Friday, October 6, 2017

Dispatch from Moria Refugee Camp: A Crisis within a Crisis

I recently returned from Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece, where I served as a project lawyer with European Lawyers in Lesvos, a legal aid organization that serves refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Middle East and North Africa. The experience of working with refugees, who toiled for weeks or even months to reach the gateway to Europe, was moving on many fronts. These refugees landed on the shores of Lesvos after fleeing from the most atrocious crimes of the twenty-first century, including genocide, torture, sexual slavery and other war crimes.

Some refugees in Moria have lived in tents such as this one for as long as eight or nine months, pending decisions on their asylum applications from the European Asylum Support Office.
While at Moria, I worked with a team of attorneys from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Spain and the U.K. serving asylum seekers. Throughout the day, we were inundated with inquiries, clients and calls. We saw victims of torture fleeing their countries due to political or religious persecution; unaccompanied minors seeking to be reunited with their families; families that dodged bullets and bombs while fleeing to Turkey; asylum seekers that have been kidnapped and held in ISIS indoctrination camps before being released; Iraqis who have been captured, detained and flagellated by militias because they belonged to the wrong religious sect or ethnic group; Yezidis who have been raped and forced into sexual slavery. These clients come to us with visible scars of war, but their hope for a future is unconquerable.

Photographed (second from the right) with with ELIL’s team of project lawyers
The Zambakari Advisory, LLC, a consulting firm with a focus on the Middle East and Africa, recently published my essay on Moria Refugee Camp, the refugee crisis and ways that you can help. Read it at Please share it with friends and colleagues who want to learn what they can do to relieve suffering and restore normalcy to lives impacted by war.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Launch of Audio Book on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

I am excited to announce that my book, Hope and a Future: The Story of Syrian Refugees (Time Books / Jechco Studios, 2017) is now available as an audiobook. The book was produced in collaboration with Gary Roelofs, who put together an amazing and professional production. Gary and I are donating all of our royalties from the project to humanitarian agencies supporting Syrian refugees.

Listen to the audio sample at (click “Play Audio Sample”). The book is free with a new Audible subscription! It is also available at

Don’t have time to read the 200+ page book? You can now listen to the book at any time—while in your car, running errands or at the gym!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

International Arbitration in the Middle East: Developments and Challenges

Dentons’ Middle East Dispute Resolution team recently gathered a group of experts in New York to discuss recent developments and challenges in international arbitration in the Middle East. We discussed the adoption of arbitration legislation across the Arabian Gulf and broader Middle East, and recent court decisions upholding and recognizing foreign arbitral awards. The discussion also focused on how recent court decisions and legislation have fostered an environment of predictability and legal certainty for foreign investors doing business in the region.

I am pleased to report a positive outcome for the event, with participants joining by webinar from Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, Riyadh and Washington, DC. I would like to thank the SCCA for helping to host the event and for their assistance in putting together a successful program.

Lawyers, judges and arbitrators joining the panel from Dubai, Riyadh and New York commented on the deep roots of arbitration within Middle Eastern culture and Islamic law, which encourages parties to peacefully resolve their disputes through mediation. Investors seeking a more streamlined method of resolving their disputes can now rest assured that Saudi Arabia and the broader GCC are taking international arbitration very seriously through new legislation and institutional reform. 

The successful event will be followed up with a second event in Riyadh as well as the publication of a series of articles discussing dispute resolution in the Middle East, to be published by the Kluwer Arbitration Blog.

Visit Dentons’ website to read the full press release.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dentons Wins Award for Our Work with Syrian Refugees

I am honored to announce that my law firm, Dentons, won a third Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) award for our work with Syrian refugees. Our work was recognized by Legal Week at the Corporate Counsel Middle East Awards and awarded the "CSR Initiative of the Year" prize. Partnering with humanitarian organizations since 2014, Dentons has continued to leverage its unrivalled presence in the Middle East to bring much needed legal expertise to Syrian refugees in the greatest humanitarian tragedies of this century.

I would like to thank Dentons attorneys for seeing the law as a calling to serve others.

Here are excerpts from our award submission:

"The Syrian civil war mirrors the worst of man’s cruelty to man. In 2016, the means and methods of warfare, including chlorine gas, incendiary weapons, barrel bombs, sieges and the intentional starvation of civilians—grew more savage and caused unwarranted human suffering.

"As Syria descended into a downward spiral of violence and destruction, Dentons mobilized its resources to bring assistance to Syrian refugees. Leveraging its presence in Istanbul, Beirut and Amman, Dentons served Syrian refugees living in the three countries hit hardest by the crisis—Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Through partners including the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and the European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELL), Dentons engaged on all fronts of the refugee crisis—from providing legal aid to refugees to preparing UNHCR resettlement applications, from donating to NGOs to providing humanitarian assistance to refugees.

"Lawyers from our Middle East offices volunteered pro bono legal service to NRC and IRAP, including assistance in interviewing refugees, translating documentation, preparing resettlement applications and providing legal advice on landlord-tenant relations, birth registration, foreigner registration and deportations. Dentons further supported ELL, which hosts a legal aid clinic on the Greek island of Lesvos staffed by lawyers who volunteer two to three weeks in Moria migrant camp. Dentons’ support to ELL encompassed strategic advice, pro bono legal counsel and financial assistance."

I would also like to share the following feedback from our partner organizations:

“Dentons has demonstrated dedication, commitment and outstanding pro-bono support to NRC’s legal work on the Syrian refugee crisis. [O]ur partnership … combines a convincing vision with unparalleled leadership.”

- Abeer Shubassi
Gulf Office Director, Norwegian Refugee Council

“We are thrilled that Dentons is currently taking on [IRAP cases] impacting 44 refugees … in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq … identified as particularly vulnerable.”

- Stephen Poellot
Legal Director, International Refugee Assistance Project

“[Dentons has] provided us with great support … [M]y colleagues on the island of Lesbos … were very grateful … and their reactions were extremely positive.”

- Dr. Cord Brügmann
CEO, DAV (European Lawyers in Lesvos Coordinator)

Read more at:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

تؤكد رؤية 2030 فرص جديدة للشركات الأجنبية

تؤكد رؤية 2030 توليد فرص العمل للمواطنين السعوديين وفرص جديدة للشركات الأجنبية.
أغراض رؤية المملكة العربية السعودية 2030 التالية:
-       العمق العربي والإسلامي
-       القوة الاستثمارية
-       أهمية الموقع الجغرافي الاستراتيجي
ستفتح رؤية 2030 مجالا للقطاع الخاص ليكون شريكا ولينمو الاقتصاد السعودي وليصبح احد أكبر اقتصادات العالم، ويصبح محركا لتوظيف المواطنين ومركز الاستثمار الاجنبي.

 للتفاصيل، أقرأوا مقالنا الذي نشره مجلس السياسة للشرق الأوسط (MEPC):

Friday, April 28, 2017

Defense Contracting in the Middle East: New Opportunities for Military Contractors under Vision 2030

The Middle East Policy Council recently published a commentary on opportunities for the defense sector under Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which presents unprecedented opportunities to military contractors to invest in Saudi Arabia. In the piece, my colleagues Amgad Husein, Anas Akel and I discuss how the Saudi government, in pioneering a new vision for a local military manufacturing sector, is seeking partnerships with leading security and defense companies. Vision 2030 offers these companies diverse opportunities for joint ventures, technology transfers, consulting and training.

Read the full commentary at

Monday, April 24, 2017

Strategies for Complying with Anti-Corruption Rules

Government contracting can be highly rewarding in Saudi Arabia, given the wide-ranging opportunities in defense, education and healthcare. At the same time, however, companies doing business there need to be mindful of the anti-corruption rules and practices of not only their home jurisdictions, but also the Saudi legal framework. Moreover, investors must be conscious of the particularities of Saudi culture and politics, where the head of a company with whom they are negotiating may be a member of the Royal Family, or where an intermediary in a government contract may be one of the monarchy’s thousands of princes. Investors doing business in Saudi Arabia must understand this local context in order to avoid the unwitting payment to a “government official.”

My colleague Amgad Husein and I recently wrote a commentary on complying with Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption rules. The piece, published by the Global Mobility Review, can be viewed at