Shahram Safai

Partner, Dubai Office

Mr Safai is a partner at Afridi & Angell and his practice consists of corporate law, real estate law and disputes.  Mr Safai also advises on private equity and venture capital transactions, as well as advising clients on assessing and managing transactional risks. Mr Safai heads the firm’s real estate and venture capital teams and he has been highly sought after by boards and shareholders for strategic legal advice.  He is active in lobbying for and providing constructive feedback to government organizations regarding regional laws and regulations pertaining to venture capital investment, corporate governance and real estate.

Mr Safai also advises clients with respect to investments, joint ventures and doing business in the region. Such advice involves franchise and agency matters, build operate transfer transactions, regulatory & legal compliance and strategies, foreign investment protection regimes, sanctions and anti-money laundering implications.

Recent work includes:

  • Structured and drafted agreements for the AED525 million sale of the Automall development in Motor City, Dubai consisting of 450,000 square feet of leasable space and 150 stores.
  • Advice upon and drafting of documentation for the sale of AED2.2 billion of real estate by a prominent developer to a financial institution.
  • Advice and representation of clients with respect to doing business in the region, including drafting, negotiations, representation before ministries and implementation of distribution agreements, joint venture agreements, financing agreements and other matters.  
  • Strategic, legal and operational advice for a multibillion dollar financial free zone in the region.
  • Representation of a corporate client in arbitration involving a high value real estate investment. 
  • Advice and drafting of documentation regarding the purchase of property in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
  • Design and formation of a bespoke venture capital fund focused on the Middle East.

Mr Safai is also a registered professional engineer and he has previously worked as a design engineer, a hydroelectric dam manager in charge of biologists, technicians, electricians and mechanics, as well as a construction engineer. He also worked for a global oil & gas company, supervising the pressure testing of gas wells. He is a regular speaker at seminars on legal developments and current issues in real estate and construction law. At the invitation of the Government of Dubai, Mr. Safai lectures on legal matters at the Land Department.

Prior to joining Afridi & Angell Mr Safai was an associate at Cooley Godward in Palo Alto, California practicing venture capital law.  

Mr Safai is well recognised by the leading international legal industry publications such as Chambers Global and Legal 500 EMEA.  He has been recognised as a ‘Leader in their Field’ of practice (Chambers Global 2013, 2012, 2011).

Clients of Mr Safai say 'he inspires a sense of confidence - you immediately feel you're in good hands. He's someone who knows the field. He provides an answer but also guides you through the process - there isn't much he hasn't come across before.' - Chamber Global 2018

"...amazing...with deep knowledge...outstanding...5/5." - Dubai Government - Dubai Land Department Lecture Series July 2018 

Mr Safai is described as 'quick, responsive and forthright' and 'he is a well-known figure in the UAE real estate sector.' - Chambers Global 2013

Clients highlight his ability to deliver tailor-made advice. - Chambers Global 2012

Mr Safai is also described as 'a cut above the rest with thorough knowledge, sharp analytical prowess, understanding of the industry, good relationships with government authorities and the best of communication skills.' - Legal 500 2011


  • Real Estate
  • Venture Capital
  • Corporate
  • Litigation, Arbitration


  • State Bar of California
  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia


  • Juris Doctor, University of British Columbia, 1998
  • Master of Business Administration, 2002 
  • Bachelor of Engineering, University of British Columbia, 1992


  • English
  • Farsi



  • Speaker and moderator, Off Plan vs Secondary: Risk, reward and the outlook for Dubai property in 2019, seminar organised in collaboration with Better Homes, 5 December 2018, Dubai
  • Speaker, What's the latest in Dubai's real estate market?, Cityscape, 4 October 2018, Dubai
  • Speaker, Post Summer Regional Update, seminar organised in collaboration with the Association of Corporate Counsel Middle East, 26 September 2018, Dubai
  • Speaker, Construction Contracts: Legal Aspects, Society of Engineers, 15 February 2018, Dubai
  • Moderator, Investment in Healthcare in the UAE, seminar organised by Afridi & Angell, 31 January 2018, Dubai
  • Panelist, Crisis & Emergency Management, Meamcon 2017, 7 December 2017, Dubai 
  • Speaker, Construction Contracts: Issues and Practical Solutions, The Engineering Forum, 28 November 2017, Dubai
  • Speaker, Construction Contracts: Issues and Practical Solutions, The Big 5, 26 November 2017, Dubai
  • Speaker, Contracts 101, workshop by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, 19 April 2017, Dubai
  • Speaker, Doing Business in the Middle East, training session at Sinopec International (Middle East) FZE, 28 December 2016, Dubai 
  • Speaker, Impact of the Trump Presidency, Economist Corporate Network CEO Lunch, 13 December 2016, Dubai 
  • Speaker, Iran: Managing the Opportunities within, jointly organised roundtable with Control Risks, 7 December 2017 
    Speaker, Latest Developments in Dubai Rental Market, organised by the Dubai Chamber, 24 November 2016  
    Speaker, Talking Term Sheets, The Entrepreneur Day by DSOA, 17 November 2016, Dubai 
    Speaker and panelist, Frontier Markets – Opportunities & Challenges Doing business in Africa & Iran, STEP Arabia, 7 November 2016, Dubai  
    Panelist, Doing Business in Iran, Deloitte and Odgers Berndtson Economic Diner, 21 September 2016, Dubai
  • Speaker, Managing the Opportunities within, jointly organised roundtable with Control Risks, 7 December 2016, Dubai 
  • Speaker, Latest Developments in Dubai Rental Market, organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, 24 November 2016, Dubai  
  • Speaker, Talking Term Sheets, The Entrepreneur Day by DSOA, 17 November 2016, Dubai 
  • Speaker and panelist, Frontier Markets – Opportunities & Challenges Doing business in Africa, STEP Arabia, 7 November 2016, Dubai  
  • Panelist, Doing Business in the region, Deloitte and Odgers Berndtson Economic Dinner, 21 September 2016, Dubai
  • Speaker and panelist, Spotlight on Construction and Liability: Challenges and Fiduciary Duties, MEREIA Conference, 24 May 2016, Dubai
  • Speaker, Term Sheets Made Simple, Womena Angel Series Workshop, 23 April 2016, Dubai 
  • Speaker, Real Estate in Dubai, a presentation to students from Kingston University, 5 April 2016, Dubai Land Department and Dubai Real Estate Institute
  • Speaker, The control of transactions: how is the transparency of real estate owners ensured?, Structuring real estate ownership in Dubai, 2 March 2016, Dubai
  • Panelist, Setting Up an Entity & Opening Bank Accounts: Onshore, Free Zone & Offshore, Dubai Forward, 17 February 2016, Dubai
  • Chairman and Speaker, Doing Business in Dubai, and what you need to know about the UAE and Dubai, Dubai Forward, 15 February 2016, Dubai
  • Speaker, Managing the transition to DIFC wills: what is the impact on existing and common succession instruments/techniques?, Optimal Successions in Dubai & the UAE, 24 November 2015, Dubai
  • Speaker, Dubai Land Department and succession issues/transfer of property, Optimal Successions in Dubai & the UAE, 23 November 2015, Dubai
  • Panelist, MENA M&A Landscape: trends, challenges and winning strategies, The American Lawyer’s Global M&A Playbook, 28 October 2015, New York
  • Speaker, Construction / Real Estate Sector / UAE Forecasts – Opportunity – Challenge – Risks / Land Department & RERA Functioning – Settlement of Disputes, ICC Forum 2015, 22 April 2015, Dubai
  • Panelist, Operating in Dubai: what are the best options for your strategy?, Dubai Forward: The 2nd annual strategic conference on Dubai as a financial & wealth management centre, 23 & 24 February 2015, Dubai
  • Speaker, Real Estate in Dubai – The Amazing Decade, a presentation to a delegation from Singapore, 25 February 2015, Dubai Land Department
  • Speaker, Hello Tomorrow – where science and technology meet entrepreneurship to build our tomorrow, 18 February 2015, Hult International Business School, Dubai
  • Speaker, Legal Aspects of VC: The VC Term Sheet in Focus, Dubai Silicon Oasis, 9 February 2015
  • Speaker, Offshore Companies – where to create an offshore company to hold real estate in the UAE?, Optimal Succession in Dubai & the UAE, 24 & 25 November 2014, Dubai
  • Speaker, Real Estate in the UAE – The Amazing Decade (an Information Exchange organised by The American Business Council of Dubai & Northern Emirates), 19 November 2014
  • Panelist, Dispute Resolution in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting 2014, 28-31 October 2014, New Orleans
  • Chairman and Speaker, Spotlight on Construction – Challenges and Fiduciary Duties, Afridi & Angell client seminar (in conjunction with Snag & Inspect), 21 January 2014, Dubai
  • Panelist, Corporate finance: 2014 and beyond, 2013 ACT Middle East Annual Conference, Driving Growth, Building Futures, 26-27 November 2013, DIFC, Dubai
  • Speaker, Construction Law in the UAE: Issues and Practical Solutions, Afridi & Angell client seminar, 28 March 2012 (Dubai), 11 April 2012 (Abu Dhabi)
  • Speaker, JOP Law and Steps to Forming OAs, Middle East Association Managers Conference, 8-9 December 2010, Dubai
  • Speaker, Strata Law Compliance Seminar Part II, Afridi & Angell client seminar, 29 September 2010, Dubai
  • Speaker, Strata Law Compliance Seminar, Afridi & Angell client seminar, 4 August 2010, Dubai
  • Speaker, Property Registration in Dubai: Past, Present and Future, Presentation to the Dubai Land Department, January 2010, Dubai