IFLR Middle East Awards 2023: winners announced 
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IFLR Middle East Awards 2023: winners announced 

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IFLR is delighted to reveal the winning deals, teams, law firms and individuals for the Middle East Awards 2023

It was a pleasure to be back at Dubai’s Mandarin Oriental on October 17th to announce and celebrate with the finalists and winners of this year’s 17th annual IFLR Middle East Awards. Many of the region’s top law firms, banks and corporates were in attendance, with over 300 guests. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces, as well as welcome several new ones.

Clifford Chance was one of the night’s big winners, picking up several awards including International Law Firm of the Year. Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, White & Case, Norton Rose Fulbright, King & Spalding, Simmons & Simmons and Linklaters also enjoyed strong performances.

Meanwhile Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Latham & Watkins and Pinsent Masons were all prominent finalists, competing heavily across the categories.

The in-house legal teams at e&, HSBC, Standard Chartered, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank all scooped awards for innovative dealmaking and team achievements, as did senior legal counsel from ADNOC, Americana, e& and Standard Chartered.

Debashis Dey of White & Case was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Khalid Garousha of Allen & Overy took the Managing Partner of the Year award. Justine Jones of HSBC became the latest inductee into the IFLR Women Dealmakers Hall of Fame.

IFLR would like to thank everyone who took the time to contribute to this year’s awards through entries and interviews.

You can view photos from the gala awards by clicking on the link below.

The full winners list is below – congratulations to all!


Clifford Chance

Among last year’s highlights were the firm’s work for the Government of Egypt on its inaugural sukuk and for the dealers on Air Lease Corporation’s sukuk. The equity team, led by Mike Taylor and supported by Rising Star award winner Rezwan Azan, advised Americana Restaurants on its landmark dual-listed ADX-Tadawul IPO. The firm also led shortlisted deals across the loan, M&A, restructuring and project finance categories, with roles on NEOM’s green hydrogen project, the Federal Government of the UAE’s dirham treasury sukuk, the acquisition financing for Brookfield public-to-private of Network International and Egypt’s Amunet Wind Farm, among others. The firm’s regional managing partner Mohammed Al-Shukairy was deservedly shortlisted for Managing Partner of the Year.



Debashis Dey - White & Case

Debashis Dey made partner in 2001 and moved to the Middle East in 2006 to launch the debt capital markets of a magic circle firm, which is now one of the region’s most successful debt practices. He joined White & Case in 2015 and has spearheaded the US firm’s impressive success in the region. Debashis is praised for his great service to the legal community, his stewardship and his own practice. As well as his impact on the legal market, structural innovation has been a consistent highlight of Debashis’ practice, whether in conventional financings, across the spectrum in Islamic finance products or in pioneering securitisation deals. Most recently, in 2023, he led on Saudi Arabia’s first ever securitisation, advising Goldman Sachs on the Tamara BNPL securitisation. His work often prompts discussions that challenge convention.


Khalid Garousha - Allen & Overy

Khalid Garousha has had an exceptional year, culminating in his appointment as interim global managing partner of Allen & Overy in July 2023. An Allen & Overy veteran of 23 years, Khalid has been a partner based in the UAE since 2004. He has overseen a stellar year for Allen & Overy, underlined by a record revenue and profitability in the firm’s history in the region. He has championed the regional roll-out of artificial intelligence platform Harvey, coordinated the establishment of an office in Saudi Arabia and integrated the firm’s formerly Moscow-based team into Dubai. Khalid has also been playing a key role in merger arrangements between Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling.


Justine Jones - HSBC

Justine Jones has been MENAT regional general counsel at HSBC since 2022, where she oversees a legal team of 59 lawyers and growing, with 30 in the UAE alone. She receives consistent high praise from lawyers across the market, while leading a department that has proven itself as a veritable transactions powerhouse in the region. In the last year alone, Justine’s team supported the bank on the Arab Republic of Egypt’s inaugural sukuk, Greensaif Pipelines Bidco’s innovative offering, the landmark IPOs by ADNOC Gas and Americana Restaurants, and NEOM’s green hydrogen project. She is highly regarded not only for her dealmaking but also for her championing of women in business law. Justine joined HSBC in 2016 after a decade with Linklaters.


Brooke Lindsay – e&

Brooke Lindsay is group chief legal and compliance officer for global technology group e&. Over the past year she has led a legal department that has been front and centre of a series of transformative deals, innovative both commercially for e& and corporates in the region and legally, with unconventional M&A deals to further expansion and diversification. Among them was e&’s JV with Bespin Global, which has taken e& deeper into the Asia market. Brooke is also credited with building one of the region’s most diverse legal teams.

Christy Wong – Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)

Christy Wong is senior vice president, group legal corporate investments, at ADNOC. She has overseen a stellar year for the ADNOC legal team, crowned by the impressive ADNOC Gas IPO, the largest ever listing on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and a seminal deal for ADNOC and the region. Christy achieved this while also overseeing the IPO of ADNOC Logistics & Services, the sale of a refining waste management operation and departmental growth.

Saqib Awan – Americana

Saqib Awan became general counsel of Americana in 2018 and played a pivotal role in the ground-breaking dual-listing IPO of Americana Restaurants, the first ever corporate to be listed concurrently in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. As such, it was the first deal to navigate myriad legal untested legal issues to bridge differences in UAE and Saudi regulations and practice. He was praised for his work on the deal, with lawyers describing his deal leadership and effort as “phenomenal”.

Ed Reilly – Standard Chartered

Ed Reilly has been senior legal counsel at Standard Chartered since 2018. He is recognised as a Market Maker in part for his championing of sustainable finance and for playing a pivotal role in developing and applying the banks net-zero strategy in the region. He is praised for his “pragmatic approach to situations that require a customized lens” and for pushing to align deals with high sustainability standard.


Abdallah Maher

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Ahmad Saleh

GLA & Company

Rezwan Azam

Clifford Chance

Sherine El Menyawy

Dreny & Partners



Arab Republic of Egypt sovereign sukuk

This year’s finalists speak to a market rife with innovation and development. One of the highlights was the Air Lease Corporation sukuk, the first-ever sukuk issuance by a North American corporate. Based on innovative structuring to reconcile Islamic requirements with international structures, the deal has the potential to mark a sea change in the GCC market. Another highlight innovation was Saudi Arabia’s first ever securitisation: Tamara BNPL securitisation.

The winner was Egypt’s sovereign sukuk. It took almost two years of painstaking legal work to lay the ground for the deal in Egypt; to develop an appropriate domestic Islamic legal framework and launch an international issuance backed by leading Middle East Islamic banks. It is a true landmark for Egypt. Innovation included the drafting of an entirely new legal framework to allow a range of sukuk structures, the use of a unique usufruct of assets structure and the crafting of bespoke total loss mechanics. The deal was blessed by the Higher Shariah Authority and by the Shariah boards of the participating Islamic banks, putting it under scrutiny from the highest authorities and giving it a gold seal of approval.

Law firms 

Adsero – Ragy Soliman & Partners

Clifford Chance


Zaki Hashem & Partners


Clifford Chance


ADNOC and TAQA / Masdar

Finalists included innovative M&A, capital markets and financing transactions. Among the highlights was Nakheel’s financing, which set a market benchmark for companies seeking to streamline their debt profiles. Nakheel successfully consolidated new debt and legacy Islamic and convention financings under a single cross-collateralised umbrella. Another standout was Dukhan Bank’s direct listing, the first-of-its-kind from Qatar. The merger between Blom Bank Egypt – Bank ABC Egypt also offered the Egypt market a blueprint for bank mergers.

However, the winner was the notably complex and novel interlocking acquisition which saw TAQA and ADNOC each acquire a 43% controlling stake in Masdar’s renewables business and green hydrogen business, respectively. As Mubadala retained a 33% stake in both businesses, in one single transactional process the deal created two long term joint-ventures. The deals also established a template for driving investment into green hydrogen and structuring bankable ventures in the space. The deal team had to navigate an untested legal environment in the nascent industry.

Law firms   

Allen & Overy

Clifford Chance

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Shearman & Sterling

White & Case  


Americana Restaurants dual-listing IPO

The equity markets had a stellar year in the Middle East. Among the most impressive deals was the ADNOC Gas IPO, the world's largest IPO in 2023 at the time of listing and a deal of immense legal complexity, requiring careful diligence and close coordination with regulators. A UAE highlight was the Salik IPO. The deal involved a pre-IPO reorganisation of what was an entirely government-owned entity in a dual-track timetable with the IPO process. Given the nature of the company and its business, the deal required exemptions and delicate structural considerations. Dar Global’s LSE direct listing stood out for the complexity of its multi-jurisdictional pre-IPO reorganisation.

Americana Restaurants won the accolade as the first ever concurrent dual-listing on a UAE stock exchange and the Saudi exchange. UAE and Saudi capital markets regulators were deeply involved in a structure that lays the blueprint for dual-listings on the ADX and Tadawul in fundamental areas, such as the underwriting mechanics, fungeability of shares between the exchanges, prospectus structure, disclosure rules and deal sequencing. A huge amount of legal ground was covered to bridge the gap between the different applicable market requirements and hitherto accepted market practice.

Law firms 

Al Busaidy Mansoor Jamal & Co

AS&H Clifford Chance

ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners

Allen & Overy

Clifford Chance

GLA & Company

Ibrahim & Partners

Khoshaim & Associates


Clifford Chance


Simmons & Simmons


Al Rajhi Bank green Murabaha

The loan deal finalists showcased notable acquisition financings and impressive legal work to put borrowers on a favourable commercial footing. A true highlight was the financing of Brookfield’s acquisition of Network International, which represents the first UK public-to-private deal funded by UAE banks. Agility creatively used existing syndications, conventional, Islamic, club and bilateral facilities to finance the acquisition of a listed target. For its part, Oman Air refinanced over 20 independent financings from US dollar into Omani rial to take advantage of beneficial interest rates. The deal stole a march on the market and required novel work to efficiently renegotiate all the facilities.

The winner was the green Murabaha for Al Rajhi Bank. The deal speaks to the legal structuring that underpins Islamic financings and how they can incorporate green mechanics and sit alongside conventional financings. The deal comprised a long and short Murabaha and a second non-AAIOFI compliant commodity Murabaha for the non-compliant banks. The two lines were combined into a single term sheet. A key innovation was in developing a green ratchet that was applicable to the different types of Murabaha. This sets the blueprint for Saudi Arabia.

Law firms 

Hogan Lovells

Norton Rose Fulbright

ZS&R Law Firm in Association with Hogan Lovells


Norton Rose Fulbright


Kuwait Finance House / Ahli United Bank

The finalists for M&A deal of the year reflect the Middle East’s dynamic tech and telecoms market, but also showcase legal breakthroughs that may enable and unlock bank consolidation and infrastructure investment. Highlights include the StarLink Group – Infinigate Group merger, a rare merger of equals in the region and one which overcame considerable corporate structuring challenges. Vodacom / Vodafone Egypt led to an innovative application of Takeover Rules in Egypt, providing a valuable case study of public M&A. The deals by Solutions by stc and e&, while very different, both built around a pioneering strategy underpinned by innovative and complex legal work.

The winner was Kuwait Finance House’s acquisition of Ahli United Bank, which took the form of a cross-border share-for-share takeover and represented the first squeeze-out of minority shareholders in Bahrain. The combined banks operate in 20 jurisdictions and the deal contended with changing M&A regulatory frameworks and Central Bank rules and externally imposed delays, most markedly due to Covid-19. The deal bridged gaps between Kuwait and Bahrain banking and capital market regulatory regimes and marked out a blueprint for the conversion of the target into a Sharia compliant bank.

Law firms 

ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Hassan Radhi & Associates

International Counsel Bureau


Meysan Partners

Newton Legal Group


Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer


NEOM Green Hydrogen Project    

This year’s finalists are balanced between infrastructure and energy projects. One of the highlights was Project Lightning, which required a new regime to regulate generating infrastructure, such as pipelines, on the sea floor. As well as its carbon-free credentials, it is the first time a non-hydrocarbon undersea pipeline has been project financed. Zayed City Schools set a precedent for social infrastructure projects procured under a PPP structure in the UAE. The 6th of October Dry Port project meanwhile set its own precedent as the first dry port project in in Egypt.

However, the winning project financing was for the NEOM green hydrogen project. A truly ground-breaking project, comprising over 4GW of wind and solar power generation, 400MWh battery energy storage and 2.2 GW of alkaline electrolysis hydrogen production modules. The project secured financing from 23 institutions, including the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), National Infrastructure Fund (NIF) and local, regional and international banks. The financing for this giga-project offers the regional and global market a template for financing green ammonia and green fuel projects under development.

Law firms

Allen & Overy

AS&H Clifford Chance

Baker Botts

Clifford Chance

Covington & Burling

Khoshaim & Associates

King & Spalding

Shearman & Sterling

The Law Office of Megren M Al-Shaalan

White & Case


Allen & Overy


Azmeel Contracting Company

The finalists for restructuring deal of the year included the restructuring of the debt of Emirates REIT. The deal was a keenly watched sukuk restructurings and is a landmark matter as it has the potential to be a test case for the successful restructuring of an Islamic bond. The deal flipped an ijara-murabaha structure into a new ijara structure. The restructuring of Golf Aluminium Rolling Mill was the first and largest case to be implemented after the passing of Bahrain’s new bankruptcy law. The deal involved a mix of debt for equity swap, with interest free debt, subordinated debt and interest bearing debt. The restructuring of Limitless also emerged as key market case with valuable lessons for debt restructuring.

The winning deal was the restructuring of Azmeel Contracting Company, structured under Saudia Arabia’s 2018 bankruptcy law, which is in turn partly based on the US Chapter 11 framework. It represents one of the first full restructurings in the market, with 28,000 creditors involved and unique debt exchange mechanisms to restructure the sukuk debt. The deal represents the first time a perpetual sukuk has been used in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to restructure a company’s financial indebtedness.

Law firms 

King & Spalding

Latham & Watkins

Norton Rose Fulbright


King & Spalding

In-House Team and Firm Awards


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin’s lawyers in the Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices have committed significant time to bono matters, with 61% of lawyers dedicating hours to pro bono initiatives and UAE-based lawyers sitting on the firm’s global pro bono and DEI committees. Among its achievements, the firm’s Dubai office launched a Pro Bono Initiative in 2022, which seeks to connect Dubai-based lawyers with pro bono clients across the Middle East region. The team, led by associate Sahar Abas, has also been assisting displaced Afghan refugees in their immigration applications, having so far helped more than 50 Afghan refugees to apply for asylum. Similarly, UAE lawyers also travelled to the Ukraine/Poland border to support refugees looking to resettle in the UK.


MAQ Legal (Al Maamary Al Abri & Co)

Established in January 2022, MAQ Legal has very quickly established itself as a valuable counsel on some of the most sophisticated transactions emerging from the Omani market. The firm has had particular success in the capital markets, with a roster of mandates on Omani IPOs and sukuk and bond issuances. Its highlights in 2022-2023 included advising the Government of Oman on its first ever liability management and bond buy-back, executed with no targeted legislation. The firm took the lead on the Oman Air refinancing, advising the syndicate of banks, and had a critical role on the Abraj Energy IPO, the market’s first IPO aligned to international practices and an invaluable a key blueprint that may influence the direction of Oman’s future IPO practice.



Technology company e& has had a transformative year and its legal department has been at the heart of the transformation. The company has pursued a strategy of diversification and global expansion, partly underpinned by innovative dealmaking through M&A and joint-venture agreements. In May 2023 the company formed a strategic partnership with Vodafone which spans the Europe, Middle East and African markets. This partnership was confirmed in the same month as the completion of its JV with Bespin Global, which has given e& a stake in the Asian market, particularly South Korea, and which will expand e&’s geographical footprint and cloud offering across MENAT. The legal team has been at the front and centre of the deals, innovating on approach, structural considerations and in its legal procurement strategy.



The legal team at HSBC had a standout year, with seemingly a hand in every high impact transaction out of the region. Highlights included supporting the bank in its role as joint lead manager, bookrunner, billing and delivery bank and documentation bank on Egypt’s inaugural sovereign sukuk and the triple tranche offering by Greensaif Pipelines Bidco. The team also worked on the ADNOC Gas IPO in the banks’ capacity as joint global coordinator, joint bookrunner and underwriter, and on the IPOs by Americana Restaurant and Luberef. These deals were backed by notable roles for TAQA, Mubadala, PIF and other market leading clients. The team has also played a leading as ESG adviser on deals across the region.


First Abu Dhabi Bank 

FAB had an impressive year and continued to expand its legal capabilities both through internal capacity and business expansion into more markets. The legal team has been involved in all the banks strategic initiatives, as well as supporting the bank in several of the region’s most innovative cross-border deals, including the GreenSaif Pipelines Bidco sukuk, Mashreqbank’s Tier 2 bonds, the ADNOC Gas IPO and the Americana Restaurants dual listing IPO. On all the deals the legal team helped structure, negotiate and review the entire transaction documentation. The bank also played a lead role on the pioneering acquisition financing for Brookfield’s acquisition of Network International and acted as senior lender to the NEOM Green Hydrogen Project.


Dubai Islamic Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank worked on several deals that moved the markets and have the potential generate more. One of the highlights was the Air Lease Corporation sukuk, where the bank acted as a dealer. The deal was innovative both structurally and commercially, and has the potential to open the region’s sukuk market to US headquartered corporates and beyond. The bank also acted as a joint-lead manager on Majid Al Futtaim Group's sukuk, another novel Islamic deal whereby proceeds from an Islamic issuance were used to buy back conventional bonds. The bank was also a lender in the Nakheel financing.


Standard Chartered

The Standard Chartered legal team picks up the award for the second year running. The award reflects the team’s championing of net-zero goals and products, both on transactions as well as in policies, standards and practices, whether internal or external. The department has implemented programmes to upskill its lawyers for a ‘net-zero’ future and coordinated closely with a its internal climate risk lead, established in Dubai in 2022 to interpret and operationalise climate risk policies. The department has also sought to leverage its procurement to encourage legal supply chain change, by reviewing its panel law firm engagement and assessment process to consider commitment to sustainability and factors including net zero. The team also helped structure transactions that contribute to decarbonising for clients such as PIF, Abu Dhabi Development Holdings and TAQA.


OverRuled – Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

This award recognises a legal tech solution that is pioneering, creative, or uses a new or untested product to great effect. This year Akin picked up the award for its OverRuled platform, which was launched in 2023 and whose global roll out is being partly overseen by UAE partner Mahmoud Fadlallah. The platform helps clients to navigate enforcement actions, potential penalties, regulatory changes and agency guidance in areas where information may be difficult to synthesize. Key areas include Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), China’s trade controls regime and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)’s export controls. The platform uses machine learning to assess potential exposure by analyzing past enforcement data against a particular case to estimate the potential penalty range, tested at 90% accuracy.

National Law Firms of the Year


Hassan Radhi & Associates

Hassan Radhi & Associates took home the Bahrain award once again. Among its most impactful roles was advising Kuwait Finance House on its acquisition of Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank. The deal was he first full cross-border bank merger in two different countries and sets a foundation for greater cooperation and alignment between the Bahrain and Kuwait banking and capital markets regulators.


Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy

Matou Bassiony & Hennawy stood out for is prodigious cross-border transactional record during the awards review period. One of its most impactful transactions was advising Arabian Internet and Communications Services Company (solutions by stc) on its acquisition of Giza Systems, which required complex structuring from an Egyptian side, with breakthroughs in the completion mechanism, cash flow mechanics, shareholder structures and treatment of cross-border assets. Other highlights included structuring a novel financing for Abou Ghaly Motors.


Confluent Law Group   

Confluent Law Group again picked up the Iraq award, demonstrating an impressive spread of transaction types with cross-border innovation and work to clarify foreign investment rules. Key deals included advising a foreign infrastructure company on its acquisition of a majority interest in a local concession, a cross-border financing of an industrial plant and work in the renewables space.


Ali Sharif Zu’bi Advocates & Legal Consultants

Ali Sharif Zu’bi Advocates & Legal Consultants won Jordan Firm of the Year, partly driven by its work in M&A. In one highlight the firm advised Actis on its acquisition of a controlling stake in Yellow Door Energy, taking control of nine projects. The firm deftly handled various inter-woven commercial, antitrust and regulatory aspects. The firm also advised Capital Bank of Jordan on the sale of a minority stake to PIF, marketing PIF’s first large acquisition in Jordan.


ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners

ASAR has a strong year in Kuwait and further across the region. Among its most notable mandates, the firm acted as Kuwaiti counsel to Americana in relation to its IPO, conducting due diligence, and advising on the pre-IPO restructuring, share distribution and dividend process. Elsewhere, the firm worked on a NEXI-backed financing to Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, representing one of the largest ever ECA-backed syndicated corporate facilities offered to a state-owned corporation and raising myriad challenges.


Abou Jaoude & Associates

Abou Jaoude & Associates closed several noteworthy transactions during the awards period against a challenging market environment. The firm navigated complex Central Bank regulatory approvals to support Credit Suisse Lebanon in its exit from the Lebanese market following UBS’s global takeover of Credit Suisse. The team undertook pioneering work in the energy sector opposite the government, advising Qatar Energy on a first-of-its-kind E&P agreement and Total Energies in relation to the country’s first solar power purchase agreements.


AMJ – Al Busaidy Mansoor Jamal & Co  

AMJ remains a ubiquitous force in the Oman market. Notable deals included its role advising the deal managers on the Government of Oman liability management transaction, which was a first of its kind for the government, bringing all parties into unchartered legal waters. The firm advised Oman Qatar Insurance on its merger with Vision Insurance, which secured exemptions from regulators to enable the deal to progress, and advised the lenders on a bespoke Islamic financing to Mudhaibi Water Distribution Project. Other work included the Oman Tech Infrastructure – Omantel tower assets acquisition, financing for the Barka 5 IWP and Vulcan Group acquisition of distressed Sohar Steel.


Al Tamimi & Company in association with Advocate Mohammed Al-Marri

Al Tamimi & Company’s Qatar office proved itself versatile, with probing work across a range of areas. In one example, the firm advised the joint lead managers on Qatar Insurance Company’s perpetual subordinated Tier 2 notes. This highly regulated deal marked the first time that an insurance company in Qatar tendered existing notes and issued new subordinated notes in their place, to meet Tier 2 capital requirements. The firm also closed the first corporate re-domiciliation in Qatar, locating Precision Capital SA (a Luxembourg investment company) into the Qatar Financial Centre.


Khoshaim & Associates

Khoshaim & Associates picked up Saudi Arabia firm of the year. The firm advised the underwriters on the Americana Restaurants dual listing IPO and the senior lenders on the NEOM Green Hydrogen Project. Other highlights included acing for the issuer, Petro Rabigh, on its innovative rights issue, advising on the IPOs by Marafiq and Luberef, and playing key roles on Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation’s sukuk and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia firs ever tender offer and dual issuance. The firm also advised the banks on GreenSaif Pipelines Bidco’s sukuk.


Al Tamimi & Company 

Al Tamimi & Company had a stellar year across the categories. Its work on the ADNOC Gas IPO and Salik IPO, in both cases advising the issuer, put the firm at the front and centre of the most impactful listings for the UAE market. The firm also advised Apollo Capital Management on its investment into Aldar Properties, acted as counsel to Emirates REIT on its debt restructuring and advised the lenders on the Amunet Wind Farm in Egypt.

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