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Expansionary transatlantic giant DLA Piper is set to launch an office in Qatar by the end of the year as it emerges that Reed Smith Richards Butler has also applied for a licence to practice in the Gulf region. DLA Piper has approved the opening of the office, including plans to relocate US projects partner Stewart Diana from Baltimore to head the new outfit. The firm already has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman, as well as an associate office in Saudi Arabia, and has long made its intention to set up in Qatar known. Chief executive Nigel Knowles said: “We have approved the opening of an office in Qatar and hope to establish an office there in December or January.” It is anticipated that a number of partners and assistants will join Diana after the launch. The news comes as it has emerged that Reed Smith Richards Butler, which also has offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has applied for a licence to practise in the Gulf state. A partner at the firm confirmed that the application had been submitted, but told Legal Week that internal discussions were still ongoing as to how to resource the office. It is hoped internally that the firm will open an office in the jurisdiction next year. Meanwhile, DLA Piper has launched a specialist disputes team in the burgeoning Dubai market, with the hire of construction litigation partner Jim Delkousis from leading Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, and the transfer of London senior litigation consultant Tom Canning. Dubai will be the hub of the firm’s dispute resolution work in the Middle East. Benelux firm Loyens & Loeff has become the latest practice to launch in Dubai, with the announcement this week (6 November) that it is to set up an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre.

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