Introduction - The Practitioner's Guide to Arbitration in the Middle East and North Africa
About the Author:
Essam Al Tamimi is a national of the United Arab Emirates and has been practicing commercial law and related litigation in the UAE and other GCC countries for the last 20 years and has extensive experience in advising on GCC laws. He has particular experience in corporate legal structures, commercial banking, marine insurance and arbitration. He has published extensively and is a member of the International Bar Association, former co-chair of the Arab Regional Commercial Law sub-section, is on the editorial board of the Arab Law Quarterly and the Arab Regional Forum. A national of the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Al Tamimi graduated from Al Ain Law School with an LL.B. in 1983. He holds an LL.M. degree from the Harvard Law School in the United States of America, and is licensed as an advocate to practice in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Al Tamimi has acted as an arbitrator representing clients in trial proceedings mainly involving foreign arbitration. He is acquainted with the UAE Chamber of Commerce arbitration process and UAE arbitration proceedings at the UNCITRAL and ICC. As the founder and Senior Partner of Al Tamimi & Company, Mr. Al Tamimi has spearheaded all aspects of the firm’s operation. As a leader in the community and the legal profession locally, he has an excellent command of both the needs of the firm’s clients and the intricacies of the law applicable to each specialty area. His large diversified client base includes individuals, and local and multinational corporations.
Globalisation of the world economy over the past few decades has effected a drastic transformation in transnational commercial relations across the world; the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are no exception to this phenomenon. Trade and investment are booming in the region and these transactions reach far beyond the hydrocarbons industry. An unprecedented increase in private international commercial transactions has been accompanied by a boom in transborder and transnational commercial disputes. The exigencies of globalisation and international trade in today’s world have made it imperative, in order to facilitate international trade and commerce, that neutral forums for dispute resolution be established. Consequently, in the context of international commerce and investment, parties increasingly resort to arbitration. The ability of international arbitration to be a truly effective means of resolving disputes in this context hinges, necessarily, upon the ability of parties to obtain assistance from domestic courts when such assistance is needed, to otherwise be free from judicial interference and, finally, to be able to enforce arbitral awards in their respective countries once they are rendered.
As in other parts of the world, parties to commercial transactions in the Middle East and North Africa often complain of the delays, inefficiencies, and biases experienced in domestic litigation. Moreover, at times, cultural and religious differences may give rise to disputes, making it even more imperative that efficient and neutral forums for dispute resolution are achieved.
The practice of arbitration of private disputes is not new to MENA countries. Arbitration has long been recognised as a legitimate and culturally accepted practice of dispute resolution, dating back to dispute resolution practices of the early Islamic period, and even the pre-Islamic era. International commercial arbitration, and its cultural and juridical acceptance, is a more recent and complex phenomenon nonetheless on the rise in MENA countries.