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JEDDAH

Khalil Khazindar Law Firm
in Association with
JASON HUF INTERNATIONAL pc
Ammar Commercial Center

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P.O. Box 157,  Jeddah  21411
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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  • Eid Al Adha, Labor Day & Observance of the Anniversary of September 11

    JHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid Al Adha holiday. To those able to perform Hajj rites, congratulations.  We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services due to office closures - particularly banks and government offices - throughout the Middle East region during the holiday, which is scheduled to begin at sundown on Friday, September 1, 2017.
    In the United States, to all those who labor, have a happy Labor Day weekend. JHI will keep its doors closed until Tuesday, September 5. In the case of urgent matters, Mr. Huf will be available remotely during the weekend, including Monday, September 4.

    JHI ordinarily issues bills for professional services rendered during the previous month on the first business day of the following month. However, for only the second time in the Firm's history thus far, we will issue August's invoices on the second business day of the month (in this instance, September 5).

    Liberty Tower - World Trade Center (WTC), NYC, NY, USA   [ Never Forget:  Liberty ALWAYS Rises ]

    Per Firm custom, at 5:00pm on Thursday, September 7, JHI's NYC HQ will close again, this time in observance of the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on our country. We will reopen our doors on Tuesday, September 12.
    On September 11, we honor and remember those loved ones and fellow countrymen lost to sudden and senseless evil. But, there is never a day wherein we forget.

    The best way to honor them, especially in New York - the greatest city in the world, is to LIVE (in every sense of the word). To that end, coming soon, we will publish Mr. Huf's report on a productive and enjoyable summer (well, really, a very good year thus far it seems) as part of our Work-Life Balance series. This will be followed by a note on the famously "tax-free" United Arab Emirates' imposition of a tax scheme, including a Value Added Tax and certain Excise Taxes. We also plan, in the very near future, to introduce JHI's new Youtube channel; and, provide on update on EB-5 (Investor) Visas & legal services related to applications for such.

    Mr. Huf at Madain Saleh, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia  (Another day at the office... Exploring the Boundaries of Your Business)

    Watch this space. In the meantime, whatever you are celebrating and/ or observing over the next two weeks as summer comes to a close, we hope that it is meaningful and that you and your families enjoy it.
  • Big Firm Resources Without the Massive Overhead

    By R. Jason Huf

    Some of you may have obtained entry to the "Monastery" (as I've taken to calling my office) as and when business has required. However, for most of those reading this, I realize that I'm letting you in on a little secret: the advertised address of JHI's NYC HQ office is just a mail stop associated with a shared space & services operation on the 6th floor of good old 11 Broadway.  To maintain my strict "No Pop-Ins" Policy, the exact location of the Firm Headquarters Office/ Monastery's actual physical presence is kept confidential, and that confidence is only breached when necessary.

    Being able to advertise the mail stop as the office address, and the convenience of renting conference room space by the hour on the 6th floor, both enable me to concentrate on my work with minimal interruption.  In addition to this "buffer", availing myself of the shared services when certain tasks need to be performed rather efficiently assists me with keeping costs down, which in turn contributes to my ability to maintaining hourly rates that are very competitive.

    The World is Yours (As an old boss of mine used to say, "This is not the Fish Market"; but, with our competitive rates and innovative price structures, there may not be much need for you to bargain when seeking high-quality, world-class International Legal Services that your company can afford)


    Perhaps most fundamentally to those of you (still) reading this piece, JHI can make available to your company the seamless provision of professional services spanning just about the entire legal prism, without having to figure massive overhead costs into our hourly rates (or more innovative billing arrangements). The outfit that runs the 6th floor operation only caters to attorneys, and many of these attorneys elect to house their firms and solo practices in physical office space on the site. Irrespective of the level of their arrangement, all who participate in some form or another are listed in a directory and, over time, some of us get to know each other reasonably well.

    These attorneys practice in virtually every area of the law, and possess a variety of experience levels. In short, I have at my fingertips a storehouse of legal minds to draw upon, from commercial real estate specialists, to business litigators, to tax professionals - even a very smart fellow who focuses on energy trading. And, like myself, they tend to maintain a relatively unburdensome level of overhead costs, which in turn, permits them to be reasonable with their fees as well.

    A few people still tend to think of my practice as rather narrow, until I dispell them of that illusion - JHI is a Commercial, Corporate, Energy & Banking law firm and we perform a wide range of services for clients hailing from a broad variety of industries.  We just happen to have extensive experience in the Middle East, which may occassionally give rise to some folks instinctively thinking of JHI as a boutique servicing a particular "specialty" area.  However, JHI's capabilities are even broader than I previously reasoned:

    Between the NYC HQ, our Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, additional reources in the UAE (Abu Dhabi & Dubai) and access to Singapore and various major cities in India, JHI as a Brand is known as a capable provider of professional services in the Middle East and South Asia, ranging from company formation to arbitration, for those who have invested - or are looking to invest - in those regions in the world.

    What JHI is not (yet) necessarily known for is our ability to assist businesses based in the Middle East and elsewhere with their expansion into the US "mega-market". Whether you are an individual foreign investor entering through the EB-5 Visa process, or a family-owned conglomerate of businesses looking to invest in US real estate, or a publicly traded company in Riyadh entering a joint venture, or a participant in the new US public-private partnerships designed to reform the nation's infrastructure, JHI is well-placed to help get you started as well as protect your US-side business interests down the road.

    We have access to an entire network of intellectual assets encompassing a variety of practice areas ordinarily comanded only by big law firms, without having to factor "big firm" overhead into our fees. So, when investing from West to East, or East to West, consider the cost-effective but powerful option of contacting JHI for your legal needs.

    Feel the difference and put our NYC HQ and affiliated Community of Attorneys to work for you in concert with our Jeddah office and/ or resources in the UAE, India & Singapore (wherever you're from!) as we help you and your company Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.

     – Jason Huf
    Wednesday, August 8, 2017
    New York, NY

  • "A Day in Riyadh": An Exhibition of History, Culture, Modernization & Reformation

    During the last week of September, immediately following the opening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, a series of seminars, workshops and interactive displays collectively coined "A Day in Riyadh" was showcased at the UN.  This week-long "Riyadh Day" was sponsored by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh (Riyadh), and particularly featured the ongoing work of the Arriyadh (Riyadh) Development Authority (ADA).  As a Representative (Observer) for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the UN, and an attorney with an office in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Huf, Principal of JHI, was pleased and excited to attend.

    Riyadh (Saudi) Exhibition at the United Nations
    Focused on the capital city of Saudi Arabia (KSA, or the Kingdom) and the governate (province) of Riyadh, the series of presentations covered subjects relevant to the economy, culture, commerce and development of the entire Kingdom, and the Arab and Islamic worlds more generally.

    Of particular interest to those who follow this space will be the planned reformation of Riyadh's transportation system which, if fully executed, may be the single-largest public works project on earth during the period of construction. However, we will list all of the subjects covered by the panel presentations at the UN between September 27 - 30, to provide a broad look at the planned continued development of Riyadh (one of the chief purposes of the conference) which, in turn, may give us a better view of the Kingdom-wide social and economic reforms known as Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030".

    Eng Khalid Al Hogail, CEO Saudi Public Transport Company  Saudi Nuclear Program  Arriyadh Development Authority

    9/27 "Riyadh:  Planning for People" - the overall City Plan (by 2030) moving forward, including details on Riyadh's new "Smart City" initiative.

    9/28 "Riyadh:  A Sustainable & People-Friendly City" - details concerning the Sustainable Development of Riyadh.

    9/29 "Riyadh:  On the Move" -  The King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport.

    9/30 "Riyadh:  Development of Civilization and Social Partnership" - Plans for the continued social, economic and intellectual development of the city's population in line with Islamic principles and the traditions of Arabia, particularly youth and especially young women, empowering them to take a more active role in the growth of the city and the future of the Kingdom as a whole.

    Dr. Sana H Alorf and Jason Huf
    (Jason Huf and Dr. Sana Alorf.  Dr. Sana is extraordinary, but not unique. She is a medical doctor working in Riyadh who also participates in many charitable and civic endeavors.  She volunteered, along with many other young Saudis, to travel to New York and talk about their culture, heritage and way of life in side bars at the exhibition.  Many ladies are taking up professions [including and increasingly fields such as law, medicine and science], starting businesses and participating in life outside their homes in the Kingdom.  Dr. Sana has a wealth of information that dispells many of the illusions concerning Saudi society and highlights the progress Saudi women have made - and continue to make.)

    The public transortation project, scheduled for completion in 2018, is a massive affair that could revolutionize life in Riyadh.  In addition to a new bus service, the project includes the construction of a commuter railway (Riyadh Metro) with six lines, dozens of stations, a main terminal for each line, and services areas at each stop, including large-scale shopping complexes at each of the main terminals.  Anticipating use by roughly 3.6 million residents daily, over 3,000 transport stands will be constructed to accomodate waiting commuters.

    With billions of Saudi Riyals being invested into the project, and given the rather brief time frame, this will generate a labor boom in the capital for qualified Saudis and expatriates.  Mr. Huf asked Eng. Hassan Al Musa, Deputy Director of the Transport Planning Department of the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, if resources had been allocated to process what should be a substantial spike in Visa applications.  Potential contractors and subcontractors will be interested to know that the Deputy Director responded that his office is in touch with the Ministry of Labor on a regular basis as they set up for this contingency.  So long as employers comply with their filing requirements, he said, there should be no delays in the project caused by a labor shortage brought about by paperwork backlogs.

    Eng Hassan Al Musa and Jason Huf
    (Eng. Hassan Al Musa and Jason Huf.  Mr. Huf found him to be capable, earnest and modest.  Although entrusted with day-to-day management of a massive public works project, with a tight schedule, he always gives credit to others, refering to his "Army" of dedicated public servants.  "That makes you a General", responded Mr. Huf, who later added, "Eng. Hassan is a nice guy".)

    In addition to the lifestyle transformation and relief of traffic congestion that will take place once this project is complete, young Saudis who are lacking in resources such as cars of their own will be able to much more easily venture beyond the confines of their own neighborhoods to look for satisfying work and important educational opportunities.  And, everyone who lives in Riyadh should enjoy the benefit of cleaner air arising from fewer cars on the highways.

    The entire program provided a window through which one could sample Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the rapid modernization and other wide-ranging reforms ordered by King Salman and spearheaded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the aim of guiding a modern but authentically Islamic Saudi Arabia that remains true to its people's history and traditions into a future "Post-Oil" economy.

    These reforms include the KSA's Sustainable Development program, which closely follows the UN's Sustainable Development Goals while keeping in conformity with Kingdom's Islamic principles; increased opportunities for youth & women; and, Saudi Arabia's nuclear power program.

    At JHI, we have offered our own modest suggestions for the shaping of such sweeping reforms, with an emphasis on attracting increased Foreign Direct Investment in the Saudi market.

    With an incoming US Administration that seems keen on utilizing America's energy resources; and, (if feasible) working with Russia to defeat ISIS (which, in addition to commiting henious atrocities, has been fighting forces led directly or indirectly by the Iranians), some may see such investment from the West as slow in coming, and the KSA's reception of it to be less-than-enthusiastic.

    Seen by some as signalling potential push-back against the further development of US energy resources and other recent or possible future policy changes, Prince Alaweed bin Talal of Kingdom Holding Company (Saudi Arabia's soverign investment apparatus) suggested selling holdings previously classified "not sellable" (such as shares in Citi Group and US Treasury bonds), which would be a divorce from Saudi Arabia's long-standing policy of having "buy-ins" in important American economic institutions and, thus, the American economy - effectively giving the US a stake in the KSA's existence and continued success.

    Noises concerning such potential push-back seem unlikely to stem the increased exploitation of US energy resources (another dip in the price of oil, for example, would seem more likely to give pause to an increase in US production).  And, the US-Saudi alliance of over seven decades, while fraying a bit over the last several years, should remain rather tightly tethered:  after ISIS is destroyed, a check on Iranian ambition will have been eliminated, and the US and the KSA will more clearly and simply share strong interests in containing Iran and managing increasingly complicated relationships with Russia.

    In fact, the strong relationships the KSA enjoys with the West, the interest Western countries have in seeing the continued modernization of Arab states, and Western companies' keen eye to continue - and, possibly increase - their investments in the Gulf region were reinforced recently by UK Prime Minister Theresa May in her mid-December visit to the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Bahrain.

    Overview City Plan Riyadh 2030
    Pending changes to the Kingdom's commercial and corporate laws, which continue to be rolled out, and given at least one or two geopolitical uncertainties, JHI presently and on the whole views it likely that the environment for Foreign Investors will become even more attractive as the Vision 2030 reforms are implemented in the KSA.  As to the Great Social & Economic Reformation of the Kingdom known as "Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030", Mr. Huf doesn't think its on par with the Maji Restoration (the radical transformation experienced in Japan during the late 19th century), but he does see it as the most significant series of reforms in the history of the KSA since the reign of King Faisal (perhaps in the Kingdom's entire history - we'll see) and the most positive collection of developments to take place in the Arab world thus far in this new, turbulent 21st century - and, he certainly viewed the exhibition at the UN positively.

  • Huf Witnesses Major Changes at the UN

    During 2016, Mr. Huf had the opportunity to meet with both the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the President of the UN General Assembly for the 2015-16 term.  As a Representative (Observer) to the UN on behalf of the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Mr. Huf took a keen interest in what they had to say.

    HE Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General; and Jason Huf (JHI)
    (Left to Right: H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and, Jason Huf)

    Nearing the end of his second term, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been very earnest in showcasing and attempting to make effective his crowning accomplishment: the UN Sustainable Development Treaty (the Treaty), which garnered a record number of member states joining as signatories.

    In April, the Secretary-General reached out to the private sector, in particular the US Legal Community in New York City, to see what they could do to help promote and ensure the success of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are embodied in the Treaty (for more on the SDGs specifically, we invite you to peruse www.un.org).

    While the underlying purpose of the SDGs is noble (after all, who doesn't like clean air & water, equal rights, rule of law and the like), as lawyers we are limited to providing our corporate clients with legal advice, not business or public relations advice.  We can only advise our clients on how to be compliant with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdiction(s).  If a client were to invest in, say, Saudi Arabia (KSA) in such a manner that it promotes gender equality in that market, it may be a terrific selling point - but, that's a PR decision, not a legal requirement.

    We will discuss gender equality and other relevant issues in the KSA when providing JHI's write-up on Mr. Huf's attendance at and observations of the week-long "Riyadh Day" presentations at the UN.  As to the promotion and enforcement of the SDG's, it really is up to the signatories to pass executing legislation before attorneys can advise on how to comply with such provisions.   And let's face it, only government can concentrate the resources and power necessary to execute such sweeping and extensive changes.

    The odds of that happening really have to be measured on a state-by-state basis.  As to the Western states, Mr. Huf points out that in politics there is an ebb and flow, with a pendulum that swings right and left, and the present trend appears to be one wherein Western countries are electing more conservative, business-friendly governments.  If Mr. Huf is correct, then issues such as combating "climate change", for example, will (for the time being at least) take a back seat to pro-energy policies that are likely to be adopted by such governments.

    Irrespective of what one thinks of the feasibility of accomplishing the SDGs by the target date of 2030, no one should doubt the Secretary-General's sincerity in wanting these goals to be accomplished, or what he views as the UN's power to shepherd such change.  Mr. Huf found His Excellency's sincerity, passion and enthusiasm to be obvious in that he wears it on his sleeve.  He also thinks it obvious that the Secretary-General is highly intelligent, exceedingly accomplished, and a very nice man.

    Its a remarkable life story, really. From UN Refugee to UN Secretary-General:  finding himself to be a UN refugee at age 6 with the outbreak of the Korean War, to becoming an advocate for lasting peace as the Republic of Korea's (South Korea's) Foreign Minister, to being Secretary-General of the international body that once shielded him and his family as young refugee, he proudly says "I am a UN Boy".

    Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) & Jason Huf (JHI)
    (Left to Right: Morgens Lykketoft (Denmark), then-President of the United Nations General Assembly; and, Jason Huf)

    On the subject of choosing his successor as Secretary-General, Mr. Huf had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Morgens Lykketoft, formerly the Finance Minister of Denmark who, until this September, served as President of the UN General Assembly.

    Mr. Lykketoft provided an overview of changes to the selection process.  Perhaps the most fundamental innovation is the vetting of candidates by member states that occurs prior to the vote taken by the Security Council members.

    Whereas in past years the entire process of selecting a Secretary-General was dominated by the "Big Five" (the permanent Security Council members: the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom & France), candidates for their consideration are now first reviewed, narrowed down and subsequently voted upon by the General Assembly. 

    The Security Council is not bound by any recommendation made or preference expressed by the General Assembly; however, to elect a candidate that was not considered favorably by the General Assembly would be to risk a divide between the Secretariat (the executive wing and permanent bureaucracy of the UN, which the Secretary-General heads) and the member states themselves (upon which the very legitimacy of the UN relies).

    On the other hand, this increased, more hands-on role by the member states and the General Assembly as a whole could provide for greater transparency in the selection process and, when heeded by the Security Council, may lead to greater consensus between the General Assemby and Secretariat.

    This year, the revised process produced the election of Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal who once served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  He will take over the office of Secretary-General in January of 2017.

    In addition to achieving the SDG's, Mr. Guterres's efforts are promised to be focused on continued reform of the UN bureaucracy; continued streamlining, expansion and enhancement of refugee assistance; and, very prominently, an aggressive new "surge" in diplomacy for peace - an intensification in seeking resolution to the wide proliferation of conflicts around the world, especially those conflicts that have led to several severe refugee crises currently plaguing humankind globally.

    JHI congratulates Mr. Guterres on his election after a months-long campaign that included a rigorous review process resulting in consensus in both the General Assembly and (somewhat remarkably) the Security Council as well; and, cautions: careful what you wish for, sir - because now you've got it.

    The retiring Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, even after all of his success in his position at an institution he has loved and revered since childhood, nonetheless seems very happy to return home to Seoul after 10 rewarding - but long - years.  JHI congratulates him as well, and thanks him for his service.  We hope His Excellency enjoys a well-earned retirement after a long, but safe, journey home. 
  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in 2016

    In April of 2016, Mr. Huf was honored to serve as Moderator of two different panel programs offered by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA).  The first program was a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course concerning the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA/ the Act), the second offered Ethics Credit and concerned Attorney "Branding" & conforming with the Rules of Professional Responsibility.

    The CLE panel on the FCPA discussed the increasingly broad and robust enforcement of the Act, and the implications for Corporations that do business internationally, as well as its responsible officers and the potential for individual liability/ culpability.  The panelists not only discussed what to do in the event of an FCPA problem, but their thoughts on how to avoid such problems in the first place - now and in the future as the law evolves.

    Jason Huf, Jay Safer, Glenn Jones, James McGovern, Clara Flebus
    (Left to Right: Jason Huf; Jay G. Safer, Wollmuth, Maher & Deutsch; Glenn Jones, Law Offices of Glenn M. Jones; James McGovern, Hogan Lovells; Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee)

    The Branding panel provided an overview of marketing methods and the why and how of establishing a "Brand" - the "dos and the don'ts".  (Mr. Huf notes that he still has to establish a Youtube page for his firm, JHI!)  The panel also discussed how to plan and execute a marketing program that does not run afoul of the Rules of Professional Responsibility and agreed that, in addition to being every attorney's responsibility, being Ethical should, in fact, be a fundamental part of an attorney's Brand.

    The Rules of Professional Responsibility tend to follow changes in technology, and developing technologies are an important driver in the evolution of legal marketing programs.  Accordingly, the panel also discussed trends and the direction the Rules of Ethics might possibly take, including recent recommendations by NYCLA, as rule-makers chase after these rapidly-developing technologies and the ethical implications of their use.

    Clara Flebus, Penn Dodson, Rick Brownell, James Walker, Steve Perih, Jason Huf
    (Left to Right: Clara Flebus; Penn Dodson, AndersonDodson; Richard Brownell; James Q. Walker, Richards, Kibbe & Orbe, and Chairman of NYCLA's Committee on Professional Ethics; Stephen Perih, TransPerfect; Jason Huf)

    As Co-Chairman of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf proudly notes that NYCLA constantly offers interesting, relevant and forward-looking CLE programs and other valuable forums for continued learning on a regular basis; and, states that consumers of such programs can look forward to the steady provision of additional thoughtful and cost-effective programs now and in the future.  For more information on NYCLA's CLE offerings, please visit www.nycla.org

    Mr. Huf will, of course, continue to advise friends and colleagues of CLE programs and other speaking engagements wherein he is a participant in 2017 as the new year approaches.
  • Meh, So What's an Entire Summer Wasted... No Biggie

    By R. Jason Huf

    You know why you went to law school in the first place:  You wanted to help people, change the world, "make a difference", be part of the solution... to whatever.  Yeah, and you wanted to live a glorious, fabulous lifestyle at the top of the heap, respected by society and basking in financial comfort.  What, no?  Liar.

    When you finally graduated and passed the bar exam, your new professional qualification represented to you - at long last - the Keys to the Kingdom!

    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle


    OK, so how's that workin' out for ya?

    Now that I'm exactly one week into my latest attempt to quit smoking, and as the cold wind howls off the waters of the South Seaport and into the concrete canyons of Downtown Manhattan's Financial District, signaling the evaporation of yet another summer, I reasoned that penning my previously-promised piece on Work/ Life Balance would be timely.

    Liberty Cold Wet Windy Winter Sucks   (The cold wind cometh... )

    You've devoted the first "better" half of your life to developing, well, a better life for you and yours.

    Late nights at the office during the beginning of your career - part of the drill.  No biggie.

    More late nights managing junior fee earners once you become more seasoned - part of the drill, and "almost there".  No biggie.

    You're now a partner or solo practitioner and the near-constant focus is on client development; or a GC who is a company's responsible officer with a hand in everything from strategic decisions to managing the costs of outside counsel while demonstrating value for those costs; "sigh" - part of the drill, once the rain comes in steady, or I make it to the board of directors, its smooth sailing.  No biggie.

    Then...  You've made it!  Finally!!  You're also 60 years old.  Its over...  Where did the time go and what was it for?  It doesn't matter.  Bye-bye.  Oh yeah, and:  No Biggie.

    My Office Doesn't Look Like This, Either   (No, my office doesn't look like this, either... )

    Time is the one resource we can never obtain more of - only less.  Every day.  Whether we actually make good (or, any) use of it or not.

    And, particularly with lawyers, once we become good at something in our field - whatever your practice areas - those things tend to become routine.  Eventually, routine becomes routine.  We go through the motions, the excitement of "changing the world" goes away, and its the same old same old that one cannot get away from for even the smallest amount of time, because we've got to do that billable work so we can pay those bills.  Joy.


    Bread and Butter Work   ("Seriously, I went to law school for this?")

    I worked for years to build my reputation as "Mr. Middle East".  However, there are no more revolutionary Shari'ah-compliant financing products to help invent, no more reforms to educational systems in different parts of Arabia.  Doing client work that, in some small way, may someday help to generate a broad-based, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East is more or less over with.  Moving forward, whatever happens there is pretty much already in the cards.  All too often, I arrive home at 1:00am or so, pet my dog, and think of something along the lines of "Another fast food franchise on Hamdan Street... " or "Another oil refinery in the middle of some dusty nowhere... "  followed by the usual  "Yay.  Who cares."


    Jason Huf Saudi ARabiaJason Huf Abu Dhabi Stock ExchangeJason Huf PortraitJason Huf & Women's Rights in Saudi ArabiaJason Huf & Women's Rights in Saudi ArabiaJason Huf & Saudi Vision 2030

    That's not good.  A steady supply of "Bread and Butter" is nice to have, but when its all you have, things can get pretty damned dull.  When we get to the point when our work day is up to 16 or even 20 hours a day some days, 5 or 6 days per week, and we no longer care about what we're doing, much less have a passion for it, then this invariably leads to the most dreaded word in the legal lexicon.  The "B Word"...

    Dan Fielding Burnout Lawyers Attorneys Lifestyle ork Life Balance   BURNOUT!!!

    Like many in our profession, I've always been something of a minor league insomniac, so why not work late into the night, anyway?  I've done some of my best thinking at 10:00pm.  Of course, this means I won't be able to decompress to the point where I can sleep until 3:00am, and that's not good when you have to wake up at 6:00am.

    Professional and personal dissatisfaction, as well as chronic exhaustion and "no life syndrome", are common among lawyers.  And, there's no way out:  you've already invested too much into your career, and your life (or, mere existence, such as it may be) is already half over anyway.

    Not necessarily!  The good news is, if you're good at your job, your success partially stems from your possession of excellent time management skills and your adept ability to prioritize tasks.  Put those skills to work and carve out some free time - make "having a life" one of those tasks which you prioritize on a regular (well OK - semi-regular) basis.


    Rest Recreation Time Management  (R&R - fit in in!)

    We are in the business of being effective counselors who help our clients, be they individual or corporate clients.  If you're not being good to yourself, its only a matter of time before you're not being as good as you could and should be for your clients.

    I began this summer thinking it was time for "Mr. Middle East" to make full use of his time and status (OK, "Mr. Middle East" may not be lofty to the point of august, but it is kind of snazzy... ).  And, then, I proceeded to more or less waste my entire summer.  So, what's one summer?  No biggie....  Wrong.  Its a "biggie".  Given my visceral dislike of winter, its effectively the waste of an entire year. Enjoying anything in the cold, wet, sharp, biting wind of the winter months takes considerable effort - and, anything that requires so much effort to "enjoy" is, definitionally, unenjoyable.

    At my age, a year's worth of waste is waste I can ill-afford.  I will never permit that to happen again - and, neither should you.

    Necessary late nights will happen.  That cannot be helped.  But, working late for the mere sake of making "valuable" use of your waking hours misses the real value of time.

    You - and your clients - can withstand you taking an evening, or even an entire day, off.  Working from home once in a while isn't the end of the world, either.  Trimming that commute time off of your schedule can make a heck of a difference, and technology makes working from home easier than ever.

    In managing your time and prioritizing your tasks to make room for an actual "life", don't just take advantage of good weather as and when the seasons of the year allow, but make the most of the location where you are based:  whether you've planted your flag in New York, Philadelphia, London, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Tampa, Florida or Ashville, North Carolina, you live in one of the great cities of the world - make the most of it.  Its practically a sin if you don't!

    In New York, where I chose to locate JHI's HQ, I am a subway ride from some of the most exciting entertainment on earth, and walking distance from several quick, pleasant distractions.

    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle Work Life Balance   (The World-Famous ROCKETTES!!)

    Whether its taking a few hours one evening to enjoy the spectacle of the world's greatest precision dance troupe at work, or a stroll through battery park after your afternoon nap, a brief refresher could actually increase the quality or your work while not severly limiting the amount of time available for work.

    In addition to a bit of exercise, a proper diet doesn't hurt, either...

    Taking an obscenely long lunch at a comfortable, but not too over-priced, local eatery may be just the ticket when looking for R&R opportunities that will make your thoughts sharper, more clear and faster but more thorough.  You won't be able to send your client the bill, but perhaps you should given the subsequent improvement in your performance that results from taking a nice, relaxing breather...


    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle Work Life Balance ("I wonder if they still serve those off-menu parmesean fries... ")

    You can also combine business with pleasure.  For example, in line with my loathing for winter, during the bitter months of January and/ or February, I am considering taking a tour of the Middle East and South Asia where the weather will be perfect at that time of year, to visit the Jeddah, KSA office as well as possible expansion points for JHI in the jurisdictions/ markets of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi & Dubai), Singapore and India. 

    Well, I gotta go - I've always wanted to date a Rockette and that's not going to happen by itself, nor will I be able to make it happen while sitting within the four walls of my office.

    For now, remember: being good to others first requires that you be good to yourself.  Although its easier said than done, "Don't Live to Work, Work to Live" - get back to living the life you intended to live when you started this journey.  It comes down to good time management and shrewd prioritization.  If you have run out of professional challenges, perhaps find one or two new challenges in your travels.  And, there is one more thing that anyone can do, everyone should do more often, it doesn't cost you anything or require additional time, and if you do it more often, it can make a world of difference:

    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle Work Life Balance SMILE!        SMILE !!


    - Jason Huf
    Tuesday, October 11, 2016
    New York, NY
  • Qatar's International Commercial Court

    As Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf enjoys the occassional pleasure of hosting some rather interesting guests.

    Just this past March, the Foreign & International Law Committee welcomed the Honorable Gerald Lebovits, Justice of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan and Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia, Fordham and NYU.  Justice Lebovits provided a presentation covering the Qatar International Court and the time he spent in Doha teaching local attorneys there.

    JHI has briefly covered Qatar's Bifurcated Legal System in an earlier piece and we refer you to it for some of the bare bones basics.

    Justice Lebovits, in addition to describing his teaching experience in Doha, discussed the history of Qatar's International Court (the Court) for hearing commercial disputes, the caliber of its personnel, its procedures and costs.  He also discussed some of the decisions already rendered by the Court, where he participated as one of its distinguished Judges.

    Clara Flebus, Gerald Lebovits, Jason Huf
    (Left to right: Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee; Hon. Justice Gerald Lebovits; and, Jason Huf)

    Justice Lebovits pointed out, at length, what he viewed to be the efficiency of the Court relative to Arbitration facilities elsewhere in the Gulf region. The speed, cost and fairness of the proceedings made the Court, from his perspective, an ideal solution for Dispute Resolution and wondered aloud why parties did not avail themselves of the use of the Court more often in the dispute resolution clauses of their agreements.

    Mr. Huf agrees that, on paper and based on performance thus far, the Court is an attractive facility. However, the Court was founded relatively recently (2009), and as an active international practitioner who focuses on the region, Mr. Huf made the point that attorneys might be more receptive to the idea of recommending the use of the Court to their clients after more data is at hand (that is to say, after the Court has adjudicated more disputes). Of course, with attorneys perhaps hesitating to suggest that their client be something of a new legal system's "guinea pig", it may take some time before such additional data is generated.

    That said, you would be hard-pressed to find a lawyer in New York City who is as knowledgeable of the inner workings of the Court and the procedures it employs than Justice Lebovits.  His entire presentation – including his positive view of the Court's cost and time-effectiveness – was well-informed and compelling.

    JHI invites you to research the Qatar International Commercial Court and Dispute Resolution Centre and draw your own conclusions:

    www.qicdrc.com.qa


    After all, as very good lawyers, aren't we always in search of the next "better idea"?

  • April Showers Bring May Flowers

    By R. Jason Huf

    Its been quite some time since JHI's last Note or Comment, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been anything to write about.  And, its certainly too much to write about all at once.

    With Ramadan just around the corner, should the usual business cycle associated with the Holy Month and High Summer come about, I will make maximum use of the time and write more often:


    April was a pretty busy month, inside the office and out.  Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" was unveiled by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 25.  JHI will provide analysis of the KSA's plan for a "post-Oil" economy, and any changes to the laws of the Kingdom resulting therefrom.  We will also continue to track legal developments elsewhere in the Gulf region.

    Also, as UN Representative for an NGO, I enjoyed the opportunity of hearing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speak about the UN's Sustainable Development Treaty, the Sustainable Development Goals, and what the private sector (including the Legal Community) can do to help achieve those goals.  This was followed by attending several open forums at the UN, and hosting a talk on 'Conflict Minerals' with an expert on the subject.

    I also moderated two very successful Continuing Legal Education panels, one on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the other an Ethics course on Attorney "Branding" for international practitioners.

    Almost forgot! In March, I had the pleasure of hosting a New York State judge who discussed the Qatari Commercial Courts after returning from his experience teaching new, young Qatari lawyers in Doha.

    More recently, after months of deliberations and conversations with colleagues and others I respect, I have come to a decision on JHI's future in the Middle East - and, beyond.

    [ for some of the backstory, click here ---> 
    JHI - The Law Firm of Jason Huf International   ].


    Further details concerning our expansion of capabilities and services, as well as the other topics outlined above, will be distributed in due course.

    In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day -- enjoy the start of summer!



     - Jason Huf
    Wednesday, May 25, 2016
    New York, NY

  • Huf Appointed Representative to the United Nations

    By R. Jason Huf

    It is with great pleasure, and not without some sense of humility, that I announce my appointment as Representative (Observer) to the United Nations (UN) by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a Non-Governmental Organization recognized by the UN.

    Observers have access to certain sessions and other events covering a wide range of topics, and I hope to put this exposure to the best possible use of NYCLA and the legal community as a whole.  Naturally, my own focus will be on the Middle East and topics important to those involved in the region, from Womens' Rights (and, Human Rights generally) to Banking, Energy, International Corporate Governmence and Trade.

    Jason Huf, JHI, UN, United Nations, International, Law, Legal, GCC, Gulf, Middle East, Jeddah, Saudi, KSA, New York, NYC, USA, Diplomatic, Representative, NYCLA, Observer    Of course, I am not a "One Man Army" -- I am working
       with a terrific team of dedicated professionals, and I  
       expect great results as we report back to our
       colleagues on issues of importance to international
       legal practitioners and other concerned classes of
       people.

       This is an opportunity - and, an honor - that I am
       committed to making the most of as our civilization
       marches ahead into an age of rapidly-changing times that
       may require some thought be put into changing legal
       constructs.
    And, hey, you can't beat Fun...

    It goes without saying that I will provide a report or two via this space as well.  Thank you for your continued interest.


      - Jason Huf
    Tuesday, March 1, 2016
    New York, NY
  • Office Closure: Papal Visit

    Due to some of the logistical challenges associated with measures necessary to maintain security, regulate traffic and otherwise provide for the reasonably successful execution of Pope Francis' visit to New York City, the New York HQ Office of the Law Firm of Jason Huf International in downtown Manhattan will be closed on Thursday, September 24 & Friday, September 25.

    Pope, Francis, New York, Law Firm, Office, Closure, Security, Traffic, NYC, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Downtown, Manhattan, KSA, USA


    The Jeddah office will be closed on Thursday for Eid Al Adha, and the weekend in Saudi Arabia consists of Friday and Saturday.  However, Mr. Huf will be available via e-mail in he event his attention is needed.

    Our office in the living heart of NYC's Financial District shall resume operations as normal (along with the rest of New York) on Monday, September 28.  In the meantime, everyone at JHI sincerely hopes that Roman Catholics throughout the greater New York City area safely enjoy this rare and, we trust, meaningful visit by their Supreme Pontiff. 
  • Saudi Banking Market to Open Up?

    During King Salman's recent visit to Washington, DC, members of the Saudi delegation issued several announcements concerning planned commercial reforms and other developments that could prove significant to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Saudi Arabia (KSA) as the Kingdom looks to broaden its economy at a time when low oil prices are projected to be the norm for the medium term.  We will highlight some of the more significant announcements in this and subsequent notes.

    While Saudi Arabia remains committed to continuing its current record-setting output of light sweet crude (one of the major factors contributing to low oil prices), the KSA is now facing projections of massive budget deficits and rapidly depleting cash reserves.  Increased FDI, particularly from the United States, appears to be critical to the KSA's strategy for coping with the downsides of consistently low oil prices. 

    Reforms in the Arab world often begin with teasers that function as "trial balloons".  This note will reference such a trial balloon floated by a Saudi official associated with the Deputy Crown Prince.  In a closed door meeting with business leaders in DC, this official announced that the Kingdom is considering opening the Saudi banking market to permit entry of additional foreign banks - especially American ones - wishing to do business in the Kingdom.  In additional to financing major projects, it is hoped that such banks would also cater to small businesses and individual depositors.

    Even with the recent entry of a branch of a bank based in fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member State Qatar, Saudi Arabia is still seen as, perhaps, the most "under-banked" market in the world.  To attract additional FDI, which has been in slight decline in recent years, some see the entry of additional Foreign banks and the capital they bring as critical.  Entry by foreign banks based elsewhere in the GCC has been helpful, but it will take the power of additional American and other western banks to take a more broad-based growth to the next level.

    Not stated, but understood, in this announcement is Saudi Arabia's desire that western powers continue to see that they have a stake in the stability of the Kindgom vis-a-vis its continuing conflict with Iran and, increasingly, Russia.

    Of course, the devil is in the details: What will be required to gain entry? And, once in the market, how secure is a bank's investment in the Kingom and how will such a bank be regulated and taxed?  How might such a venture impact an investing bank's legal and regulatory position at home?

    JHI will continue to track the flight path of this trial balloon and let you know where it lands...
  • Exploring the Boundaries of My Own Business

    By R. Jason Huf

    When the Saudi government decided to ramp up the production of light, sweet crude oil and crash the price of it world-wide, the first thing most people in the United States (quite rightly) noticed was the sharp decline in the price of gasoline.  It’s the best break working people in America have enjoyed in a long time, and has generated economic growth that no artificial government “stimulus” program can ever hope to match.

    Middle East practitioners like myself, on the other hand, immediately understood two things:  1. the increase in production was designed to dampen the profitability of energy projects, particularly by oil & gas producers in the United States – which, in turn, helps to continue to make the maintenance of stability in Saudi Arabia a priority for Western countries and their oil-dependent economies; and, 2. it was a direct attack against the cohesiveness of the Kingdom’s arch-enemy, Iran, and some of its anti-Western allies such as Venezuela and, particularly, Russia (all three countries having economic models with price floors for oil that are unsustainable in the current environment).

    Iran's desperate economic situation notwithstanding, they have lashed out and struck back on a variety of levels and are emboldened by recent victories in Yemen, Iraq and Vienna.  Iran is increasingly aggressive in the region, and Saudi Arabia is feeling ever distant from the United States.  As to the fear of a regional arms race stemming from the unabated existence of the Iranian nuclear arms program, such an arms race is already underway.

    Keenly aware that the balance of power in the Middle East continues to swing in favor of Iran and that the United States is decreasingly interested in serving as the region's chief guarantor of security in the region, the Arab states may feel that they are in a desperate situation themselves.  Let us not forget, that the despicable and barbaric terrorist organization ISIS/ ISIL was originally cobbled together with the support of Turkey and Qatar to serve as a hyper-radicalized Sunni buffer against encroaching Shia (Iranian) power.  The Saudi move to create an oil supply glut and the joint Saudi/ Egyptian military operations against Iranian clients in Yemen seem, thus far, insufficient to halt Iranian momentum.

    If the present trend continues, a direct region-wide conflict between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, et al vs. Iran and Syria seems more likely, not less.

    We live in an era when asymmetrical warefare that utilizes non-uniformed combatants targeting civilians to engender fear and instability so as to achieve a political or otherwise socially relevant end (e.g., "terrorism") has become a regular feature, turning cities well behind the lines of a given conflict into battlefields themselves.  What do you do when you are a business that has invested in a region wherein the situation has become so uncertain?

    Well, that depends on the industry you are in, how much risk you (and your insurance providers) are willing to absorb, and what kind of talent you think you can attract to work in such an environment.

    As for myself, I remain committed to my relationship with Jeddah.  The Jeddah office consists of local personnel, I have spent years developing my practice, and I have never been one to simply throw away the fruits of my own hard work.  At present, my inclination is to stay the course.

    In fact, having considered this contingency for some time, I am currently leaning toward expansion, rather than withdrawal.  I feel it may soon become time to further live up to my firm's catch phrase - and, follow my natural instincts - and explore.

    JHI, Jason Huf, KSA, Saudi, Arabia, Jeddah, Medain Saleh   Whereas some firms may be examining their options on executing an exit strategy, I am exploring the possibility of expanding into new jurisdictions and expanding the range of assistance I can provide to Western companies that remain in the region.

    As an attorney, your practice is client-driven.  Some companies will stay, some will leave and new businesses will enter one or more Gulf Cooperation Council markets.  There will continue to be a need for Western legal expertise working hand-in-hand with local practitioners throughout the region.

    Perhaps more fundamentally, I am proud of the work I have done over the years.  From assisting with Shari-ah-compliant finance to education reform, I have been a small piece of a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle of helping to foster an environment wherein one may someday see a broad-based, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East.

    This sense of accomplishment will be foremost on my mind as I look toward Exploring the Boundaries of My Own Business...


    – Jason Huf
    Friday, July 10, 2015
    New York, NY
  • Finding the Fountain of Youth in the Future of International Legal Practice

    by R. Jason Huf

    It has been a while!  I haven't had much time for extraneous writing this year.  However, there's nothing extraneous about this:

    As Co-Chairman of New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, I was able to make time to accept New York Law School's (NYLS) gracious invitation to help organize and participate in a distinguished panel of international legal practitioners.  A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed sharing our experiences with some of NYLS's bright, internationally-minded students at their International Law Center in downtown Manhattan.


    Career Panel l-r: Prof Lloyd Bonfield, Giulia Previti, Patrick Turner, Jason Huf, Dr. Aurelie Bertoldo, International Legal Practice, NYCLA, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, New York
    (Left to right: Professor Lloyd Bonfield, Director NYLS Center for International Law; Giulia Previti, Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP [New York]; Patrick Turner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, CBS Broadcasting; Jason Huf; Aurelie Bertoldo, JD Candidate - NYLS Class of 2016 & Honoroary Student Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee)

    The panel on Careers in International Law was moderated by Professor Lloyd Bonfield and included Ms. Giulia Previti from the New York office of the globally renowned law firm Freshfield's; and, Mr. Patrick Turner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel with the Law Depatment of CBS - and proud NYLS Alumnus.

    I provided some career advice and shared some of my experiences as a legal professional working in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia.  However, the real "stars" of the panel were Ms. Previti and Mr. Turner - the insights they imparted to the students were pointed and profound.


    For me, just as compelling as my fellow panelists (and, they had some terrific stories to share) were the students in attendance and NYLS itself.  The Center for International Law, especially its Assistant Director, Mr. Michael Rhee, pulled out all the stops and extended every courtesy in hosting this event, displaying terrific organizational capabilities.  And, as has been typical of past experience during my time in our profession, the current JD Candidates at NYLS in attendance impressed me as serious, but down to earth, hard-working professional scholars brimming with ambition and curiosity.  I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with them, fielding their questions and otherwise interracting with them.  I have no doubt that the future of the legal profession, particularly the future of US-based international legal practice, is in good hands at the NYLS Center for International Law.

    Moments like my participation in this panel are among the most gratifying of my career.  It never fails to renew my enthusiasm about being a member of the legal profession.

    And, I would like to thank the Honorary Student Co-Chairs of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Ms. Shabnam Hajain and Ms. Aurelie Bertoldo, both NYLS JD Candidates in the Class of 2016, for doing so much of the leg work to make this happen.  In fact, if memory serves, the whole thing started as Ms. Bertoldo's idea (not surprising, as she is a student at a first-rate law school).  My Committee Co-Chair, Clara Flebus, and I couldn't be more pleased with their intellect, committment and work ethic.

    I only hope that they, and their internationally-minded colleagues studying law at NYLS, found our discussion at be least half as valuable as I found it enjoyable.


      - Jason Huf
       Friday, April 16, 2015
       New York, NY
  • Mr. Huf Appointed Co-Chairman of Foreign & International Law Committee

    JHI is pleased to announce that the Firm's Founder and Principal has been awarded the honor of serving as Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, effective June 1, 2014.

    "This is an exciting time for the Foreign & International Law Committee, and NYCLA generally.  Jay (Safer) and Jacqueline (Wolff) have done a terrific job as Co-Chairs of the Committee over the last several years, and we have some pretty big shoes to fill.  It is an honor to follow them, and I will do my level best."

    Continuing the tradition of hosting excellent guest speakers, and working with NYCLA to explore the offering of CLE programs designed for international practitioners, will be at the top of Mr. Huf's agenda.

    Mr. Huf assumes the Co-Chairmanship of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee with his distinguished colleague, Ms. Clara Flebus.  They will serve together for the 2014-17 term.

  • Drinking Tea with Jackie Robinson: My Meeting with Living History

    by R. Jason Huf
     
    Jokes about snakes in the road aside, I have always considered being an attorney to be a great honor and privilege.  I practice law, and the law is the ultimate guardian of equality and fair play.  I cannot imagine wanting to do anything else for a living.

    Some of the really great aspects of being a lawyer, especially one with my particular practice areas, are the things I learn and the people I meet.


        Meet Renad! 

    KSA, Saudi, Lady, women, female, law, legal, lawyer, NYC, renad, amjad, Jeddah, USA, Huf   


    Just last year, young Miss Renad T. Amjad became only the third lady in the entire history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to officially register as a Female Trainee Lawyer with the Saudi Ministry of Justice.

    You can imagine how deeply honored I was when Renad asked to meet with me in New York.  She is a fascinating, intelligent, courageous and cheerful young lady who, after being one of those to break a Concrete Ceiling, has a bright future ahead of her.  In my line of work, this was akin to meeting Jackie Robinson, and was one of the great thrills of my career.

    (I should note here that, being modest and outwardly humble, Renad is not entirely comfortable with the comparison to Jackie Robinson, citing her lack of experience as a lawyer thus far.  I will also note here that as she becomes more experienced as a lawyer, she will get used to it - because she's stuck with it.)

    That's on a personal note.  Professionally, Renad is a living, breathing demonstration of the fact that change is coming to Saudi Arabia. 

    Such change may be incremental, but incremental does not mean insignificant.  Just look this young lady in the eye and tell her that her accomplishments are "insignificant".  I dare you.

    There are those who advocate for a faster pace of reforms in Saudi Arabia on the subject of women's rights, and more generally.  However, I strongly believe that King Abdullah has been shrewd in his implementation of incremental, but meaningful, reform.  A broader, faster-paced program of reform would risk destabilizing the Kingdom, which would, in turn, risk destabilizing the region and threaten to send economic shock waves throughout the world.

    Saudi Arabia may be insular, but it's not isolated.  Just as events there impact the global economy, international economic activity - including and especially trade - has had an impact on the Kingdom.  And, it shall continue to do so.

    I have never been one to liberally laud Middle Eastern rulers, but King Abdullah knows his people and is familiar with the different elements in his country with whom he exercises power.  To maintain stability, his people need to enjoy greater freedom and feel a larger sense of "ownership" of their lives and their country.  But, to move too quickly in that direction would innately threaten such stability.  It is a difficult balance beam to walk successfully.

    The subject matters and pace of reforms in Saudi Arabia have been thoughtful, and ably executed, thus far.  We will see how things progress from here.

    For now, I think I will just enjoy drinking tea with Jackie Robinson.

    - Jason Huf
    New York, NY, USA
    May 15, 2014

  • The City of Dreams, or the Emirate of Reality?

    From time to time, a trial balloon is floated in one GCC jurisdiction or another concerning the imposition of a new tax, whether it be an individual income tax, corporate tax or a value added tax.  The most recent of these is now floating over Dubai, which is still grappling with the residual effects of the 2008 crash while maintaining high levels of infrastructure spending.

    A prominent Emirati businessman based in Dubai publicly raised the idea of a corporate income tax in Dubai and voiced his general support for such an idea.  This is easily to understand, given the depletion of Dubai's oil reserves, the reversal of 2008 and resulting cash crunch, and the Emirate's continued high level of spending.  However, it would be somewhat akin to Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.

    Dubai rose up from the desert, transforming itself from a small trading post adjacent to Sharjah into the "City of Dreams", on the basis of its business-friendly laws, easy access to the oil-rich Gulf region, an unburdensome regulatory environment, quick access to financing and investment capital, and clever marketing revolving around the fact that the Emirate is Tax-Free

    While there are numerous government fees, paid annually, along with payments to sponsors, exceedingly high rental costs and other expenses one could say amount to a sort of taxation, companies and individual entrepreneurs from all over the world continue to flock to Dubai, drawn to the City of Dreams by the prospect of Tax-Free wealth.  Imposition of a corporate income tax could threaten this influx and inspire existing businesses to relocate elsewhere in the Gulf.  Even if such a tax were quickly repealled, reestablishing Dubai's image, carefully crafted and astutely marketed for many years, might be next to impossible.  And, isn't the real "Dream" not quick wealth, but having a broad-based economy not entirely dependent upon oil in the very heart of the Gulf region? 

    If Dubai is the City of Dreams, the "Green Capital" of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, has been the Emirate of Reality.  With much of the UAE's energy resources, over half the country's population and land mass (much of it still undeveloped), and a very similar body of business law and regulations, and a robust banking industry, Abu Dhabi is also Tax-Free Abu Dhabi may not be known for a miraculous boom of the sort that made Dubai famous, but it has enjoyed steady, broad growth that has withstood the 2008 crash.
     
    Today, and not accidentally, Abu Dhabi is a leading target for foreign direct investment.  A corporate income tax in Dubai would not only enhance the relative attractiveness of Abu Dhabi to newcomers to the region, it might also encourage some of Dubai's existing businesses to take a two-hour drive and check out why the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is "green" in more ways than one.
  • Tracking Marcellus Shale Legislation

    On March 17, 2014, HB 1684 passed out of the Pennsylvania House of Representative's Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and now awaits the consideration of the whole House.  The bill seeks to define the term "post production costs" and mandates that deductions by gas producers/ lessees of natural gas rights cannot deduct for post production costs to the extent that the net royalty paid on extracted gas is reduced to below 12.5%.

    In its current form, the bill would provide that royalties for unconventional wells would be calculated when the gas enters the commercial marketplace, as ownership of the gas passes on to an unrelated entity (an entity "at arms length").  In the event such receiving/ purchasing entity does not meet the definition of "unrelated", the lessee/ producer has the burden of proof in showing that the royalty generated is at fair market value.

    HB 1684 also provides for a 12.5 percent "Minimum".  That is to say, post production costs cannot drive the royalty actually paid out after calculation to an amount below the 12.5 percent mark.  And, such post production costs will have to be itemized for the benefit of the owner in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the legislation.

    While the bill would affect current as well as future lease agreements, it does not retroactively impact royalties already paid out.  That said, this is especially important in light of a recent push to enforce "forced grouping" or "forced pooling" beyond the Utica region, into the gas-rich lands that are considered to fall within the Marcellus region.

    Forced Grouping is a something of a variation of eminent domain, wherein land owners who have not signed a deal to lease their gas rights are compelled to accept the deal given to a majority of their neighbors.  The underlying reasoning is simple:  Natural Gas is not segmented by the above-ground property line.  This means "hold-outs" can effectively hijack economically useful and beneficial production on an entire deposit, absent some provision such as forced grouping.

    Setting aside discussion of individual property rights vs the needs of society for the purposes of this one article, as a tangible matter the "fairness" of such compulsory grouping largely depends on the terms of the leasing agreements entered into by the majority of area landowners. 

    The arguments for forced grouping revolve around the economics of energy, fostering and encouraging production and keeping prices down for the ultimate end-user.  However, JHI believes that for the anticipated Marcellus Shale boom to be fully realized, the land owners who hold the rights to the gas beneath their feet must be full participants in such a boom.

    If it becomes law as presently drafted, this owner-friendly legislation will add greater credibility to gas producers/ lessees arguing in favor of the enforcement of forced grouping.

    While some folks are "hold-outs" for other reasons, in economic terms such might not necessarily be bad news for land owners who hold the rights to Marcellus Shale natural gas.  If you are such an owner, know your rights.  Gas producers/ lessees have top-shelf attorneys dedicated to pursuing the interests of these companies.  You should have a high quality lawyer guarding your rights and interests.

    In light of this new legislation, talk with your neighbors about a common strategy for moving forward.  JHI will continue to track developments in Pennsylvania law impacting the increasingly controversial and complex issues surrounding Marcellus Shale natural gas exploitation.

  • Judicial Reform in Saudi Arabia

    The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) recently announced its intention to establish training centers for judges.  Such training centers will be administered by the KSA Ministry of Justice.  This comes on the heels of King Abdullah's creation of 5,000 new judgeships in the KSA, and is accompanied by vocal opposition from the Kingdom's more traditional, conservative quarters.

    For years, the commercial community in the KSA (both local and foreign) has expressed a need for greater transparency in Saudi courts.  Procedurally and substantively, a perceived lack of predictability has resulted in a chilling effect on commerce in the KSA.

    Arbitration clauses in contracts are of uncertain enforceability in the KSA, as senior judicial officials have, in the past, deemed such clauses to be "contrary to Shari'ah".  Accordingly, irrespective of any arbitration clause in any business arrangement entered into, in the event of an irresolvable conflict between the parties one could reasonably expect such a dispute to be adjudicated before a Saudi court.


    The uncertain enforceability of arbitration clauses and perceived unpredictability of the courts have combined to generate something of a chilling effect on investment in the KSA.  Meanwhile, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) provisions that call for entities native to any GCC Member State to be treated as a local company by the governments of each of the other Member States
    have added to the investment boom in smaller Gulf countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates: some companies enter those jurisdictions in the hope that, at some point, they might be able to access the much larger Saudi market without completely exposing their investment (or, their employees) to the Saudi legal system.

    It is hoped by many in the commercial community that the addition of 5,000 new judges, uniformly trained in the enforcement of commercial and corporate law, will improve the overall business environment in the KSA by generating a greater sense of transparency and predictability in the courts.

    The details are as yet unknown; and, conservative elements who view laws and their interpretation as coming from God, not precedent, statute or human beings generally, still have opportunities to oppose the establishment and effective administration of such training centers.
      JHI will continue to track such developments as they arise.