Islamic finance in United Arab Emirates
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP has 'a great team with highly qualified members who have years of experience in all areas of Islamic banking and capital markets transactions'. In sukuk, Anzal Mohammed (who has 'unparalleled knowledge and expertise' in the space) and senior associate Nazuma Hassan advised the investment banks (led by joint global coordinators Barclays and HSBC, with joint lead managers also including Sharjah Islamic Bank and Emirates NBD) on Damac Properties' $400m sukuk carried out in parallel with a tender offer for its existing instruments. On the issuer side, Bilal Ahmad assisted Mazoon Electricity Company with issuing a $500m sukuk, the first 144A-issued sukuk by an Omani corporate. Other deals include acting for the investment banks handling First Abu Dhabi Bank's sukuk. In sovereign debt work, Mohammed advised the joint lead managers of a Bahraini sovereign sukuk, which raised $1bn due in 2025. Islamic lending work includes Ian Ingram-Johnson working with the firm's Saudi alliance partner on lending SAR67bn to Ma'aden Aluminium via commodity murabaha, so that the borrower can upgrade its aluminium smelters. Christian Saunders also handles work with both murabaha and conventional tranches, including advising Emirates NBD on a loan to Emirates International Telecommunications, which owns a 19.5% stake in mobile network du. Michael Diosi also has Islamic real estate finance expertise.
At Dentons, Qasim Aslam, who is qualified in both Scotland and England, heads the firm's Islamic finance practice in the region; he advised Arab African International Bank, among others, on the development financing of the Five Jumeirah Village Dubai project. He also assisted Ajman Bank with lending AED500M to Omniyat to construct a project in Business Bay. In Abu Dhabi, Paul Jarvis advised Boubyan Bank on a $200m commodity murabaha lent to Zain. In Islamic capital markets work, Alex Roussos acted for Emirates REIT on its debut sukuk issuance, which was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.
At Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP, Rahail Ali advised the mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners on a dual-currency syndicated murabaha lent to Albaraka Türk; senior associate Ahmet Kalafat, who is active in a number of Turkey-related matters, was also involved in this deal. Rustum Shah's practice includes project-related deals such as assisting Dubai Islamic Bank with the financing of Construction Workers Residential City. Anthony Pallett advised Omniyat on borrowing funds to be used to develop a new Dorchester-branded hotel in Dubai. On the capital markets side, Imran Mufti is active on sukuk, including work for sovereign issuers.
At Latham & Watkins LLP, Nomaan Raja advises Dana Gas on restructuring its sukuk programme, creating one with a wakala structure to replace a previous one that spawned litigation in several jurisdictions over its validity. He also advised Standard Chartered among other investment banks on Noor Bank's $500m sukuk issuance. On the lending side, Harj Rai and Craig Nethercott advised a syndicate of banks including Al Rajhi Bank on a loan to Zain Saudi Arabia.
Linklaters' Kieron Zaman advised a consortium of banks providing a $16bn dual-tranche facility to Saudi Arabia, a refinancing of a transaction that lacked an Islamic tranche. Jonathan Fried also handles sukuk, including advising the government of Sharjah on its debut sukuk; Sarosh Mewawalla's project finance expertise is evident in his advice to the banks financing enhancements to Dubai's airports.
Qudeer Latif, who is based in Dubai, is Clifford Chance's global head of Islamic finance. He handles deals using istisna, wakala, ijara and other structures, covering real estate, corporate lending and projects. Robin Abraham also handles borrower-side work for major local clients. Ahmed Choudhry is a key senior associate.
Clyde & Co LLP
Clyde & Co LLP provides 'good commercial insight - it is able to contextualise issues and offer viable solutions'. Adil Hussain, who heads the firm's global Islamic finance practice, advised Bidaya on the creation and implementation of a Saudi-regulated sukuk programme. He also assists a number of banks with Islamic retail banking matters. A considerable number of deals concern the financing of British real estate assets.
King & Spalding LLP's Islamic finance practice has a particular strength in Saudi-related work. The group advised Albilad Capital on creating Morabaha Marina, a consumer lender in Saudi Arabia, as well as its issuance of fixed-rate sukuk in a securitisation structure to capitalise the lender. Other highlights include assisting Barwa Bank with a $2bn issuance of trust certificates. James Stull has shari'ah-compliant investment funds expertise. Rizwan Kanji joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in May 2019.
At Afridi & Angell, Bashir Ahmed advised Sharjah Islamic Bank on the issuance of convertible sukuk certificates to the Sharjah Social Security Bank, and subsequent use of that facility. He also advises borrowers and banks from the Northern Emirates on murabaha and ijara facilities. Rahat Dar is a notable associate.
Work for sovereign issuers is a key area for White & Case LLP: Debashis Dey worked with the firm's London office and Saudi affiliate on Saudi Arabia's debut sovereign sukuk, which raised $9bn. Dey also advised the Investment Corporation of Dubai on the issuance of a $1bn sukuk. Also on the issuer side, Clare Matheson Kirton assisted Etihad with a $300m syndicated commodity murabaha.