Abdulla Ziad Galadari is a partner at Galadari Advocates & Legal Consultants. He advises on a broad range of litigation, dispute resolution, corporate, commercial, and matters for regional conglomerates, financial institutions, high-net-worth individuals and institutional and commercial clients, often acting as the client relationship and case partner.
In an exclusive interview with Business Live Middle East, he talks about the growth potential in United Arab Emirates, the impact of technology, UAE-India relations and more…
How is the UAE and the GCC economy performing and do you see plenty of growth potential? If so, what are the key opportunities for growth and how do you plan to seize them?
In 2010, the United Arab Emirates’ Government launched the UAE Vision 2021, which outlines the thematic approach for social and economic development, along with emphasizing the shift to a diversified and knowledge-based economy. With the vision reaching its optimum, we have experienced exponential growth in non-oil sectors, with the ongoing influence of fin-tech, technology based entrepreneurial growth, healthcare innovation and a growing landscape of leisure and hospitality offering.
Furthermore, the diversification and ongoing reforms across the GCC offer further alignment to global practice which continues to attract FDI and global interest. The GCC has set a robust trajectory to growth and will continue to leverage the opportunities on the horizon which include technological innovation, restructuring its public sector, managing its talent pool for succession, providing an entrepreneurial platform for its growing SME base and continuing to develop its financial markets.
As a firm, Galadari have been at the forefront in respect of supporting the legal structure and industry within the UAE, specifically given we were one of the first full service legal firms to have established in the country. We have continued to support the development of the Emirates, supporting SMEs and high-profile global entities to navigate the legal landscape, whilst enabling Emirati interns to qualify and incorporate their own legal practices. Our firm has been at the front of development for the country and will continue to be well placed to supporting the country’s ambition and potential, whilst seizing opportunities for its people.
How is your industry performing in the region?
The industry is currently being disrupted through leveraging technology to improve quality and service, whilst reducing the need for bureaucratic processes which consume valuable client time. Similarly, the innovative tools being introduced across the industry such as reg-tech, virtual law and other such legal-tech are challenges which senior lawyers across the industry need to upskill themselves with. The team at Galadari have a diverse team of Emirati and internationally skilled professionals, who understand and welcome new tech ways of working, which have enabled us to focus further time and attention on client service and delivering high quality work and outcome.
Which sectors have the best growth potential for Galadari Law?
With the promulgation of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Law and recent changes to the visa process, along with infrastructure due to the upcoming Expo 2020, we have seen extensive demand for corporate, real estate and construction support, which our specialist team of experts have been supporting our clients with. Further, we expect to see wider traction from Expo 2020, with the extensive infrastructure projects surrounding it.
The UAE FDI Law, which took effect in September 2018, permits 100% foreign ownership by global investors in the UAE. The long-awaited law by foreign investors, is predicted to enhance the business environment in the UAE, setting up clear guidelines for foreign investment, in turn attracting FDI. This has seen a rise in the need for restructuring, incorporation and contractual support.
What plans for expansion do you have? (geographically and in terms of entering new business segments)?
Our firm has been built on the ethos of agility and therefore continues to support its dynamic clients irrespective of their geographical presence, hence we continue to work across borders, being present and available wherever and whenever our clients needs us, which continues to become ever more fluid with the introduction of technology.
Our work across MENA and the wider Asia region, has enabled our firm to introduce services to our clients where the market demand arises, and regulatory landscape enables. We are committed to building a firm of the future and hence will continue to develop new solutions which support the UAE market and our client base.
Technology is changing every industry even more rapidly than in the past. What do you see as the main technological drivers of change now, and how are you adopting the latest technologies?
In the UAE legal sector, we are seeing a huge shift towards online legal technologies, in June this year, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) launched an initiative where government lawyers can appear via audiovisual communication. The Dubai Courts now allow cases to be registered and updated online, therefore there is no need to physically attend the court until the hearing date, providing a much more efficient service for lawyers and clients.
The adoption of virtual law, blockchain and other such regulatory-tech tools are continuing to drive value for the industry, each of which are focus areas for our firm. We are pleased to be the headline firm for the forthcoming legal-tech conference in November, where we will share insights with the wider market, along with solutions which the legal profession can consider and adopt in order to leverage technology further.
How do you see relations between the UAE and India?
India and the UAE has shared a relation since 3000BC, therefore traditional links, along with emerging bilateral trade is both steeped in history and continues to strengthen. The historical and cultural correlation between both countries supports the ongoing relation to flourish, with other a million Indian migrants working in the UAE today, being by far the latest migrant group in the country.
A significant number of large Indian family businesses have resided in the country since the 60’s, who today have become billion-dollar conglomerates. These businesses, their patriarchs and the wider community have engaged in the UAEs economically productivity and played a significant role in the evolution of the country.
In 2018 -2019 bilateral trade between the UAE and India grew by over 20%, India’s exports to the UAE grew by 7% whereas the UAE’s exports to India rose by a staggering 37%. This may be attributed to an MoU signed by the UAE and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to Dubai in early 2018, agreeing to conduct trade directly in local currencies, eliminating the need for US dollars.
Going forward, we see this important trade link strengthen further, with reciprocal commercial, social and economic benefits for both countries.