Complex Made Simple

Grant Thornton appoints a New Partner

To lead the Abu Dhabi Practice and Strengthen the Financial Services Practice in the Region

The Islamic Finance industry has been growing at a rate of 10-15% over the last 40 years. Most industry observers estimate it comprises a market with at least $1-2 trillion of assets under management worldwide.

While Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) were not immune to the effects of the global economic downturn in 2008, they were able to avoid some of the more extreme outcomes experienced by their conventional counterparts due to the importance Islamic finance places on investments in tangible assets and the requirement to avoid speculation.

The Islamic finance industry is expected to continue to grow robustly, with many industry observers expecting total market size to exceed $3 trillion by 2020, the year in which the UAE is aiming to become the Islamic Finance hub of the world.

Giving the increasing relevance for Islamic Finance in the UAE Grant Thornton have appointed Samer Hijazi as a Partner and Head of Islamic Finance to lead the Abu Dhabi practice.

Hisham Farouk, CEO of Grant Thornton states “Islamic finance is the youngest and fastest growing form of ethical finance in the world and this coupled with the UAE’s strategic vision to establish the nation as the future Islamic finance hub presents huge opportunities. We are delighted to welcome Samer to Grant Thornton. With his expertise and our presence, we look forward to unlocking further potential for our financial services clients.”

Samer has extensive experience leading complex audit engagements for global investment banks, FTSE 100 banks, sovereign wealth funds, investment managers and international banks. He has directed the audit of a number of financial services teams for clients that have multi-location operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Islamic finance practice at a Big Four firm in the UK and developed new products and solutions to deliver to all UK Islamic financial institutions, FTSE 100 banks and global investment banks, which saw him becoming de facto UK Head of Islamic Finance in 2009 and Global Head in 2013 for the Big Four firm.

As Global Head of Islamic Finance, Samer played a key role in the industry consultation with the British government which culminated in the launch of the UK Government Sukuk which was oversubscribed 10 times.

As a result of his integral role in the UK and within Global Islamic Finance, he was awarded ‘Global Islamic Finance Adviser of the Year – International 2014’ by Professional Sector Network.

Through this new appointment, Samer will continue to lead the strategic direction of the Abu Dhabi practice, whilst working to promote and further fortify Grant Thornton’s financial services and Islamic finance offering. Samer Hijazi, Partner at Grant Thornton comments “with Islamic Finance holding promise in the UAE, increasing consumer awareness and greater demand for Islamic Finance in the region, I am delighted to join the firm at what looks set to be an exciting time for not only our firm, but the wider Islamic Finance economy in the Middle East.”