Dubai secondment story

From the roof of my apartment building on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s main thoroughfare, you can hear the adhaan, the call to prayer, five times a day from two different mosques. On my short metro journey to work, I am surrounded by men and women in traditional Emirati clothing. Yet, in contrast to its conservative Muslim roots, Dubai is a cosmopolitan metropolis with a thriving nightlife. Highlights include all – you – can –eat – and – drink Friday brunch (the Middle East weekend is Friday and Saturday) and ladies’ night, where women can eat and drink for free or at heavily discounted rates.

Dubai’s culture combination takes some getting used to and, in terms of work, even Slaughter and May’s multi-specialist approach could not have prepared me for a secondment at Afridi & Angell. Since arriving in Dubai a month ago, I have worked on matters including a joint venture enabling a client to expand its business into Iran, the negotiation of a settlement agreement with a construction company and a real estate transaction involving land gifted by the ruler of a neighbouring emirate.

In addition, because the position of trainee does not exist in Dubai, I am taking on much more responsibility and I am already benefiting from a significant amount of client contact. Fortunately, the vast majority of the firm’s work is conducted in English; unfortunately, this means that ‘Arabic for Dummies’ is beginning to gather dust in my apartment.

Dubai is a great base from which to visit the surrounding region. I, along with seconded trainees from other London firms, have already travelled to Oman and the desert near to the Saudi – Abu Dhabi border, and we are planning trips to Jordan, Sri Lanka and Iran in the coming months.

We also have much still to explore in Dubai: going up the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world; the water park at Atlantis, The Palm; and, of course, the mosques and souqs (markets) of old Dubai – the mix of traditional and new really is the best of both worlds.

Emma Girot
Trainee secondment to Afridi & Angell Legal Consultants