Al-Mirsal

Category Archives: Banking and Finance

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The Legal Status of Bitcoin in the United Arab Emirates

This is the first in a series of articles considering legal issues relating to bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the UAE. In this article we focus on the legal status of bitcoin and address the question of whether bitcoin is banned in the UAE. In part two we will consider the case for regulating bitcoin … Continue Reading

United Arab Emirates – the New Digital Payments Regulatory Landscape

New Regulations balance innovation in the payments sector with safety, security and maintaining the public’s trust in the UAE payment ecosystem. After a long period of consultation, on 1 January 2017 the Central Bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued the Regulatory Framework for Stored Values and Electronic Payment Systems (Electronic Payment Regulation). The … Continue Reading

Egypt Liberalises Electricity Market to Allow Private Sector Participation

In 2015, Egypt issued its unified Electricity Law no. (87), paving the way for market liberalisation of its power generation and distribution services. A few months on from its introduction, what are some of the key takeaways? The Electricity Law has promised to reform the electricity market and allow for private sector participation (both locals and … Continue Reading

Financing the Middle East’s Shopping Spree

The continuing strong economic conditions of the UAE and other GCC economies has led to an upsurge in consumer spending in recent years. With retail sales in the region expected to reach US$284.5 billion by 2018, the need to meet the growing demand for consumer goods has led to a boom in planned shopping mall … Continue Reading

What You Need to Know About Abu Dhabi Global Market’s New Draft Regulations

The Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi’s new financial free zone, located on Al Maryah Island, recently issued a first wave of draft regulations and related consultation papers. The Global Market’s general approach in the draft regulations follows very closely the  English law model. In particular, the Global Market is proposing to apply English common … Continue Reading

As Bitcoin Gains Momentum, Focus on Regulation Increases

The virtual currency market has emerged in the United Arab Emirates with Dubai’s first Bitcoin ATM introduced in April 2014. Middle East entrepreneurs have begun launching Bitcoin payment products and SMEs are beginning to realise the potential of such technology, with The Pizza Guys becoming the first restaurant in the UAE to accept Bitcoin payments. … Continue Reading

New EU Sanctions Target Russian Oil Sector, State-Owned Banks and Military Exports

The European Union (EU) enacted Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 (the Regulation), which contains ‘Stage 3’ sanctions against Russia. These sanctions resemble – but in other ways are different – from the latest US sanctions, and they amount to the stiffest anti-Russian actions taken by Europe since the end of the Cold War. Perhaps most … Continue Reading

How LIBOR Administration Change will Impact Financial Contracts

This month, the UK Financial Conduct Authority formally authorised ICE Benchmark Administration Limited (IBA) to assume responsibility for the administration of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). IBA is a subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange Group, a leading global network of exchanges and clearing houses that administers other benchmarks such as the French CAC40 and … Continue Reading

How #Saudi New Weekend Impacts Legacy #Financing Agreements

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, announced on Sunday June 23, 2013 that the official working days in Saudi Arabia will change to Sunday to Thursday and the weekend to Friday to Saturday, with effect from June 29, 2013 (the “Royal Decree”).  The change aligns Saudi Arabia with the other members of … Continue Reading

LIBOR No More – The Wheatley Review and LIBOR Changes

The second half of 2012 saw a number of major financial institutions censured for the alleged manipulation of submissions made to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) for the compilation of BBA LIBOR. In addition to direct enforcement action against those alleged to have participated in such manipulation, regulators have also taken significant steps to reform … Continue Reading

GCC Family Businesses Investing in US Commercial Real Estate

GCC-based family businesses are increasingly looking towards the US commercial real estate market for potential investments. Latham & Watkins recently hosted a seminar in our Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and Riyadh offices to discuss how GCC investors typically structure US commercial real estate investments and what US tax considerations businesses should keep in mind. A … Continue Reading

Basel III Implementation Update

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has issued a Report to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on Basel III Implementation.  The implementation period for Basel III capital requirements starts from 1 January 2013 and includes transitional arrangements until 1 January 2019.  At the time of the report, 8 of the 27 member jurisdictions of … Continue Reading

Reforms to Banking Disputes in Saudi Arabia

Several new laws have taken effect in recent months in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from arbitration to the establishment of a centre for registration of lien and the long awaited mortgage law. As part of the restructuring underway in the Saudi Arabian judiciary system, long standing regulations for the resolution of banking disputes in the … Continue Reading

Current Challenges for GCC Family-Owned Businesses

Family-owned businesses continue to drive commercial activities in the economies of the Middle East. According to recent statistics, in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region alone, family businesses control over 90% of commercial activity. Today, family businesses are confronted with numerous challenges in the changing economic environment, including governance, globalisation, technology, generational change and innovation. … Continue Reading

The DIFC Special Purpose Company: An Increasingly Popular Vehicle for Structured Finance Transactions

Over the last 12 months, structured finance transactions in the Middle East (both Islamic and conventional) have seen increased use of a comparatively new and previously underutilized type of special purpose vehicle (SPV) – the DIFC special purpose company (SPC). An SPC is a private company limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the … Continue Reading

Eurozone crisis – Permitted in the Middle East?

In February, Greece launched its sovereign debt swap, pursuant to which holders of EUR 206 billion of its bonds were invited to swap their existing holdings for a package of instruments with a nominal value of just 46.5 per cent. of the par value of their current bonds. This invitation for voluntary participation in the … Continue Reading

Sipchem Mudaraba Sukuk–A Transfer of Beneficial Rights

Sipchem’s recent Mudaraba Sukuk is notable as an economic success and also for its structure.  The financing represented a great addition to the tool kit available to corporate treasurers in Saudi Arabia. A Sukuk financing typically requires that: An issuer has unencumbered tangible assets available; The assets are Shari’ah compliant (i.e not related to alcohol, … Continue Reading
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