One of its most ambitious offshore ventures involved development of three separate offices in the Persian Gulf, anchored in Dubai. Prior to opening in the Gulf, the firm received assurances that the United Arab Emirates planned to commit significant sums from its sovereign wealth fund to Canada; Bennett Jones was expected to be top of mind. At the time, David Dodge — a key member of the public policy group — was acting as an advisor to the UAE Central Bank. On paper, the firm was positioned perfectly. But although the firm did well as a local practice there, that office did not endure.
As fate would have it, a dispute arose between Canada and the UAE over Emirates Airlines’ landing rights in Canada. The once-promising Canada-UAE relationship quickly unravelled, just as Bennett Jones was setting up shop. Although the firm did relatively well as a local practice, a large part of the expansion rationale was lost; eventually, the offices were closed.