By Mark Hoyle King&Wood Mallesons’ Dubai Office

Mark HoyleIn the language of lawyers praising a jurist, the word “greatest” is usually an overblown epithet. There is one man though that many consider, rightly, to be the Arab world’s greatest jurist in modern times. Dr Abdel Razzaq Al Sanhouri was the eminent jurist, teacher, writer and draftsman of many laws and codes in the Arab world. Al Sanhouri was born in 1895 in Alexandria in Egypt, and died in 1971 in Cairo.

In the past 75 years there have been many reforms and new definitions of Arab law. The establishment of the Arab League post 2nd. World War mirrored the enthusiasm for a pan-Arab legal consensus. As a result there have been a considerable number of legal developments in all of the Arab League states. The positive developments, such as more consensus in legal learning and education, the exchange of ideas, the employment in the Gulf states of judges (and lawyers) from Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and elsewhere has naturally brought about a different legal landscape. There is clearly a more holistic legal approach, whether or not a reader looks at the Gulf States on their own, or the Arab countries in the Mediterranean, or those further centred in the Middle East. From the 1920s Al Sanhouri was a leader of the pan-Arab legal development process.

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