Commercial and Chancery Bar: Centre point
In an article entitled 'Starting from Scratch' on 29 March, 2007, Legal Week reported on the ambitious plans for the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and its Court. In the subsequent year the world's leading financial institutions have continued to pour into the centre and the list of law firms with a presence in the DIFC now include Akin Gump, Allen & Overy, Al Tamimi & Co, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Conyers Dill & Pearman, Denton Wilde Sapte, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Lovells, Maples and Calder, Norton Rose, Reed Smith Richards Butler, Simmons & Simmons and Walkers. In addition, the UK law firms Kennedys and Clyde & Co, which are based in greater Dubai, have also been active in the DIFC Court. It is notable that in January the International Bar Association (IBA) established its Middle East office in the DIFC. The opening of the office was timed to correspond with the IBA's Arab regional forum's conference on Islamic finance in the Middle East. The DIFC has set its sights on becoming the world centre for Islamic finance and is itself an active investor. In June 2007, DIFC Investments listed a $1.25bn (£630m) sukuk on the Dubai International Financial Exchange, taking the total value of sukuk listed on the exchange to $10.43bn (£5.26bn) - the highest of any exchange worldwide. The DIFC has also been an active investor in international markets and acquired a 2.2% stake in Deutsche Bank, which, according to publicly-available market data, makes it the largest external strategic shareholder in the international investment bank.
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