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Global Refugee Forum: Multilateral Development Banks vow to support forcibly displaced people

The Multilateral Development Banks are set to support for refugees and people affected by forced displacement. The African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank Group have made the pledges. Over 70 million people are forcibly displaced globally, with African countries hosting about 8 million refugees and 16 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). To help resolve the situation, the African Development Fund donors committed USD 7.6 billion to help and stimulate inclusive growth in 37 African countries. The African Development Fund is the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group.

#Pakistan, the Lives and Livelihoods Fund Partners and Islamic Development Bank re-affirm commitment to support the polio programme

A high-level delegation of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Lives and Livelihoods Fund (LLF) re-affirmed their commitment to support Pakistan in their fight against polio. The LLF has prioritized the eradication of polio and contributed over US$ 100 million to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme. During the visit, the LLF and IsDB team visited the outskirts of Islamabad Capital Territory and participated in the nationwide vaccination campaign which started on December 16, 2019. During this campaign 39.5 million children under the age of five were vaccinated. The LLF is the largest development initiative of its kind and donor partners include the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and Qatar Fund for Development.

Leaders call for use of alternative currency among Muslim countries against US Dollar

At the ongoing Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, leaders of the Muslim world have pressed for alternative currency for use in trade and seek independence from US Dollar. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Muslim countries should try to create new transaction systems. He added that Islamic finance needs to be part of the agenda just like in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was of the view that Muslim nations should come up with a new own cryptocurrency. Malaysia's Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also believes that a united cryptocurrency is needed for Muslim states, as a cryptocurrency can cut through bureaucratic and market fluctuations. He added that utilising cryptocurrency or national currency would help attain independence from over-reliance on the US dollar.

Shareholders of Dubai Islamic Bank approve acquisition of Noor Bank

Following the conclusion of its General Assembly Meeting, Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) announced that the assembly has approved the acquisition of Noor Bank. With this acquisition, DIB is set to position itself as one of the largest Islamic Banks in the world with total assets exceeding AED 275 billion. Furthermore, this move will strengthen Dubai’s position as a global centre for Islamic finance. In addition to being the first and largest Islamic bank in the UAE, DIB has a significant international presence as a torchbearer in promoting Shari’ah-compliant financial services. The Bank’s ultimate goal is to make Islamic finance the norm, rather than an alternative to conventional banking worldwide.

#Cameroon bets on Islamic financing to boost financial inclusion and attract Middle Eastern investors

In Cameroon, only one bank (Afriland First Bank) and three microfinance institutions practice Islamic financing. Yet, the appropriation of this type of financing can considerably contribute to the development of financial inclusion in Cameroon. To raise awareness about the topic, the Ministry of Finance and the UNDP organized a forum on the theme "Islamic financing: contribution to Cameroon's economic growth and to the achievement of sustainable development goals". According to Finance Minister Louis Paul Motazé, Islamic financing promotes financial inclusion and it can also constitute a complementary lever for economic growth by attracting foreign investment from Middle Eastern countries.

Dr. Mabid Al-Jarhi, IsDB Prize Laureate, Delivers Lecture on Gains of Switching from Conventional to Islamic Finance

Winner of the 2019 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Prize in Islamic Economics, Dr. Mabid Al-Jarhi, has delivered a lecture on the gains of switching from conventional to Islamic Finance. He argues that mainstream economics has many limitations, and therefore economists need to be able to identify the weaknesses and propose alternative frameworks. The principles of Islamic Economics provide such a framework. Prohibiting interest on money is not sufficient from an Islamic Finance point of view. Financing through trade contributes to addressing the inefficiency arising from search for trade partners. Together, prohibition of interest and financing through trade would improve allocation of resources in the economy. Dr. Al-Jarhi warns that there is a lot to be done to have a proper Islamic financial system in place. Proper regulations and governance are neccessary to address other kinds of inefficiencies arising from partnership of equity financing.

#Qatar reaches out to Shariah market in #Malaysia, #Turkey

Qatar has taken the lead in reaching out to Malaysia and Turkey through which the country aims to be the dominant player in the global Shariah financial landscape. Under the proposed plan, Turkey would cover Islamic finance needs in Europe, Qatar would serve the greater Middle East and North Africa and Malaysia will continue to serve the Asian markets. The London Stock Exchange is currently a global venue for the issuance of sukuk, while Hong Kong and Luxembourg have also made inroads but Qatar believes the market should be led by Muslim countries. Qatar Financial Center (QFC) Authority CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida has a vision to cover the entire globe’s Islamic financial transactions between three financial centres, Doha, Istanbul and Malaysia, therefore he sees a need to share platforms and technology.

Islamic finance sector to benefit from rapid family takaful growth

According to Malaysian Reinsurance CEO Zainudin Ishak, the Islamic finance industry as a whole is poised to benefit from the rapid growth of family takaful into a dominant position. The company aims to attain a sustainable long-term growth through the capability to write both family and general retakaful businesses. Malaysian Re has just signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pacific Life Re in Kuala Lumpur. The collaboration is expected to expand Malaysian Re’s access to international research and data through the usage of the underwriting technology powered by Pacific Life Re’s fully owned subsidiary, UnderwriteMe. Meanwhile, Pacific Life Re will provide support for MRRD’s family takaful business through its technical pricing, underwriting, product development, experienced analysis and global insights.

BCG survey finds GCC residents the most globally optimistic

The first consumer sentiment survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group has found that GCC residents hold higher levels of financial optimism than their contemporaries around the world. Only in the UAE and Oman does the optimism level dip below 90%. Meanwhile, the optimism in Bahrain is as high as 96%. The respondents also reported stricter savings habits than international counterparts such as those in the US and Japan. Results from the survey suggest a potential boon to the food & beverage, non-luxury fashion, educational services, and out-of-home entertainment segments. Taken together, these factors represent a significant opportunity for expansion-minded companies. The survey also points to two other fertile conditions; exceptionally high internet penetration rates and a fledgling ecommerce culture.

2020 is the year of sustainability on Arab stock exchanges: AFE’s Secretary General

The Arab Federation of Exchanges (AFE) has been working on launching a development strategy to localise financial technology and sustainable development, declaring 2020 the year of sustainability in Arab stock exchanges. “Reforming the home from within” is the approach taken by the AFE’s Secretary General since taking over the secretariat last year. The most important change was the adoption of a new system for the AFE to restructure its board of directors. The AFE also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Financial Technology Corporation in the Middle East and North Africa, and there will be a kind of joint training for financial technology. Last year the AFE managed to expand the federation’s membership base, it currently includes 21 active members, with 17 stock exchanges and four clearing companies.

ADIB‘s falling revenue rounds up combined outcomes season for Abu Dhabi banks

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) saw profits fall in the fourth quarter while peer Union National Bank reported a surge in revenues. The emirate‘s five domestic banks are battling tight liquidity and rising bad loans due to the economic impact of lower oil prices. Tight competition and pressure on margins has led to consolidation in Abu Dhabi‘s banking sector, with National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank in the process of merging to create one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa.

Alibaba-backed Indonesian multifinance fintech Akulaku planning Islamic roll-out

Indonesian fintech Akulaku will launch its Shariah-compliant platform in the first half of 2021. The Jakarta-based company is a leading online multifinance provider in Indonesia and now it wants to enter the Islamic sector with Akulaku Syariah to tap into local demand. Akulaku in January raised $100 million from investors including Alibaba’s financial services arm Ant Financial. Akulaku disbursed around 4 trillion rupiah ($285.34 million) in loans during January-October this year and announced on Dec 12 that it wants to raise offshore financing to help it reach its target of 6 trillion rupiah next year. Akulaku started in 2014 with virtual credit cards and moved into providing services for a range of virtual payments, from phone and mobile top-ups to utilities bills. It now also offers P2P lending, financing, and e-commerce in Indonesia, and also has a presence in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

#Qatar to host 14th World Islamic Economic Forum next year

The State of Qatar will host the 14th session of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in October next year. The agreement was signed by Nasser Mohammed Al-Mohannadi, Director of the Financial and Administrative Affairs Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and by Syed Abu Bakr Al-Mahdar, Managing Director of the World Islamic Economic Forum Foundation (WIEF). The Forum aims to enhance the economic well-being of Islamic peoples and communities in different countries and build new business partnerships between Muslim and non-Muslim societies around the world. The 14th session of the World Islamic Economic Forum will witness the organization of a number of bilateral meetings and complementary programs, in addition to organizing an accompanying exhibition, where participants can promote their brands and provide their products and services to visitors.

ED attaches Rs 10-crore assets in 'Islamic banking' Bengaluru ponzi scam

Assets worth over Rs 10 crore of a Bengaluru-based firm have been attached under the anti-money laundering law in connection with an alleged 'Islamic banking or halal investment' ponzi scam case. The accused firm is Ambidant Marketing Pvt Ltd and the case had made headlines last year in Karnataka. The firm is accused of collecting investments from customers under the Haj/Umrah plan in the name of 'Islamic banking or halal investment' and offering huge returns to the extent of up to 15% per month. The company was not authorised to collect such funds as it was neither registered with RBI nor with the SEBI under their collective investment scheme. The company had hired agents who would convince investors to invest in the plan by giving these agents a heavy commission. Initially, the company shared profits to the existing investors out of funds obtained from its new investors.

IIRA reaffirms GFH Financial Group’s BB / B fiduciary ratings

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed its 'BB/B' international scale ratings at GFH Financial Group (GFH), with a stable outlook. GFH's key business lines include investment banking, real estate development as well as the recently expanded treasury and proprietary investments and commercial banking undertaken through its 55.4% holding of Bahrain-based Khaleeji Commercial Bank. The group’s capital adequacy ratio reduced to 14.5% in Q3 2019, remains comfortably above the Central Bank of Bahrain minimum of 12.5%. The bank’s cost rationalisation measures among other strategies are expected to result in boosting of profitability over the coming periods.

WWF calls on Asean banks’ 'proactivity' in addressing environmental risks

According to the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), banks belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) need to shore up regulatory safeguards to address the environmental and climate crisis. WWF’s Head of Asia Sustainable Finance Jeanne Stampe called on Asean banks to be more "proactive" in addressing environmental issues. In Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, WWF found out financial regulators and banking associations expect banks to develop environmental policies on environmentally or socially sensitive sectors. But WWF said 43% of the banks assessed in these four countries mention having such policies in place, while only 15% disclose these policies. In light of this, WWF recommended regulators to provide more prescriptive guidance to enhance resilience and attractiveness of the finance industry.

Islamic fintech 2020: P2P crowdfunding, challenger banking and Southeast Asia biggest growth opportunities - study

According to the Global Islamic Fintech Report, P2P crowdfunding and challenger banking are the top expected growth sectors for Islamic fintech in 2020. The report is produced by London-based digital finance firm Elipses in collaboration with the UK Islamic Fintech Panel. The report finds that peer-to-peer and crowdfunding, the largest area to date, is set to remain so, with challenger banking seen as a significant growth area. The three other expected top growth sectors for next year are blockchain/crypto, robo-advisory/personal finance management, and lending. In terms of regions, 39% of respondents picked Southeast Asia as the one presenting the biggest growth opportunity for Islamic fintechs. The Middle East is the second biggest expected growth region, as chosen by 31% of respondents, followed by 16% who picked the UK.

Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival to launch 22nd edition

The Sharjah Department of Culture is organising the 22nd edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival from 11th December 2019 to 21st January 2020. The new edition's theme, 'Prospect', will serve as a concept to unite artists and art enthusiasts. The festival will contain 253 activities in the form of exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. More than 28 organisations assisted in the coordination of the festival's projects. There will be 55 exhibitions at the Sharjah Art Museum, Al Majaz Waterfront, Maraya Art Centre and at other locations. These exhibitions will be presenting works of artists from the UAE, the neighbouring Arab countries, and other countries from around the world.

Is philanthropic crowdfunding a growing industry?

Crowdfunding markets have experienced a severe growth in recent years; however, this was mostly among non-philanthropic platforms. Philanthropic crowdfunding builds on a large group of individuals each donating a small amount online. Worldwide, philanthropic crowdfunding fulfills a small role, since only 15% of the total amount raised through crowdfunding is raised through philanthropic crowdfunding. The global crowdfunding activity mostly exists out of platforms from the United States, Asia and Europe. The US has the largest percentage of philanthropic crowdfunding projects. China focusses mostly on reward-based crowdfunding. In Europe the largest crowdfunding markets are the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Crowdfunding is not yet a growing industry in every region, with decreasing market-values among European-based platforms.

#Qatari banks raise over $1 billion in privately placed bonds – sources

Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank have raised a combined $1.3 billion in privately placed bonds. QNB‘s chief executive Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari told Reuters this week that the bank‘s U.S. dollar liquidity was excellent and that it had no immediate funding need. The bank, which is 50% owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority reported a 3.5% rise in third-quarter net profit. Qatar Islamic Bank has reported a rise in net profit in the second quarter of this year. It is expected to announce its third-quarter results next week.

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