central pillar of the Abu Dhabi Government’s strategic roadmap for DLT is a proof-of-concept data marketplace which we designed in partnership with BRG and the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority.  This initiative was first announced at Davos and further details can be found here.

Blockchain Group Lead and Corporate Associate Tom Grogan led the project, alongside Corporate Partner Richard Tyler, Litigation Managing Associate Edward Carder, Commercial Associate Anne Rose and Corporate Paralegal Becca Jones.

We expect to see an increase in public sector willingness to engage with and shape the technology and corresponding regulatory landscapes over the next couple of years, as jurisdictions compete to provide the most attractive, clearly regulated and well managed environments to attract inward investment and innovation for the benefit of their residents and citizens.

For further details of our emerging technology work, or to discuss how we might assist you in your emerging technology endeavours, please contact Tom Grogan.