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About Zara Merali

Zara is Counsel in our Dispute Resolution team and is based in the UAE. She has practised with top firms in Toronto and London before moving to Dubai.

Zara focuses her practice on crisis management as well as white collar defence. Zara represents businesses and individuals in global investigations involving allegations of financial crime, bribery, fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, terrorist financing, sanctions violations and anticompetitive activity. She provides strategic advice to clients to help them manage fraud and corporate crime risks.

Zara is dual qualified as a Barrister and Solicitor in Ontario and a Solicitor in England and Wales. In addition to Dubai, Zara has worked in Toronto and London. Zara is Chambers ranked and she is winner of the Chambers 2022 Middle East Associate of the Year Award.

Recent work

  • *Advising an Omani based shareholder into the approximately USD 62m fraud investigation and asset tracing of a perfume business in the UAE, involving assets in Iran, the Isle of Man, Cyprus, the UAE, and the United Kingdom and advising on strategic advice for third party funding and DIFC-LCIA arbitrations seated in Dubai.
  • *Advising a global technology company’s internal investigation into corruption and bribery allegations, involving kickbacks and bid-rigging, in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE.
  • *Advising a global pharmaceutical client's investigation into corruption and bribery allegations in its Bahrain and Qatar businesses.
  • *Advising a global pharmaceutical client as part of the core team of lawyers in a worldwide (primarily involving the Middle East and NYC/Washington offices), anti-corruption internal investigation in the context of an FCPA enforcement
  • *Advising a private Saudi Arabian / German contractor in the telecommunications sector in its internal investigation of corruption and bribery in connection with multiple customer accounts
  • Advising a multinational French acquirer in a $110,000,000 DIFC/LCIA arbitration against the sellers of an eight jurisdiction (India, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Oman) non-destructive testing conglomerate in the context of a dispute over fraudulent receivable claims to increase the purchase price in the last two tranches of the acquisition, including security applications in India and the UAE.
  • Advising a German multi-national company against a Kuwaiti distributor in a US$ 70 million ICC arbitration proceeding for the breach of an exclusive distribution contract.
  • Advising a global logistics company in a US$ 20 million GCCAC arbitration against a Kuwaiti petroleum company in relation to a dispute over a failure to meet volume commitments in an overland transport contract.
  • Advising a Kuwaiti investment company in a US$ 17 million International Chamber of Commerce arbitration in relation to a Cayman investment fund and related proceedings in Bahrain.
  • Advising the London P&I Club in a US$ 1,000,000,000 shipping collision dispute against a major Kuwaiti shipping company involving related proceedings in London, Switzerland and Italy

*Lawyer experience prior to joining Freshfields.


  • 2014 Master of Laws with Distinction (Oil and Gas Law)
  • 2009 Admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales
  • 2007 Called to the Ontario Bar
  • 2006 Juris Doctorate, Law, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • 2000 Master of Philosophy, Columbia University
  • Master of Arts (Law, Ethics and Policy), University of Toronto
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) University of Toronto