31 Mar 2021

Fenwick Elliott's ex-Dubai head leaves to become an independent arbitrator

Ahmed Ibrahim reports 'surge' in popularity of arbitration in the Middle East

Ahmed Ibrahim

Fenwick Elliott’s former Dubai managing partner, Ahmed Ibrahim, has left the firm to become a full-time arbitrator and take advantage of arbitration’s regional growth.

Ibrahim puts the move down to a ‘surge’ in the popularity of arbitration and says It will allow him to focus on developing his practice, Ibrahim ADR, with fewer conflicts of interest. 

He has acted as an arbitrator in more than 120 cases, both in the United Arab Emirates, but also further afield in jurisdictions including France, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, Singapore and South Korea.

Ibrahim helped establish UK construction specialist Fenwick Elliott’s Dubai office after joining as a partner in 2015, becoming managing partner in 2019. He described the office as “very successful” adding: “I am honoured that I was part of Fenwick Elliott, and I wish all the best to firm after my departure.”

He said an increase in the number of construction and large infrastructure projects, many with a cross-border element, was fuelling arbitration’s popularity.

“This is reflected in the growth of a number of arbitration institutes and the strong presence of competent world-class practitioners in the region,” he added. “I envisage continued growth with more developments to the legal frameworks of arbitration in different jurisdictions particularly to respond to the post-pandemic economic recovery and to address new significant developments and trends such as the use of technology and AI.”

Fenwick Elliott partner Nicholas Gould, former Dubai managing partner, said Ibrahim would be  “a great addition to the ranks of independent arbitrators”. He added: “His mix of legal knowledge, and commercial understanding, particularly in the construction and engineering industry, means that he provides insightful analysis and reaches just conclusions."

Meanwhile, fellow arbitration specialist Patrick Stone has taken over as head of the firm’s Dubai arm. He joined the firm in London from Herbert Smith Freehills in 2016 and moved to Dubai in 2019.

Last November, the Dubai International Finance Centre Arbitration Institute and the London Court of International Arbitration’s Arbitration Centre reported an 18% increase in cases in 2019 with the value of claims doubling to $1.25bn.

A month earlier, Brown Rudnick’s London head of arbitration, Nicholas Tse, joined Beirut-headquartered Alem & Associates with a team of two associates to set up an Abu Dhabi office for the seven-partner Lebanese firm. Last June, former Clyde & Co construction partner Mat Heywood opened an Abu Dhabi dispute resolution boutique.