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The Frontbenchers 


+971 56 683 0775

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

Gerard Hobby, Legal Director

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.

Elise Gillians, Senior Consultant 

Elise Linked-In.jpg

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. 

Muhanned Bukhatwa, Senior Data Protection & Privacy Consultant 


+971 54 738 8949

Muhanned is an innovative professional with credentials in Law and Data Protection with proven ability to execute privacy programmes with global and international presence including the EU, Latin America and the MENA regions. In recent years he has been responsible for managing and developing data protection teams, consultants and data champions to deliver both privacy programmes and ad hoc services. His experiences to date have exposed him to the following data protection laws: GDPR, Irish, UK, Spanish, German, Turkish, UAE (DIFC & ADGM), Qatari, Egyptian, KSA, Kenyan, Malaysian, Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean, Peruvian, Mexican and South Africa.

Prior to joining The Bench, Muhannad was the Global Data Protection Officer for Swvl in Dubai and before that was a Senior Data Protection Consultant with PrivacyEngine in Dublin, Ireland.  

Muhannad is a bi-linqual English and Arabic speaker.  



+971 55 886 3724

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 52 553 7743

Kelly Tymburski, Legal Director

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.


+971 50 708 6878

Charles Barwick, Senior Consultant

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.


+971 56 537 7271

Salio De Sousa, Legal Director

Salio an ex-Engineer (Software) with over 10+ years of legal international experience, has a solid background in general corporate and commercial matters, technological areas in various sectors, such as 5G/Telecoms, IoT, SaaS, AI/ML, complex software licenses, design/deployment/operate complex power and IT systems, outsourcing and management services, GDPR/Privacy.


Prior to joining The Bench, Salio held senior positions at various tech companies including Mavenir, Dun & Bradstreet, ADASI and ARM after training with leading law firm Baker McKenzie in London.       


Jouhayna Amr, Legal Director

Jouhayna has over 17 years’ experience across the payments, telecom, FMCG and the F&B sectors in the UAE.  She has significant technical legal expertise in multiple legal systems across MEA in respect of payment related products and services, M&A deals, commercial law, intellectual property law, finance, corporate governance, compliance & ethics, and risk management. 


Prior to joining The Bench, Jouhayna was Director Legal Counsel at du and before that she held senior positions at various companies including Mastercard, Network International, Nestle and Aujan.


Jouhayna is Lebanese qualified and trilingual (English, French and Arabic). 

+971 55 600 8408

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