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Major Centers for Commercial Arbitration in the United Arab Emirates

by Shahram Shirkhani

In recent years, ongoing economic diversification has led to significant financial growth in the United Arab Emirates. As the nation’s burgeoning economy attracts inward investments from firms across various sectors, it requires an increased focus on options for commercial dispute resolution. The UAE Ministry of Economy has issued a number of draft federal arbitration laws and continues to work toward full legislative modernization and compliance with the New York Convention. In the meantime, the UAE’s numerous centers for commercial arbitration continue to develop their operations to match international best practices and regulations.
Established in May 2003, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) replaced the Conciliation and Commercial Arbitration Centre of Dubai to become the Gulf region’s most popular center for arbitration. The DIAC, which is financially and administratively independent, upholds its own set of English-language rules for arbitration.
Since 1993, the Abu Dhabi Commercial, Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC) has served as the venue of choice for disputing parties in Abu Dhabi, operating in Arabic unless English is specifically requested. The center, which issued a modernized revision of its regulations in September 2013, continues to serve as a preferred location for construction and commercial contract disputes.
An autonomous jurisdiction under common law, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has drawn on its own legislative authority to develop an independent legal framework for civil and commercial arbitral disputes. Following precedents set by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, the DIFC allows parties to select it as the seat of arbitration without any connection to the center. Additionally, the Judicial Authority Law allows the Dubai courts to enforce DIFC arbitration awards as “final and appropriate for enforcement” as long as an Arabic translation is provided.
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