International Economic Law and Policy LLM, SJD Grad Returns to Saudi Arabia as Professor

June 19, 2017

In a span of just five years, Yahya Alsharif went from not knowing English to graduating from University of Arizona Law with two degrees and an assistant professor job secured in his home country.

Alsharif obtained a bachelor of law degree from King Saud University’s College of Law and Political Science in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A professor there who is a University of Arizona Law alumnus told Alsharif about the college’s strong International Economic Law and Policy program and advised him to apply.

Alsharif’s first step was to move to Tucson in 2012 and enroll in the University of Arizona‘s Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) to learn English.

“I spent a whole year until I was able to master the language,” says Alsharif. “I knew that the University of Arizona had a very good and powerful CESL, and it could help me learn the English language in an efficient and effective way.”

Next Alsharif applied and was accepted to the Master of Laws (LLM) program, earning his degree in 2014. During that time, he became involved in the Volunteer Lawyers Program, earning the “Outstanding Law Student of the Month Award” in September 2014.

He then proceeded to the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) program, where he continued working in the community on legal projects.

“During my first [doctorate] year, I worked on projects at The Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court of Appeal under the supervision of Associate Clinical Professor James Hopkins,” says Alsharif. “I learned very important skills that cannot be learned in the classrooms, which contributed to my professional development.”

Alsharif’s academic focus during his time at Arizona Law was international commercial arbitration. His dissertation, which he successfully defended in April, is titled “Implications of Sharia Law on The Development of International Commercial Arbitration in Islamic Countries: A Case Study on Dubai.”

“International commercial arbitration has gained traction globally, in both public and private spheres,” says Alsharif. “This study analyzes the impact of Sharia law on the development of international commercial arbitration in Islamic countries. The study revolves around the Emirate of Dubai as a case study. It explores the rise and development of international commercial arbitration in Dubai in relation to other Islamic countries such as Bahrain, Egypt, Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”

Alsharif cites the law library’s resources and 24/7 access as a key part of his experience and successfully completing his research. “It is a quiet and nice place for studying, and the librarians are there any time I need help finding a book or a piece of information,” he says.

Alsharif now returns to Saudi Arabia, where he will be an assistant professor at his alma mater, the College of Law and Political Science at King Saud University. Ever the scholar, he has already published a book about his time in the U.S., including as a student at Arizona Law.

"Mr. Alsharif used his time at Arizona Law effectively to enhance his research and writing skills, and with the help of Professor of Practice Robert Hornick (right), to write an excellent dissertation,” says Professor of Law and Director Emeritus of the International Economic Law and Policy program David Gantz. “We wish him well in his career as a law professor in Saudi Arabia."