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In the intricate landscape of commerce and international trade, swift and effective conflict resolution is paramount. 

Arbitration in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands as an unwavering pillar of reliability and efficiency. Renowned for its dynamic business environment and pivotal role in global trade, the UAE has fully embraced arbitration as a potent instrument for settling commercial disputes. 

At Mohamed Eid Alsuwaidi Advocates & Legal Consultants, our team of seasoned lawyers specializes in navigating the complexities of UAE arbitration law to deliver tailored legal solutions that protect your interests.

Onshore vs. Offshore Arbitration in the UAE:

Within the UAE’s diverse legal and financial landscape, two distinct zones coexist:

 Onshore Zone: Encompassing the majority of the UAE’s territory, this zone operates under federal laws and regulations set forth by the UAE government. Here, businesses and individuals function within the framework of the UAE Civil Code, the UAE Commercial Companies Law, and various federal laws governing diverse aspects of business, trade, and related activities.


 Offshore Zones, or “Free Zones”: These autonomous jurisdictions have their own legal and regulatory frameworks, often rooted in common law principles. Equipped with specialized courts, they offer a unique legal environment. Examples include the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), established in 2004, and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), founded in 2015.

Arbitration Laws in the UAE:

Arbitration agreements in the UAE are governed by specific laws based on the seat of arbitration:

  • Onshore Arbitration: Governed by Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 concerning Arbitration (UAE Arbitration Law), in force since June 15, 2018.
  • DIFC Arbitration: Subject to the DIFC Arbitration Law No. 1 of 2008 (DIFC Arbitration Law).
  • ADGM Arbitration: Governed by the ADGM Arbitration Regulations 2015, based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.

Arbitral Institutions in the UAE:

In the UAE, several distinguished arbitral institutions facilitate arbitration proceedings, offering parties efficient and reliable dispute resolution avenues:

Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC): Established in 1994, the DIAC has risen to prominence as a leading arbitral institution in the region. It administers arbitrations in accordance with the DIAC Arbitration Rules 2007 and the recently introduced DIAC Arbitration Rules 2022.

Abu Dhabi Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC): Administers arbitrations under the Procedural Regulations of the ADCCAC.

Sharjah International Commercial Arbitration Centre (Tahkeem): Founded in 1995, Tahkeem plays a pivotal role in promoting commercial arbitration in Sharjah.

Ras Al-Khaimah Centre for Reconciliation and Commercial Arbitration (RAK Chamber): Since 2018, this institution has served as a hub for commercial dispute resolution in Ras Al-Khaimah.

Validity of Arbitration Agreements in the UAE:

The validity of arbitration agreements in the UAE hinges on specific criteria, including written form, arbitrability of the dispute, legal capacity of individuals and companies, and precision of the arbitration agreement. Failure to meet these requirements renders the arbitration agreement invalid, necessitating recourse to local courts for dispute resolution.

For expert legal advice and professional arbitration services that safeguard your interests, contact Mohamed Eid Alsuwaidi Advocates & Legal Consultants. Our team’s proven track record in successfully navigating UAE arbitration law ensures that your rights and interests are protected.

Arbitration Process Overview in the UAE: 

Commence of Arbitration:

As per the UAE Arbitration Law, onshore arbitration proceedings commence the day after the full arbitral tribunal's constitution, deviating from the customary initiation via a formal "request for arbitration." In offshore cases, arbitration begins upon receipt of the request by the Respondent.

Appointment of the Tribunal:

Parties in both onshore and offshore arbitration enjoy the freedom to select arbitrators, provided they meet the criteria of independence and impartiality. Additional requirements for onshore arbitrators are outlined in the UAE Arbitration Law.

The Award:

Arbitral proceedings' management offers flexibility, with no rigidly prescribed rules, granting tribunals and parties wide discretion in procedural organization. No statutory time limit exists for rendering an award.

Challenging the Award:

Arbitral awards can be challenged through an application to set aside filed by one of the parties or initiated by the Court. Specific grounds and procedures are outlined for both onshore and offshore arbitration.


The UAE offers a robust and comprehensive arbitration framework that caters to the dynamic needs of commercial entities across onshore and offshore jurisdictions. With modern laws and regulations complemented by a diverse array of arbitral institutions, the UAE remains a regional hub for commercial arbitration. Whether operating within traditional legal frameworks or specialized free zones like DIFC or ADGM, the UAE ensures clear pathways for tribunal appointment, proceedings’ conduct, and award challenges.


[1] UAE Arbitration Law

[2] DIFC Arbitration Law

[3] ADGM Arbitration Regulations 2015

[4] DIAC Arbitration Rules 2007

[5] DIAC Arbitration Rules 2022

[6] Procedural Regulations of the ADCCAC

For more information on the enforcement procedure in the UAE, please contact our advisors to give your free consultation. 

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