International law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has today (25 January 2016) announced the appointments of two new Partners into its Dubai office to further boost the Firm’s UAE offering. Raza Mithani, an International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Partner, joins the Firm on 3 February 2016 from King & Spalding, and Alexander Sarac, an Energy and Infrastructure Partner, joins from DLA Piper.

Prior to joining BLP, Raza led the Commercial Disputes Practice for King & Spalding in Dubai. Recognised as one of the ‘rising star’ arbitration specialists in the region, Raza has a long track record of successfully representing clients including private equity companies, financial institutions and a range of multinationals in complex and high value disputes. His sectoral experience covers financial services, aerospace and defence, energy, construction and insurance. Raza has appeared for clients in many of the landmark cases to come before the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts since its creation, and prior to that the English Courts. Before moving to Dubai in 2008, Raza practised as a barrister from leading chambers in the UK, where he was appointed by the Crown as Treasury Counsel. At BLP, Raza will help expand the Firm’s contentious business in the region – with a focus on international and commercial arbitration.

Alexander joins BLP as an Energy and Infrastructure Partner and comes in from DLA Piper where he was a Legal Director in the Finance and Projects team, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania since April 2013. He has built a significant Africa-based infrastructure practice and has exceptional knowledge of the African market. Alexander’s appointment continues BLP’s development of its capability in Africa where the Firm has leading expertise in ENR, finance and infrastructure. Alexander will strengthen the Firm’s international Project Finance Practice and will enhance further BLP’s ability to advise clients in relation to investments into and out of Africa in conjunction with the wider team in Europe and Asia. Prior to his time at DLA Piper, Alexander was General Counsel at EcoSecurities, a start-up energy and environmental markets company. He is dual-qualified in English and German law.

Richard Davies, BLP’s Country Managing Partner, UAE, commented: “Strategically, these hires are hugely important for BLP both globally and specifically for our Middle East and Africa practice. They will enhance our Middle East practice, and help us to join up our efforts in Africa, Europe and Asia, regions where we as a Firm are exceptionally strong. Raza will help us to grow our international arbitration business and with Dubai making strenuous efforts to enhance its reputation as a global international arbitration centre, we will be on the front foot as this develops and able to respond to our clients’ needs with a physical presence.

“Alexander’s appointment will support and enhance the great client work already being done by our Africa Group and broaden our MEA reach. By having Alex on the ground in the UAE, we will be able to work closer than before with our impressive energy and infrastructure teams in Europe and Asia and offer clients an even better service.”

With the additions of Raza and Alexander, the Firm now has eight Partners across its two Middle East offices and a total of over 20 fee earners supporting clients across the MENA region, including those businesses making outbound investments into the UK, Europe, Southeast Asia & India and Russia.

Recent work has included acting for a range of clients in arbitration proceedings in the UAE and around the region, including in the hospitality, infrastructure, power and water sectors. BLP has been appointed as advisers for a number of the region’s largest developers, including as panel advisers for Dubai Properties Group which BLP has advised on a number of mandates, most recently on three major developments in Dubai. Additionally, the BLP UAE real estate team acted for Al Tamouh Investments Company LLC and its subsidiary in the successful closing of a AED 600,000,000 sharia’a compliant Islamic financing for a two-tower residential project located in the City of Lights, Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi. The financing was provided by a syndicate of two banks, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC. The Firm also assisted the developer of two luxury resort hotel and branded residence projects to be branded under the Taj and Marriott brands on Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah, including the negotiation of the agreements with the operators