#Qatar’s first Shariah compliant ETF to hit market tomorrow

Qatar’s second listed exchange traded fund (ETF), the Al Rayan Qatar ETF will begin trading tomorrow on Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE). Al Rayan Qatar ETF is the first Shariah-compliant exchange traded fund listed on QSE.
The ETF, issued by Masraf Al Rayan, will track the QE Al Rayan Islamic Index. The Fund will track the performances of 18 stock index of Sharia-compliant Qatari listed equities. Al Rayan Investment is the Fund Manager. HSBC Bank Middle East is the Investment Custodian. According to the prospectus issued by the Fund Manager, the Fund is structured as an open-ended vehicle with a maximum limit of issued capital of QR2bn. The base currency of the Fund is Qatari Riyal and the Fund will only invest in securities denominated in Qatari Riyal.

QIB launches new Investor Relations App

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has launched an Investor Relations app for Android and iOS smartphones. The QIB IR App keeps the investors updated on the latest financial developments related to share prices, stock performance, bank news, financial results and key financial reports. It includes interactive financial screens enabling investors to see QIB’s historical share price and results while providing comparison with peers. As QIB’s investors are global, the app supports 17 languages and enables the display of share prices in different currencies as well. QIB cooperated with Euroland, a leading fintech company, to launch the app and update the information available on the website. All interested parties can download the QIB IR app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store and visit the Investor Relations (IR) section on QIB’s website.

A.M. Best Affirms Credit Ratings of #Qatar Islamic #Insurance Company Q.S.C.

A.M. Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “bbb+” of Qatar Islamic Insurance Company (QIIC). The outlook of these Credit Ratings is stable. QIIC adopts a hybrid takaful model, whereby the shareholders’ fund (SHF) charges the policyholders’ fund (PHF) a Wakala fee based on gross written contributions (GWC) and a Muderaba fee based on investment income. QIIC has a track record of strong operating and technical profitability, highlighted by a five-year average combined ratio of 79% that has remained very stable over recent years. Although the company is concentrated to its domestic market of Qatar, the company maintains a niche market position as an established provider of Shari’a compliant products.

QINVEST records solid revenues for 2017

Qatar's QINVEST announced its end of year results for 2017. Revenues from all business lines amounted to QR368.6m ($101.3m), resulting in operating profit of QR177.3m ($48.7m) and net profit of QR65.9m ($18.1m). The group’s global assets stood at QR4.45bn ($1.22bn) as of 31 December 2017. QINVEST has continued to enjoy a strong liquidity position of $120m as of December 2017. The company has also taken the decision to early adopt IFRS9 accounting standard, reducing future volatility from its reported results. The firm launched two income-generating Ijara funds in 2017 and both were oversubscribed. QINVEST will look to launch the third in the series of the Ijarah funds during 2018 to meet market demand.

#Qatar Islamic #Insurance posts gain in gross written premium to QR316.6mn in 2017

Qatar Islamic Insurance has reported more than 1% year-on-year rise in gross written contribution (premium) of QR316.6mn in 2017. The company’s earnings-per-share was QR4.13 compared to QR4.23 a year ago. The policyholders’ surplus registered more than 100% growth to QR16.2mn in 2017 compared to QR7.9mn in the previous year. Chairman Sheikh Abdulla bin Thani al-Thani said the company would distribute, for the eighth consecutive year, 20% surplus to all the eligible policyholders for 2017. The management of Qatar Islamic Insurance achieved these results despite a very challenging environment in 2017 due to negative impact of low oil prices on national economy.

#Qatar witnessing robust momentum in #fintech, says Sheikh Abdulla

According to Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Governor Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud al-Thani, Qatar is witnessing a robust momentum in fintech. The country is opening up increasing opportunities for digital payments, money management, lending, loyalty and rewards, remittances, investments and advisory services. Sheik Abdulla said the QCB’s recently launched new strategy would need to ensure that fintech firms are enhancing the financial system. Although there have been some success stories, he said banks and insurance companies in the region have been slow to embrace innovation. The fintech industry in Qatar remains very small, but it has seen a few startups such as Hasalty. As a mobile application, Hasalty improves financial literacy for children supported by the Qatar Business Incubation Centre.

The First Investor acquires another #German asset

The First Investor (TFI) Qatar, a subsidiary of Barwa Bank Group has acquired a new office building in Frankfurt. The asset is another unique blend to TFI Euro Income Fund, which was launched in 2017 with sharia compliant stature. Europe continues to provide excellent investment and business environments given low inflation and low interest rate regime. TFI is keen to pursue its investment strategy with the aim to help clients achieve their objectives in a very challenging business environment. By that, TFI will soon launch another UK Income Fund and a US Income Fund together with many investment opportunities during 2018.

#Qatar’s QR25bn worth #sukuk to mature soon

Almost half of Qatar’s outstanding sukuk, worth of over QR25bn, will mature in 2018. With the ongoing growth of Shariah-compliant institutions, new issuances are vital. If no sukuk are issued in the country to replace the maturing ones, Shariah-compliant investors might look to other sukuk investments outside Qatar. According to the joint research of Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Thomson Reuters and Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), retail sukuk remains an untapped segment in most of the countries in GCC. Qatar can capitalise on selling sukuk to the retail market to promote both the primary and secondary capital market. Financial institutions have been leading corporate issuance in the GCCIn Qatar, Ezdan Holding Group is the only corporation outside financial institutions to issue sukuk. Ijarah continues to be the most popular sukuk structure in Qatar. However, Qatari corporate sukuk have all been issued based on wakalah structure, which has been gaining popularity in the recent years.

Finance Minister: #Qatar's Islamic Banks is the third largest contributor to global growth in Islamic Banking

According to Qatar's Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Qatar's Islamic Banking sector is the third largest contributor to global growth in Islamic banking. At the 4th Doha Islamic Finance Conference, the Minister called for continued growth in the Islamic finance sector through concerted efforts to confront financial risks. The Minister noted that Islamic finance accounts for 50% of banking services in the GCC, where most GCC citizens prefer Sharia-compliant banking services. More and more international universities are adopting programs in Islamic finance, including the Master of Islamic Finance at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar. The rapid growth of electronic financial transactions have brought new challenges requiring further cooperation, coordination and discussion. New products require the development of clear frameworks. Al Emadi added that increasing transparency in this field will help Shariah scholars to identify the correct structures and it will enable banks to make these products more attractive.

#Qatar needs to develop regulatory framework to cement Islamic finance lead: QFC

According to a Qatar Financial Center (QFC) study, Qatar needs to reform interbank liquidity management to study leakages from Islamic banks through interbank finance. Moreover, there is also a need to develop a regulatory framework and promote green bonds and sukuk. So far Qatar has led the world in ensuring in the authenticity of Shariah-compliant bank assets with Qatar Central Bank and the QFC Regulatory Authority requirements separating Islamic and conventional banks. To ensure this segregation, there should be a review of interbank markets to limit flows from Islamic banks to conventional ones in their liquidity management operations using 'Murabaha'. The report also stressed the role of a centralised guidance on fit and proper criteria for Shariah scholars and promoting Fintech development.

#Zakat Fund aid amounted to QR13.6m in December

Qatar's Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs provided zakat to the needy families, the zakat totalled QR13,624,806 last December. The aid was distributed to the beneficiaries, including the permanent aid provided monthly and the irregular aid, which is related to specific needs and emergency conditions. The funds were distributed according to Shariah and after comprehensively researching each beneficiary case and undergoing a social and field research. The cases are then presented to specialised committees, who meet daily and assess the cases, guaranteeing the delivery of assistance to beneficiaries in need.

Emerging Markets: Middle East debt markets roll with the punches

The Middle East faces a very tricky 2018. War rages in Yemen. Qatar and its neighbours are at loggerheads, in an inter-Gulf feud without precedent. Saudi Arabia is purging its princes. But bond and loan markets are placid. Overall borrowing in the region in 2017 came in at a much higher level than before the oil price fell in 2014. The feeling across the capital markets is firmly that although the region poses risks, it is also rife with opportunities for 2018. One country where that optimism might not be so high is Qatar. The political turmoil in the region has reined in debt capital market bankers’ enthusiasm about Qatar, once the jewel of the Middle East capital markets. On June 5 last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt and Libya cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and installed sanctions over allegations of the emirate’s links to terrorist groups. In December 2017, Qatar National Bank and Commercial Bank of Qatar approached the international loan market. Now banks are brushing their concerns aside and bankers are more optimistic about Qatar’s funding capability.

QIIB high ratings by Moody’s, Fitch reflect #Qatar’s economic strength, says Al-Shaibei

QIIB announced that Moody’s and Fitch Ratings have affirmed its ratings at 'A2' and 'A' respectively. Moody’s said that its rating is based on several considerations, one of which is that the bank maintains high levels of liquidity and a strong capital base. Fitch explained that immediate risks from the diplomatic crisis to the bank’s overall standalone credit profile has reduced. The bank’s funding profile has generally stabilised from the back of outflows of nondomestic funding and the Qatari authorities have continued to provide funding support. QIIB's CEO Dr Abdulbasit Ahmad al-Shaibei said this strong rating was a confirmation of the strength of the Qatari economy and its ability to overcome various types of risks. He added that the ratings of Moody’s and Fitch proved that QIIB had a solid financial position, confirmed by its financial results, as in the third quarter of 2017, when the bank achieved a growth of 5.1%.

#Qatar plans central Shariah committee for Islamic banks

Qatar is planning to set up a central Shariah committee for Islamic banks to create consistency in Islamic finance. According to Central Bank Governor HE Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud al-Thani, this move ensures that the country’s financial regulations are benchmarked to international standards. A recent report by the World Bank and the Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions suggested further action by regulators to strengthen the sector’s governance. One of the action points of the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is assessing remuneration and commission framework of financial advisers and insurance intermediaries and implementing an appropriate conduct of business regime. In 2016, the QCB issued new regulations for insurers on licensing, controls, accounting, risk management and actuaries’ reports and also stipulated minimum capitalisation levels and limits on risky asset classes. QCB's new strategy is looking at supporting the growth of the asset management sector through aligning requirements across regulatory frameworks.

#Iranian Private Banks Secure #Qatar Foothold

Several major Iranian private lenders have recently established correspondent relations with Qatar National Bank (QNB). Kourosh Parvizian, CEO of Parsian Bank, said these banks opened accounts with QNB and are prepared to offer financial services to Iranian and Qatari businesses. QNB governor Sheikh Abdullah Saoud Al-Thani said Qatari lenders will make efforts to remove trade obstacles quickly. The Iranian delegation in Doha held a meeting with officials from QNB, Al Rayan Bank and Al Khaliji Bank. They discussed using local currencies in bilateral trade and taking speedy measures to ease trade between the two countries. Bank Melli Iran is also holding talks with one of the largest banks in Qatar for establishing correspondent ties.

#Qatar International Islamic Bank eyes dollar benchmark #sukuk in Feb - sources

Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) plans to issue a U.S. dollar-denominated benchmark sukuk in February. Benchmark deals are generally upwards of $500 million. One of the sources said the transaction could go up to $700 million in size. The sukuk issuance would be QIIB’s first debt sale under a $2 billion sukuk programme the bank established in October. The sukuk programme is arranged by QNB Capital, Citigroup and Standard Chartered.

#Qatar developer Ezdan’s #sukuk yields spike after S&P downgrade to junk

Standard & Poor's downgraded Qatari real estate developer Ezdan Holding on Monday. Therefore, yields on the company's $500 million sukuk jumped by about 2 percentage points after the downgrade. S&P cut the Qatari company by two notches to BB from BBB-minus and revised its outlook to negative from stable. The rating agency cited a weakening of the company's financial risk profile partly caused by the neighbouring Arab countries' boycott of Qatar. Ezdan's sukuk, issued in 2016, were yielding around 6% last week, now the yield has surged to over 8%. The sanctions have worsened a slump in Qatar's real estate market. Housing and utility prices sank 4.7% from a year ago in September, their biggest drop for at least several years, and fell 0.7% from the previous month.

MIDEAST #DEBT-#Qataris hold non-deal bond roadshows as rift drags on -sources

Qatari banks have met investors in Europe and Asia to gauge their interest in potential U.S. dollar bond issues. Access to international debt markets has become problematic since the diplomatic crisis has erupted. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Cross-border deposits accounted for about a quarter of Qatar's total deposits, so banks started to look for alternative funding. Al Khalij Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank and QNB have all met investors in recent weeks. Feedback was positive, but investors also made clear that issuers would have to pay premiums in order to attract sufficient demand. According to an international portfolio manager, the premium that Qatari banks would have to pay is about 30-40 basis points. A second fund manager said Qatari banks would have to pay up not only because of the increased political risk, but also because of general market conditions in the region.

Qatar International Islamic Bank readies $2 bln #sukuk programme

Qatar International Islamic Bank has finished creating a $2 billion sukuk issuance programme and is preparing to issue it when market conditions improve. Qatar's access to international bond markets has become problematic since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with the country. Instead of debt markets banks have turned to privately placed bond and sukuk deals, as well as bilateral loans. Qatari banks are facing greater urgency to secure funding because banks from the four Arab countries have been withdrawing deposits from Qatar. Last month the largest Qatari lender, Qatar National Bank, raised $630 million in Taiwan’s Formosa bond market. Commercial Bank of Qatar is also considering whether to borrow money on the Taiwanese bond market.

#Roundtable throws light on greater understanding of Islamic finance

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) jointly organised the event entitled Shariah Governance in a Globalized World. It featured over 50 experts comprising Shariah scholars, Islamic finance professionals, academics, practitioners and regulators. Issues regarding Islamic jurisprudence were discussed as well as contemporary best practices in the corporate governance of banks. Some participants offered proposals on reforming models of Shariah governance of Islamic banks. Dr Haitham Mohamed Al Salama, chief economic adviser at the QFC, said contributing and collaborating in the field of Islamic finance was a key goal for the QFC. He added that such events were part of QFC's strategy to develop a world-class international business sector in Qatar.

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