Until recently, the MENA countries may not have been among the preferred locations for international arbitrations, such as Paris, London or Geneva, due to their less developed legal systems; however, this status is rapidly changing.

The MENA region has set a record in the development of arbitration in an unprecedented way, in terms of laws, rules and centres. The arbitration laws issued in most of the MENA countries are based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of 1985, and most MENA countries are also signatories to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). The UAE became a signatory to the Convention in 2006, and is also signatory to the 1983 Arab Convention on Judicial Co-Operation between States of the Arab League (Riyadh Convention), the 1996 Agreement of Execution of Judgements, Delegations Judicial Notifications in the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council Countries (GCC Treaty) and the Washington Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States 1965 (ICSID).

Up until recently, arbitration in the UAE was governed by the Civil Procedures Code 1992 (Articles 203-218) however on 14 June 2018, Federal No 6 of 2018 came into force. This was the UAE’s first separate onshore Arbitration Law. The new law is based broadly on the UNCITRAL Model Law and applies to any arbitration conducted in the UAE, unless the parties have agreed to apply another law, provided that the agreed law does not conflict with the public order or morality of the state. As to the scope of its application, the law refers to both international and domestic arbitration, thereby granting international arbitration the recognition it previously lacked.

Apr-Jun 2019 issue

Diana Hamade in association with EKP