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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.

INTERVIEW: Gulf banking consolidation 'long overdue' - Investcorp's co-CEO

According to the co-chief executive of Bahrain’s Investcorp, Rishi Kapoor, consolidation in the financial services industry in the region is long overdue. Consolidation in banking would build the scale required to increase investments in financial technology, as payment solutions are increasingly enabled by fintech. The banking sector in the Gulf Arab region is seen as overcrowded, an M&A deal among banks is currently either in the pipeline or has taken place within the past few months. Investcorp’s co-chief also expects more M&A in the region’s disorganised retail sector, particularly in Saudi Arabia. As for the sectors that offer attractive investment opportunities within the Gulf region, Kapoor favours the sectors related to privatisation, social infrastructure and domestic consumption.

Government decides to issue fresh #Sukuk worth Rs 200 billion

Pakistan's Federal Government has decided to issue fresh Sukuk worth Rs 200 billion, in addition to earlier Sukuk of Rs 200 billion through the same consortium of Islamic banks aimed at reducing circular debt. The consortium comprising Meezan Bank Limited, Faysal Bank Limited, Bank Islami Pakistan Limited, Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan, MCD Islamic Bank Limited and Al Baraka Bank Pakistan Limited have already submitted their term sheets to the Finance Division. The syndicate of Islamic Banks had also forwarded a tentative term sheet for Rs 100-200 billion which specifies that the facility is subject to availability of suitable assets. The energy sector's circular debt is around Rs 1.5 trillion. According to Minister for Power, Omer Ayub, the government would bring down circular debt to Rs 250 billion by December this year.

OPINION-Strategic Compassion: The power of Islamic finance in the service of global good

The practitioners of Islamic finance are increasingly framing their practices as ethical, socially responsible and conducive to humanity’s wellbeing. Tools like the obligatory zakat and charitable donations generate between $200 billion to $1 trillion annually. According to the World Bank, zakat can alleviate poverty in 20 of the 39 OIC countries. In Indonesia, Baznas—a national institution mandated to collect, distribute and manage zakat— has benefited around 6.8 million people. Baznas is also believed to be the first zakat organization to have formally committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, in neighboring Malaysia, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) pioneered a zakat-financing instrument with a local zakat authority to support Kenya’s Drought Assistance Programme. Green-gram seeds were bought with the zakat monies and distributed to 175,000 households. In six months, the crops produced and sold a yield worth $20 million.

Bank Islam continues to focus on affordable housing segment

Bank Islam Malaysia expects its home financing business model will continue to help the bank to grow and boost its assets. Malaysia’s oldest Islamic lender has been growing organically over the years, despite the crowded market. Bank Islam CEO Mohd Muazzam Mohamed said the bank is already adopting the right model to support this affordable segment. He added that the Islamic bank will continue with its current business model which is in line with the governments’ directive. Bank Islam has already allocated RM300 million to be utilised until 2021 as part of its digitalisation directive. Mohd Muazzam said the bank aims to increase its financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by RM200 million in 2019. The bank also plans to increase its investment fund to RM800 million under its Al-Awfar product, which has been refreshed since its establishment in 2009.

Emirates Islamic Bank's net profit surges 97% to Dh411 million

Emirates Islamic reported a net profit of Dh411 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 97% year-on-year and 54% quarter-on-quarter. Emirates Islamic CEO Salah Mohammed Amin said the bank recorded its highest ever quarterly net profit since its inception in 2004. The strong set of results was supported by balance sheet growth, higher funded income, growth in fee income and lower cost of risk. The bank’s total income for the first quarter increased by 12% to Dh663 million. The total assets at Dh60.6 billion, increased by 4% from end 2018. Impaired financing ratio is at 8.6% with a strong coverage ratio of 111%.

FBNQuest Trustees to Host Islamic Estate Planning Clinic

FBNQuest Trustees is set to host an Islamic Estate Planning Clinic, on the 28th of April, 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria. This forum aims to educate Muslims about the importance of Estate Planning in line with Islamic laws. The Islamic Estate Planning Clinic will be hosted by Mr. Adekunle Awojobi, Managing Director FBNQuest Trustees and facilitated by the renowned Islamic financial Scholar, Dr. Bashir Umar, Imam at Al- Furqan Mosque in Kano. The session will address topics on Islamic Trust (Waqaf), Islamic Will (Wasiyyah), Zakat, Hibah, Takaful, and Sukuk; underscoring the importance of an Islamic plan to Muslims, as highlighted from the Qur’an and its interpretations in the Sunnah and Hadith. FBNQuest Trustees will also share insights on managing conventional Estate Plans, which is targeted at ensuring the preservation of legacies.

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