In Pace With Progress: Youssef Al-Bahar, Executive Director, Al-Bahar Advocates And Legal Consultants
The Executive Director of Al-Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants is following the Dubai model of success as he charts his enterprise's growth.
Youssef Al-Bahar, Emirati lawyer, international arbitrator, and Executive Director of Al-Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants, sets the tone for this story right away at the beginning of the interview, with a declaration that his UAE-based law firm has always been ambitious, and that its vision has been inspired by its location in the dynamic Emirate of Dubai.
“We derive from Dubai our speed to keep pace with all legal transactions and procedures that facilitate people’s lives,” Al-Bahar says. “I don’t think that there are law firms in the world that can complete most of their clients’ procedures, as smartly and easily as we can in Dubai. So, we are always keen to apply the latest smart technologies for communicating with our clients, and we are always passionate about supporting them in managing their businesses, because their success is our success as well.”
Expo 2020 Dubai serves as the latest example of how inspirational Dubai can be, Al-Bahar continues, with the event serving as a new economic breakthrough for the UAE, putting it on a progressive path towards the next 50 years for the UAE Centennial 2071. “The UAE has also become the focus of the world’s attention in the economic field, having announced a set of important economic initiatives to push the post-COVID-19 growth and development process,” Al-Bahar says. “This is in addition to taking important steps and making major amendments in offering new types of residence permits that support investors and enable family stability.” Zooming in onto his particular area of work, Al-Bahar adds that the UAE’s flexible laws greatly contribute to making it one of the most advanced countries in this domain- here, he puts forward the example of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, an entity that has helped make Dubai a global destination for commercial litigation through the use of arbitration.
Youssef Al-Bahar, Emirati lawyer, international arbitrator, and Executive Director of Al-Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants. Image credit: Farooq Salik
It is more than evident that Al-Bahar is equally passionate about both his country and his profession, and I now inquire where the latter is coming from. He obtained a bachelor’s law degree from the Dubai Police Academy, which he describes as “a prestigious national institution that is truly producing men of honor, as it teaches them commitment and discipline, in addition to providing the best scientific curricula that qualify them for serving the Emirati nation.” Then, he joined the law office of his father, Mohamed Al-Bahar, who taught him how to embed wisdom, humanity, and passion into his work in the legal field.
And for that reason, Al-Bahar claims to have never found the demands of the legal profession burdensome. “The legal profession does not have a daily routine, but it’s rather a matter of daily work that brings a new challenge every day,” Al-Bahar says. “Every case is a mental challenge and a source of lot of ideas, and dealing with it is in itself a great passion and responsibility for us. We are keen to perform with honesty, sincerity, and dedication for the sake of our clients, as well as for the sake of justice, because the legal profession is an important partner for achieving justice within the judicial system.”
With Al-Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants being one of the first law firms in Dubai, its team of expert jurists and lawyers has built a significant track record in the profession; however, Al-Bahar makes sure they never rest on their laurels either. “We also work for the future, and keep abreast of all developments in the legal, judicial and justice fields,” he says. “We have clients of all nationalities and from all countries around the world, managing their legal work, and representing them before the judiciary.” One of the firm’s recent developments is its opening of a private notary department, following a new law that granted licenses to UAE lawyers to act as private notaries. “We have educated and qualified our employees in this area in order to make it much easier for our clients to complete their transactions and power of attorney services (POAs), and thus save their time and effort.”
All the firm’s offerings stem from Al-Bahar’s commitment to speed and efficacy, which has him making sure that the interest of his clients are always catered to, first and foremost. This attitude to his work, Al-Bahar notes, is a result of following in the footsteps of the UAE’s leadership. “We have learned leadership, creativity, and creating opportu- nities from them, and the magic recipe for everything related to leadership for me is in just one sentence of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai: ‘The word impossible is not in the leader’s dictionaries- no matter how big the challenges, strong faith, determination, and resolve will overcome them,’” Al-Bahar declares. Using the example of the COVID-19 crisis, Al-Bahar notes how it was a challenge for both the public and private sector, but Dubai has, once again, managed to not only get past hurdles, but also create new opportunities for, and ensure the continuity of, its businesses.
Youssef Al-Bahar, Emirati lawyer, international arbitrator, and Executive Director of Al-Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants. Source: Farooq Salik
For that reason, Al-Bahar also believes that the current legal scene in the UAE is a reflection of the UAE’s rapid development and growth in all fields. "Real estate development has reflected positively on real estate laws, and the development of businesses has also reflected positively on all laws that relate to establishing companies, including labor laws, and so on,” he explains. In Al-Bahar’s opinion, the UAE’s main differentiator from other countries in the world is its ability to keep pace with the changes in laws and legislation that serve the community and protect its interests. “For example, with the emergence of social networking sites and cyber crime, the UAE was one of the first countries to develop a specialized law to combat this type of crime (UAE Law No. 5 of 2012 on combating information technology crimes), which contributed to protecting society, people’s financial rights, and preventing infringement.”
Another feature of the UAE’s legal system that Al-Bahar prefers to highlight is its flexibility, which is always aimed at achieving the greater good and prosperity in society as a whole. “The laws here are not rigid and do not require many years to be amended, as it happens in some countries, but rather keep pace with the changes,” he says. “The world is in a continuous and rapid development in various fields, and therefore laws must be advanced; otherwise, the failure to keep abreast of changes will contribute to stopping the developmental processes in societies that do not wait for the hesitant or the late to keep up.”
In this manner, Dubai has become a global destination in the field of litigation, Al-Bahar repeats, stating that the DIFC Courts play an important role in “arbitration between major international companies.” He explains, “Here, we must make it clear that arbitration has become the preferred method for litigation among large companies, which prefer it over traditional courts, due to the speed of issuing judgments and reaching decisions in a way that does not affect the production wheel. Investors and major international companies want to ensure the continuity of their business, and that is what Dubai provides them through the DIFC Courts.”
Dubai’s favorable conditions for investments, most recent among them being a new system for long-term residence visas (the golden visa scheme) and allowing foreigners 100% ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland, are other initiatives that have attracted the world’s attention, Al-Bahar says. “In addition to the ‘United Global Emirates’ global media campaign that highlights the benefits and incentives of the UAE for entrepreneurs, other initiatives, such as ‘Tech Drive,’ a AED5 billion program to support advanced technology adoption in the industrial sector, are encouraging for entrepreneurs wishing to establish their businesses in the country,” he adds.
Al-Bahar points out that the UAE’s standing on the global landscape can also be seen in its quick recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, evident through the decrease in the number of infected people, as well as the speed at which it got citizens and residents vaccinated through the course of the pandemic. “These good results give indications that the future is better, especially since we have recently witnessed the return to normal life in many sectors,” Al-Bahar says. “Therefore, the future is promising and favorable, under the directives of our leadership and government plans that have been announced for the next 50 years.”
This ties into his advice for entrepreneurs, with Al-Bahar highlighting the ease of opening and doing business in the UAE. “The UAE legal system is an attractive environment for labor and commercial activities, and, on my part, I encourage companies to choose Dubai for their business, especially due to the forward-looking vision of the UAE towards the centenary of the union,” he concludes.
Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.