DWS left sharia-less as Lovells swoops

As has been reported (5 February), finance partner Rahail Ali and his team at Denton Wilde Sapte’s (DWS) Dubai office are moving to Lovells – ideally by the end of April, should departure negotiations go to plan.

DWS is one firm that has done well in the region, mainly due to its strength in Islamic finance. And that has largely been bolstered by Ali in recent times, particularly advising on sharia law aspects.

Ali’s departure means DWS is left with no partners in Dubai who can advise on sharia law, although it does have Islamic finance experts such as London-based partners Matthew Sapte and Farmida Bi on the capital markets side.

DWS is sanguine about Ali, saying that it is keen to hire and that partner Richard de Belder has good relationships with Islamic scholars.

But De Belder, although respected by peers, heads the Abu Dhabi office. “This matters,” says one rival finance partner. “People in Dubai do Dubai work, and people in Abu Dhabi do work there. It’s like trying to manage work in Paris if you’re based in London: doable, but not that easy.”