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Samir Safar-Aly

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Samir is an English qualified Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales and a registered Legal Adviser with the Dubai Government Legal Affairs Department. He is a counsel in the Firm’s Financial Regulatory and Investigations, Compliance & Ethics (IC&E) practices based in Dubai as well as FinTech and AI lead in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with ten years’ experience in the region.

Having not secured a deferred prosecution agreement in respect of U.K. Bribery Act offences since 2021 and having been rocked by a series of shortcomings regarding its investigation and prosecution of cases, the SFO has arguably been at its lowest ebb.

On 2 October 2023, the UAE issued Federal Law No. 54 of 2023, which amended Federal Law No. 14 of 2018 on the Central Bank and the Organization of Financial Institutions and Financial Activities (the “Central Bank Law”) and changed the definition of currency to include a “National Digital Currency”. The amendment to the Central Bank Law was published in the Official Gazette on 31 October 2023.

Join us for an interactive session facilitated by Ben Allgrove, Baker McKenzie’s Chief Innovation Officer, that will touch on some of the compliance and governance risks around adopting AI from a contracting or transactional perspective on 1 and 2 November 2023 at Baker McKenzie, Al Fattan Currency House, Tower 2, Level 16, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The United Arab Emirates’ federal-level financial services regulator relevant to securities, commodities and now Virtual Assets Service Providers, the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), has just issued two new regulations relevant to Virtual Assets:
1. SCA Chairman of the Board of Directors’ Decision No. (26/RM) of 2023 in relation to Virtual Assets Platform Operators
2. SCA Chairman of the Board of Directors’ Decision No. (27/RM) of 2023 amending SCA Chairman of the Board of Directors’ Decision No. (13/RM) of 2021 in relation to the SCA Rulebook

Signing of the “Al-Ula Declaration” ending trade and other restrictions against Qatar

As reported in our previous client update, on 5 January 2021, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, along with Egypt, signed the “Al-Ula Declaration” at the 41st GCC Summit held in the city of Al-Ula. This marks the end of a three-and-a-half-year boycott against the State of Qatar, which was put in place in June 2017. Although the formal text of the “Al-Ula Declaration” has not been made public, it is clear from public statements made by senior Saudi, UAE, Egyptian, Bahraini and Kuwaiti officials that the instrument paves the way for the reestablishment of political and economic ties between Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt (the Quartet).

On 29 August 2020, the United Arab Emirates (“UAE“) Government’s Emirates New Agency (Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat, or ‘WAM’) publicly announced that H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, issued Federal Decree Law No. 4 of 2020, abolishing Federal Decree Law No. 15 of 1972 Concerning the Arab League Boycott of Israel (the “UAE Israeli Boycott Law“) (the “UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law“).  The UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law follows the announcement of the historic peace agreement between the UAE and Israel (known as the “UAE-Israel Abraham Accords” – Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization between the UAE and the State of Israel) on 13 August 2020 issued jointly by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Officially signed on 15 September 2020 , the UAE-Israel Abraham Accords (available in full here) outlines a number of areas of intended cooperation, and the establishment of full diplomatic ties in exchange for Israel’s suspension of further annexation of Palestinian territories, between the two states under Article 5 and supplemented in its Annex.  This includes: (1) finance and investment; (2) civil aviation; (3) visas and consular services; (4) innovation, trade and economic relations; (5) healthcare; (6) science, technology and peaceful uses of outer-space; (7) tourism, culture and sport; (8) energy; (9) environment; (10) education; (11) maritime arrangements; (12) telecommunications and post; (13) agriculture and food security; (14) water; and (15) legal cooperation.

On 29 August 2020, the UAE Government’s Emirates New Agency (Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat, or ‘WAM’) publicly announced that H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), issued Federal Decree Law No. 4 of 2020 (the UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law), abolishing Federal Decree Law No. 15 of 1972 Concerning the Arab League Boycott of Israel (the Israel Boycott Law). The UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law follows the announcement of the historic peace agreement between the UAE and Israel (also known as the UAE-Israel Abraham Accord) on 13 August 2020, issued jointly by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Under the UAE-Israel Abraham Accord, the two states agreed to establish full diplomatic relations in exchange for Israel’s suspension of further annexation of Palestinian territories.

The US Treasury Department and the US State Department have announced two new rounds of sanctions against Syria, including the first designations under the recently-enacted Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (“Caesar Act”).  The first round, announced on June 17, 2020, resulted in the addition of 39 individuals and entities to…

On 15 July 2020, the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”)-led Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (“TFTC”) designated six targets affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”), including an entity allegedly posing as a charity (and its director) based in Afghanistan that allegedly provided support to ISIS’ branch…

On 15 July 2020, the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”)-led Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (“TFTC”) designated six targets affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”), including an entity allegedly posing as a charity (and its director) based in Afghanistan that allegedly provided support to ISIS’ branch…