2023 Trends in the Middle East

2023 has proven to be a very interesting year for the Middle East Region.

Published on 10 May 2024
Written by Laurence Mussett
Laurence Mussett

Trends in Bahrain

I would like to illustrate the key trends by focusing in on two jurisdictions in more detail. First of all, a brief overview of Bahrain. Bahrain’s economy continues to grow at a strong rate, with significant increases in GDP over the last two years. These increases keep pace with the wider region which has seen a notable bounce back post-Covid. The diversification of the Bahraini economy is a particularly illustrative trend. Whilst the oil and gas sector is still estimated to form up to 85% of the Bahraini market, other sectors have continued to develop quickly, resulting in the nation’s steadily reducing reliance on hydrocarbons.

The banking sector is of particular importance to Bahrain, which is widely acknowledged to be a major hub for Islamic finance products. Other sectors of importance include manufacturing, mining and hospitality. Construction projects, such as those for the creation of artificial islands remains another key element, reflective of similar projects undertaken in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Furthermore, Bahrain is a particularly notable jurisdiction for the guide because it contains the highest proportion of ranked female lawyers in the region. Last year, women made up over 40% of all our Bahrain rankings which was well above the proportion for the Middle East as a whole where ranked women made up 16.7% of the guide.

This year the region-wide proportion of ranked women has increased to 18.8%, but what is most remarkable is that in Bahrain, our rankings actually reached total parity. This is an excellent example of the steady but increasingly fast-paced change in the number of high-achieving lawyers from diverse backgrounds. 

Trends in Qatar

The second country that I would like to discuss in more detail is Qatar. Qatar has seen some notable developments since its hosting of the 2022 World Cup. The nation has of course continued to host a number of high-profile sports events, most recently the AFC Asian Cup. These events have generated a notable amount of back-end disputes, particularly arbitrations relating to the construction sector.

Whilst Qatar is also diversifying quickly through sectors such as banking, industry and tourism, natural gas production is actually projected to increase in the short term. Similar to other major regional economies, Qatar is continuing to invest in oil and gas projects, such as the expansion of the North Field East LNG project. High-profile projects, both within oil and gas and more broadly across the infrastructure sector, is expected to remain a core staple for growth across the Middle East. 


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