Samer Qudah - Partner, Head of Corporate Structuring - Corporate Structuring

Welcome to October’s issue of Law  Update.

This month we focus on Sports & Events Management. The world before COVID-19 seems a  long time ago and  2020  so far has been a year of true monumental disruption, particularly for the global sports and events sector. Mass participation events, concerts, football matches and competitions of all description have had to take a back seat while health and community safety issues have come to the fore.

No one could have imagined a year ago that major events like the Tokyo summer Olympics as well as  Expo 2020 would be postponed. Also the concept of tourism – let alone sports tourism – subsequent to the cancellation of major (sports) events and conferences have been redefined in the wake of the pandemic.  Quite apart from the human costs of the pandemic, the economic impact in terms of devastating job losses lost broadcasting revenues, gate receipts, sponsorship funding and vital footfall for travel, tour, hospitality and other symbiotic sectors has left event organisers and venues amongst those scrambling to plot a  course forward.

This year, the previously booming sports industry has suffered a significant downturn in global revenue. Nonetheless, the resilience and importance of the sports industry in the UAE have shone a light as we navigate past coronavirus. Specifically, the UFC’s Fight Island, hosted on Yas Island, was one of the first major events to re-emerge. Likewise,  as you are reading this, the UAE is playing host to the IPL T20 Cricket Tournament and we see the Abu Dhabi Formula 1  event is slated on the 2020 FIA calendar, while many other host cities have been unable to host races this year. There have been significant challenges, but as our window into the sports sector indicates, there are green shoots and a number of reasons to believe we will see a strong return to form in the coming months.

It is difficult to ignore the impact COVID-19 has had (and still has) on so many sectors; both positive and negative. Our expert teams examine the lessons that have been learned and offer insights on how the business may look going forward.

Starting with our Construction & Infrastructure sector, our lawyers consider some short-term steps which contractors and sub-contractors can take to manage and mitigate the risks posed by the pandemic as well as anticipate the potential longer-term repercussions of the pandemic.

Following a  global boom in live streaming services,  as a result of COVID-19 and the increasing demand for digital services, our Corporate Structuring team shares advice with media companies who are looking to boost their live streaming services in the UAE and what the setup of those companies should look like.

Staying with our Corporate Structuring team, we address a recently issued  Cabinet  Resolution  No.  50 of 2020 on the regulation of the Procedure of the  Real Beneficiary (‘Resolution 50’). This is a ‘beneficial ownership’ regime regarding the ownership of legal entities and is a critical tool in combatting tax evasion, corruption, money laundering, and the financing of terrorism in the UAE.

Lastly, our UAE Employment team addresses the new norm of working from home. Is it a concept that is here to stay or just a stop-gap during these unchartered times? The historical stigma of working from home is analysed pre- and post-pandemic with employers expected to update their workplace practices to allow for working from home to be accepted without challenge.

This month our Jurisdiction Updates touch on a number of interesting subjects. Our Qatar office examines whether Qatari law provides adequate remedies for creditors seeking recovery from insolvent/under liquidation debtors and the conditions under which Qatari courts may pierce the corporate veil, Remaining in Qatar,  our commercial team takes a look at the new PPP law which aims to enhance the productivity and sustainability of national projects in a cost-efficient manner. The financial involvement of the private sector in public projects is viewed as a way of developing and supporting the local economy.

Finally, members of our Turkey Desk review the recent update to the Trademarks law which suggests that applications filed through the Madrid System and national applications filed directly before the local trademark office should be treated equally especially in terms of refusal grounds, including a refusal based on an opposition action by any third party.

I hope you enjoy this issue and welcome any questions or thoughts you may have.