Dolman regularly places lawyers throughout the Middle East in international and domestic law firms.

Dolman’s International Consultants know the cities and the legal market well, and can help you plan your career move in the region.

Below we have included an overview of the basics of living and working in the Middle East to answer most frequently asked questions. Please contact any of our International Consultants for further information.


Residence Visas are issued by the Naturalisation and Immigration Department at the Ministry of the Interior. Note that they are closed every Thursday and Friday.

Visas will not be issued to Israeli citizens, those with passports with an Israeli stamp or if your passport has been issued for less than 6 months.

To obtain a visa, you will need a passport, at least 2 photographs (passport size), any application forms in duplicate, a letter from your sponsor in the UAE to the embassy (in duplicate) and from your company (if different to your sponsor). Before you can apply for a residence visa, you must take a medical test and obtain a Health Card (costs approx: Dhs 300; US$ 82), which can be issued by the Ministry of Health or a recognised private hospital. There is an age limit of 50 years, although exceptions may be made to this rule. In general, residence visas are valid for three years. If you are coming to the UAE with family members, you should obtain a family visa, which allows you to sponsor your parents, spouse and children under the age of 18.

Employment permits are generally simple to obtain where the applicant is from a Western country and has a position arranged for when they arrive.

The process for obtaining a residence permit is not too rigorous, and it will generally be granted to anyone with a work permit (and their families), as long as they have a job and some qualifications. It is very difficult, however, to become a citizen of UAE, no matter how long you have lived there.


Practicing & the Legal Market

The UAE legal market is one of the most important markets in the Middle East and has experienced a dramatic increase since early 2004 with a wave of major international firms establishing offices in the UAE. Firms are willing to recruit from any Commonwealth country and Arabic language skills are not required.

Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate, and most law firms are based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with some International firms having a presence in both centres. The key areas of practice are:

  • Projects and construction
  • Energy
  • Banking and Finance
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Commercial Property
  • Corporate and commercial
  • Islamic finance

The work in law firms tends to be of a more general nature, allowing lawyers to broaden their skills if they wish. Most lawyers who make the move have between 2 and 7 years post qualification experience.


Women & the Middle East

Women are welcome in international law firms that operate in the UAE, and also rise to high levels in many domestic firms. Treatment differs slightly from country to country – women who work in the UAE will not find much change in their lifestyle, whereas working as a female lawyer in Saudi Arabia is quite challenging. In all Middle Eastern countries it is advisable for women to dress modestly. Generally, however, women are treated well and play key leadership roles in the business community and government.

Top Firms

  • Afridi & Angell
  • Allen & Overy LLP
  • Al-Sayegh Richards Butler
  • Al Tamimi & Co
  • Baker & McKenzie
  • Berrymans Lace Mawer
  • Clifford Chance
  • Clyde & Co
  • Denton Wilde Sapte
  • DLA Piper Middle East LLP
  • Habib Al Mulla & Co
  • Herbert Smith
  • Linklaters
  • Lovells
  • Masons Galadari
  • Norton Rose
  • Reed Smith Richards Butler LLP
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • Shearman & Sterling LLP
  • Trowers & Hamlins
  • Vinson & Elkins




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