Talks of redundancies in Dubai have revealed that the legal market is tightening up, further dampening claims that the region might be immune to the effects of the global financial crisis.
Recession fears are looming in Dubai with the legal market set to fall victim after UK 'Magic Circle' firm Clifford Chance revealed that its extensive round of redundancies announced last month will now include lawyers from its Dubai office.
The move goes against the trend of the last 12 months where large UK firms, including Freshfields, Linklaters and Clyde & Co, actually used the region to prevent job losses elsewhere by transferring lawyers to their United Arab Emirates (UAE) bases.
The UAE as a whole has seen its economic boom come to an end after the collapse of oil prices at the end of 2008.
Reuters reports that economists have slashed their 2009 economic growth forecasts for the region to less than 1 per cent. A figure in stark contrast to what the UAE actually forecasts: 7 per cent annual economic growth until at least 2015.
Mimi Fong, managing director of international recruitment firm Amicas Global, took a tour of the region in November 2008 and found that the explosion of growth the region had seen had been relatively uncontrolled, leaving some firms viewing developments in the US and European markets with "trepidation".
"The phase 'cautiously optimistic' came up repeatedly during our visit," Fong said in a report following the visit.
"Dubai has not experienced anything like this before and some say it needed to happen as accommodation prices have spiralled out of control and the cost of living has risen considerably in the past few years, reducing the benefit of the tax-free environment."
- Angela Priestley
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