Fatima Balfaqeeh, the founder and managing director of RKAH Consultancy firm, comes with 14 years of experience in supply chain management, and dispute resolution in fields such as construction, governance enforcement in contracts and procurement in government entities, finance, and banking.
Why have you decided to specialise in ADR? What attracted you to this area of law?
My interest in ADR came very naturally and organically as a part of my responsibilities as a Procurement & Contracts Director in several government entities, where I found myself mediating unofficially between conflicting parties, reviewing claims submitted by the suppliers or contractors, and event when a case gets into litigation, I would work closely with the legal team to provide all the documents required. Then I started getting interested in Arbitration as a way to resolve disputes, and then mediation.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your career as a female practitioner in arbitration/ mediation?
I think the struggle for me was as a young female practitioner I have found it difficult to get the more experienced Arbitrators and mediators to initially help me in getting my first break, I was always faced with the “chicken or the egg” situation, where the first question usually asked was “how many cases did you work on?”, when my answer used to be nothing yet, then they ask me to get a few under my belt and they will be happy to help. If I am not given the first chance, then how will I build my resume as an arbitrator? However, I have persevered, and kept approaching enough people until I started getting opportunities.
What do you consider as the biggest challenge for the ADR in the future?
In my point of view the ADR and legal profession’s main challenge in the near future is to be to incorporate with the technological advances happening in all the fields around us. How will the ADR community stop playing catch up with those technologies and be a participating player.
Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?
The most exciting development I am witnessing is the UAE’s new Arbitration Law that is supporting the ADR community, and generating a lot of trust in the UAE to be an impartial and save haven for ADR solution seekers.
If you had a time machine, what piece of advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your career in ADR?
It would defiantly be to believe in myself and start my ADR journey earlier than what I did.
How has a membership with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators benefitted your career?
CIArb was my first step into the ADR field, and it was my first membership in an international organization specializing in ADR, and I have received enormous support from The Chair of the UAE Branch and the members in establishing my reputation and experience.
Tell us about your interests, hobbies or any out of work activities.
Outside of work, I am a mother of 4, who enjoys reading, volunteering when possible, swimming and running.