Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Banking and finance: Financial services regulation

EY Law LLP (MENA) has strengthened its market presence and client offering through a range of junior and senior hires, most notably Ahmed Butt, who joined from Squire Patton Boggs and is well-versed in a range of regulatory issues and investigatory procedures.

Banking and finance: Financial services regulation in United Arab Emirates

A&O Shearman

A&O Shearman‘s team covers the whole regulatory waterfront and is a pre-eminent adviser to financial regulatory institutions and also has a strong focus on the start-up and fintech space. The firm also has a premium asset manager and sovereign wealth fund offering, assisting clients with governance, international deployment of capital, and advice on the regulatory aspects of large shareholdings. Team lead Jodi Norman is a specialist in investment banking and capital markets, with key expertise in DFM and ADX. Victoria Ferres predominantly concentrates on the retail side, handling e-money, e-wallets and cryptocurrency issues.

Responsables de la pratique:

Jodi Norman

Autres avocats clés:

Victoria Ferres

Les références

‘Excellent knowledge of regulations and local markets.’

‘Jodi Norman has a great understanding of local markets.’

‘The A&O team are best in-the-class advisors. They are not only subject matter experts, but are also effective partners to their clients. They take the time to understand the issue that is being raised to them and find an effective solution. It is also great to see such strong women in key leadership positions in the Dubai office.’

Principaux clients


Astra Tech/PayBy


Standard Chartered Bank

ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA)


First Abu Dhabi Bank



Davidson Kempner European Partners LLP

Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority

Qatar Financial Centre Authority

Network International

e& / e& money

Bank of America

Banque Saudi Fransi

Catalyst Fund

Citadel Group

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre

Taptap Send


Fisher Investments

Gemcorp Capital Management Limited



Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance is 'consistently on the most high-profile innovative regional deals' and is frequently a first choice for financial institutions for a variety of regulatory advice. The firm has strong synergies with its top-tier technology practice and acts for an array of clients in the fintech space and the team  also assists the GCC's largest asset managers with the establishment of funds while overseeing the accompanying licensing and cross-border marketing arrangements. Jack Hardman, who stands out for his ability to handle the complex tech aspects of financial mandates, and Cheuk-Yin Cheung, who handles asset-backed collateralised financings, jointly head the practice. Senior associate James Dadford has an impressive track record on fintech mandates.

Responsables de la pratique:

Jack Hardman; Cheuk Yin Cheung

Autres avocats clés:

James Dadford

Les références

‘Jack Hardman was very available throughout the project and it was a real pleasure dealing with him’

‘Very knowledgeable team with deep experience of dealing with the Central Bank. Responsive and commercial. Excellent partners to work with in the region.’

‘Clearly articulated legal advice with actionable recommendations that can be easily put in practice. Wide experience and commercially minded partners and associates. ’

Principaux clients

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Abu Dhabi Finance

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)



Arab Monetary Fund

Careem Networks FZ

Credit Agricole


DP World

Dubai International Financial Centre Authority

Emirates NBD

Expo City Dubai

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC


International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc.


Offset8 Capital Limited

Payward Limited (Kraken)

Standard Chartered Bank

UAE Central Bank

Principaux dossiers

  • Advising the Central Bank of the UAE on the creation and issuance of the proposed Central Bank Digital Currency and related technology platform.
  • Advising as the main contributor law firm to International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. (ISDA) since the inception of its Middle East Committee, including being issuing counsel to the first ISDA netting opinions available under the laws of the United Arab Emirates and under the laws of the Dubai International Financial Centre.
  • Acting as international issuer’s counsel to Al Ansari Financial Services on its highly successful IPO and listing on the DFM, which involved obtaining relevant regulatory approvals, and ensuring the IPO met the criteria set by the Central Bank of the UAE.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright‘s team has ‘profound experience in regulatory affairs and a knowledge of best practices and regulatory expectations’. The team covers traditional financial services, fintech and cryptocurrency mandates, and the group also assists financial institutions with compliance and regulatory regimes, and acts for corporates on investigations and allegations by regulatory bodies. Matthew Shanahan brings in-house regulatory expertise to bear on a number of complex instructions for domestic and international clients. Counsel Andre Abou Aad handles a range of financial regulatory issues. Junior associate Hasanali Pirbhai is a strong supporting presence on a number of matters, and counsel Karl Masi joined the team in early 2024.

Responsables de la pratique:

Matthew Shanahan

Autres avocats clés:

Andre Abou Aad; Hasanali Pirbhai; Karl Masi

Les références

‘Extensive experience with regulatory frameworks in the Dubai International Financial Centre.’

‘Profound experience in regulatory affairs, knowledge of best practices and regulatory expectations, solution-oriented by focussing on the best risk-sensitive outcome for the client, in consideration of the specific circumstances and characteristics of the client.’

‘Matthew Shanahan has in depth understanding of the banking industry and is responsive in providing advice.’

Principaux clients


IG Limited

RJ O’Brien

Goldman Sachs

CME Group


First Global Capital Limited


Chimera Investment

Principaux dossiers

  • Advised OKX on its market entry into Dubai.
  • Advising Bybit on its successful application for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Preparatory License from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) and its ongoing application for the Full Market Product (FMP) licence.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is a market-leading adviser to clients on digital asset mandates, specialising in blockchain technology, data protection and innovative payment processes. The team also assists banks with navigating the regulatory landscape, advising on compliance and approval proceedings. Practice head Tom Bicknell is a highly experienced regulatory expert who is  'well connected, entrepreneurial and solutions orientated'. Associate Barkha Doshi has supported on work for start-ups, financial institutions and established industry players.

Responsables de la pratique:

Tom Bicknell

Autres avocats clés:

Barkha Doshi

Les références

‘Both Tom and Barkha go the extra mile to provide us with the exact answer which we expect from any law firm. Both of them know the exact requirement and questions that will be asked by the relevant authority and make sure that our responses are in line with the local requirement.’

‘Tom Bicknell is very well connected, entrepreneurial and solutions orientated. Understands different risk appetites. Deep background across all areas of financial services and insurance is a real asset.’

‘Specialist knowledge in payments area and collaborated well with local support.’

Principaux clients

UX Network/Antelope Coalition

3iQ Asset Management Services

Talabat Delivery Hero



21Shares Limited

Nymcard Payments

Helion Ventures

Principaux dossiers

  • Advised 21Shares on its entry into the UAE market including structuring its product offering to be listed on Nasdaq Dubai and working to gain regulatory approval from the DFSA for the structure of the products.
  • Acting for 3iQ on the listing of its product on Dubai Financial Market including product structuring, disclosure preparation and regulatory approval to the listing and new offering.
  • Advising HubPay on its Central Bank licence application to be a retail payment services provider.

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company serves as local adviser to government organisations, financial institutions and major international corporations. The firm utilises its close connections with regulators and authorities in the UAE to assist clients, especially in the fintech space. Jody Waugh, who is noted for his e-commerce and digital platforms expertise, and Divya Abrol Gambhir, who has a strong track record handling fintech and licensing, jointly head the practice. Senior counsel Ali Awad  has been largely focused on mandates pertaining to the establishment of banks and senior associate Sarah El Serafy works closely with key regulators and government authorities in Egypt, Qatar and the UAE on a range of issues.

Responsables de la pratique:

Jody Glenn Waugh; Divya Abrol Gambhir

Autres avocats clés:

Ali Awad; Sarah El Serafy

Les références

‘Strong know-how and capabilities in the financial services field in the offices where it is present, and in particular in the UAE.’

‘Lawyers are very commercially savvy and give highly practical advice, and approach issues with a constructive problem-solving perspective.’

‘The breadth of local knowledge and a consistent can-do high service level attitude truly stands them out.’

Principaux clients


Seba Bank AG

Emirates Investment Bank

Principaux dossiers

  • Acted as UAE counsel to the Central Bank of the UAE in relation to its first and largest scale pilot of central bank digital currencies.
  • Advised BitOasis on securing its operational minimum viability product licence for broker-dealer services to operate in and from Dubai, from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority.
  • Advised Emirates Investment Bank PJSC on the regulatory aspects of the increase of its share capital from AED 70,000,000 to AED 1,000,000,000 for the purpose of satisfying the minimum share capital requirement under the Central Bank Restricted License Banks Regulation issued under Circular 23/2022.

Stephenson Harwood Middle East LLP

Stephenson Harwood Middle East LLP advises a wide range of clients in the fintech and crypto space on establishing operations in the UAE, and also assists guide asset managers with the private equity and the novel fund management side. Leveraging experience as a senior legal counsel at the Dubai Financial Services Authority, regulatory specialist Philip Clarke is well placed to advise banks and financial institutions on defending allegations and in investigations by regulatory bodies, as well as aiding businesses through their regulatory concerns, with particular expertise in digital assets.

Responsables de la pratique:

Philip Clarke

Les références

‘Attention to detail and close working relationships.’

Principaux clients

ICICI Bank Limited, DIFC Branch

MOG Holding Limited

ComTech Global

Lexim Trading DMCC

Craig price and Piero Politeo

Former senior manager of the Abraaj Group

Ardonagh Specialty

Grant Thornton

Deutsche Bank

TransAsia Private Capital Limited

Principaux dossiers

  • Acting for one of the former senior executives of the Abraaj Group who was censured and fined by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) following the collapse of Abraaj.
  • Advising Ardonagh Specialty on the acquisition of Oxford Insurance Group Limited.
  • Advising Lexim on the set-up and development of its gold-backed digital asset platform, which includes minting crypto tokens that are collateralised against gold held by its sister company to be traded on a proprietary basis.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP works with some of the largest tech companies in the world on their novel projects in the UAE and also advises asset managers on regulatory and compliance concerning the setting up of operations and investments in the region. Practice head Stefan Mrozinski is particularly well-regarded for his fintech expertise. Associates Arnold Krutilins and Gabrielle Lowe advise on financial services regulation, funds and funds regulation, and compliance and tech issues. Adrianus Schoorl left the firm.

Responsables de la pratique:

Stefan Mrozinski

Autres avocats clés:

Arnold Krutilins; Gabrielle Lowe

Les références

‘The team’s exceptional organizational skills enable them to offer guidance across a broad spectrum of topics. Their teamwork is highly effective, characterized by strong cooperation with the client to pinpoint the most fitting solutions, all while taking into account the best international practices.’

‘Arnold Krutilins excels in efficiency and swiftly grasping complex issues and tailoring solutions. His strong communication skills, both with clients and within the team, underscore his invaluable contribution’

‘Very practical and commercially oriented approach. Ability to structure from legal perspective the business needs step-by-step. You always know that you will receive timely response from the team.’

Principaux clients


Mubadala Investment Company

Amazon Payment Services

Morgan Stanley

Credit Agricole

Global Fintech Investments Holding AG / Prism Group

Wizz Financial





Thirdverse Inc.


Bank of America


Qatar National Bank


Brookfield Asset Management

Tikehau Capital

Qatar Investment Authority

Principaux dossiers

  • Advised Amazon Payment Services on a number of financial services regulatory matters in the UAE and wider-Middle East.
  • Advising Global Fintech Investments Holding AG / Prism Group in connection with corporate and financial services aspects of its acquisition of the Finablr group.
  • Advised Meta on a number of financial services regulatory matters in certain GCC States.

Baker McKenzie LLP

Baker McKenzie LLP bolstered its team with the hire of Samir-Safar Aly from White & Case LLP; he 'excels in diverse legal domains, notably fintech, AI, and government advisory, with a truly international profile'. Samir brings experience to an already considerable bench of lawyers active in this space, including department lead Mazen Boustany, who frequently advises on licensing applications. Senior associate Tala Shomar is also active in a number of matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Mazen Boustany

Autres avocats clés:

Samir Safar-Aly; Tala Shomar

Les références

‘The Baker McKenzie team is a unique, one of a kind financial regulatory practice for a number of reasons – it’s cross-border expertise across the GCC and MENA region, it’s multi-lingual capabilities with Arabic native speakers, and also its leading financial crime, fintech, and sanctions lawyers. They can truly advise holistically and take into account multiple inter-connected areas of concern.’

‘With over a decade of experience in the MENA region, Samir has excelled in diverse legal domains, notably financial regulatory, fintech, AI, and government advisory, and has a truly international profile.’

‘Samir’s extensive expertise in core financial services regulation, cross-border business, and fintech innovations is truly exceptional. Samir’s dual qualifications in law and coding uniquely position him as a fintech and AI leader, and his mentorship of startups underscores his commitment to fostering innovation.’

Principaux clients

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Emirates NBD

Credit Agricole


MUFG Bank Ltd (DIFC Branch – Dubai)

Standard Chartered Bank

Government of Egypt


Five Holding Limited

Mashreqbank PSC

The National Bank of Egypt S.A.E.

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC

DBS Bank

Dubai Real Esate Corporation

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird has notable strength in digital assets, cryptocurrency, and blockchain, where it is sought out by fintech clients. The team also advises sovereign and government-backed asset management funds on high-stakes financial matters and also assists clients with navigating regulations. Practice head Gregory Man has been active in instructions pertaining to e-wallet and mobile payments, cross-border token transfers, and the development of secondary trading platforms - among others work. Associate Jessica White is also noted.

Responsables de la pratique:

Gregory Man

Autres avocats clés:

Jessica White

Principaux clients

Florin Court Capital

Dubai Cultiv8


CMS handles a steady stream of mandates pertaining to digital and crypto currencies, regulatory structuring, innovative payment solutions and payment infrastructure, and investigations and enforcement actions guidance. The firm also handles cross-border instructions, often involving Saudi Arabia. Gabriella Savastano, who joined the practice in September 2022 after several years working in-house at Macquarie, works closely with banks, asset managers and fintech start-ups on a wide range of regulatory issues.

Responsables de la pratique:

Gabriella Savastano

Les références

‘I’ve referred certain discreet matter on investment services regulatory to CMS and have been pleased with the results, the team is accessible, knowledgeable and draws on international experience to give balanced and thoughtful advice’

‘Gabriella Savastrano goes above and beyond to provide useful advice. She has many years of in-house experience in broad cross-border and investment product regulatory matters which is invaluable, and outperforms in her subject matter expertise.’

Principaux clients


Al Rajhi Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC

CMC Markets

Emaar PJSC

UAE Trade Connect (UTC)

YAP Holding Ltd

Principaux dossiers

  • Assisted CMC Markets with obtaining a retail endorsement from the DFSA so that it could offer its products to retail investors.
  • Provide ongoing legal support and advice to Coutts Bank on its cross-border offering on a global basis.

Hadef & Partners

Hadef & Partners advises on an array of regulatory concerns, including corporate structures, insolvency, security laws and compliance issues. The firm has close connections to a series of key financial authorities and governmental bodies and is retained to advise on the development and launch of new regulatory frameworks. Catriona McDevitt heads the practice and is particularly proficient in the virtual assets and cryptocurrency space, working with a diverse and wide range of clients. Associate Aziz Yasini is also noted.

Responsables de la pratique:

Catriona McDevitt

Autres avocats clés:

Aziz Yasin

Principaux clients

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Principaux dossiers

  • Acted as UAE co-counsel to provide UAE law advice in connection with a Chapter 11 filing of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX Group. The preliminary elements of the work involved providing advice in connection with UAE financial regulations, bankruptcy law, court proceedings and the authorisations required in connection therewith.

KARM Legal Consultants

KARM Legal Consultants has carved out a niche in the virtual assets space, often acting for start-ups and fintech clients on various issues. Kokila Alagh is skilled at advising overseas corporates on establishing operations in the UAE, guiding these entities through licence applications, contract and document reviewing, and compliance concerns. Akshata Namjoshi has an impressive track record setting up cryptocurrency exchanges and the deployment of public and enterprise blockchain and Soumya George is predominantly focused on regulatory filings.

Responsables de la pratique:

Kokila Alagh; Akshata Namjoshi; Soumya George

Les références

‘KARM Legal’s team maintain a very close eye on the most recent updates in the regulations, open discussions and public consultations issued by the local regulator. This puts them in a very good position to provide sound and concise advice to their clients.’

‘Very Punctual and clear in their communications’

‘Understanding regulations is the key area for any Legal Consulting Firm. The KARM Team has excellent intellectual capabilities to advise, guide, and suggest the way forward. The communication with the regulators on behalf of the client is praiseworthy.’

Principaux clients




Founders and Co



Alif Bank

OTC Supply



Principaux dossiers

  • Advised BNS on the end-to-end licensing process, including drafting the required policies and manuals, advising the client on the regulatory framework of CBB and representing the client before the CBB.
  • Undertaking the legal feasibility analysis of launching virtual assets products under the laws of the UAE mainland for a leading commercial bank in UAE.

Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP

Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP is frequently instructed by asset managers, hedge funds, and large financial institutions for financial regulatory advice, including digital asset and fintech issues. The firm also has a notable understanding of neighbouring markets, particularly Saudi Arabia, where it assists with regulatory issues. Practice head Muneer Khan advises on compliance, investigations and digital asset matters, and also assists clients with reforming internal regulations. Managing associate Adam Wolstenholme is also noted.

Responsables de la pratique:

Muneer Khan

Autres avocats clés:

Adam Wolstenholme

Principaux clients


Qube Research & Technologies (QRT)



Fifth Wall




Laser Digital

Asia Research and Capital Management

Cypher Capital

Principaux dossiers