New UAE sukuk regulations will help issuance of Islamic bonds, Fitch says

The market regulator Securities and Commodities Authority this week issued new rules governing sukuk offerings

The new sukuk regulations issued by the UAE market regulator, the Securities and Commodities Authority, will bolster Islamic bond sales, but implementation will determine the efficacy of the new rules, Fitch Rating said on Thursday.

"New rules governing sukuk offerings in the UAE could support market activity in tandem with other regulatory initiatives, although consistent adoption and implementation remains key to their success," the rating agency said in a statement.

The SCA published this week regulations on the issuance of Islamic securities both inside and outside the UAE. The regulations come as the UAE steps up efforts to bolster its Islamic finance industry. The Higher Sharia Authority, which is tasked with overseeing the industry, met for the first time in February after the government in 2016 approved its establishment.

The authority’s remit includes issuing fatwas or Islamic edicts and ensuring the legitimacy of the products, services, and activities of the institutions providing Islamic services; and introducing and approving new and existing sharia standards and uniform documents related to best practices for global Islamic financial services.


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It is not immediately clear how the SCA regulations are similar to the authority’s scope of responsibilities.

The Islamic finance industry was shaken last year when Sharjah based energy company Dana Gas declared its $700 million sukuk unlawful due to changes in sharia laws.

The Abu Dhabi-listed company was embroiled in court battles with its creditors to get its sukuk declared illegal, however, it announced last month that it has reached an agreement with sukukholders.

“The SCA regulation provides a general framework for disclosure around these issues, not a detailed template,” said Fitch. “Moreover, including this information would not eliminate the potential for conflicts with investors, given the lack of legal precedent regarding how sharia issues might affect UAE commercial court judgments in a distressed situation. This issue is likely to remain largely untested after Dana Gas reached agreement with sukukholders on its restructuring and refinancing offer.”