Arbitrators, lawyers, academics and many more experts from around the world gathered in Dubai for Arbitration Week, to discuss some of the current issues and important topics in arbitration, and also looking ahead to 2024 at the opportunities and challenged faced by the arbitration community.
The use of technology and its application in a changing world was a recurring theme, and I participated in several speaking engagements where we discussed the impact of generative AI on construction disputes/ claims, technological developments in real estate, the increase in foreign direct investment in the UAE (and wider region) and the current arbitral landscape in Dubai.
As I reflect on some fascinating discussions with clients and contacts across the industry, here are my four key takeaways from the week:
- The Middle East is buzzing with opportunities. Whilst there is a certainly a big uptick in project and construction related work, there is also an increase in activity across a range of commercial disputes – share holder disputes, tech related disputes and a rise in bankruptcy and insolvency matters.
- Growth of regional arbitration institutions. Both the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) and Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration (SCCA) are in growth mode and are building their internal teams to manage the workload. I was particularly impressed by the SCCAs new board and its plans.
- Impact of Generative AI. AI was at the forefront of all my discussions this week, and I query whether we can do more in this space from a client care perspective. There is so much being said on the topic, and so many voices providing opinions, but I am not sure businesses have a clear direction on how they are going to use it.
- Parties are still grappling with the consequences of Decree 34. In 2021, the Dubai government passed a law which abolished the DIFC-LCIA and transferred its cases and all future disputes arising under DIFC-LCIA arbitration clauses to the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (“DIAC”). How this change would affect contracts that provided for DIFC-LCIA arbitration has been a point of concern for practitioners in the region. (Read our latest briefing on Decree 34 and validity of a DIFC-LCIA arbitration agreement)
The outlook for arbitration in Dubai is bright, but the landscape is complex and with new technologies emerging at a rapid pace.