CMS secures Clyde & Co partner for Saudi Arabia debut

Mohammed Aldowish joins having led Clyde & Co’s Saudi disputes practice

Mohammed Aldowish Image courtesy of CMS

CMS has announced it is debuting in Saudi Arabia, securing a partner from Clyde & Co to found a new office in Riyadh. 

Mohammed Aldowish has joined the firm after eight years at Clydes, where he led the disputes practice in Saudi Arabia.

CMS said it had been working on matters relating to Saudi Arabia for some time and the launch of an office there was “a natural next step” that would build on its existing footprint in the region, which encompasses offices in Morocco, Oman, Israel, Turkey and two in the UAE in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

Aldowish will initially be the sole partner in the Riyadh office where he will be supported by an associate and the wider 50-strong Middle East team, a CMS spokesperson said. They added that the firm aims to grow the office to 10 lawyers in the first year. 

Adrian Bell, CMS partner and joint managing director for Asia and the Middle East, commented: “Having a formal presence in Saudi Arabia allows us to streamline our offering to clients, providing local law capabilities alongside a full-service and international-focused platform as well as demonstrating our continued commitment to the Middle East region.

“With strong regional expertise and a standout reputation for disputes, Mohammed is an excellent hire for the firm and will play a critical role in building our client offering and capturing new opportunities in the region.” 

Aldowish advises Saudi and international clients on matters involving infrastructure and construction disputes, shareholder and JV disputes, commercial agency and distributor disputes, commercial arbitration claims and court proceedings in Saudi Arabia. He also frequently advises on construction contracts for major projects relating to the Saudi Government Tenders and Procurement Law.

Aldowish commented: “Saudi Arabia, with its fast-evolving economy and continued growth potential under Vision 2030, presents an enormous opportunity for the firm and its clients and it makes sound strategic sense for the firm to grow its presence in the Kingdom. I look forward to working alongside the team at CMS.”

CMS’s Saudi launch follows amendments to the Kingdom’s Code of Law Practice that mean foreign law firms can no longer operate there through an association with a local firm and now need a licence granted by the Saudi Ministry of Justice.  

According to the Law Society of England and Wales, the new law is intended to encourage firms to set up in Saudi Arabia so legal work is engineered within the Kingdom, as well as enable high-profile deals to stay within the country. It also aims to increase opportunities for Saudi lawyers. 

In March, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills and Latham & Watkins became the first international law firms to be awarded licences, shortly after Addleshaw Goddard hired a trio of partners from rival firms including Latham for its own Saudi debut

CMS said on Monday (2 October) that it had absorbed five-lawyer consultancy and litigation boutique Escalante y Asociados in Mexico City, bringing its partner count in the city to 10. The firm also announced late last month that it had gained a presence in Mozambique after Couto, Graça e Associados, the country’s largest law firm, joined it in November 2022. 

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