Rozana AlTayyar FCIArb on how to create a mediation-first culture

We speak to Rozana AlTayyar FCIArb about the average day-in-the-life of a mediator, why it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with advancements in other sectors of dispute resolution, and the importance of continuous learning. 

How did you get into mediation? 

In 2014, after accumulating 14 years of corporate banking experience and witnessing the ruin of companies and break-up of commercial and family relationships, I made the pivotal decision to transition into the role of a certified mediator. With a focus on promoting and implementing mediation within the business community in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), I underwent extensive training to further this objective. Given the embedded nature of mediation within Middle Eastern culture, my primary goal was to shed light on the process and mechanism of mediation to provide businesses with the necessary knowledge to embrace mediation and resort to it early on to resolve disputes and safeguard their operations and relationships. 

What’s the average day-in-the-life of a mediator like?  

An average day in the life of a mediator can vary depending on their specialisation and the nature of the cases they handle. The first thing a mediator would do is case preparation where the mediator would start with case review and preparation. This involves familiarising oneself with the details of ongoing cases and formulating a strategy for upcoming mediation sessions. 

Mediators often engage in client interactions, which may involve discussing the mediation process, setting expectations, and addressing any concerns or questions that the parties involved may have. 

A significant portion of a mediator's day may be dedicated to conducting mediation sessions, facilitating communication between the parties, and guiding them towards a mutually agreeable resolution. Like any professional, mediators also handle administrative duties such as scheduling appointments, managing correspondence, updating case records and accounting. 

Many mediators also allocate time for professional development by attending relevant training programmes, conferences, or networking events. In this way, they can stay current with industry trends and best practices and promote the services of mediation and conflict management. 

Each day presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities, reflecting the dynamic and diverse nature of a mediator's responsibilities. 

How can mediators work more closely in supporting the business sector? 

Mediators can work more closely with the business sector by offering specialised training or workshops tailored to the specific needs of businesses and offer their services as a means of resolving disputes and conflicts within the business environment. Additionally, mediators can provide ongoing support and consultation to businesses to help them prevent and manage conflicts effectively. This can include creating customised conflict resolution processes and providing guidance on communication and negotiation strategies. By actively engaging with the sector, mediators can build trust and demonstrate the value of their services in promoting a more harmonious and productive work environment. 

How does investor-state mediation differ from commercial mediation? 

Investor-state mediation and commercial mediation differ in their scope and focus. Investor-state mediation typically involves resolving disputes between a foreign investor and a host state, often related to international investment treaties or contracts. These disputes can encompass a wide range of issues, such as breach of contract, expropriation, unfair treatment, or other violations of international investment law. 

On the other hand, commercial mediation generally involves resolving disputes between parties engaged in commercial activities, such as business contracts, partnerships, or other commercial transactions. The focus is often on reaching a mutually acceptable resolution to specific commercial issues, such as payment disputes, breaches of contract, or disagreements over business terms. 

Additionally, investor-state mediation may involve unique legal and jurisdictional considerations, as it frequently intersects with public international law and may involve sovereign states as parties to the mediation. In contrast, commercial mediation tends to centre on private contractual matters and the application of contract law. 

While both types of mediation share common principles and techniques, they differ in their specific contexts and the legal frameworks within which they operate. 

What do we need to do to promote a mediation-first culture?  

To promote a mediation-first culture, it's essential to raise awareness about the availability, benefits and effectiveness of mediation as a means of resolving conflict. It is an option which parties to a dispute should resort to as a first step towards resolution. The main contributors to this are the in-house counsel and lawyers who are involved in drafting contracts and agreements and advising their clients. In addition, it is important to provide education and training programmes to individuals, universities and organisations about the principles and advantages of mediation. This may include highlighting the cost-effectiveness, confidentiality, and flexibility of mediation as compared to traditional litigation. 

Collaborating with legal and business institutions to integrate mediation into their processes and provide incentives for choosing mediation as the first option for resolving disputes. 

Advocating for policies and legislation that promote the use of mediation, such as court-annexed mediation programs and mandatory mediation clauses in contracts. Building networks and partnerships with mediators, legal professionals, businesses, and community organisations to foster a culture that values mediation as a preferred method for conflict resolution. 

By implementing these strategies, we can work towards creating a culture where mediation is the primary choice for addressing disputes, leading to more efficient and amicable resolutions. 

How important is it for you as a mediator to understand developments in other parts of the dispute resolution sector? 

It is crucial for a mediator to understand developments in other parts of the dispute resolution sector for several reasons. Firstly, staying informed about new methodologies, technologies, and best practices in arbitration, negotiation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution allows a mediator to broaden their skillset and adapt their approach to better suit the evolving needs of disputing parties. 

Secondly, being knowledgeable about advancements in other areas of dispute resolution fosters collaboration and knowledge-sharing among professionals in the broader field, ultimately leading to a more cohesive and impactful dispute resolution community. 

By keeping abreast of developments, a mediator can continuously improve their abilities and provide more informed, effective, and relevant services to their clients. 

Any parting words of advice for people starting their careers in mediation and dispute resolution? 

For individuals embarking on careers in mediation and dispute resolution, I recommend continuous learning and development. It is essential that you commit to ongoing education and professional development to enhance your skills and knowledge in mediation techniques, conflict resolution theories, and relevant mediation laws and ethical considerations. 

It is imperative that you seek opportunities to gain practical experience through mentorship programmes, to participate in mediation competitions to develop your expertise, build a network of contacts in the field, and speak at events within the ADR and business community. 

Upholding the highest ethical standards and integrity in your practice, demonstrating trustworthiness, impartiality, and confidentiality at all times are also vital. Honing your communication and active listening skills is essential, as effective communication is fundamental to successful mediation and resolution of conflicts. A mediator’s reputation is key to receiving appointments within their community. Staying open-minded and adaptable to different dispute resolution approaches and methodologies, and a willingness to tailor your techniques to suit the unique needs of each situation and participant are also important. 

By prioritising these aspects, aspiring mediators can lay a strong foundation for a successful and fulfilling career in mediation and dispute resolution. 


Rozana AlTayyar FCIArb is an Independent Arbitrator and Mediator, highly accomplished professional with extensive experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). With over a decade of expertise in her field, she has established herself as a leading specialist in handling complex and high-value commercial disputes. Rozana's focus areas encompass a diverse range of industries, including real estate, technology, family businesses, joint ventures, and the commercial sector. In addition to her ADR expertise, Rozana boasts an impressive 14-year corporate banking background, where she gained valuable experience in various industries such as real estate, food manufacturing, automotive, and aviation. She is a member of the national ICC committee in Saudi Arabia, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and actively contributes to the development and enhancement of the field as a member of the CIArb Steering Committee Saudi Arabian Branch. She is also a member of the advisory board of Princess Nora University, College of Law. 


Join us for two events to mark International Women’s Day: 

Rozana will be a moderator at the event on 8 March 2024.