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Safdar Alam - Islamic Finance expert and thought leader

Safdar is an investment banker and has been specialising in Islamic Finance for almost two decades. He has established and led the Islamic Banking teams/businesses at some of the largest banks in the world (UBS, Credit Agricole, JP Morgan).


He is well known in the global industry, and played a key role in several landmark transactions and ground-breaking developments in the industry. His experience has been gained working in the City in London (over 15 years), and being based for 6 years in Bahrain.


Safdar’s experience has been gained in front office roles - developing products, executing transactions and client coverage. He has deep relationships with Islamic banks from London to the Middle East and Asia.


He has led and executed transactions in excess of $10bn, and has delivered in excess of $150mn profit.

Safdar has considerable expertise and experience in the following areas (Islamic and conventional banking), in structuring, pricing, creating legal documentation, execution, operations and governance:

  • Money markets and FX markets

  • Capital markets (DCM and ECM)

  • Sukuk

  • Syndicated financing, corporate financing

  • Risk management (derivatives)

  • Investments and funds

  • Asset management

  • Structured investments


Safdar has consulted with and advised Governments/ Ministry of Finance/ Central Banks in the UK, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

As well as international experience with the largest global banks, Safdar has extensive experience of supporting the growth and implementation of Islamic finance globally.

Safdar has played a role in advising key government entities (e.g. Ministry of Finance) and banks in countries where Islamic banking has been introduced for the first time. Specifically, Safdar played a key advisory role in Kazakhstan, supporting the first two domestic banks to conduct large international financing transactions (Shariah compliant) and also in the onward domestic utilisation of funds by providing Shariah compliant financing to SME’s.

At all stages, the parties involved required education on Islamic principles and rules, and advice on how to use specialised contracts for financing and remain aligned with global best practice, and also general education about Islamic finance.

Safdar has also provided bespoke support to the Ministry of Finance in Nigeria during the initial stages of the application of Islamic finance there.


In Singapore, Safdar advised the regulator with regards to the creation and management of Islamic funds.


In Bahrain, Safdar has worked on several advisory boards for the Central Bank of Bahrain, to assist with key projects in Islamic banking and also with regards to regulation.


Safdar has been an advisor to the International Islamic Financial Markets company in Bahrain, a standard-setting body in Islamic finance, with regards to the ground-breaking work performed on Islamic derivatives, in coordination with ISDA.


Safdar was an advisor to the UK government in their preparation in launching the first Sukuk in 2014.

Safdar is a published author, the first two books in his series (Islamic Banking in Practice) of four volumes has been published, with the others to follow in 2020.


Some Key Achievements

  • He executed the first syndicated financing transactions (USD 500m and USD 650m) for the two largest Islamic Banks in the world (Al Rajhi and Kuwait Finance House) in the roles of Advisor and Mandated Lead Arranger

  • He also originated and executed the first Islamic financing transactions to originate from Kazakhstan

  • Executed the largest equity linked Sukuk - for Dana Gas (USD 1bn)

  • Created award winning financial instruments (Most Innovative Product awarded by

  • Euromoney)

  • Developed the first Profit Rate Swaps to be utilised in the industry

  • Worked closed with Central Bank of Bahrain on local initiatives for Islamic finance

  • Developed the first overnight liquidity sweep facility for Islamic Banks

  • Worked with IIFM (a standard setting body based in Bahrain) to develop global contracts for Islamic money markets and derivatives, in coordination with ISDA

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