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Emirates Islamic Bank supports Rental Disputes Center initiatives

The Rental Disputes Center (RDC) has received a generous donation of AED 500,000 from Emirates Islamic Bank to support insolvent tenants in rental claims disputes. The RDC has already set up the "Yad Al Khair Committee" to study the cases that require support from the donation. Awatif Al Harmoodi, General Manager of Operational Quality & Processes at Emirates Islamic Bank, said Emirates Islamic Bank is keen to expand its corporate social responsibility strategy to cover all segments of the UAE and will continue to cooperate with the RDC.

#Saudi will issue #sukuk as soon as market conditions allow-DMO chief

Saudi Arabia is committed to the sukuk market and will issue Islamic bonds as soon as market conditions allow. Fahad al-Saif, president of Saudi Arabia’s debt management office (DMO) said Saudi Arabia had a ratio of 65% to 35% for local to international issuance, plus or minus 10%. He added that the DMO aimed to develop the local market but not to crowd out the banks. Saudi Arabia started issuing debt in the international markets in 2016 when it issued $39 billion in bonds, including a $9 billion sukuk. Domestically, the government has raised a total of over 70 billion riyals ($18.67 billion) through monthly local currency sukuk issues. The kingdom has recently agreed the refinancing, extension and upsizing of a $10 billion loan it had raised in 2016. The loan has now been increased to $16 billion. Furthermore, a new dollar bond sale is expected over the coming weeks.

UPDATE 1-Islamic Development Bank to launch $2.5 bln #sukuk "soon" -president

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced it would launch a $2.5 billion sukuk "soon". Bank President Bandar Hajjar said the IDB was also planning to set up a $500 million fund to support science and technology start-ups. The institution has recently hired banks as joint lead managers and bookrunners for a new U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. The banks are CIMB, Citi, Emirates NBD Capital, Gulf International Bank, HSBC, NATIXIS, SMBC Nikko and Standard Chartered Bank. Hajjar added he expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) soon, on joint investing in Africa. Timing and size of the cooperation were not disclosed, but it would target the 26 poorest countries on the continent.

GFH joins as a founding partner in #Bahrain’s #fintech hub

GFH Financial Group said its recent partnership with Bahrain Fintech Bay (BFB) as a founding partner will drive innovation and create opportunities for growth. The partnership reflects GFH’s strategy to strengthen the integration of Fintech in the region. According to GFH Financial Group's CEO Hisham Alrayes, GFH provides new entrants access to a sophisticated network and gives advice on how to reach regional and international capital and markets.

Gulf African Bank bucks trend with two branches plan

Gulf African Bank is set to open two new branches in Hurlingham, Nairobi and Mtwapa in Mombasa this year. Although several local lenders have announced outlet closures in recent months, Gulf African Bank is optimistic and set to improve access to financial services. Other local banks announced a freeze on expansion in a bid to protect their bottom lines. There are three fully-fledged Islamic banks in the country: Gulf, First Community and Dubai Islamic Bank, with at least 11 conventional lenders with dedicated counters for such products.

'Waqf' can boost science

#Malaysia hosted a conference in which experts considered the relevance of waqf and how it could be engaged to alleviate poverty. In his keynote address, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah explained that the concept of waqf preceded trusts and endowments. A donor endows a waqf with an asset and the waqf institution then spends its revenue in perpetuity on the fulfilment of public needs. The law governing waqf was borrowed by the English following the Crusades in the Holy Land. For example, Merton College at Oxford University was established with a financial endowment in 1264. This endowment has facilitated centuries of scholarship, learning and teaching. Sultan Nazrin highlighted the need for a better system for the governance of waqf. He believes that digital connectivity will open up new opportunities for innovative business models, as well as research and development-related investments, to unlock the full potential of waqf assets.

NAB arrests Modaraba corruption case accused

#Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Yasir Aziz accused in a Modaraba corruption case. The accused acted as finance secretary of M/S Elixir Group and signed the modaraba contracts issued by his brother Shahid Aziz. The public accuses Yasir Aziz of taking the investment and aiding his brother to misappropriate the money. Yasir Aziz also tried to sell the properties owned by the accused Shahid Aziz. NAB Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi confirmed that Yasir Aziz was arrested and assured that the NAB was committed to eradicate corruption from the country.

Al Hilal Global #Sukuk Fund delivers 3.93% dividend

Al Hilal Bank has announced the dividend payout of the Al Hilal Global Sukuk Fund. The Fund, which was launched in March 2012, distributed a 3.93% dividend to all registered unit holders. Al Hilal Bank CEO Alex Coelho said the Fund had registered excellent cumulative total returns since its inception in 2012. Al Hilal Bank currently offers 3 open-ended mutual funds inclusive of the Global Sukuk Fund. In 2017, Al Hilal Global Sukuk Fund was awarded the title "Best Fund over 3 years", while the GCC Equity Fund received the "Best Islamic Fund" award in 2013 and 2014. The bank plans to continue launching investment products as part of its ongoing efforts to create value and increase diversification for its clients.

Ahmed Shuja Kidwai appointed CEO Al Baraka Bank

Ahmed Shuja Kidwai has been appointed as the new CEO of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan). Kidwai replaces Shafqaat Ahmed, who led the bank for 25 years. Al Baraka Chairman Khalid Rashid Al Zayani thanked Shafqaat wishing him well in his future life and welcomed Ahmed Shuja Kidwai as the new Chief Executive Officer of the bank. Ahmed Shuja Kidwai has a diversified international banking experience of over forty years, he played a pivotal role in consolidating and establishing the bank's position especially in Karachi.

#Saudi Arabia expands $10b loan #refinancing to $16b, adds Islamic tranche

Saudi Arabia is expanding the refinancing of a $10 billion international loan to raise $16 billion. The kingdom is introducing a significant Islamic tranche to the transaction, supporting Saudi Arabia’s goal of becoming the leading centre for Islamic finance. A $16 billion facility would be one of the largest syndicated loans ever extended in emerging markets. The kingdom raised the original $10 billion loan from 14 core banks in 2016, in what was its first jumbo transaction after a slump in international oil prices. A further dollar debt issuance is also planned, which could be marketed over the next few weeks.

Green, Islamic investors find common ground with Indonesian #sukuk

#Indonesia became the first Asian sovereign to sell green sukuk, raising $1.25 billion via a five-year deal, alongside a $1.75 billion 10-year sukuk. Proceeds will be used on eligible projects, ranging from renewable energy to waste management. Indonesia’s sukuk was based on an agency contract known as wakala and also incorporated a green framework assessed by the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO). Such a convergence of investment principles could widen the appeal of sukuk beyond Asia and the Middle East to include ethical investors in Western countries. More transactions might be needed to fully test the appetite of green investors for sukuk, as Indonesia’s green sukuk saw stronger takeup from regional investors.

Global Regulators to Maintain AML Pressure on the #Cryptocurrency Industry

The inter-governmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced that it would step up its efforts in monitoring the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering. The pronouncement of the 37-member international body demonstrates the heightened Anti-Money Laundering (AML) concern from regulators across the globe concerning illicit uses of cryptocurrency. Several countries have already taken measures. The European Council has recently taken measures targeting exchange platforms for virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, as well as prepaid cards. In the UK, the Parliament’s Treasury Committee launched a probe to examine both the impact of cryptocurrencies on financial institutions and how best to police the new technology. South Korea’s ban on anonymous trading of cryptocurrencies took effect on January 30. Given regulators’ intense focus on the industry, it is likely that cryptocurrencies will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Draft Sharia rules for companies notified

The Securi­ties and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has notified draft Sharia Governance Regulations 2018. The regulations concern Sharia-compliant companies and entities including the Sharia-compliant securities and Islamic financial institutions. The regulations are the first-ever holistic Sharia governance framework introduced by the corporate sector regulator. Considering the need for an extensive framework, IFD conducted consultation sessions with Sharia advisors, State Bank, Pakistan Stock Exchange, Institute of Chartered Accountants Pakistan, takaful companies, modaraba and NBFI Association. The regulations are now open to public consultation and stakeholders have the opportunity to share their comments and suggestions within two weeks.

#Russia’s Sberbank inks MoU with ICD to offer Islamic finance products

Sberbank of Russia (SBR) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) to help the bank’s clients access Islamic finance products. ICD senior regional manager Samir Taghiyev said the MoU would reinforce SBR efforts to develop Russia as a strong hub. He added that the ICD would help share its knowledge to develop the corporate, retail and private banking as well as the training needed. The MoU was signed by Okan Altasli, the Director of Regional offices at ICD and Oleg V Ganeev, Deputy Chairman of SBR. The document was signed on the sidelines of the 1st Russian Islamic Economy Forum co-organized by ICD, IAIB, Sberbank, KPMG and Thiqah in Moscow.

London can be at the heart of the Islamic finance revolution

This Monday the world’s leading investors and experts will meet in London to discuss Islamic finance, with special focus on the Sukuk. Islamic finance has grown significantly within the UK in recent years. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB)’s funding plan for the first half of 2018 is estimated at $2.5bn, the largest since the Bank’s inception. A benchmark sized Sukuk issue will soon be launched ant the proceeds will be used to support infrastructure, education and health projects across the 57 member countries. According to IDB president Bandar Hajjar, the UK and London in particular will be at the heart of the Islamic finance revolution and Monday’s summit is a great place to start.

#Kazakhstan getting closer to implementing Islamic finance

Kazakhstan will host a meeting on the implementation of Islamic finance on March 5. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) is organizing the event to discuss the development of Islamic finance with the further release of sukuk in Kazakhstan. The list of participants includes the regional manager of the ICD Samir Tagiyev, the representative of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund "Damu" Rustem Ismailov, the chairman of the Islamic Finance Development Association (ARIF) Timur Rustemov, along issuers and investors of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange. The parties will also consider the ARIF projects on Islamic financing in Kazakhstan, as well as the possibility of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange functioning as a platform for the development of Islamic finance.

Bill Gates Says ICOs And Cryptos Can Be ‘Super Risky’

In a recent ask me anything (AMA) session on Reddit Bill Gates talked about his view on cryptocurrencies and the future of transportation. He believes that the speculative wave around initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies is super risky for those who go long. As cryptocurrencies are used for buying drugs, the technology has already caused deaths in a direct way. About transportation Bill Gates is doubtful about the pressurized capsule technology called Hyperloop, but he believes in electric cars and autonomous vehicles. In Japan Nissan and DeNA are planning a test run of a self-driving taxi service dubbed Easy Ride. In the USA Ford is launching a new partnership with Postmates to test its self-driving technology for deliveries.

UNESCAP, Islamic Development Bank Sign Landmark Agreement

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has launched 'Engage', a new digital platform to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IsDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar announced the launch together with UN Under-Secretary-General of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Shamshad Akhtar and Dr. Hayat Sindi, Chief Scientific Advisor to IsDB. Engage offers three main services: Match Making, Technology Transfer and Call for Innovation. The platform will focus on six SDGs, food security, healthier lives, inclusive and equitable education, sustainable management of water, access to affordable and clean energy, and sustainable industrialisation across the developing world. IsDB has also established a new Fund, the Transform Fund, which will finance innovative ideas linked to development solutions. A landmark Memorandum of Understanding was signed between IsDB and ESCAP to build a global network of scientists, technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors to achieve sustainable development.

New Islamic start-up #incubator launched in Dubai

Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) has partnered with Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre and venture firm Technolera to launch a new start-up incubator. Goodforce Labs is launched to help Islamic small and medium enterprises to reach $50m in annual revenues and a measurable social impact. It will help start-ups to start, manage and develop their businesses while providing support in areas including design, marketing, operations management and technology. DAFZA said there are more than 2,500 companies in the ethical Islamic lifestyle market but many struggle to grow and survive. Start-ups that have signed up to the incubator so far include handicraft e-commerce platform Growmada, cloud-based charitable endowment manager Waqf 2.0, disciplined entertainment product specialist Zileej and modest women’s clothing firm Rabia Z. Financial literary firm iWealth and halal food e-learning platform Smart Halal are among the other entrants.

#Saudi prepares to auction detained billionaire’s property

Saudi authorities are preparing to auction billions of dollars of real estate and cars belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea. This is the latest signal that Saudi Arabia is serious about holding its elites to account. In an anti-corruption crackdown last November, authorities detained several senior officials on charges of alleged graft. The al-Sanea case is separate from the main anti-graft campaign. The businessman was detained for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on debts. Creditors have spent the past nine years pursuing Saad for debt that some estimate to be between 40 billion riyals ($10.67 billion) and 60 billion riyals. Al-Sanea's real estate in Khobar was valued at around 4.4 billion riyals. Authorities are preparing an auction to sell his vehicles, equipment, a large quantity of building materials and some property before the month of Ramadan.

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