Investment fund formation and management in United Arab Emirates

Dechert LLP

Dechert LLP advises through the entire life cycle of funds and the firm's Islamic-compliant funds capability is one its core strengths. The team has actively been advising on technology focused funds, as well as advising on a growing number of real estate investment trusts. Phillip Sacks has a 'deep understanding' on structuring and establishing conventional and Shari'ah-compliant investment funds. Philip Dowsett is a key member of the practice and has a strong background in public funds, private equity and venture capital. On the junior end, senior associate Dounia Mansour and Ed Brown are both recommended.

Practice head(s):

Phillip Sacks

Other key lawyers:

Philip Dowsett; Dounia Mansour; Ed Brown


‘Very professional team, experienced in bespoke set- up of OEIC (PCC) complex structure.’

‘Phillip Sacks and Dounia Mansour are extremely professional and client oriented.’

‘Specialism in fund creation and in depth understanding of the nuances around the DIFC regulations.’

‘Phillip Sacks is the best in the region offering advice across the spectrum of investment fund options and Ed Brown works seamlessly alongside covering regulation.’

‘The team seems to be virtually ubiquitous in the market and seems to be the go-to team in the region. They have an unrivalled depth and breadth of experience and are highly regarded amongst their peers.’

‘Phillip Sacks is very hands-on and is always client-facing. He is very ably supported by Dounia Mansour and the rest of the team.’

‘Leading firm for establishing investment funds, highly qualified professionals that can address complex structures and related issues.’

‘Phillip Sacks is a leading investment funds lawyer in the region. He has worked on numerous private equity and hedge fund transactions in many jurisdictions. Clients appreciate his expertise, responsiveness, and deep understanding.’

Key clients

AGC Equity Partners Limited

Azimut (DIFC) Limited

Jadwa Investment Company

SEE Capital

AGC Equity Partners Limited

Frontier Investment Management Partners Limited

Nuwa Capital

Wamda Capital

Iris Capital


Work highlights

  • Advising Nuwa Capital on the structuring and formation of the Nuwa Venture Fund I, a DIFC-domiciled venture capital fund.
  • Advising Azimut (DIFC) Limited in relation to the establishment of three open-ended public funds in the DIFC, including an umbrella fund set-up as a protected cell company.
  • Advising Azimut (DIFC) Limited on the set up of two DIFC exempt funds, one of which was one of the first funds to be passported using the SCA, DIFC and ADGM mutual recognition passporting regime.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP has onshore and offshore fund formation capabilities with particular expertise in the real estate funds space and advises some of the leading blue-chip real estate managers. James Stull is 'extremely professional' and his core expertise is in real estate funds and REITs, as well as venture capital funds and private equity funds. Nabil Issa specialises in Shari'ah-compliant funds and has in-depth knowledge of the funds regulatory regime in Saudi Arabia. Jawad Ali also focuses on Shari'ah-compliant real estate funds. Senior associate Macky O’Sullivan is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Jawad Ali; James Stull; Nabil Issa

Other key lawyers:

Macky O’Sullivan; Sayf Shuqair


‘The team is well aware of CMA regulations. People are highly skillful and they present their deliverables on time’

‘Professionalism and delivering on deadline. There is a value in their services and there is always a full engagement of the assigned team on the transaction.’

‘They go the extra mile for any project.’

‘Very professional and reliable.’

‘Knowledge of local laws and creativity in bringing international concepts and structures in a manner consistent with local laws.’

‘Technical knowledge coupled with real-life application.’

‘King & Spalding are our go-to lawyers for anything related to securities (and the marketing and offering thereof) in Saudi Arabia.’

‘James Stull and Sayf Shuqair. They are incredibly generous with their time, flexible in relation to fees and very responsive. James has a wealth of experience in advising on how the CMA operates. Sayf, an Arabic speaker, who used to be based in Saudi Arabia, is able to liaise directly with the CMA.’

‘Fast, responsive and experts in all the fields we contact them for. They add credibility to the transactions they undertake. James Stull, Nabil Issa, Macky O’Sullivan.’

‘James Stull simply stands out from his competition for being extremely professional and is a reference within his field.’

Key clients

Riyad Capital

Ashmore Investment Management Limited

Oman Investment Authority

Kuwait Finance House / KFH Capital

Emirates NBD Bank / Emirates NBD Capital

Franklin Templeton

Social Development Bank

Saudi Aramco Investment Management Company (SAIMCO)

KAMCO Invest

International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)

Alkhabeer Capital

Waha Capital

ADS Securities LLC

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD)

Al Rajhi Capital

Saudi Economic and Development Company (SEDCO) / SEDCO Capital

Al Mal Capital

Derayah Financial

SHUAA Capital

Greenstone Equity Partners

Mizuho Gulf Capital Partners

National Bonds Corporation

Saudi Fransi Capital

Global Ventures

Work highlights

  • Advising Global Ventures on the establishment of Global Ventures II LP, its second flagship venture capital fund, which invests in opportunities in the MENA region.
  • Represented Alkhabeer Capital in listing the units of the Alkhabeer Diversified Income Traded Fund on the main market of the Saudi Stock Exchange after successfully completing an IPO on 24 December 2020 raising 472.8 million Saudi Riyals (~$126m).
  • Advising Saudi Fransi Capital to establish a Shari’ah compliant fund domiciled in Saudi Arabia which will invest in the development and operation of data centres in Saudi Arabia.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Key areas of expertise at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP include funds of one, private equity and credit funds, UCITs and hedge funds. Ayman Khaleq advises on inward and outward Middle East investments and represents several of the leading sovereign wealth funds in the region. Managing partner William Nash has a broad practice and advises on both sponsor-side and investor-side fund formation. Alishia Sullivan is also noted and has particular expertise advising sovereign wealth funds and pension funds.

Practice head(s):

Ayman Khaleq; William Nash

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Mesquita; Alishia Sullivan; Nabil Abou-Charaf


Morgan Lewis team is staffed with highly qualified associates and partners. Despite the short deadlines, they manage to address all our requests. And are available 24/7. Furthermore, at the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic they adjusted to the remote working environment quite fast without any interruption to the services provided, including launching a special tab on their website with everything related to COVID 19 for their clients.’

Alishia Sullivan, partner, is very responsive and effectively manages the team of associates and our engagements. There has been no single case when we need to send her “reminder” email. Proactive in communicating news that may be of interest/relevant to us. Nabil Abou-Charaf, associate – he is available 24/7 providing high quality services.’

Key clients

Frontier Investment Management Ltd

Greenstone Equity Partners

Invesense Asset Management Limited


Liwa Capital Advisors Ltd.

NBK Capital Partners

StonePine Capital Partners Limited

TVM Capital Healthcare Partners Limited

Warba Bank Wafra Capital

Warba Bank

Olive Rock Partners Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented NBK Capital Partners, the Dubai-based private equity arm of the National Bank of Kuwait, on the structuring and formation of a Shari’ah-compliant private credit fund in the Cayman Islands.

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company‘s funds practice stands out with its ‘great blend of regional and international expertise‘. Dennis Ryan heads the practice and showcases a strong understanding of the establishment and regulatory compliance of investment funds across the free zones and wider Middle East region. Head of banking and finance Jody Waugh has a strong funds practice. Other key names to mention include Rafiq Jaffer  and Divya Abrol Gambhir.

Practice head(s):

Jody Waugh; Dennis Ryan

Other key lawyers:

Rafiq Jaffer; Divya Abrol Gambhir


‘A great blend of regional and international expertise delivered locally and responsively.’

‘Dennis Ryan always willing to adapt, tailor and support the clients’ initiatives.’

‘The team(s) is the key and integral part of this law firm. They have a reputable name in the industry as well as in the country.’

‘Mr. Dennis Ryan is one gem of a person. He is thorough with a very peculiar eye on the relevant matters.’

Key clients

Al Mal Capital REIT

Century Private Wealth Limited

Al Dhaheri Investment Capital

Apex Group Limited, including its subsidiary, Fundrock Investment Managememt Services (ME) Ltd

Al Mal Capital REIT

Century Private Wealth Limited

Al Dhaheri Investment Capital

Apex Group Limited, including its subsidiary, Fundrock Investment Managememt Services (ME) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Al Mal Capital on the structuring, formation and launch of the first listed Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) on the Dubai Financial Market.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP has a strong presence across the Middle East and is particularly experienced in real estate, private equity, infrastructure, Shari’ah and sovereign wealth funds. Nick Smith co-heads the practice and represents a broad range of fund managers, sponsors and financial institutions. Jodi Norman heads the practice alongside Smith and is the go-to contact for fund formation compliance and regulatory-related instructions. Counsel Kamar Jaffer provides additional support.

Practice head(s):

Nick Smith; Jodi Norman

Other key lawyers:

Kamar Jaffer

Key clients

PwC, official liquidators of Abraaj Holdings

Mubadala Investment Company

InvestAD Brookfield Managers Limited

Softbank Investment Advisors

Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO)

Havenvest Private Equity Middle East

Five Capital Advisors (DIFC) Limited

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC


Gulf Capital

Gibson Dunn

Gibson Dunn's Chézard Ameer is the firm's primary contact in Dubai for investment funds work. He is active in a range of funds matters including private equity, venture capital, infrastructure and real estate funds. Sovereign wealth funds are another key area of focus. Of counsel James Visick, who has substantial experience acting for sponsors and investors on a range of investment funds, provides additional support.

Practice head(s):

Chézard Ameer

Other key lawyers:

James Visick

Key clients

AnaCap Financial Partners LLP

Jadwa Investment

Delta Partners

Fajr Capital

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company

GoldPoint Partners LLC (alternative assets arm of New York Life)

Gulf Capital

Gulf Related

Investcorp Bank B.S.C.

Abu Dhabi Retirement Pensions & Benefits Fund

Kazyna Capital Management JSC

Kuwait Financial Centre K.P.S.C. “Markaz”

Kuwait Investment Authority

PineBridge Investments Middle East B.S.C.

PineBridge Investments Middle East B.S.C.

Simmons & Simmons Middle East

Simmons & Simmons Middle East has a broad investment funds offering and 'great breadth and depth of experience'. A growing area of focus for the practice has been advising private equity and venture capital funds in the fintech sector. Muneer Khan heads the practice and specialises in Islamic finance and advises on related regulatory matters. James Coleman focuses on private equity, venture capital and fund establishment work.

Practice head(s):

Muneer Khan; James Coleman


‘The team has a great breadth and depth of experience with regional managers and Shari’ah issues, having been in the region for a long time. They are particularly good at structuring funds in a way that will address any Shari’ah issues (whether actual or contemplated).’

‘I work closely with James Coleman who has a very considered approach and adds real value, particularly at inception when structuring issues are being considered.’

‘Deep bench with 2 Partners focused on Funds and Regulatory work.’

‘James and Muneer have both been in the region for a very long time and have a wealth of experience in the regional funds and regulatory space.’

Key clients

Orion Resource Partners

Shuaa Capital

Work highlights

  • Advising Orion Resource Partners, a global alternative investment management firm with approximately $6bn under management, in relation to its private equity investment into Allied Gold Corp, an international mineral company based in Dubai with key operating assets in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Advised and supported the Oryx Fund, a MENA focused venture capital fund managed by one of the leading UK venture capital houses Hambro Perks on multiple investments into Middle Eastern fintechs and technology companies.