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With one-fifth of the world’s oil reserves under Saudi Arabia’s desert sands, it might seem unnecessary to ask what exactly attracts international law firms to the kingdom – a bit like asking Donald Trump’s third wife what it was she saw in the billionaire property magnate. But compared to the neighboring emirate of Dubai, which has seen an influx of US and UK law firms, Riyadh has proved far tougher for foreign lawyers to crack, despite the Saudi Government’s avowed commitment to privatisation and foreign investment. So by Saudi Arabian standards, Norton Rose’s recent arrival – in conjunction with White & Case’s decision to beef up its Riyadh outpost and Allen & Overy’s launch of a Saudi office in May – constitutes something of a foreign invasion.

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