Gide Loyrette Nouel opened its Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices in March 2009 to a fanfare. Gide observed at the time: The simultaneous opening of [the] offices further strengthens the firms expansive network in the MENA region. The theory was sound but, just 18 months later, Gide has pulled out of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and also Riyadh (where it had been for over 20 years). This not only ends its presence in the UAE and Saudi Arabia but, significantly, made it the first internationally-recognised firm to withdraw from the region completely.
We took the decision to open in the Middle East before the financial crisis, remarks Gides senior partner Pierre Raoul-Duval. The original idea was to follow our French clients and French investments into the region, with particularly focus on the big projects, financial and construction matters. By the time we finally opened it was early 2009 and, with the crisis in full swing, things were difficult.
Middle East promise
Gides projects practice was central to the launch strategy. Gide had clients including Oman Wastewater Services Company, the IFC and the Government of Qatar. The fledgling PPP sector in the region was also highlighted; Gide was counsel to a bidding consortium for a PPP for the King Abdullah Economic City; acted for the World Bank and the Government of Kuwait on the drafting of local PPP laws; and advised the IFC and the Government of Egypt for the concession of Cairo-Alexandria Freeway.
The strategy was to get a presence on the ground...
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