Jun 15, 2018 12:01 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy celebrating the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday that, this year, the Eid holiday largely falls on a weekend in many jurisdictions (with certain exceptions such as, for example, public sector employees in Saudi Arabia, who will resume work on Sunday, June 24). Therefore, the ordinarily-expected office closures that customarily occur throughout the Middle East region during the holiday (particularly in the private sector), including JHI's Jeddah, Saudi Arabia office & other resources in the United Arab Emirates, should not cause a significant interruption of business activities this year.
Mar 13, 2018 3:00 PM
Starting last year, I gave serious consideration to entering the 2018 US Senate race in New Jersey. Our state needs transportation reformation beyond merely fixing flaws in already existing roads; a commitment to rebuilding our military - including finalizing the expansion of the McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Joint Base (in concert with the reformation of our state's transportation infrastructure); and, well-informed, thoughtful representation on Foreign Policy & Trade (ala former Senator Bradley).
The Middle East, in particular, continues to warrant our attention with an increasingly complex series of issues that affect our interests there.
As someone who has worked and lived in the Middle East for years, and having seen it from a commercial and legal perspective, I believe that I would bring some extraordinary and rather useful qualities to the table. I am confident that my knowledge of international commercial banking and energy matters, and of the cultures of the Gulf Arab states, would be a tremendous asset for the people of the Garden State and the United States at this point in our history.
However, within certain circles of the democrat party, there has been a concerted and largely successful effort to make support for Israel (or, the withholding of such support for our ally) a purely partisan issue, with a uniformly anti-Israel posture under which the entire democrat party must conform. Traditionally, no matter one's position on the subject, the United States' relationship with the State of Israel has been - and, must remain - a vital issue of Foreign Policy and National Security for all Americans of conscience, irrespective of party affiliation. Positions in debates over issues touching, concerning and/ or impacted by this alliance have, and should continue to, cut across party lines.
That is why I have decided against running and, as a life-long registered republican, am supporting the reelection of Senator Robert Menendez.
Senator Menendez has been a sincere and consistent supporter of Israel and, I believe, paid a heavy price for refusing to be silent about his principled opposition to the Obama Administration's Iranian Nuclear Deal as the senior democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His continued presence in the Senate as a senior member of the democrat's caucus makes it less likely that some will complete their task of enforcing a uniform Anti-Israel posture throughout the democrat party. Thus, transforming being Pro-Israel or Anti-Israel into merely another knee-jerk partisan issue rather than one requiring serious thought will be more difficult to accomplish for radical, determined, well-funded, anti-western leftists currently driving the direction the democrat party.
Although I disagree with Senator Menendez on nearly every domestic policy issue, I feel so strongly about the necessity of bipartisan support for Israel that I intend to cast my vote for him rather than run against him.
With Iran in the ascendancy in the Middle East region, sweeping reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & rapprochement between the Sunni Arab states and Israel, Bob Menendez is the more necessary than ever Bradley-esque Senator I alluded to earlier. We need more democrats like him in Washington, not less, and his presence in the "Upper House" is fundamentally more important to our state and our country than adding another number to the GOP's vote total stored in the back-benches.
Some people run for office just to make a point on a specific issue. I hope to make an important policy statement by not running. I may well run for federal office at some future point. In the meantime, I feel I may better serve the public by continuing my multinational, reform-minded legal practice.
- Jason Huf
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
New York, NY
Feb 16, 2018 2:50 PMWith possible changes to US immigration law on the horizon, aspiring immigrants to the Land of Liberty may have a feeling of uncertainty at present. A tightening of legal immigration may be part of a deal in Washington, DC designed to address illegal immigration.It is impossible at the time of this writing to know exactly how immigration law will change, or if it will actually change at all. But, we do know of one immigration law that already meets the requirements of the US President, as publicly expressed during negotiations thus far, with a program that uses merit-based criteria and which provides economic growth: the law authorizing the issuance of EB-5 Visas to Foreign Investors.Under the law, Foreign Investors who invest a minimum amount of capital in such a way as to create and/ or maintain ten or more US jobs have the opportunity to apply for a Green Card through the facility of the EB-5 Visa program. The minimum level of capital the Foreign Investor has to commit is determined by the classification of the targeted region of the investment itself.
Participating in the resurgence of the greatest economy on earth while pursuing a credible opportunity to secure permanent residency status for you and your immediate family seems a double-win. The economic growth it generates while providing entry to entrepreneurial immigrants with substantial resources of their own would certainly seem to be good for America as well.If you are interested in investing in the US economy (either directly or through a reputable Approved Regional Processing Center) and seeking a Green Card, contact JHI today for more information on the EB-5 (Investor) Visa program -- email@example.comWith offices in New York, NY & Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and, additional on-the-ground resources available in the UAE, India and Singapore, JHI is in an ideal position to be of assistance and we will be happy to help.
Oct 12, 2017 2:05 PM
By R. Jason Huf
When recollecting the uses of my spare time as I sat down to pen my previously promised piece on fully utilizing the summer months to achieve Work-Life Balance goals, I realized that a simple "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" article would be insufficient. During the summer, indeed throught 2017 thus far, I seemed to gravitate to leisure activities that were relaxing and - sometimes - valuable beyond taking a mere breather for myself.
So, I have instead decided to include something in this writing about how time taken to relax, though not billable, can still be valuable - to ourselves and others. Indirectly, a more relaxed you is likely to be of greater help to your client. But, beyond that, there are activites that are relaxing, interesting AND enriching to your profession and society more broadly.
After all, a desire to influence and shepherd positive change is at least part of the motivation that drove us - and still drives us - along our respective career paths, isn't it?
I have always been public-service minded. This is reflected in my legal practice, wherein certain investments, projects and other client matters have over time and in the aggregate served as a small piece of a small piece of the large, complicated puzzle of establishing a foundation for economic and social reform in Saudi Arabia and the larger Middle East (parenthetically, I am pleased to see that today's reforms are more sweeping and are being enacted much more quickly than I had anticipated, or even hoped).
Accordingly, I often find "relaxation" and satisfaction when I can make time for pursuits that have some intrinsic (but, not necessarily obvious) value to the larger world around me. Take, for example, a presentation hosted by Oxford University's North American office on Manar al-Athar and its efforts to catalogue ancient sites in the war-torn Levant so that they can be preserved or (in the event they have already been or are going to be destroyed by insidious groups like Daesh) restored after the shooting finally stops. When "endangered" cultures become lost civilizations, it degrades the whole of humanity. I encourage you to give this group's efforts a fair look. And, hey, wine was served...
(Sometimes, to your surprise, you may get to meet fabulous people like the one pictued here. Also pictured, standing next to this fabulous person, is a member of the Hashemite Royal Family... )
(Attorney Disclaimer: NOT an endorsement of JHI by HRH!)
Whatever your line of work, your position as a professional provides you with access. In addition to being present at the above-referenced presentation, I'm rather excited to say that I have accepted an invitation to join the New York City Bar Associations's Committee on Middle Eastern & North African Affairs (MENA Committee). Then again, the MENA Committee has a pretty robust agenda, so I may end up regretting this...
Kidding aside, there aren't too many bar association committees in New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey (the jurisdictions where I am admitted to practice) that specifically focus on subject matter so closely aligned to my practice, so in addition to being recognized for my work after so many years in the field, I am actually looking forward to the (non-billable) work ahead.
Now, I'm not saying that all of your spare time needs to be "meaningful", only that the added element of being satisfyingly productive in some measure may add to the value of your relaxing uses of the downtime you manage to carve out of your busy schedule. Different people have different interests and run at different speeds. I may be someone who has yet to take a real "vacation" at any point in my life, but I do not dispute the notion that relaxation for relaxation's sake is absolutely fine.
For those of you who have the discipline to make the effort to force yourself to take a vacation, more power to you. For the rest of us its enough of an endeavor to find forms of refreshment that are somewhat more limited in scope. But, no worries - it ain't that tough. Really!
Again, Pennsylvania is one of the jurisdictions in which I am admitted to practice. On occassion, I travel to Philadelphia on business. When I know I'm to make the short drive into Philly, well, being a long-time Philadelphia Phillies fan (and, you cannot be a Phillies fan without being a an of baseball period - trust me on that one) I like to catch an evening game when they are playing at home. Why not? I'm a phan, its the thinking man's sport, Citizens Bank Park is a great ballpark and I love Dollar Dog Day.
Also, this past year, the NFL Draft was hosted there (great event, and Philly did a fantastic job of hosting); and, the Philadelphia Orchestra celebrated the works of Mozart not very long ago - as part of that celebration, there was an opportunity to see a showing of the film "Amadeus" (one of my favorites), with the orchestra providing a live sound track.
(NFL Draft - Philadelphia, Pa.)
Some things can be done spur of the moment, without planning, and can be done by almost anyone, especially in New York. Catching the recent solar eclipse without special glasses was easily done by using my phone - I perched it over my shoulder and recorded a brief video. Anyone who could walk to Battery Park (or any open space where the sun was at least partially blocked by the moon that afternoon) could have done the same thing. Many did.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpdAcRPtZ8Y (As you can see, the Firm's YouTube Channel is still in the "experimental" stage)
When I lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia years ago, I took up snorkeling on the weekends and fell in love with the Red Sea and the coral reef beneath its surface. Some folks encouraged me to take up diving, but diving is a great deal of work. If what I do for recreation is more work that what I do for a living, I have something of a philosophical problem with that...
My dog can be a great deal of work (and, don't get a dog unless you are honestly ready, willing and able to do all of the work associated with sharing your home with a dog), but she is without question the exception to the above-referenced rule. When it comes to time well-spent, I am hard-pressed to think of anything more rewarding and relaxing than walking my dog.
Sometimes, I'll just call it an early day at the office and go out. Its New York, man - hit the town. Fridays tend to be ideal: the Middle East is closed on Fridays and the West is in the process of shutting down for the weekend, with businesses in London generally closing by 12:00 noon, US Eastern time (though, I must be mindful of places in other time zones, such as Houston, Texas, which is an hour behind New York). And, naturally, your employees won't mind being able to knock off a little early before the weekend, or will they...
("Seriously, you can leave... ")
In any event, I find that making time for yourself and your favorite people (or, pets) is not impossible - it really boils down to time management. I have also found that taking the occasional, but regular, breather won't kill the bottom line, can make you better at your job and (depending on the activity at hand) may even have the potential to make the world a better place. And, I feel like a million dirhams.
(This is what a million dirhams looks like... )
So, even with the cold winds of winter coming, ready to whistle through the concrete canyons of downtown Manhattan (and I hate winter) - I'm going to continue to make time for me. Since returning to the United States several years ago, I have ordinarily gone into hybernation every winter (absent JHI's Annual Informal Holiday Gathering), but not this year.
Why work so hard in the first place? I don't live to work, I work to live (and, my work is pretty darned good anyway, if I do say so myself). So, I'll work as hard as I play, and play as hard as I work. Maybe you should, too? Whether its rubbing elbows with royalty from an ancient noble line, or having a beer or two with your cheeseburger during an extra-long lunch. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
The bottom line is this: You have an epic and fabulous career, so Live an EPIC and Fabulous Life. There is no point to doing anything else.
I decided against supplying the entire list of extra-curricular activites because if I did you'd still be reading this instead of engaging in your own leisure pursuits (if reading this little blog is one of your leisure pursuits, well, I'm flattered).
Oh, and we all have to get some work in once and a while, too. OK, now back to the grind... : )
– Jason Huf
Thursday, October 12, 2017
New York, NY
Aug 31, 2017 5:51 PMJHI 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).
[ 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.
(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.
Aug 8, 2017 7:01 PM
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.
(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
Jun 23, 2017 11:40 AMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region, including JHI resources in Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates, during the holiday.
Jun 9, 2017 1:34 PMSaudi Arabia's (KSA) new Companies Law of 2015 came into effect on May 2, 2016. At JHI, we wished to see the new law in practice and how it would be enforced by Saudi authorities before commenting. In the meantime, much has already been written about the new law and we need not cover the same ground here.Of particular interest to clients and potential clients of JHI is, we believe, the law's provision of the option of Sole Proprietorships (or "Single-Shareholder" companies), and how applications for the licensing and registration of such by foreign investors are treated by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).As a general matter, the new law provides that SAGIA may continue to impose additionally stringent incorporation requirements on companies being established with the backing of foreign investors. While the process of approving incorporation applications has been somewhat streamlined at SAGIA, a certain level of uncertainty, especially at the beginning stages of such an application, remains.When considering establishing or reforming an entity in the KSA, JHI feels that if a foreign investor has a trustworthy local partner/ agent (or "sponsor") then, for the time being, it may remain prudent to make use of such local parties when doing business in the Kingdom. In addition to possibly enjoying a smoother approval process, one might avoid any potential bureaucratic pushback by some recalcitrant officials who may still be resistant to the Vision 2030 reforms more generally.The relationship with one's local sponsor can be further clarified via a side letter to the sponsorship agreement. Such sideletters have been enforced by Saudi courts with increasing regularity. And, JHI hopes that the provision for Single-Shareholder companies in the new Companies Law is not seen by the local judiciary as a rationale for reversing this trend.We will have more to say about the execution and enforement of the new Companies Law and other reforms as events (rapidly) progress. Speaking of events, recent news indicates a very real likelihood of a shift in the direction of investment capital flowing between the Untied States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Where the Riyals of the Sovereign Wealth Fund go, other Saudi-based investment capital tends to follow. With that in mind, JHI is seriously considering offering the shepherding of EB-5 (Investor) Visa applications to the menu of professional services our firm offers to incoming companies that invest in the United States, particularly New York, Pennsylvania and/ or New Jersey, where Mr. Huf is admitted to bar. JHI will have more to say on this in the near future as well.
May 26, 2017 1:15 PMIn the United States, we set aside one day to remember those who have fallen in war, defending our freedoms. But, there isn't a single day wherein we forget. We hope that you and yours enjoy the holiday weekend, and that we all take a little time to say a prayer of rememberance and gratitude for our fallen heroes and their families this Memorial Day.
We all die, the only variables are where, when and how - and, sometimes, why. They may be gone, but our war dead are never lost. These soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines are forever in our hearts.
To all of our friends around the world who observe the Holy Month of Ramadan, we at JHI hope that you and your families enjoy a meaningful period of dedication to fasting, reflection and prayer during this period of tremendous changes throughout the Middle East. May your loved ones take this holiday as an opportunity grow closer to each other, your neighbors, the less fortunate and the whole of humanity.We wish you good health in the year ahead. Ramadan Mubarak!
Feb 9, 2017 7:12 PM
Near the close of 2016, while the West was focused on the High Holidays, a new American President and the NFL Post-Season that would culminate in a historic Super Bowl LI, the government of Saudi Arabia (KSA) leapt into the 21st Century - literally.
Under the direction of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the full support of his father King Salman, the Saudi Government officially abandoned the Hijri Calendar (the Islamic, lunar calendar which begins with the Prophet Mohammed's trek from Mecca to Medina and the establishment of the first-ever Islamic state), and has adpoted the "Gregorian" calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII, the solar calendar predominantly used as the civil calendar in the West and elsewhere, which begins one week following the Roman church's, and the day of the Eastern Orthodox churches', traditionally espoused birth of Jesus Christ; the civil calendar used in the West arbitrarily measures months as being either 28/29, 30 or 31 days in length).
Initially functioning as a budget cutting measure, with government employees receiving the same monthly salaries while working an additional eleven (11) days of the year, its the eternal questions of "what next?" that holds the world's attention as those with commercial ties to the KSA wait the other shoe(s) to drop. What are the other consequences, both intended and unintended, of the Saudi government's adherence to this new calendar? How, if at all, will this impact governance and/ or commerce in the Kingdom?
Saudi Arabia is, and was founded to be, an Islamic state. Its Constitution is the Quran. The change from a calendar that is dear to their faith and which honors the pilgrimage of their holiest and most revered prophet, to a calendar created by a Roman military dictator and revised by a Catholic Pontiff is, in and of itself, revolutionary.
For now, its impact is seen strictly as a government austerity measure. Nonetheless, and predictably, the more conservative elements of Saudi society, including the clerics with whom the King shares and exercises power, are resisting this particular change. They presently appear to center their resistance around their concern that the masses will not adhere as faithfully as they have in the past to the holy month of Ramadan (which, like all months in the Hijri calendar, is measured by the lunar cycle).JHI is confident that good muslims will adhere to Ramadan, just as good christians adhere to Easter, the date of which is determined by the advent of the Jewish observance of the Passover holiday (the Jewish calendar measures months by lunar cycles, occasionally adding a month to make up the discrepancy in days between 12 lunar months and one solar year; thus, while Passover - and the subsequent Christian Easter - are celebrated on the same days of year, every year, on the Jewish calendar, they are celebrated at different times of the year on the civil, or "Gregorian", calendar).
Neverless, acquiescence to the Saudi government's new calendar will not occur overnight. As conservative elements tend to dominate the judiciary, and are well-ensconced in the various levels of the bureaucracy in the KSA, JHI feels that for the time being it remains prudent to continue to use language referencing the "Gregorian" calendar as controlling in the boilerplate of contracts and other documents pertaining to business in the Kindgdom of Saudi Arabia - including and especially those documents related to participation in government projects, whether as a contractor or sub-contractor.
JHI will continue to follow the evolution of this particular change, and other developments related to the Vision 2030 reforms, as the Deputy Crown Prince pulls his country into the 21st Century - both metaphorically and literally.
Dec 19, 2016 2:36 PM
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.
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".
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.
(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. Mr. Huf found him to be capable, earnest and modest. Although entrusted with day-to-day management of a massive public works project that progresses under 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.
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.
Sep 9, 2016 11:44 AMThis is one day of the year all of us set aside for remembering, but there is never a day when we forget.
As with dates officially deemed "National Holidays", JHI's New York HQ Office - per annual Firm tradition - will be closed for business this Monday, September 12, in observance of the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001.Just as JHI is proud to perform work that may make some small contribution to what, some day, may be the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan. The Financial District's magnificent comeback is best symbolized by our neighboring Liberty Tower:
September 11 will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Tuesday, September 13.JHI also wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid Al Adha holiday. 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 Sunday, September 11.
Aug 30, 2016 3:16 PM
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.
(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:
After all, as very good lawyers, aren't we always in search of the next "better idea"?
Aug 26, 2016 4:19 PMBy R. Jason HufYou’re in control. You’re paid to be in control. Its not just professional reputation and “image”, its part of who you are (otherwise, that “image” would never fly and your professional reputation would be quite different).Now, you’re no longer at an age when you’re indestructible. You’re in, say, your early 30s, you’ve started a family, and you have other concerns ranging from personal health to time management that supersede the importance of getting in that occasional puff, right?Time to quit smoking.Congratulations! You are now on the road to better health. Air will smell sweeter, food will taste better. You’ll not have to blow 20+ minutes every two hours riding elevators just to go out into the cold wind and suck one down. You’ll be here on earth longer for your loved ones. And, you’ve just said “Good-Bye” to being in control…
Those of you who are not smokers are going to write this off as fiction. After all, enjoying tobacco is no where near the same league as being a heroin addict, a coke head, or some kind of angry alcoholic who drinks whiskey for breakfast. On several levels, that’s true. In any event, the following doesn’t so much apply to you, so feel free to skip it. Now, for my fellow smokers…As someone who recently suspended his second serious attempt at quitting smoking, I’m confident that I speak with at least some minor amount of authority on this. My first attempt, years ago, ended with friends handing me cigarettes, calling me a pain in the derriere and more or less telling me to have a smoke and shut up. I like being “Mr. Nice Guy”. Knowing I was being something of a monster, I took their advice.Years later, I am in my 40s, I have my own firm, I am unmarried, clients tend to trust me – I just about answer to no one. I am in as much command of all I survey, and my remaining future, as I am ever likely to be. This time it won’t be quite so bad, right? WRONG.It was even worse. Let’s face it, you are dealing with a highly addictive substance (both bio-chemically and psychologically), the use of which is deeply ingrained into your routine. While individual smokers are each going to react to nicotine withdrawal somewhat differently, talking with other smokers it seems not uncommon that (as happened in my case) every bit of good judgment you’ve ever had will go out the window, and you will say and do things that exemplify the exact opposite of your instincts. Its like being George Costanza – on crack.“Water off a duck’s back” is part of my very nature. I lived and worked in, according to many people, the first or second most stressful place on planet earth (no, not New Jersey – the Middle East) for years, and I had a great time.I find what I call “unnecessary drama” to be entirely repellant. I never understood it, it serves no useful purpose and it’s a complete turn-off. For me, it is instantly revolting. And yet, just a few days after quitting smoking, I was the King of Unnecessary Dramas. Putting something into a microwave oven, setting it for two minutes, and then becoming visibly and verbally agitated because two minutes is actually taking two minutes makes no sense. Having the irrepressible, manic need to make sure someone – anyone – knows about your overwhelming sense of frustration, however, is worse than irrational. It is thoroughly obnoxious.If you’ve already lived this nightmare and don’t wish to relive it, avert your eyes, (if you haven’t already). If not, then picture if you will...You will lash out over the silliest things. Every matter great or small, real or perceived, will take on an urgency that one normally associates with a burning building. You will know that this lashing-out is a mistake, do it anyway and then feel embarrassed to the point of being disturbed by your own behavior almost immediately afterward. And then, just five minutes later, you’ll be doing it all over again. Everyone in your orbit will suffer, including you.What this kind of bizarre behavior can do to your image, professional reputation and your career is obvious. And, to make matters worse, as lawyers, these brains of ours are what we work with – it’s the most important tool in the shed. So, naturally, trying to bury yourself in your work as the storm passes seems a rather dangerous solution.
And, what about the ethical implications of insisting on continuing your work??That said, you still have to get stuff done. You can’t isolate yourself. Moving into a cabin without access to electricity in northern Canada for two weeks and wrestling polar bears (or, whatever folks up there do for exercise) isn’t an option. And, for those of you who remember the old TV show “Get Smart”, I’m sorry to break this to you, but the “Cone of Silence” doesn’t actually work…
You can’t just quit quitting – that would be quitting! Another loss of control. The cherry on top of a monumental, multi-layered failure. If we were OK with failure, we wouldn’t be lawyers.You had such high hopes and great confidence when you first decided to quit smoking. Now, you are in this terrible Catch-22. If you continue to ride this out, how much (more) damage are you likely to cause? But, you cannot allow the misery of the previous eternal week or two to have been in vain, and you simply cannot cave in and fail.Yes you can. Hanging your head in shame, you rush off to the store one evening, buy a pack of cigarettes, and before the night is out you have incinerated and inhaled half the contents of that pack. The next morning, you are back to smoking just as much as you used to smoke, and you are a Human Being again… A deeply ashamed one, and certainly a total failure. But, at least you’re a member of the species once more.
And, you can always say that you had to smoke again in order to be compliant with the Rules of Professional Responsibility. No one will have anything to say once you hang your hat on that!Yes, I failed at this. Again…Well, its not failure if its a learning experience. I am not writing this to dissuade you, my friends and colleagues, from quitting smoking. I am providing a heads-up. We don’t discuss this very often specifically because it is embarrassing, and it makes us sound weak.Based on what I’ve learned thus far, here are some (I hope) helpful tips on how to beat smoking without beating your career into a pulp and seeing many years of hard work and cool, reliable performance go down the drain:1. See a doctor before quitting. This little blog article is not comprehensive medical advice and I do not know the state of your health – withdrawal symptoms may vary from person-to-person, and you should seek qualified medical advice before making any serious health decisions. This isn’t just the ordinary disclaimer from one attorney writing to other attorneys (although, that’s in there, too). Visiting a doctor after you’ve started the process of quitting tobacco in the hopes of obtaining something that will help to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms is OK, but its better to see one before you start. Know as much about the current state of your health as you can prior to throwing yourself into the thresher.I will write more broadly about Work/ Life Balance in a subsequent piece. But, for now, if you are under the kind of exhaustion and tension commonly plaguing attorneys – if you are suffering from, say, extreme sleep deprivation, nervous exhaustion, dehydration, a wildly irregular heartbeat or are just plain constantly tired, then address that first. If you are taking in as much as three pots of strong coffee per day to make up for a consistent lack of sleep, then this may not be the best time for you to try quitting smoking.The bottom line is this: while it may sound counterintuitive, be in your best possible shape before you begin the process of quitting smoking.2. On the subject of finding something that actually helps with mitigating withdrawal symptoms, well, “Cold Turkey” ain’t for everybody. It wasn’t for me. That said, be mindful of the side effects of such aids (from appetite suppression to much worse). The most harmless thing seemed the gum, but I found it to be disgusting. More than one person suggested “Vaping”. While I have seen may use it as a substitute, and with some success, I have yet to meet anyone who has since managed to give up the Vaping. I wouldn’t look to swap one harmful vice for another, myself – even if the substitute is somewhat less harmful.Again, see a doctor and sort out exactly which aid(s) works best for you.3. If you do decide to go Cold Turkey, but reduce your daily intake of cigarettes before the appointed time of quitting in the hopes that the symptoms of quitting nicotine will not be so severe, then you may wish to give yourself more than a few days to deescalate. Trust me on this one.4. Finally, and as discussed, you cannot isolate yourself from civilization. But, you can do two things: a. let others know you are quitting; and, b. establish “buffers”.Telling people you are quitting smoking is not setting yourself up for additional embarrassment in the event you fail (and, never be one of those who “Plan to Fail”). In fact, it may help them to understand your embarrassing behavior while you undergo withdrawal. At the very least, it will let them know to keep their distance, even if you personally lose sight of the importance of distance during this period.Buffers can help to maintain that distance, even as you manically attempt to lash out and inflict your new, alien frustrations on the entire human race. Work from home, if you can (and, technology makes it easier than ever). Limit your face-to-face appointments to the extent you can. Get someone else at the firm to do you a solid and appear at the court to file those motions for you during a particularly rough morning. Lock your phone in a desk drawer, check it at specific times. For emails and voice messages, put a minimum buffer time on your response, if one is required (and, during that time, consider what is actually required – do not say anything that is not required). While some of your work is bound to be time-sensitive and good response times are a must in our business, nothing is so super urgent that it can’t wait for a few minutes. A measured response is always better than a weird one and, let’s face it, your client isn’t on Death Row waiting for that last-minute call from the Governor that’s never going to come anyway.I hope that helps.In any event, now that I am smoking again and back to being my rock-solid, famously "Steady" self, I would like to apologize to all those I may have offended these past couple of weeks; and, apologize in advance to all those I may offend in the near future. Because, after I address a few health concerns stemming from that lack of Work/ Life Balance I referenced earlier, I am returning to quitting smoking.As I said, this latest attempt is merely suspended.For now, I’m going to go home, put up my feet, and light one up. I hope you enjoy your weekend as well.– Jason HufThursday, August 25, 2016New York, NY
Aug 23, 2016 5:50 PMYou are about to see a rapid-fire (for this space, anyway) succession of as yet unpublished updates covering a period from Spring 2016 to present. We will start with an initial discussion of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030”, touted as the most sweeping series of reforms in the Kingdom’s history.In a nutshell, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is a collection of planned economic and social reforms designed to construct a “Post-Oil” Saudi Arabia, in line with globally-held concepts of Sustainable Development. King Salman has invested his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with broad, sweeping powers to enable him, his advisors and other subordinates to design and execute these reforms between now and the target date of 2030.Within the stated goals of weaning the Kingdom (KSA) off of being an Oil-based economy and becoming an industrialized state, with greater Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), full employment for working-aged males, improved access to high-quality education, greater rights for women and a more liberal social structure generally, two items are immediately obvious: we are seeing Riyadh’s intent to finalize the end the era wherein OPEC, the powerful cartel of oil-producing states, has been the world’s definitive maker of oil policy; and, a rapid and intense military build-up intended to strengthen a block of states that includes the KSA, Egypt and the smaller Gulf States determined to withstand growing Iranian and Russian influence in the Gulf region following continued declining US influence and interest there and in the greater Middle East.While JHI is not a policy think tank, we feel it is important to know the backdrop and overall purpose of any upcoming reforms.Our principle concern is FDI, and the impact any reforms may have on the attractiveness of FDI in the KSA. This program is still young, so specific laws and regulations impacting FDI are not yet in effect. For the time being, there is nothing set in concrete that a law firm can dissect for the benefit of its clients.Therefore, in our typical less-than-modest fashion, JHI offers some suggestions on how to make FDI in the KSA more attractive to potential investors:1. The Corporate Income Tax should continue to be (gradually) lowered, and personal income tax should remain zero. Although declining oil revenues and their impact on the national government’s budget needs to be addressed, increasing the number of companies investing in the KSA, rather than increasing the tax existing companies pay, seems the best way to address the current budget shortfalls giving rise to the KSA’s national debt.2. Saudization is seen, by and large, as a form of tax by potential foreign investors. The best way to address the employment crisis in the KSA is not by compelling investors to hire Saudi nationals, but by making the hiring of them more attractive. Foreign investors ordinarily love to avail themselves of a local workforce – after all, importing staff and finding housing for them is pretty darned expensive! Many such imported workers do not know the language or withstand the culture shock very well. Unfortunately, fairly or unfairly, the idea of hiring Saudis is generally considered unattractive, thus the current Saudization requirements. Rather than increase these requirements, education should be improved and made more accessible, and a sense of work ethic (rather than entitlement) needs to be instilled in the Kingdom’s youth. And, the world needs to actually KNOW of the existence of such an educated, hard-working labor pool – numbering in the millions, and proud of real accomplishment at the workplace. Do this, and Saudization will no longer be necessary at all.3. Make the process of obtaining a business license less burdensome and more efficient. Telling clients that it could take a minimum of six (6) months to obtain the necessary documentation before proceeding with business activity tends to be something of a turn-off for them. Additional agencies designed to steer and otherwise regulate foreign investment eases nothing and are simply additional "layers” of bureaucracy. Streamlining, rather than adding to, the process of licensing incoming businesses would be a productive step.4. Women’s rights, and human rights generally, should be broadened – and, can be without offending the Kingdom’s religious sensibilities or its historical traditions. It is much easier, on multiple levels, for a company to invest in a country whose culture is not the focus of controversial discussions centered around notions of equality and individual human dignity. Additionally, it is essential that people throughout the Kingdom feel some sense of “ownership” in their country and their respective futures (see, 2. above). They need to feel that their rights are being protected by their government, not denied. This isn’t a call for the overnight imposition of Jeffersonian democracy. Quite the contrary: JHI asserts that the keys to unlocking a more liberal social structure (without rocking the stability of the KSA) lay within the old tribal and other cultural traditions of the modern Kingdom.5. The labor market, and the regulation of such, should be loosened, and greater rights should be provided to foreign “unskilled” laborers and household staff. As above (see, 4.), this is a matter of conscious for many potential investors, as well as foreign professional staff who visit the KSA.6. Banking reform is a must. The KSA is one of the most – if not the most – “underbanked” markets on the face of the earth. While new banks and fresh capital and competition need to be allowed in, stronger regulation and monitoring needs to be in place, giving rise to stronger internal compliance programs. While banking needs to be more readily available in the KSA, companies and governments around the world also need to have more confidence in the country’s banks.7. For local and foreign companies alike, receivables can be something of a headache in the KSA. Its no secret that debt, and the collection of debt, can be problematic there. As the Kingdom undertakes judicial reform, it should continue to consider the importance of the confidence a company can have in the investment it makes in Saudi Arabia.8. One of the most crucial assets in play when investing in any country is a company’s intellectual property. Intellectual property protections and anti-piracy measures need to be greatly strengthened, and quickly. It is important for any company (say, you sell shampoo and find yourself competing with a counterfeit knock-off of your product – that’s not good), but when looking to attract high-tech industries, especially, it is absolutely fundamental that such companies have confidence that intellectual property worth hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of US dollars will not be stolen from them and effectively rendered next to worthless overnight.These are eight basic principle points upon which JHI would like to see the building of any reform package affecting FDI in the KSA.JHI will track any concrete steps within this subject, and Mr. Huf hopes to learn more when “Riyadh Day” (its actually a week of symposiums, workshops and other such meetings), sponsored by the KSA’s High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, is held at the United Nations in New York at the end of September.
Jul 5, 2016 2:41 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan, despite the challenges to peace and security during the Holy Month this year. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.JHI will continue its expansion in the region and hopes that, even as they mourn those lost this past week, the good people of Medina, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Kingdom celebrate God-given life and its highest pursuits.
In the United States, we celebrated the 240th anniversary of our Independence on July 4. These past several weeks have seen barbarity at its worst. With specific reference to the terrorist attack at Medina, we in the Land of Liberty, irrespective of faith, stand with and pray for the innocent victims of that atrocity. Everyone has a right to freedom from terror.
While the savage primitives of ISIS/IL are strongly suspected of coordinating the attack in Medina and other places throughout Saudi Arabia, no group as of the date of this writing has claimed responsibility and the motives of the suicide bomber in Medina are as yet unknown. It was nonetheless a murderous act of barbarity that the whole of the civilized world must reject. ANY "cause" served by the use of Terror as a tactic must, summarily, be deemed illegitimate.
Further, when terrorism is employed, the actors betray their so-called "cause" to be nothing more than a pretext for a war of conquest. This is the reality civilized people across the globe must face with the determination that any such enemy will be defeated and placed in history's rubbish pile, along with so many other would-be tyrants of the past.
May 25, 2016 1:50 PM
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 ---> ].
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
Sep 16, 2015 2:24 PMDuring 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...
Sep 10, 2015 1:43 PMAs with dates officially deemed "National Holidays", JHI's New York HQ Office will be closed for business this Friday in observance of the anniversary of September 11, 2001.Just as JHI is proud to perform work that may make some small contribution to what, some day, may be the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan - it really is one of the truly great comeback stories of our age, as symbolized by the new neighboring Liberty Tower:September 11 will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Monday, September 14.Liberty ALWAYS Rises. We will never forget, nor will we quit.
Jul 17, 2015 1:11 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.
We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
Nov 25, 2014 5:53 PMArbitration clauses are often heavily negotiated and complex enough to be referred to as “a contract within the contract”. The reasons for this are obvious (even to us transactional practitioners). The exact terms of a dispute resolution clause can have far-reaching consequences.One of the goals in crafting such a clause is to mitigate the irreconcilability of disputes as they arise by putting your client in the best possible position in the event of a scenario that triggers termination and subsequent arbitration. Naturally, both sides have this in mind during negotiations. But, what happens in jurisdictions where the enforceability of arbitration clauses may be considered by some, fairly or unfairly, to be a somewhat unsettled question?Until recently, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (or, KSA) has been a member to the New York Convention (on the enforcement of arbitral awards), this did not always lead one to predict with certainty that a Saudi court would recognize the validity of the arbitration clause in your agreement with a local party and direct that party to resort to arbitration, as per your agreement. In the past, senior judicial officials and other legal professionals in Saudi Arabia have on occasion issued public pronouncements that arbitration clauses are contrary to Shari’ah and are therefore invalid, and should not be enforced by Saudi courts.That is to say, in Saudi Arabia you may have had the right to enforce an arbitral award granted by a tribunal (keeping in mind the difficulty some may experience in attempting actual collection in the Kingdom), but such public pronouncements may have lead some to wonder if you could successfully assert that the underlying dispute be entered into arbitration in the first place (in the KSA), depending on whether or not the judge in the Saudi court deciding the question deemed your particular arbitration clause (or, arbitration clauses generally) to be appropriate under, or contrary to, Shari'ah.
Today, some are hopeful that the passage of the KSA's new Arbitration Law of 2012 (based on the UNCITRAL Model Arbitration Law) to supplant the KSA Arbitration Law of 1983, and the creation of judicial training centers and the subsequent appointment of judges to serve in a new commercial court system in the KSA, will lead to greater clarity on the subject of the enforcement of arbitration clauses. As with any legal reform, time will tell.In the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE), the considerations differ. The validity of the arbitration clause, the formation of the contact, and the nature of the relationship between the parties themselves are just a few of the considerations that a court could measure in weighing the enforceability of a given arbitration clause.
Any Emirati national (individual or corporate) has the right to avail itself of the protection and justice of the courts of the UAE. In the past, this may have prompted some local parties in the UAE to move that a local court should assert jurisdiction, despite the existence of an arbitration clause. It should be said, however, that in the UAE (a commercial hub in the Gulf region that has become famous for the "City of Dreams", Dubai, and increasingly the "Green Emirate" of Abu Dhabi), such motions should rely on more than this basic right if a party wishes to succeed in its attempt to escape arbitration under a valid clause.
Following certain provisions of the UAE (federal) Civil Code, judges in local courts should hold that validly written arbitration clauses are enforceable, except when there exist particular circumstances. For example, in disputes arising from registered commercial agency agreements a judge may deem an otherwise valid arbitration clause unenforceable and declare it void on the grounds that clauses calling for alternative dispute resolution (or, ADR) in such contracts are contrary to, or inconsistent with, "Public Policy". (Please note: the commonly used, colloquial term "sponsorship agreement" is much broader and could refer to several different types of business relationships in the UAE; whereas, "registered commercial agency agreements" refers to a specific type of business relationship, which must also be properly registered with the relevant government office in accordance with both the law and the terms stipulated in the agreement itself.)So, what do you do when doing business internationally, and some of your relationships are with parties in the Middle East?Negotiate an arbitration clause.
And, retain an experienced attorney with local knowledge (preferably one with a presence in the specific jurisdiction in question: the laws of Middle Eastern jurisdictions, like the laws of countries in other regions of the world, are subject to change).
If the local party with which your company is doing business has attachable assets outside of the Middle East in a country where collections may be deemed less frustrating, that can be a plus. But, as with just about everything else, there is no substitute for experience -- and solid, relevant legal experience may be one of your best assets at the negotiating table.
Sep 8, 2014 4:09 PMJHI will be closed for business this Thursday in observance of the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Just as JHI is proud to do work that may some day contribute to the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan - it really is one of the truly great comeback stories of our age.
Thursday, September 11, will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Friday, September 12.
Liberty ALWAYS Rises. We will never forget, nor will we quit.
Jul 28, 2014 2:48 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services, and possible disruptions of projected time frames, due to office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
May 15, 2014 12:16 PMby 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!
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
Feb 26, 2014 1:14 PMStories concerning the 2022 World Cup tournament seem to have taken all the oxygen out of news and information about Qatar. True, Doha is scheduled to be the first Arab state to host the world's largest soccer tournament, and this promises to generate something of an increase to the country's construction boom. But, there's more to this small, wealthy Gulf state than sports.Businesses, whether they be engineering firms, banks, energy companies, franchisors, purveyors of luxury items or manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods, might be interested to know that Qatar is the world's third largest producer of natural gas and has a legal and regulatory enviroment wherein compliance is relatively inexpensive. With the highest GDP per capita in the world, Qatar's consumer base is awash in disposable wealth and opportunities abound.As a law firm, JHI takes particular notice of Qatar's bifurcated legal system. The civil courts there are completely separate from and independent of the Shari'ah courts, and the rest of the government generally. These separate courts that deal with matters relating to foreign commercial interests provide a level of transparancy and predictability for which Gulf-Arab jurisdictions, fairly or unfairly, do not always have a reputation. This, in turn, provides an additional layer of security to companies that expand into, or otherwise invest in, Qatar.Conduct your own economic survey and have accounting crunch the numbers and provide you with the tax implications of such a venture. Then, if satisfied (or, excited), contact an experienced law firm and ask them to provide you with a legal and regulatory survey.Take a look at Doha beyond the glamour of sports and see if you would like to Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.
Jason Huf International, pc
"Exploring the Boundaries of Your Business."