Saudi Arabia remains, by far, the largest economy in the Middle East. In 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Vision 2030 initiative, aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy away from its traditional reliance on the country’s enormous – but finite – oil and gas reserves. The years since have seen huge investments in sectors such as tourism and infrastructure, with numerous major projects announced or underway, as well as the launch of a new export credit agency, the Saudi Ex-Im Bank. These developments have been accompanied by social reforms such as a relaxation of the male guardianship system for women and the decision to allow tourist visas for passport holders from countries such as the USA, China and the member states of the EU.
The Chambers rankings for Saudi Arabia: Corporate/Commercial cover the full scope of M&A and related commercial agreements. Lawyers with specialist expertise in areas such as employment or TMT will be ranked here by default, until we have enough information to introduce a ranking table focusing on those areas exclusively. All domestic Saudi ranking tables, for lawyers as well as law firms, should be read alongside our Experts Based Abroad ranking tables.
As in similar sections, law firms handling high-value, cross-border M&A are ranked highest. Regulatory issues currently prevent international law firms from operating in the country, except by a co-operation agreement with a domestic Saudi firm. (The two exceptions we have been able to find are Clyde & Co and Jones Day.) Some of the best-established law firm alliances include those between Legal Advisors and Baker McKenzie, between Latham & Watkins and the Law Office of Salman Al-Sudairi, and between AS&H and Clifford Chance. All three firms are top ranked by Chambers.
Similar restrictions preventing overseas entities setting up on the ground in their own name also mean that joint venture work is a much bigger feature of law firms’ work than it would be in other jurisdictions.