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Sun 3 Jun 2007 12:00 AM

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Al Mulla: UAE legal system must change

The former DFSA boss warns that the country could face 'immense problems' unless laws are updated.

Dr Habib Al Mulla, former Chairman of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), has warned that the UAE could face "immense problems" unless the country's legal framework is updated.

"The UAE has to work hard to improve its current legislation... Now is the time to do it,' he told Arabian Business. "I don't think we have long - within the next three to five years it will be a must, otherwise we will have immense problems coming up."

Al Mulla urged the federal government to move its focus away from real estate and infrastructure projects, and instead concentrate on the legal system "to cement all that has been done".

"You can announce a [real estate] project, and people can like the idea, but once they have bought, then people will start to ask how their rights are being protected," he continued. "They want to know what kind of recourse they have against the developers, or what happens in case they pass away. Here, you need the legal system to come and cement this, and to give confidence to people."

Al Mulla, who stepped down last week after three years as head of the Dubai International Financial Centre's (DIFC) regulatory body, was responsible for the drafting of the regulatory regime of the DIFC upon its inception in September 2004. The legislative framework was built on the best practices of leading jurisdictions in Europe, North America and the Far East.

"I think it's the time now for Dubai and the UAE to upgrade their commercial laws, so that the level of competition goes up," he continued.

"It shouldn't be just that DIFC is competing with a huge market like Saudi Arabia; it should be that the whole of the UAE is competing," added Al Mulla.

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