TBY talks to Mohamed A. Al Yahyaei, Senior Partner at Al Yahyaei and Salt, on advisory services, understanding tax law, and dispute resolution.

Mohamed A. Al Yahyaei,
Mohamed A. Al Yahyaei is a Senior Partner at Al Yahyaei and Salt who previously worked in public sector legal affairs for 21 years before transitioning to private practice in 2010. In the same year, he partnered with the Baitulhikma Law Firm of Abu Dhabi. Mohamed enhanced his knowledge and experience of law with a Masters of Law in commercial law from the University of Sultan Qaboos and is an active member of the Omani community. His practice focuses on the telecoms industry, Civil and Commercial litigation, Criminal Law, and Islamic financial transactions.

As the firm offers a wide range of legal services in many areas, what are the main fields of activity for Al Yahyaei & Salt in Oman?

Al Yahyaei and Salt provides commercial litigation and dispute resolution services, as well as transactional/advisory legal services. On the conventional litigation and arbitration service side, we represents all the major financial institutions and several insurance companies in the Sultanate of Oman and provide them with top notch legal service in areas of civil and commercial litigation. On the transactional side of the practice, we have a fully staffed advisory department that advises businesses and institutions. Some of our clients in this area of practice include banks, the oil and gas sector, automobile distributors, insurance companies, universities, and mid-size private corporations. Our advisory service is usually needed in the areas of business formation, contract drafting and negotiations, taxation, intellectual property law, real estate, construction, and employment law.

What are the key legal issues that businesses interested in coming to Oman need to understand before setting up operations here?

Oman is a unique and promising market that has many advantages for many companies. First, in order to do business in Oman, a company must be formed. The company can be formed with a local partner holding equity in the company or it can be formed as a free zone company with no local partner. Second, once a company is formed, investors need to understand that Oman has a tax regime that does not differentiate between local and foreign companies. The tax rate is the same across the board at 12%.

What can be done in the legal field to improve Oman's position as a preferred location in the region for international businesses?

Now that Oman is witnessing unprecedented economic development and the size of commercial business-to-business transactions has exponentially multiplied, Oman needs strong, impartial, and fee-controlled commercial dispute resolution centers in Muscat. I also believe that businesses need to utilize the mechanism of arbitration more often to resolve disputes. Currently, many arbiter-able cases go to the court and resolution through conventional courts takes time. If such dispute resolution centers existed, we would be able to lift some of the pressure from the court system and resolve disputes efficiently.

What competitive advantage does Al Yahyaei and Salt bring to the legal service market?

We are known as top tier firm in the country, with high caliber attorneys and counselors. We are also in partnership with the Baitulhikma Law Firm. Baitulhikma is a prominent UAE firm with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We also have associations with offices in Turkey, Baghdad, Libya, India, Switzerland, United States, and Taiwan. Attorneys and staff in our offices speak more than ten languages. We have attorneys who speak Chinese, Dari, Dutch, French, Italian, Punjabi, Amhri, Swahili, English, and Arabic. With all these qualities, we offer legal services that are unmatched by any local firm.

How does the firm utilize its numerous international partnerships to benefit its clientele?

In addition to working in the GCC, our firm more often collaborates with international firms in cross-border transactions. For matters within the GCC, our firm works with the several offices Baitulhikma has, as well as a network of other local offices in areas where we do not have presence. In Oman, we have the network—we are the network. We maintain three offices in Oman: the main office in Muscat and branches in Salalah and Sohar. These three offices cover the Sultanate from Yemen to Al Birimi. With our vast network and partnerships, our clients are well served.