Historically, dispute resolution in the Middle East region has been problematic. Enforcement of legal rights was unpredictable, and lacked both uniformity and consistency. Dispute resolution procedures were generally not in line with international standards and best practices. The need for improvement and change has been recognized by practitioners for many years. That change is now starting to come about, and it is primarily due to the influx of large and sophisticated Western construction and engineering firms, all of which have come into the region with well-developed notions and expectations about basic fairness and transparency in the resolution of construction disputes.
The international perception of arbitration as a viable means of construction-specific dispute resolution in the Middle East has been bolstered by the establishment of regional arbitration institutions, including the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (“CRCICA”), the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre, the Bahrain Arbitration Centre and the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (“DIAC”). The accession of several Middle Eastern states to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“New York Convention”) also demonstrates a shift in the region’s arbitration culture. Most important, however, are the attempts by some Middle Eastern countries to enact new arbitration provisions that are more progressive, accessible, transparent and familiar to foreign entities doing business in the area.