ACC Middle East Elects New Leadership

Dubai Tourism General Counsel Sahia Ahmad to Serve as Chapter President

Posted: May 11, 2017

DUBAI (May 11, 2017) –– The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global legal association representing more than 42,000 in-house counsel in 85 countries, today announced the election of new leadership for ACC Middle East, its chapter of more than 250 in-house lawyers from eight countries. ACC President and CEO Veta T. Richardson announced the new leadership for ACC Middle East at the Middle East Legal Awards 2017, hosted by LegalWeek and ACC.

Sahia Ahmad, general counsel of Dubai Tourism, the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai, was elected president of ACC Middle East. She will serve through September 2018. As the new president, Ahmad's goals include increasing the number of education and collaboration opportunities for in-house counsel in the Middle East region, especially for the next generation of law department leaders.

"We are thrilled to congratulate Sahia Ahmad, an accomplished general counsel, as president of ACC Middle East," said Veta T. Richardson, ACC president and CEO. "She is dedicated to serving the growing corporate counsel community in the Middle East, and we look forward to offering even stronger service to our members under her leadership."

Ahmad has served as general counsel, Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai, since 2014. Her department was named Legal Department of the Year (large team) at last year's LegalWeek/ACC Middle East Legal Awards. Ahmad's law department supports the Dubai government's efforts to encourage business and leisure tourism to Dubai, with a goal of bringing 20 million people to the city by 2020. Prior to her current role, Ahmad had earlier stints as general counsel of Emirates Investment Authority and at Reed Smith LLC, where she spearheaded the opening of the law firm's Dubai office. Ahmad started her in-house career as counsel at Dubai World after a number of years with Alllen & Overy.

"I am honored to serve the in-house community, and look forward to working with the new board and the members of ACC to broaden our membership in the Middle East, particularly amongst younger lawyers who can greatly benefit from ACC," Ahmad said.

Ahmad takes over from Elias Hayek, formerly vice president, legal, EAME division, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and currently partner - corporate & head of global hospitality and leisure practice, Squire Patton Boggs. Hayek has served as president of ACC Middle East since its formation in May 2014. He was also founder and president of Corporate Counsel Middle East, the predecessor of ACC Middle East.

"As we transition leadership, we would also like to thank Elias Hayek for his countless hours of work and his visionary guidance as we established and expanded ACC Middle East," Richardson said. "Elias has been a driving force behind ACC Middle East accomplishments in recent years, and he leaves the chapter stronger than ever."

During his presidency, Hayek worked with the board of directors toward the smooth transition of Corporate Counsel Middle East to ACC Middle East, growing the chapter and solidifying its presence in the region by expanding to new jurisdictions, forming relationships with legal service providers, media, and governments, and establishing ACC Middle East as a key component of the region's legal community. In the three years he served as president, Hayek balanced his volunteer leadership role with his day job of running a legal department during a transformational ownership deal. In recognition of his contribution to ACC, Richardson awarded Hayek the ACC Lifetime Achievement Award.

"It has been a privilege and an honor to lead ACC Middle East over the past three years," Hayek said. "I am proud of our accomplishments and the value that we have created for the Middle East legal community at large. ACC Middle East, under the indispensable guidance of its advisory board of directors, has become a leading resource for in-house counsel, providing them with continuing legal education opportunities, legal resources, and up to date coverage of region-specific developments. It is without a doubt the leading legal community networking and relationship building conduit in the region. I leave ACC Middle East in the capable hands of Ms. Sahia Ahmad, a friend and colleague who I deeply respect and admire. I remain committed to supporting ACC-Middle East in my non-executive capacity and to see it develop even more broadly across the region."

Joining Sahia Ahmad as the chapter's new board of directors and officers are:

  • Ghada Qaisi Audi – General Counsel, Seddiqi Holding LLC (UAE) – Vice president
  • Maria Musika - Company Secretary, Asteco Property Management (UAE) – Secretary
  • Firas Oggar – Group General Counsel, Al Ghurair Investment – Treasurer
  • Afshan Akhtar – FVP - Legal, Arab Banking Corporation (Bahrain)
  • Franklin Breckenridge - Associate Counsel, Middle East Operations, Louis Berger International (UAE)
  • Filippo Cossalter - Legal Director, Johnson & Johnson Middle East (UAE)
  • Emma Dickie - Group General Counsel, Averda (UAE)
  • Joanne Fischlin - Lead Counsel, Microsoft (UAE)
  • Varsha Gupta - Regional Counsel, NAMET, Reckitt Benckiser (UAE)
  • Rami Nahhas - Regional General Counsel, MetLife (UAE)
  • Laura Reynaud - Legal Advisor, Qatar University (Qatar)
  • Jason Taylor - Corporate Counsel, Muntajat (Qatar)

Upcoming chapter events include a program, "Establishing Trust in the Cloud," on May 14. For more information on ACC Middle East, visit

About ACC Middle East: ACC Middle East promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. ACC Middle East provides a local network in the region and serves the in-house community through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives.

About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through information, education, networking, and advocacy. With more than 42,000 members in 85 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit and follow ACC on Twitter: @ACCinhouse.


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