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Worldly Experience

Attorney Spent Four Years Working in Kuwait City

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Ramy Shabana’s first job after his 2010 graduation from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law was as an associate at the Kuwait City office of Al Tamimi & Company, a Dubai-headquartered law firm and the largest regional law firm in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“I value the experience I gained and the opportunity to work as part of the international legal community,” says Shabana, who joined Ayar Law Group in Southfield this month. “I’m extremely lucky and thankful to have been mentored by Alex Saleh, partner and head of the Kuwait office of Al Tamimi, and Philip Kotsis, partner at Al Tamimi, who are both attorneys originally from Michigan. I’m forever grateful for the training they gave me and would be nowhere without them.”

One of two lead associates for Al Tamimi’s Corporate Structuring and M&A practice, Shabana represented several Kuwaiti and multi-national corporations in large-scale acquisition, representing both buyers and sellers.

“I also worked on several commercial deals, military agreements, and a couple of international arbitration cases,” he says.

At the time he joined Al Tamimi, the government of Kuwait had launched a $30 billion dollar initiative to revitalize the country’s infrastructure, diversify its economy, and become a financial hub for the MENA Region, much like Dubai.

Shabana helped launch and became the leading associate for the Kuwait office’s PPP (Public-Private Partnership) and Project Finance division which was responsible for advising lenders, sponsors, and government entities with respect to multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects that were in the process of being tendered by the government.

One project was the 40-year BOT tender (Build Operate Transfer) of the Az Zour North IWPP project, an independent water and combined cycle power plant designed to provide desalinated water and 1,500 megawatts of electricity. Shabana served as lead associate in the representation of the winning consortium of international lenders including, among others, the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Standard Chartered Bank, and the National Bank of Kuwait.

“The total cost of the project was approximately $1.5 billion, with half of that amount being privately financed by the lending consortium,” Shabana says.

The scope of the firm’s representation was to advise lenders as to the complete legal framework governing the project and financing, including security methods for limited-recourse financing; negotiate concession agreement, direct agreement, several land lease agreements, shareholders’ agreements for the project companies, and loan agreements, security agreement, and promissory notes; and ensure that lenders reach financial close

Fluent in Arabic, Shabana also worked on a $2.1-billion wastewater treatment plant PPP project, similar to the Az Zour project. In this project, that is currently being tendered and bid on, he represented the government of Kuwait in conducting legal, financial, and technical feasibility studies along with Norton Rose, HSBC, and Fichtner to determine the bankability of the project to private investors.

Shabana has fond memories of his time there.

“Some of the most memorable moments were hanging out with friends and colleagues at outdoor cafes off the coast in the evenings, feeling the cool breeze coming in from the sea,” he says. “I’m also glad I got to run in a desert half marathon.”

After returning to Michigan last December, Shabana hung out his own shingle before joining Ayar Law Group in September.

“I’m very excited to jump into taxes at Ayar Law,” he says. “With as diverse of a background that our communities have, whether personal, cultural, or professional, I think it’s true we’re all universally afraid of taxes. So it’s great being in a position I can use to offer help to anybody with tax issues, from individuals to businesses.”

Shabana brings a wealth of business experience to his legal work. He earned his undergrad degree in business administration from the University of Michigan Dearborn, where he appreciated the smaller class sizes and campus.

“It gave my friends and I the ability to be more connected to students, faculty, and extracurricular activities while still having that university feeling,” he says. “Ever since high school I’ve known I wanted to be a lawyer, but I hadn’t figure out exactly what kind of lawyer. By the time I was starting college I’d decided I wanted to be advising businesses in some way, so it made sense I needed to learn everything I could about business administration.”

He earned his J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2010.

“Detroit Mercy has a lot of high-caliber faculty members who did an amazing and thorough job of navigating its students through the complexities of legal academia, while at the same time providing avenues, such as the many legal clinics and the Law Firm Program, to apply that knowledge in a practical setting,” he says.

Involved since college days in community efforts to help the less fortunate, Shabana has been using his organizational and business law experience to try to help people start viable businesses.

“I believe Detroit’s comeback is going to hinge on more and more small business owners entering the market and diversifying Michigan’s economy,” he explains. “If we’re serious about bringing back our home, we each have to do our part to genuinely help others.”

The East Lansing native makes his home in Farmington Hills.

“Above all else, the greater Detroit area is home,” he says. “Even with all of the international opportunities I had, home was a big piece I was missing and couldn’t afford to give up.

“I may be biased, but I think Michigan is the perfect state to live in, with its mix of city, suburbia, and endless sights. The thing I love most, though, is the people of Michigan, from my family, friends, community, and the everyday person working hard to succeed.”

Shabana stays active by working out at the gym, and playing basketball and golf. He also enjoys cooking and hopes to break into the local food industry at some point.

He has a passionate interest in social, economic, and political issues.

“I believe if we’re going to advance as a society, it’s an obligation on everybody in this country to take these issues seriously and conduct their own unbiased research,” he says.

Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

Venar Ayar, Esq.

Venar Ayar, Esq.

Attorney-at-Law, Master of Laws in Taxation
Principal and founder, Ayar Law

Venar is an award-winning tax attorney ranked as a Top Lawyer in the field of Tax Law. Mr. Ayar has a Master of Laws in Taxation – the highest degree available in tax, held by only a small number of the country’s attorneys.

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