Independent consulting firm CSR Lebanon held the 3rd CSR Lebanon Forum on March 18 and 19 entitled "Corporate Social Responsibility in Times of Uncertainty". The fórum was attended by more than 500 leaders from the business community, government, civil society and academia. Among them, there were 30 international, regional and local corporate sustainability experts, along with chief representatives from the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). All speakers and international representatives provided business cases which Lebanon can build upon to promote responsible business practices and transparent sustainability reporting.
Lebanese banks anticipate the Syrian market to grow once the political stability will be reached. By now, there are seven Lebanesse banks that are operating in Syria.
S&P Indices made an anouncement that a new Index will be launched due to increase in the demand for a shariah-compliant benchmark in Islamic countries. The new S&P/OIC COMCEC 50 Shariah Index will measure the performance of 50 leading Shariah-compliant companies from members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Eligible countries and territories for the Index are: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
BIC/MENA and civil society representatives from Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Yemen among others successfully engaged the World Bank at the 2011 Civil Society Policy Forum of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings.
Egyptian civil society representatives met with Egypt’s World Bank country director, David Craig. Tunisian civil society representatives have insisted for engagement with Bank in first meeting with ED, Mr. Javed Talat. Civil society representatives met the Bank’s new Yemen country manager, Wael Zakout.
Adnan Yousif, Chief Executive Officer of Al Baraka Banking Group and President of the Union of Arab Banks, declined suggestions of capital flight from Syria to Lebanon.
Adnan stated that the Union calls for Arab banks to always be cautious in terms of funding and liquidity.
With the help of social accountability, citizens in the Arab world are holding public institutions accountable for delivering public services and improving the welfare of citizens. The citizens therefor work with governments in a productive, meaningful way by using evidence-based analysis and advocacy.
The World Bank and CARE Egypt helped organizing the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA)-Arab World Regional Strategic Planning and Social Accountability Workshop in Amman, Jordan from June 5-9, 2011. At the the five-day workshop in Jordan there were over 40 representatives from government, CSOs, media, and private sector from seven Arab countries – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, West Bank and Gaza, Morocco and Tunisia that attended.
Many jurisdictions are interested in Islamic finance and have taken initiatives to develop the industry through reviewing their legal framework to facilitate the introduction of a range of Islamic financial products, including more recently France, Ireland, Australia, Jordan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Lebanon.
One of the key determinants for the successful development of Islamic finance in any jurisdiction is the existence of a conducive legal framework that supports the operations and growth of the industry.
Lebanon is considering legislation to boost Islamic finance after the industry failed to garner 1 percent of total banking assets.
The central bank is working with a group of local lenders to amend a 2004 law that allowed the establishment of Shariah- compliant banks.
Lebanon is seeking to diversify its banking industry and rebuild the country after the conflict with Israel in 2006 and a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.
The economy grew 9 percent last year and is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to expand another 8 percent this year.
Customers who are eager to be Sharia compliant are flocking to Islamic banks. Yet as Islamic lending boasts that it charges no interest, crunching the numbers churns out something of a surprise. Some Islamic mortgages charge more than already high interest-based traditional mortgages. You could even argue that an Islamic mortgage is, in some cases, so expensive it is akin to usury. And the terms are often less favourable.
Take the current murabaha rates in Syria and Lebanon. Murabaha is an Islamic equivalent to a mortgage or car loan. Instead of lending the customer money and charging interest, the bank purchases the asset and resells it for a profit to the customer. This profit is the murabaha rate.
Unlike, say, in the UK, there are no regulatory laws in Syria that require Islamic banks to quote their product in a way that is equivalent to an interest-based traditional mortgage to allow comparison shopping. The only way the average customer can convert murabaha to interest-based is with the help of a financial calculator and a professional.
Standard Chartered Bank today announced the launch of the first Islamic US Dollar Nostro Account in the United States.
Islamic banks across the world will now be able to earn Shariah-compliant profits on their account balances at Standard Chartered Bank New York by using this facility.
The facility will operate on the Islamic finance principle of Commodity Murabaha. Profits will be paid on a monthly basis.
The Saadiq US Dollar Nostro Accounts will be available globally, including the Middle East & Malaysia. To ensure Standard Chartered’s products comply with the principles of Shariah, the Bank is advised by an independent committee comprising three of the world’s most renowned Shariah scholars – Dr. Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah, Sheikh Nizam Yaquby and Dr. Mohamed Ali Elgari.