Riccardo: his ride from Milan to Dubai
27 September 2021

Riccardo Denaro is a senior associate in our corporate and M&A practice

How did you end up in Dubai? 

Well, I moved from my hometown, Palermo, to Milan in 2000 to attend Bocconi University, where I graduated in law. And exactly 8 years ago this September, my adventure with BonelliErede began.

And in 2017 I had the opportunity of a secondment at the Barcelona office of Uría Menéndez, a fellow member of the Best Friends network and one of the leading law firms in Spain and Latin America. This was the first step of the international path that has characterised my career. At the end of the secondment, I came back to Milan for just a few months before heading off in October 2018 to start my adventure in Dubai and the Middle East.

I had initially planned on staying for only three or four months – just long enough to get an assignment with a new client up and running. But the business opportunities here for the firm multiplied rapidly… and in the blink of an eye those three months have turned into three years!

What is the main focus of your job? 

The short answer is business law (commercial and corporate law), particularly M&A and other types of extraordinary transactions.

But my job goes beyond that: One of the most stimulating things about working at the Dubai office is being able to practise law with a strong management and business-oriented approach. And having been part of the Dubai team since the start-up phase has allowed me not only to expand my legal skills in a constantly evolving legal environment but also develop my commercial awareness in terms of the market and client needs.

When I’m finished with meetings and contracts for the day, I dedicate myself to my greatest passion: sports. I’ve always been a keen sports fan and player. In fact, I’ve been a proud member of BonelliErede’s football team since I joined the firm – and when I was based in Milan, I had lots of rewarding and memorable experiences my teammates. Then, when I came to Dubai, Marco De Leo – the office’s managing partner – introduced me to the world of triathlons (he himself is a veteran), which is very popular in this part of the world thanks to the favourable year-round temperatures – and it’s a great way to network and make new friends.

But what I love most about this sport is how it constantly challenges you to surpass your limits. Although the training is very demanding, most of all because it requires a lot of time, the satisfaction of achieving results that you (perhaps) didn’t think you could is priceless and inevitably leads you to raise the bar day after day. In 2020 I completed my first Ironman 70.3 – a milestone that at the same time immediately became a new starting point. This desire to set myself increasingly challenging goals has become a philosophy that I naturally carry with me also in my professional life.

How important is travelling in your life?

Travel has been another defining feature of my life ever since I left Sicily to move to Milan. I lived in the US for almost a year during my university days, then a stint in Spain and now I’m here in the UAE.

I’ve always travelled, not only for study and work but also, and above all, for pleasure. I’ve never kept count of how many countries I’ve visited, but there is one thing above all that my travels have taught me: The value of diversity, by which I mean the meeting and mixing of cultures. And there’s no doubt that, of the many cities in the world, Dubai is one that brings together a multitude of social and cultural backgrounds, which makes it an incredible and constantly evolving melting pot of people.

In the last three years, this city has accompanied me on a path of both professional and personal growth. I have learned a huge amount from all the people I have met and, as often happens when you are away from home, this has taught me to value my Italian (and Sicilian) roots. In fact, so much so that, when the pandemic was at its height and visiting family and friends back home was a no-no, I decided to sponsor the new business venture of two of my closest friends. It’s a business that promotes the excellence of the Made in Italy brand, which the whole world admires us for.

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