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QIB launches #Takaful product for low-income workers

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) announced the launch of its affordable Takaful product for low-income workers called "Family Sheild - WPS". This low cost Takaful product can also be purchased by companies who want to give additional protection to their employees. The plan can be purchased by contributing QR10 per month or QR120 per annum and provides a cover of QR50,000 for death and QR100,000 in case of death due to accident. D. Anand, General Manager of Personal Banking Group at QIB, said the Family Shield WPS Takaful plan was designed for expatriate workers and can be easily purchased instanty over the counter without any medical tests. He added that QIB was well aware of the worker’s concern for their family’s well being in case of unseen events and wanted to provide them with an affordable and useful Takaful solution.

Islamic financing marketplace Alami bags funding led by Singapore-based tryb

Indonesian startup Alami has closed an undisclosed pre-seed round led by fintech investor tryb. The company’s peer-to-peer (P2P) platform recently obtained a P2P registration from the country’s Financial Services Authority and is set to soon expand its business into the Shariah-compliant P2P financing space. The fresh funds will be used for product development and market expansion. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, but the country's Shariah finance sector has historically lagged behind other markets with large Muslim populations. Alami CEO Dima Djani said tryb’s South-East Asian fintech expertise provides strong validation of its business model and key support for its growth plans.

Global #sukuk market to hit $2.7trln by 2030: Franklin Templeton

According to investment management firm Franklin Templeton, the global sukuk market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of around 15% to reach $2.7 trillion by 2030. Global sukuk issuance stood at over $477 billion at the end of last year, but has slowed somewhat in recent years. Ratings agency S&P in January described sukuk issuance as 'mild' in 2018, as the total amount of sukuk issued dropped by 5% to $114.8 billion. It forecast issuance of $105 billion-$115 billion for 2019. Mohieddine Kronfol, head of fixed income at Franklin Templeton, forecasts that the growth continues at a relatively rapid pace. In GCC markets several corporate entities have been issuing debut sukuk in recent months. Saudi Telecommunications Company issued its debut $1.25 billion sukuk on Sunday, following on from Saudi food company Almarai’s first $500 million sukuk in February.

S&P: GCC Islamic Banks to Show Resilience in 2019,2020

According to S&P Global Ratings, Islamic banks of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are expected to show resilience over the next two years after weathering tough market conditions in 2018. Last year they expanded slower than conventional peers for the first time in five years. The growth forecast for Islamic banks for 2019-2020 is the same as what the rating agency is estimating for conventional lenders in the region. S&P Head of Islamic Finance Mohamed Damak forecasts a muted GCC economic growth over this period, despite some benefit from government spending and strategic initiatives such as national transformation plans and Dubai Expo 2020. However, with the transition to IFRS9/FAS 30, Islamic and conventional banks will even more closely align. Another trend is the significant increase in Islamic banks’ coverage ratios at end-2018, coupled with a stable cost of risk that is lower than conventional banks.

Fixed Income: Bite-sized #sukuk with #blockchain

According to Matthew Martin, founder of microfinance investment fund Blossom Finance, technology will make sukuk issuance much cheaper and simpler as well as more available to investors and issuers. The potential for blockchain to transform the bond and sukuk space was noted by S&P Global Ratings last October. The rating agency wrote that blockchain and smart contract protocols could increase the transparency of cash flows and underlying assets. The World Bank created the first public bond to be managed using blockchain last August. According to Reuters, the prototype deal was as a step towards moving bond sales away from manual processes. Blossom will also use blockchain to record all transactions on the ledger. Currently, the company is selectively listing investors who want to be part of the pilot.

#UAE's Majid Al Futtaim markets green dollar #sukuk

UAE-based shopping mall operator Majid Al Futtaim is set to raise between $500 million and $650 million in green sukuk. The proceeds of the sukuk will back environmentally-friendly projects in areas such as renewable energy and sustainable water management. The price guidance for the deal, which has so far attracted around $2.7 billion in orders, subsequently went down to around 225-230 basis points over mid-swaps. HSBC and Standard Chartered have been hired as global coordinators for the planned deal, and they are working as bookrunners along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, ENBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and Gulf International Bank.

Sharia-compliant #fintech startup nets funding in round led by Singapore’s Tryb

Indonesian sharia-compliant fintech startup Alami secured funding in a pre-seed round led by Singapore-based VC firm Tryb. Alami, which recently obtained a P2P registration from Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK), operates a platform for Islamic financing. Tryb principal Herston Powers said the sharia fintech market was a huge and untapped market in Indonesia with significant growth prospects. Both companies look to propel the sharia finance sector in Indonesia, which currently has the largest Muslim population in the world with about 90% of its 260 million people being Muslims.

#Jordan Islamic Bank is focusing on inclusivity to drive prosperity in the country

Between 2014 and 2017, Jordan has made significant progress in terms of financial inclusion. According to the latest World Bank report, 42.5% of adults in Jordan now have a bank account, a remarkable increase from the 24.6% seen in 2014. Raising this percentage even further is one of the key pillars of Jordan Islamic Bank’s (JIB) future growth plan. According to Musa Shihadeh, CEO and General Manager of JIB, the bank is specifically targeting young people, women and SMEs to improve financial inclusion. Between its financial inclusion efforts and sustainability initiatives, the organisation is keen to become a leader in social responsibility. JIB developed a relationship with Jordan’s major trade unions, which represent engineers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and agricultural engineers, to help spread information about the bank’s financial products.

Inside one of the finest pieces in today's Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic world #auction

In May, Sotheby’s holds its latest Arts of the Islamic World auction. The auction includes a number of rare Qur’ans, including one exemplary fine and rare miniature Qur’an on vellum, estimated to sell at GBP 70,000-90,000. The miniature manuscript is an extremely rare and early example of Eastern Kufic script written in a vertical format on vellum. The size of the manuscript made for a considerable degree of difficulty, due to its intricacy and design.
The Qu’ran also has other rare features. Written in a special news script, it also adds dots to the script, which is rare for manuscripts of this kind, allowing the text to be read easier if the reader doesn’t know the Qu’ran by heart.

Abu Dhabi banks ADCB, UNB and Al Hilal complete three-way #merger

The Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has completed its merger with Union National Bank (UNB) and the combined company has acquired Al Hilal Bank to create the third largest financial institution in the UAE. Following the merger with ADCB, UNB has been dissolved as a legal entity while its shares have been delisted.
The enlarged ADCB Group will provide services to more than a million customers. It will hold AED423bn ($115.16bn) in assets with a market share of 21% of retail loans as of 31 December 2018. The Government of Abu Dhabi owns 60.2% stake in the enlarged banking group. The integration of the three banks’ operations and customer experience will be fast tracked in a phased manner from the second half of 2019.

Who's Talking to Whom as Record #Merger Wave Shakes Up Gulf Banks

Bloomberg provides an overview of which lenders are in merger talks and where those conversations are at. Talks are underway in Abu Dhabi for a possible tie-up between Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank with First Abu Dhabi Bank, a merger that would create one of the Middle East’s largest lenders. Saudi Arabia’s biggest lender National Commercial Bank said at the end of 2018 that it’s starting initial talks with Riyad Bank. This deal would form the Gulf’s third-biggest lender. Dubai’s largest bank Emirates NBD is buying Turkey’s Denizbank for $2.8 billion. The three-way merger of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Al Hilal creates the fifth-biggest lender in the Gulf.

Guide Urges Funders to Support Sustainable Development Goals

A new guide from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors offers advice for philanthropic funders on how to align their missions and activities with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The publication provides practical advice as well as examples of how other funders are addressing social and environmental challenges. The guide argues philanthropy has a critical role to play not only in providing support for the goals but also in providing risk capital for innovative approaches. Volume one of the guide lays out the economic, social, and environmental issues encompassed by the SDGs. Volume two outlines three steps: planning, assessing progress, and reporting and using data, that funders can take to align their efforts with the SDGs and increase their impact.

Islamic artworks go under the hammer at Sotheby’s

Some of the best examples of artwork from the Islamic world will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s on May 1. The auction includes a portrait of the great Ottoman Sultan, Suleyman the Magnificent, a landmark portrait valued at around 250,000 - 350,000 British pounds ($323,000 - $452,000). A rare example of an Iznik “Golden Horn” dish dating back to the 1530s is the most valuable piece in the collection and it is looking for a buyer for an amount between 300,000 and 500,000 pounds ($387,000 - $645,000). The collection holds many other pieces of artworks from India to Morocco and from Europe to Central Asia. The auction on May 1 will also be open to bids over the Internet.

SC sees good year ahead for #sukuk

Malaysia could see more Islamic capital market funds raised this year as sukuk activity has picked up in the first quarter of 2019. According to Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) deputy CEO Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin, sukuk issuances are picking up over last year’s level. The government recently announced the revival of the East Coast Rail Link and the Bandar Malaysia projects, brightening investor sentiment which has been dampened lately. According to SC data, Malaysia’s Islamic capital market was valued at RM1.88 trillion or 61% of the nation’s overall capital market as at end-2018, down from RM1.9 trillion the year prior. Malaysia is the world’s largest sukuk issuer, having accounted for 51.6% of global outstanding sukuk as at endJune 2018.

Experts Urge Nigerians to Embrace Islamic Estate Planning

At the Islamic Estate Clinic held on April 28, 2019 in Abuja, different speakers highlighted how Nigerians, both Muslims and non-Muslims can benefit from the Islamic Estate Planning system. The event was put together by FBNQuest Trustees, with Managing Director, Adekunle Awojobi, hosting it. The clinic featured sessions facilitated by Dr. Bashir Umar, a renowned Islamic Financial Scholar. The sessions covered Waqaf, Wasiyyah, Zakat, Hibah and Takaful, among other asset preservation and wealth transfer principles. FBNQuest Trustees said it remains committed to pioneering critical conversations such as this and helping Nigerians make sense of assets accrued in the course of their lives, without compromising their faith or values.

#UAE aim to become regional Islamic art and culture capital boosted by Jameel Prize’s first exhibition in Dubai

The UAE’s status as a centre for Islamic art and design was boosted this past week as Jameel Arts Centre opened the Jameel Prize 5 exhibition. First awarded in 2009, the Jameel Prize is a collaboration between London's Victoria & Albert Museum and Art Jameel. Worth 25,000 British pounds, it awards contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic tradition. In addition to the two joint prize winners, Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, the prize exhibition in Dubai is also showing works by the six finalists. They are: Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram, Jordan and Dubai-based graphic designer and architect duo naqsh collective, Iraqi-born painter Hayv Kahraman, Bahraini fashion designer Hala Kaiksow, Moroccan multimedia artist Younes Rahmoun, and Pakistani painter Wardha Shabbir.

Islamic finance has prominent role in financial #inclusion, says SC chairman

According to Securities Commission Malaysia chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, Islamic finance has a prominent role in helping to address unmet needs of the world's Muslim population. He delivered a keynote speech at the SC-World Bank- IOSCO Asia Pacific Hub Conference 2019 and he underlined that Shariah-based financial contracts could be utilised for financial inclusion. World Bank Group representative to Malaysia and country manager, Dr Firas Raad, said Islamic finance could play a role in addressing the high levels of poverty in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries. Meanwhile, touching on the Malaysian bond, ringgit and equity markets, he said the country's economy has strong fundamentals that could cope with any economic shock that might come its way.

Dar Al Arkan set to redeem $400m Islamic bond

Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company aims to redeem its $400-million sukuk by using internal cash reserves. The sukuk, listed on Irish Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Dubai, is set to mature on May 28, 2019. Over the last decade, Dar Al Arkan has issued nine international sukuks and post redemption of 2019 sukuk and Dar will continue to have $1 billion of sukuks. CEO Andy Raheja said that Dar Al Arkan had cash and cash equivalents near SR5 billion. Given the strong free cash flow conversion, the company sees no immediate need to issue any new Sukuks for the foreseeable future.

#Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank to boost mortgage #lending

Al Rajhi Bank aims to boost mortgage lending as more affordable housing comes on the market. CEO Steve Bertamini said the bank's mortgage book grew 27% year-on-year in 2018 and it is looking for double digit growth for the next two to three years. Al Rajhi, which has traditionally focused on consumer banking, has been expanding its exposure to the private sector. It also sees opportunities in project finance as public-private partnership contracts for water and renewable energy start to be awarded. Saudi Arabia's economy grew in the fourth quarter of last year at its fastest rate since early 2016 due to an expanding oil sector. Fourth-quarter gross domestic product grew by 3.59% from a year earlier.

Top ADCB executives appointed to lead Al Hilal Bank

Senior executives at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) were appointed to top leadership positions at Al Hilal Bank, as it prepares to be acquired by ADCB. Alaa Eraiqat was announced on Sunday as the new chairman of Al Hilal Bank, while Amr Al Menhali was announced as the private bank’s new chief executive officer. The appointments come just 10 days before the three-way bank transaction, which will see ADCB merge with Union National Bank and then acquire Al Hilal. The three banks are set to merge on May 1. The new merged entity, which will retain the name ADCB, is expected to own Dh420 billion in assets, and have around one million customers.

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