The Frontbenchers 


+971 56 683 0775 (UAE)

+64 21 562 082 (NZ)

Joby Beretta, Founder and Director 

Joby has over 20 years’ experience gained both in-house and private practice in the UK, UAE and New Zealand.  He has an extensive range of TMT experience including commercial, intellectual property, technology, e-commerce, start-ups, outsourcing, media & entertainment, franchising, sponsorship, telecommunications, data protection and sports law.


He also advises owners, investors and operators on hotel management, licence, centralised services technical services and associated agreements.   He also has significant experience of acting for both franchisees and franchisors of F&B operations.  


Who's Who Legal 2016 described Joby 'as a “standout” lawyer in the Middle East. His expertise spans entertainment, sports, franchise and IT law, and he is “incredibly gifted”. Clients appreciate his “industry insight” gained while working in-house, and having been based in Dubai since 2003, he has a “great appreciation for the cultural nuances of the region”.

  • Band 1 Ranked Lawyer - TMT - UAE by Chambers 

  • Leading Individual - TMT - UAE by Legal 500

  • Who's Who of Sports and Entertainment Lawyers

Big Law Training New Law MindsEts

Hameed Almihdar, Senior Consultant 

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+971 56 778 2088

Hameed is a senior lawyer with over 10 years’ experience in the region. He has a wide range of experience including real estate, hospitality, retail, corporate and commercial, disputes, and employment matters. His clients include real estate developers, asset managers, landlords, hotel operators and owners. 

Hameed joins The Bench from Nakheel where he was Senior Legal Counsel at Nakheel for over 6 years, during which time his work was recognised in the Legal 500 GC Powerlist 2018. Before that he trained and qualified with the world’s largest law firm, Dentons.   While at Nakheel Hameed has worked on a number of hotels including projects under Starwood, Accor, Premier Inn, RIU and Centara brands.  Hameed has also overseen DIAC and DIFC-LCIA multimillion dollar arbitrations, as well as Dubai Courts litigation, involving real estate and construction disputes.

Hameed is qualified in England & Wales and is fluent in both English and Arabic.

Chris Appleby, Senior Consultant 

Chris has over 25 years’ experience gained with both international law firms and in-house. He has an extensive range of IT experience including large scale systems integration, outsourcing and government procurement.  

Prior to joining The Bench, Chris was the Middle East head of Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) for both Dentons - the world’s largest law firm and Al Tamimi & Co - the Middle East’s largest firm.   Before that Chris was in-house at Dell Services in Qatar and Vodafone Qatar.    

Chris is dual qualified in New Zealand and New South Wales (Australia).  

Elise Gillians, Senior Consultant 

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Elise has spent her entire career since qualification working in the UAE, starting initially in private practice at Pinsent Masons and Clyde & Co and later transitioned in-house.  She has a broad range of experience but specialises in construction, engineering and infrastructure and has worked on a number of landmark hotel, leisure and entertainment projects in the region.  


Her last role prior to joining The Bench was Vice President – Legal Affairs at Dubai Parks and Resorts PJSC, whilst concurrently Legal Director at its parent company Meraas Holding.

Elise is a solicitor qualified in England and Wales. 

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Will Jackson, Senior Consultant 

Will is an experienced senior counsel with a demonstrated history of working in the IT and services industry.   His areas of expertise include IT law (including SAAS), complex outsourcing, privacy, e-commerce, international business and joint ventures.  


He was previously Associate General Counsel at Sabre Corporation based in the UK and is qualified in England and Wales.  

Ahmed has spent most of his career working in-house with some of the largest banks in the world.

He has over 14 years of experience which spans across corporate / commercial, banking, syndicated financing, project finance, trade and receivables finance, structured commodities finance, payments and cash management, real-estate, employment, competition, IT, outsourcing, digital banking and fintech.

Ahmed has been working in the UAE for the last 8 years. Prior to joining the Bench Ahmed was Vice President – Group Head of Advisory for Emirates NBD Bank.  Prior to that he held senior positions at First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC and Barclays in Dubai, Hong Kong and Egypt.

Ahmed is an Egyptian qualified lawyer.

Ahmed Thabet, Legal Director



+971 52 908 4892 (UAE)

+20 122 957 3697(Egypt)

Nadia Barton, Senior Consultant


Nadia joins The Bench from Dentons, Dubai where she was a Senior Legal Consultant in the Construction & Dispute Resolution practice.  She is a construction & engineering law practitioner with over 20 years’ experience, specialising in major projects, commercial property and infrastructure development with extensive experience in PPP/PFI both in the UK and internationally. Most recently Nadia has been advising Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) on the mega mixed-use property development, Uptown Dubai.  Prior to relocating to Dubai in 2010, Nadia worked at Clifford Chance, London and Simmons & Simmons, London and Paris.  


Former Managing Editor of Construction Law International, a quarterly legal journal published by the IBA. Nadia is qualified in England and Wales.   


+971 55 886 3724


Gerard Hobby, Senior Consultant

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+971 50 455 9357

Gerard has over 27 years' experience in the MENA region, including over 20 years in Dubai. He has a broad range of commercial experience in corporate, contract, private client, regulatory law and related disciplines across international borders.


Gerard was part of the team that established the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (now the Dubai Development Authority Free Zone) in the early 2000s. Subsequent to that he was Chief Legal Officer (General Counsel) of Dubai Holding LLC (the holding company for the Jumeirah Group, Dubai Properties Group and TECOM Investments) from its inception in 2004 until 2017, and more recently, the Registrar of Companies for the Dubai Development Authority Free Zone.


Gerard is dual qualified in England and New Zealand.


+971 56 655 4800

Suzanne has over 15 years' experience gained initially in the UK in some of the leading real estate law firms (Nabarro, now CMS) before moving to the Middle East in 2009. She worked at one of the world’s leading brand franchise operators (Alshaya Group) in Kuwait for 3 years and subsequently spent over 2 years with DUTCO Group in the UAE.


Prior to joining The Bench Suzanne was Senior Counsel, Development, EMEA at Hilton based in Dubai for over 7 years where she was responsible for supporting Hilton's hotel development pipeline for both managed and franchised deals across EMEA, focusing on Middle East and North Africa.


Suzanne’s main areas of specialism include real estate, hospitality, corporate, commercial, franchising and data protection.


Suzanne is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales.

Suzanne Barrett, Senior Consultant


+971 52 553 7743

Kelly has been working in the Middle East for over 12 years providing legal solutions and guidance to a wide range of clients in the telecoms, media and technology space. She is particularly known for her experience in regulatory reform and development across the region as well as internationally.


Kelly's practice also encompasses helping clients understand and manage data privacy obligations, in addition to advising on the wider projects and commercial aspects of TMT work.


Kelly is dual qualified in Canada and England and Wales.

Kelly Tymburski, Senior Consultant


+971 50 708 6878

Charles has more than twenty years’ experience gained from working in private practice and in-house at market leading firms and corporates in the UK and the UAE.


During this period he has been a trusted advisor and problem solver to clients, colleagues, senior management and business lines on a wide range of legal issues. Charles is experienced with a broad array of commercial, banking, finance, advisory, compliance and litigation matters and has a track record of successful dispute resolution and effective risk mitigation.    Most recently, Charles designed and drafted a legal risk framework and a suite of associated policies and procedures for a regulated entity.


Before joining The Bench, Charles was Vice President and Group Head of Legal Governance at Emirates NBD Bank P.J.S.C. for seven years and a senior advisor on disputes and legal risk management to the bank’s international branches.


Charles is a qualified solicitor in England and Wales.

Charles Barwick, Senior Consultant