Since the UAE Federal Arbitration Law came into force on 15 June 2018, a number of procedural developments have been introduced in relation to both the conduct of arbitration proceedings and the enforcement of arbitration awards before the local UAE courts. The Federal Arbitration Law has repealed the Arbitration Chapter of the UAE Civil Procedures Code and has addressed the common pitfalls that existed under the old arbitration regime.

This has been a welcome development for the international arbitration community and has reinforced the UAE’s drive to become a leading international arbitration hub. Businesses operating and doing deals in the UAE now have access to a more flexible and efficient arbitration process, particularly in relation to the enforcement of arbitration awards.

Scope of application of the Federal Arbitration Law

The scope of application of the Federal Arbitration Law is quite broad in the sense that it applies to existing and future arbitration proceedings, unless the parties have agreed to contract out of it.

The Federal Arbitration Law also specifically distinguishes domestic and international arbitrations, whereby it would qualify as international if:

  1. the parties’ headquarters are located in two or more countries at the time of conclusion of the agreement; or
  2. the place/seat of arbitration or  the place of the subject-matter of the dispute is located outside the UAE.

Procedure for the enforcement of arbitration awards

New procedural developments

One of the main developments introduced under the Federal Arbitration Law is the expedited procedure for the enforcement of arbitration awards.

Under the Federal Arbitration Law, any enforcement application for the enforcement of an arbitration award can now be brought directly before the UAE Court of Appeal, which shall in turn issue its enforcement order within 60 days from the date of filing of the application. This is not without exception particularly when a party can demonstrate that one of the nullification grounds set out in Article 53 of the Federal Arbitration Law has been satisfied.

The new procedural developments also set a 30-day time limit for a party to challenge the validity of a final award before the relevant UAE Court of Appeal. A challenge to the validity of the final award may also be made in defense to an enforcement application filed by an award creditor outside the 30-day time-limit.

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To speak to us in relation to any arbitration issues in the UAE, please feel free to contact one of the lawyers below, or your usual Baker McKenzie contact.


Dr. Habib Al Mulla is the Executive Chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla and the Head of the Dispute Resolution practice in the UAE. He is one of the UAE’s most highly respected legal authorities with over 34 years’ experience in UAE law and has drafted many of the modern legislative structures in place in Dubai today. Dr. Habib focuses his practice on litigation and arbitration. He is Chairman of the CIArb (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators) UAE Committee and most recently served as Chairman of the board of trustees for the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC).


Andrew Mackenzie is the UAE Head of the International Arbitration and Construction practices of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, based in Dubai. He specialises in international arbitration law, with a particular focus on construction, energy, technology and financial institution disputes. Andrew has been based in the UAE for over 10 years and also has full rights of audience in the DIFC courts. He has advised on complex commercial disputes under a variety of civil and common law systems from across MENA and Africa, tried cases in all of the major arbitration forums (both treaty-based and commercial) and also sits as an arbitrator.


Sally Kotb is a counsel in Baker McKenzie's Dubai office, specializing in international commercial arbitration with a particular focus on energy and construction disputes. She has drafted expert legal opinions in support of both international and domestic arbitrations, and is experienced in enforcement of foreign and domestic awards in the UAE. She is the regional representative of the LCIA Young International Arbitration Group (YIAG) and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb).


Andrew Massey is a senior associate at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, specializing in arbitration across a variety of industry sectors, including construction, real estate, insurance and general commercial disputes. He has experience in conducting arbitrations under leading arbitration institutions, including DIAC and DIFC-LCIA, and in disputes before the DIFC Courts, the ADGM Courts and the Dubai World Tribunal.

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