Cryptocurrencies, Islamic fintech and international arbitration: CIMEL attends Dubai Arbitration Week 2022

As cryptocurrency gains more traction globally, many legal issues arise at the national level. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, while some countries battle to define the legal framework in which cryptocurrency operates, others gradually integrate it into their very own markets.

Amongst the debatable questions recently asked were some related to the legality of intangible assets in Islamic law1, the concept of money in Islam, the permissibility of cryptocurrency in Islam, the arbitrability of Islamic cryptocurrency disputes, the enforceability of arbitral awards in cryptocurrency disputes, and the interaction between Islamic law and concepts of public policy in the Arab Middle East.

On 17 November 2022, such questions were deconstructed by both Prof Dr Martin Lau and Dr Amel Makhlouf (SOAS, University of London). During her presentation, Dr Makhlouf first addressed the issue of the permissibility of FinTech and crypto, stating that both are per se neither ḥalāl nor ḥarām. Then, Prof Dr Martin Lau explored the concept of public policy in international arbitration in the MENA region, and the linkages between public policy and Islam, referring to article 1 (e) of the Geneva Convention 1927, article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention, articles 2, 37 and 53(2)(b) of the UAE Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 on Arbitration, and the UNCITRAL 1985 Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.

Finally, both Professor Lau and Dr Makhlouf stressed on the importance of such panels in discussing the most recent legal scopes for the ever-changing MENA Region, thanking the Organising Committee of the Dubai Arbitration Week, Dr Mahmoud Hussein (Founding Partner, Mahmood Hussain Law firm), Mr Hafidh Thani (Managing Partner, Mahmood Hussain Law firm), the distinguished panelists, i.e. Ms Sarah Malik (CEO and International Disputes Counsel at SOL International Ltd), Ms Johanne Cox (Head of International Arbitration at Shoosmiths), Mr Karim Nassif (Principal at Nassif Arbitration), and the wide audience which contributed eagerly to the debate.


1 Resolution No. 43 (5/5) on moral rights, IIFA.

CIMEL Dubai Arbritation Week Panel
Prof Martin Lau at Dubai Arbitration Week 2022


Group photo with CIMEL members at Dubai Arbitration Week 2022