Africa Specialty Risks officially opens office in Dubai International Financial Centre

London / Dubai, 01 July 2024 – Africa Specialty Risks (“ASR”), the pan-African and Middle East focused reinsurance group, is pleased to announce the opening of its Dubai office, its first in the Middle East.

‘ASR Middle East’, will solidify its ties in the Emirate and the wider region, where the Group has been writing business since February 2022. The new office is located within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region.

Mikir Shah, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Specialty Risks, said: “I am delighted that our new ASR Middle East office in Dubai is now open. Establishing a presence in Dubai is a natural next step for us as we continue to grow in the region and strengthen our ability to facilitate and de-risk the inter-regional trade between Africa and the Middle East.” 

Salmaan Jaffery, Chief Business Development Officer, DIFC Authority, said: “We welcome ASR Middle East to DIFC, which is now the deepest reinsurance market between London and Singapore. As Dubai continues to rise as a global hub for insurance and reinsurance, this strategic move positions the firm perfectly for expansion and enhanced service delivery for clients across key growth markets.”

ASR began underwriting in February 2021 and has since been de-risking USD 23bn worth of projects and assets, as well as written business across 14 countries in the Middle East and 49 African countries.

The firm’s Middle East expansion is led by Zouheb Azam, Head of Political Violence & Terrorism of Africa Specialty Risks, who is also to take on the role of Senior Executive Officer, ASR Middle East. Commenting on the move, he said: “The opening of our new office in DIFC represents an exciting next phase of growth. It positions us at the global cross-roads for financial and insurance services and will allow ASR to deepen relationships with brokers, re- insurers and businesses in the region. Our Dubai office will complement our existing operations and the progress we have made across Africa in developing bespoke and comprehensive risk mitigating solutions for developing markets.”

Born in France, Mr. Azam has 15 years’ experience of both Africa and the Middle East as a broker and underwriter, and possesses a wealth of longstanding experience relationships within the region. Prior to joining ASR, Zouheb has gained Middle Eastern and industry experience with Gras Savoye, Willis Tower Watson and AXA.

ASR Middle East will be providing a comprehensive suite of corporate and specialty covers across all nine of its business lines, supporting corporates and investors operating in the region.

The Dubai office is set to add to ASR’s already established network of premises in London, Mauritius, Bermuda and Morocco, and enables enhanced customer service and collaboration with business partners globally. The launch of DIFC office will also strengthen ASR’s African portfolio and facilitate expansion of its Middle Eastern book of business.

The opening follows ASR receiving regulatory approval from the Dubai Financial Service Authority (DFSA), the independent regulator of financial services conducted in or from the DIFC,  in December 2023 (see release here).

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Ciaran O’Donnell, CFO

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About ASR

Africa Specialty Risks (ASR) provides comprehensive risk mitigating solutions through high quality underwriting to local and global customers across Africa and the Middle East, with operations in London, Mauritius, Bermuda, Morocco. Since its launch, ASR participated in the de-risking of $23 bn of projects and assets across 63 countries.

In addition to our Bermuda and Mauritius reinsurers, ASR’s unique co-reinsurance model involves collaborating with local and international (re)insurance companies. In 2024, ASR launched Syndicate 2454, it is the first African focused syndicate writing business at Lloyd’s.

Across the group, ASR underwrites across Political Risk, Trade Credit, Political Violence & Terrorism, Property, Energy, Construction, Liability, Parametric and Treaty. ASR also offers an end-to-end captive solution to corporate and financial institutions.

ASR is backed by Helios Investment Partners’ Fund IV and benefits from their extensive reach across Africa, as well as their knowledge and experience in our key markets.