Day in the life: Ferrari-driving Dubai lawyer is also a Real Madrid fan

Ghassan El Daye is a partner at global law firm King and Wood Mallesons. Based in the practice’s Dubai office, he handles cases for regional and international clients engaged in litigation in the courts of the UAE and neighbouring jurisdictions. Covering commercial and construction disputes as well as aspects of criminal prosecution and extradition, the Arabic-language litigation and dispute resolution specialist, 44, from Lebanon, has lived in Dubai for 10 years with his wife, Paula, and their two children – a son, 14, and daughter, 13.

5am

I love waking up with the sun, as it is a natural way to give me a head start on the day. This extra hour gives me the space to do some creative thinking and plan the day ahead.


6am

I usually take an hour’s walk along the Palm Jumeirah beach, as the gentle exercise helps oxygen flow to the brain for better thinking and problem solving. Living on the Palm is great because it’s a unique place – I enjoy seeing how the projects there are developing. After my walk I’ll return and review my emails, have breakfast with my family and swipe through some of the main local and international newspapers online. Generally, I keep track of the front page headlines, legal and economic news as well as some other happenings locally and internationally. However, I’ll always skim through the sports section, particularly to see how my other main loves are doing – Ferrari and Real Madrid. I’m a huge Ferrari fan and it’s an exciting time for the team and I think Real will blow the competition away this year – I tip them to win the Champions League.

8.20am

When it’s not my turn to drive the kids to school, I will drive myself to work in my pride and joy – a Ferrari 458, which I am proud to own, as it is my dream car. The half-hour drive to work simply isn’t long enough, as I’m having so much fun every time I get behind the wheel.

9am

The first hour of the day is generally spent meeting with clients. It’s important to meet the client in person as often as possible, particularly when dealing with complex litigation cases. Sometimes I go to the courts to support the lawyers acting for our clients whenever there are important cases. I visit all courts in all of the jurisdictions we operate, travelling to courts in most countries across the GCC, Middle East and Europe.

There aren’t many special challenges here in UAE since the legal system has developed in a very professional and technical way.

10am

Meetings with teams from high-profile clients can often run on, but whenever I can make the time between them and lunch, this is the optimum time to research and carry out due diligence. It’s also prime time to update clients on their cases, which is always my priority – communication builds trust in the firm and myself.

1pm

This is the all-important lunch hour, where I love to enjoy a nice meal with colleagues. Carrying on the Italian theme, I am a big fan of the cuisine and my favourite restaurant at the weekend in Dubai is 101 at the One&Only Royal Mirage. It is really special to eat delicious grilled fish on a pier overlooking the Arabian Sea.

2pm

This is often when the real work happens. We will get together as a team, study, discuss and strategise to ensure we perform to the maximum on every case.

7pm

Whenever possible, before leaving I’ll ensure all emails are read and answered. This can help clear up loose ends and allow more essential relaxation to happen at home.

8pm

I look forward to this time every day – there is no better way to unwind than a bit of exercise, usually a swim or some cardio, before having dinner with my wife and kids. This precious time is where I catch up with their activities during the day. I don’t watch so much TV during the week, as it is so filled with work, but I do enjoy a good James Bond film. I’m very much looking forward to Spectre, which is out in November. Daniel Craig is a one of the best Bonds.

10pm

I try to read a few chapters of a book before falling sleep. I’m currently reading Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey. It may seem I have a long and busy day, but I don’t feel any stress at all because I’m fortunate to love my work. I do, however, have one eye on my next holiday; my wife and I plan to visit Italy to celebrate 15 years of marriage.

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