Saudi Arabia

The impact of Saudi Arabia's VAT increase on Islamic financial institutions

Value added tax ("VAT") was pioneered by the European Union, but is gradually spreading worldwide. Saudi Arabia recently tripled its rate of VAT. While VAT in Saudi Arabia is only a couple of years old, the Saudi VAT law follows widespread international precedent by also exempting financial services. Accordingly, all financial institutions will suffer a hit to their profit and loss account. All purchases of goods and services which are subject to VAT increase in cost by 9.5%. This may lead to an increase in bad debts in the Saudi banking sector. Islamic financial services are not expected to suffer more (or less) than conventional financial services.

The Hajj Pilgrimage Is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World

The cancellation of the Hajj pilgrimage sent shock waves of sadness and disappointment across the Muslim world. Performing the pilgrimage at least once for those who are physically and financially able is one of the five pillars of Islam. Making the trip is a sacred milestone for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims. The Saudi government announced on Monday that no pilgrims from outside the kingdom could perform the hajj this year. On Tuesday, Saudi officials narrowed the order, saying that only about 1,000 pilgrims would be permitted this year, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million who came last year. The cancellation weighs particularly heavily on older Muslims who have been waiting for years to go in hopes that they can fulfill their religious obligation before death.

IsDB eager to support development projects Madinah

IsDB President Dr. Bandar Bin Hajjar stated that the bank was working on a pioneering project to establish a "Global Waqf Centre of Excellence" in Madinah, with a capital of $50 million. The aim of the center is to build a global umbrella for the Waqf sector, linking and coordinating all those interested in Waqf. The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) is preparing to launch the first initiative of the center to grant an approved certificate of Waqf specialist. IRTI is also working on the "Ish’had" platform, which is an e-platform using blockchain technology, to document and protect Waqf properties.

#Saudi property firm Amlak plans first post-coronavirus Riyadh IPO

Saudi real estate financing firm Amlak International plans to float 30% of its shares in Riyadh, in what will be the exchange’s first initial public offering (IPO) since the coronavirus crisis. Amlak said the final offer price would be announced on June 30, after a book-building process starting on June 22. Saudi retailer BinDawood Holding also plans to launch an initial public offering as early as this month. The group hired Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, NCB Capital and GIB to organize the deal.

New York Online Investment Firm Gets Aramco Financing for Islamic Products

New York-based Wahed Invest has secured financing from oil giant Saudi Aramco to expand into the Middle East and make Riyadh its regional hub. The Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures extended the funding to the online Islamic investment platform as part of a $25 million funding round. The three-year-old Wahed Invest, which has secured a license to operate in Saudi Arabia, aims to get regulatory approval in 20 more countries. It currently has licenses to operate in nine countries. The company's Islamic Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) holds investments in Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Intel Corp. Wahed Invest is also contemplating listing its Islamic ETF on the Saudi stock exchange. Its ETF was listed on the Nasdaq last year.

Wahed Raises $25 million

Wahed raised $25 million in venture funding with proceeds being funneled into ensuring people can invest their money into a diversified portfolio consisting of stocks, commodities, real estate and sukuk. Since launching in 2017, Wahed was recently awarded the first RoboAdvisory permit by the financial regulator, the U.K.'s Capital Markets Authority, to launch its platform in Saudi Arabia. Wahed’s foray into Malaysia in 2019 bolstered their global presence, and the fintech firm now serves over 100,000 clients globally. Wahed believes that they are paving the way for ethical investment in Islamic finance and showing the world how underserved the Muslim market is.

#UAE and #Saudi women control assets worth $326bln - BCG

Women’s wealth in the Middle East is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion from the current $786 billion during the 2019-2023 period. As of 2019, more than 40% of women’s wealth in the Middle East is concentrated in the UAE and Saudi Arabia where women control assets worth $102 billion and $224 billion. According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), women’s wealth is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% to $140 billion in the UAE and of 5.1% to $273 billion in Saudi Arabia by 2023. Women are likely to set the region’s wealth management trend, if asset managers target this market segment as a business opportunity and personalise their approach. Women are more likely than men to invest on the basis of their values, favouring funds that perform well but also create a positive impact, as opposed to investing solely for performance.

The legacy of Saudi tycoon Saleh Kamel

Saudi billionaire Saleh Kamel died on Monday and has been buried in Makkah, but his legacy is sure to endure. Even at the age of 79, despite suffering from age-related health issues, Kamel remained active and busy. After graduating, he worked at the Saudi Ministry of Finance. After 10 years with the ministry, Kamel moved to the private sector. He founded his flagship Dallah Al-Baraka Holding Company in 1969 in Riyadh. He expanded the Group's acitivity to include financial and banking services, health care, manufacturing, real estate, tourism, trading and more. Dallah Al-Baraka Group also has the honor of being chosen to clean and sterilize the Two Holy Mosques. Kamel was also a well-known investor in the media and satellite television production. He established Arab Radio and Television and formed a partnership with the Arab MBC channel. Dubbed "the father of contemporary Islamic finance", he received Malaysia’s Royal Award for Islamic Finance in November 2010. The tycoon’s wealth was estimated to be about $2.3 billion. Kamel aspired to creating jobs. He believed that all people should have dignity and that all lives are precious and deserve to be honored.

Saudi Islamic banks’ financial metrics sound, says Fitch Ratings

According to Fitch Ratings, Saudi Islamic banks’ financial metrics deteriorated mildly in 2019 but remained sound. As for conventional banks, the rating agency noted that the impaired financing ratios continued to increase in 2019. Islamic banks have lower impaired financing ratios and financing impairment charges than conventional banks due to their lower proportion of corporate banking. Islamic banks’ profitability remained above conventional banks’ in 2019. Strong deposit growth at Islamic banks in 2019 allowed their financing/deposits ratio to drop below their conventional peers’. Saudi Islamic banks remain well capitalised, with an average Common Equity Tier 1 ratio of 17.8% at end-2019. According to Fitch, if the current economic disruption continues, weaker asset quality and profitability are likely to put pressure on capital.

#Saudi Arabia raises $1.53bln in local sukuk -statement

Saudi Arabia has raised 5.755 billion riyals ($1.53 billion) in sukuk. The first tranche of the sukuk issue is 3.8 billion riyals, and the total tranche size is 6.549 billion, maturing in 2025. The second tranche has a size of 1.95 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 10.296 billion, maturing in 2030.

Saudi's Al Moammar Information Systems signs $77mln Islamic loan

Saudi Arabia’s Al Moammar Information Systems (MIS) signed an Islamic facility agreement with Riyad Bank for 290 million Saudi riyals ($77.15 million). The revolving facility will be renewable every year. MIS’s listing on Tadawul last year marked the first listing for a company from the IT sector on the Saudi bourse. The company reported a net profit after zakat and tax of 76 million riyals in 2019, compared to 64.5 million riyals in 2018. Revenues rose to 997.5 million riyals last year, compared to 886.2 million riyals in 2018.

Many Join Saudi Online Platform to Teach Arabic Calligraphy

The Saudi Ministry of Culture announced its launch of the first electronic platform to teach Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decoration. The electronic platform will be supervised by a group of professional calligraphers from the Kingdom and the Arab world. The platform offers various training courses, including professional courses in the types of Arabic calligraphy, making calligraphic paintings and artwork, letter formations, gilding, Islamic decoration, drawing and coloring, the art of paper marbling and Ebru (needle art). The platform will also give the trainee the opportunity to develop Arabic computer fonts by learning designs and programming fonts. The online platform was launched in 2018 and has over 19,000 users from 30 different countries around the world.

Saudi Arabia raises $1.48bln in local #sukuk -statement

Saudi Arabia has raised 5.55 billion riyals in sukuk. The first tranche of the sukuk issue has a size of 1.3 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 2.523 billion riyals, maturing in 2027. The second tranche has a size of 4.25 billion riyals, and a total tranche size of 8.238 billion riyals, maturing in 2035.

World Health Organization thanks Saudi Arabia for contributing $500 million to combat Coronavirus

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom thanked Saudi Arabia for donating 500 million dollars to support the international efforts in combating and preventing the spread of novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Saudi Arabia will allocate 150 million dollars to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, 150 million dollars to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and 200 million dollars to the other international and regional health organizations and programs. The novel Coronavirus has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide and infected over 2.2 million people in 193 countries and territories.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation holds virtual symposium on COVID-19

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held a videoconference on the COVID-19 outbreak. The symposium reviewed Sharia provisions on isolating confirmed and suspected patients; social distancing; acts of worship, including congregational prayer, Friday prayer and Ramadan fasting during the lockdown; personal hygiene; and adherence to health directives issued by authorities. The symposium followed an extraordinary meeting of the OIC Steering Committee on Health on COVID-19 held a few days ago, which called on jurists and preachers to urge Muslims to follow the true teachings of Islam in terms of hygiene and adhering to the required preventive measures.

Ayman Amin Sejiny, CEO at Islamic Development Bank Group

Ayman Amin Sejiny has been the chief executive officer of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) since October 2018. The ICD is the private sector arm of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank Group. Recently, ICD announced a rapid response initiative to combat the repercussions of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by allocating $250 million in emergency funding. ICD will aid the private health care industries of affected member countries. ICD will also work closely with more than 100 local and regional financial institutions so that they can continue to finance small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Leaders of world’s most powerful countries come together for Saudi-led virtual summit

Leaders of the most powerful countries in the world will today come together in a virtual summit organized by the Saudi Arabia G20 presidency to tackle the accelerating coronavirus crisis. Among world leaders expected to participate in the meeting are US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The World Health Organization, the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are among the international organizations that will take part, as well as other development organizations. Saudi Arabia’s efforts at global coordination will continue after the virtual summit. Another forum of G20 finance ministers is planned for next month, as well as a virtual gathering of G20 health ministers.

Covid-19: Saudi delivery app raises funds as virus lockdown boosts demand

A grocery delivery app in Saudi Arabia has raised funds to expand across the Middle East as lockdown measures related to the coronavirus boost demand for online shopping. The Nana app raised $18 million from investors including venture capital fund STV and Middle East Venture Partners. Dubai-based start-up ecosystem enabler Wamda also participated in the investment round, along with Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), Impact46 and Watar Partners. Nana founder Sami Alhelwah said the penetration of online grocery shopping in the region is very low and the target is to expand across the region and beyond groceries into other products. Nana wants to become the Amazon of the Middle East and wants to be one of the first technology companies listed in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi billionaire's charity adds second donation to help global polio fight

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud has joined Bill Gates and other leading figures to announce the first round of funding to a major global initiative to end polio. Alwaleed Philanthropies’ donation of $2 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) will support the creation of action plans to expand access to polio vaccination and help reach children everywhere. Alwaleed Philanthropies has also worked with key partners such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carter Center and UNICEF to tackle Guinea Worm disease, river blindness, measles and rubella, amongst other preventable and treatable diseases. The GPEI pledging event launched a fundraising push to fill the $3.27 billion funding gap. So far, $2.6 billion has been raised.

Saudi based Alinma Investment stuns the market with their Sukuk Bond ETF launch

Alinma Investment has recently launched its Sukuk Bond ETF in order to provide a low risk investment vehicle for the end investor. The world is currently awash with volatility and there has never been a better time to reap the benefits of a well-diversified multi-asset model portfolio. Until the recent launches of Sukuk Bond ETFs, it had proven very difficult to construct a Model Portfolio for GCC based investors, but this is no longer the case and it is not out of the question that this opening up of the Saudi Arabia Government Bond market could prove a key step going forward for other investors outside of the region. Alinma’s stunning ETF launch has more than a USD300 million in seed, so this fund is already large enough to be used by institutional investors across the globe.

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